Photoshop CS5: Sharpen images with an action.

Hello all,

Today I would like to show you how to sharpen your images faster and easier.  We all need to sharpen our images after we’ve cleaned them up.  It can be so monotonous…but not when you record an action in Photoshop!

Tip: I always use the search tool in Photoshop if I can’t remember where the tool is 🙂

Use "help" to find stuff.

Photoshop has pre-made actions for you to play with, but when you find yourself continually doing the same steps on your images, then it’s time for you to record an action! Click on Window>Actions, you’ll see this:

Adobe CS5 Default Actions

Click on Custom to see more options:

To see more options click on Custom.

Now that I’ve shown you all of that let’s record a sharpening action:

Open any image in Photoshop CS5 to get this started.

As you can see in the red circle there are several icons, just hover over them with your mouse to see what they are.   This basically is the area where you will make a new action, record it, and save it.  Click on the second to the last icon (next to the trash can) to start your action.

Creating Actions use bottom right icons.

You can set defaults, assign a color & function key,  but today I left all of  that alone.

Name your new action.

Now click on the record button (remember I showed you the area in the red circle above):

Click on Record. Red circle.

Next duplicate layer:

Duplicate Layer

Name that layer Sharpen:

Name Layer

Make sure that layer is highlighted:

Click on the new layer to highlight.

Next click on the area I show in the red circle and click on Insert Menu Item:

Click on Insert Menu Item

You will see this pop up…don’t do anything yet:

Don't click on OK yet go to next step first.

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass…after this click on the ok button above.

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass

Click on STOP:

Click on stop next to red button on left.

Now you are ready to use the sharpening action.  Open any photo and go back to actions.  Click on the play button and you’ll see it run.

Here is a sample of the high pass layer.  A good place to start for sharpening is in the 3ish area but it really depends on your image.

Sample of Sharpening layer.

Now add a quick mask to the layer so you can change-up your adjustments with the mask and change your layer to soft light.  You can also use hard light for more sharpening or overlay, which is what I did.

Add a quick mask and change to soft.

What I like about this is that you can use the mask to adjust areas of your choice instead of adjusting the whole image.

You can change the Opacity too.

My completed image:

Completed Sharpen

I focused on the middle of the flower.  With Macro photography you really want the sharpened area looking good.  That’s where your client’s eyes will go to first.



Owner of Sullivan J Photography

Specializing in Macro & Close-up Photographs.


7 Comments on “Photoshop CS5: Sharpen images with an action.”

  1. lighthouse75 says:

    Thank you for this, Janice! Nothing is more maddening than buying a book on a photo processing program only to find that the step-by-step “how-to” isn’t included! What did they think we wanted the books for? That’s why we’re grateful to people like you who provide this information — complete with visuals. Many thanks.

  2. Daniel says:

    Thank you very much, I was struggling with facebook sharpening.

  3. David Saffir says:

    good post! should prove useful to many!

    David Saffir

  4. Nice post
    Thanx for sharing
    For all kinds of tutorial related to photoshop, dreamweaver please visit trickydesigning

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