QuickTip: How to automate your actions in Adobe Illustrator

Table of content

What is an action?

The actions-window in Adobe Illustrator (And other Adobe apps) makes it easy to record and replay repetitive actions, it's super easy to set up and in this article you will learn how to make your first action. The window come with a few preset actions too, that you might find handy.

How to create an action in Adobe Illustrator

In this quick tip, you'll learn to record an action in Adobe Illustrator that automaticlly saves a jpeg-preview along with your vector files, with every text outlined and all strokes expanded into curves. Saving you a lot of time saving vectors in the future.

A minute saved a thousand times, is more than 16 hours saved!

Now you know the why, let's get into the how.

Opening the action palette

Actions window in Adobe Illustator

You'll find all of your recorded actions, including some pre-recorded default actions in the actions window of Adobe Illustrator.

Youl'll find the window by searching your menu bar in the top of your screen. Click "Windows", then click "Actions". It'll look something like the screenshot.

Creating a new action

To manage our actions, we'll create a new folder by clicking the folder icon in the bottom of the window. (3rd icon from the right).

In this instance we'll name it QuickTip.

Creating a new Actions-folder

Hit "Ok" once you've named your new folder.

Select the new folder in the Actions-window and hit the [+]-icon to create a new action.

You'll be prompted to name your action, and apply a couple of options to the action.

  • You can pick a folder (or set)
  • You can pick a keybinding for the Action. Note that you're limited to F1-F12 keys, along with Shift and Control modifiers
  • You can pick a colour, so it'll stand out in the Actions-window

In this case we'll be naming the action "Save EPS file and preview image".

Creating a new Action

Hit Record to create the Action.

Recording the action

An action, with multiple steps

The moment you hit Record, the action will start recording all of your actions, indicated by the record button (The circle) turning red.

If you at any moment want to pause and manage some of your actions, if you've made any steps you don't want repeated, you can hit the Stop-button (Square). You can select each of the actions, one by one, and delete the ones you don't want, by hitting the trash can icon.

To create the action that i set out in the premise, do the following after hitting record. Don't be afraid to hit stop and manage if you've misclicked along the way.

  1. In the top menu, click "Select", then "Select all"
  2. In the top menu, click "Object", then "Expand"
    Note: This will only create a step in the action, if there's anything to expand. Typically this would be used on editable text, or lines with strokes, converting it into standardized vector curves.
  3. In the top menu, click "File", then "Export", and "Save for web (Legacy)"
  4. Change the file type to JPEG and leave the size to default.
  5. Save the file as "vector.jpg" in a folder you can easily find.
    Note: I highly recommend creating a folder specificlly for actions to save files into. The filename will be used everytime you use the action in the future.
  6. In the top menu, click "File", then "Save as"
  7. Save your file as "vector.eps"
  8. In the EPS file prompt, set the version to be "Adobe Illustrator CS"

That's it!

Stop recording, or continue if you want more in your new 1-click shortcut.

I highly recommend you to click off the 'squares' to the right of the checkmarks. They're toggles for setting-prompts when you hit the play button -- They kind of take out the time saving, and point of using actions.

Hit the play button to play out the selection action, from the start or from a step within the action.

I encourage you to play around with actions. See where you can save time by recording actions and using them as shortcuts.

Share the link with a friend or colleague if you found this QuickTip useful, or leave a comment if you have a question. See you at the next QuickTip!


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