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I’m sure you have witnessed, just as I have, how many publications and marketing materials that are no longer printed, residing only on the web. And though this is true, I still find myself with those few jobs per year that (thankfully) get published. Many designers will agree there is something special about print, myself included. Here is an excellent shortcut to what could be a very long and tedious afternoon preparing your files for the printer. By implementing this small automation in Photoshop, you can take your enormous folder full of RGB images and convert them to CMYK images in a snap. No more will you have to open individual files, restore them, and save them. It only takes a moment to set up, and then with one click, your computer is doing all the work while you relax!

Let’s Get Started

All of these examples are done in Adobe Photoshop.

Record an Action

This is where you will need to create an Action for the conversion. First, open an image, then open the Action Tab (Window > Actions).

Click ‘Create New Action’. It’s the icon at the bottom of the palette that looks like a page of the paper.

Name the action in the text field and click the ‘Record’ button.

Photoshop is recording, so select ‘Image > Mode > CMYK Color’, then hit the ‘Stop’ button in the Action Tab. The action is now created, ready for the next step.

Create a Batch

To batch convert a folder of images, select ‘File > Automate > Batch...’ and the following window opens.

Choose the ‘Convert RGB to CMYK’ action from the drop-down menu. Choose the source folder where your images are stored, then choose a destination folder where Photoshop will save the converted images. Or, if you’ve already packaged this job and can overwrite your files, you can select the same folder.

Click the ‘OK’ button, and the batch process will start. The speed of this task depends on the number of images in your folder.

And here’s a bonus, the action you created will be saved in your drop-down list.

Next time all you have to do is run the automation, leaving you time to grab a cup of coffee while your computer gets the job done.


Here is a little side note of what I do to save a step later. In my case, I have a catalog that resides on the web. The packaged folder contains a Links folder with the RGB images. I package my document again, this time adding 'Print' to the folder name. Now I have two packaged or collected folders that contain my files.

This way, when I batch all of the images in the Links folder of the Print version, I can replace the images with the CMYK versions. When I open the file, I am asked, “Do you want to relink?” I answer, “Yes”. That way, all of the images are updated at once. Now I have one catalog (and all of the supporting files) for the web and one for print.


Debra Novara's love affair with design and the outdoors was truly realized when just two weeks after graduation, she landed in Denver with nothing more than a backpack, her portfolio, and a pair of skis. After 20+ years of designing for the Denver market (and skiing every resort), she returned to Michigan to work in the design industry as a member of the NHLS Marketing team. In addition to receiving awards for her design work, Debra has taught design at universities, served on multiple design panels, and is recognized as one of the founding members of the AIGA-Denver Chapter.