Digital Focus: Lots of Photos to Edit? Save Time

Feature: Save Time With Batch Processing

I'm lazy: I'm always on the lookout for ways to do more while expending as little energy as possible. And I get the feeling that many of you share my penchant for time savers. Reader Laura Koch, for instance, recently asked me about a better way to resize images for the Web: "After our wedding last month, I posted lots of pictures on our Web site, but first I had to spend many hours re-sizing each digital image individually. I could have used that time to write thank-you notes instead! Do you know of any program that will allow you to re-size multiple images simultaneously?"

Absolutely. Several image editing programs, including Jasc Paint Shop Pro 8, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2, and ACD Systems' ACDSee 6.0 all have batch processing features that allow you to run the edits on a whole slew of pictures at once. A batch session can be a real time saver--and that means you should master the art of batch processing, even if you're not as lazy as I am.

Batchin' It in Paint Shop Pro

So how does this whole batch thing work? You just use an image editor like Paint Shop Pro to create a script that the program can use to edit your images. A script is easy to create, since there's no typing required--you just edit a picture and Paint Shop Pro memorizes everything that you did. All those mouse clicks and menu selections are recorded into a script file that you can use again later.

Let's try a simple example in Paint Shop Pro. Suppose we want to do exactly what Laura had in mind: resize a slew of digital images for the Web. Start by opening any picture in Paint Shop Pro. The choice of picture is unimportant, since all we're doing is creating a script. We won't even save the changes.

Lights, Camera...

With an image open in Paint Shop Pro, choose File, Script, Start Recording from the menu. That's like shouting "action!" on a movie set: Paint Shop Pro is now recording everything you do.

Since we want to resize the picture, choose Image, Resize and enter the appropriate width and height in the Pixel Dimensions boxes. For the Web, I'd stick with as close to 640 by 480 pixels as you can get without distorting the image. Make sure that Pixels is selected (rather than Percentage) in the Width and Height section and that the Lock aspect ratio box is checked at the bottom of the dialog box so you don't accidentally stretch your picture into a funhouse scene. Also, make sure that all the pictures that you want to resize are at the same aspect ratio. A 640-by-480 photo is at an aspect ratio of 1.3333 to 1, for example. (If all of your pictures were taken with the same digital camera, this will never be a problem.) Click OK to resize the image.

That's all we needed to do for this example, but you can expand the script as much as you like. You might want to run the One Step Photo Fix, for instance, so that the script both resizes and enhances your Web-bound images. With the script completed, choose File, Script, Save Recording. Give the script a name and click Save.

Running Your Script

You now have an "image resizing script" that you can apply to a whole bunch of photos at once. To use the script, first make sure that all of the images you want to edit are in a single folder on your hard disk. Then go to the File menu and choose Batch, Process. At the top of the Batch Process dialog box, open the folder that's home to your images, and then select all the images you want to process. Then click the Browse button in the script section of the dialog box and pick your script from the list.

We're almost ready to roll. We now need to tell Paint Shop Pro how and where to save the edited images. Since we don't want to overwrite our original pictures with smaller versions, make sure that New Type is selected from the Save Mode section, and choose JPEG. Finally, at the bottom of the dialog box, specify a folder (different from the original folder) in which to save your new, edited images. Ready? Click Start and watch the magic. After a few moments (depending upon how many images you want to edit), you'll have a folder of resized images ready for use.

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