How to automate Tasks with Illustrator Actions

This article will take you through the steps of how to automate tasks with Illustrator Actions. It will also show how to edit the Actions; having to repeat the same task over and over can get quite dull. Constantly repeated simple or complex tasks can be automated in Illustrator. This is especially helpful when there is a lot to do in a short time. Illustrator Action is recording a set of steps and playing them back. It is like macros in Microsoft Word, a set of actions that makes up a task is recorded and then played when it needs to be done.

How to automate Tasks with Illustrator Actions

Illustrator Action makes it so much easier to complete repetitive tasks in a short time. Illustrator comes with default actions that you can try out.  You can make and save as many actions as you want for different tasks. You can save your Actions in separate folders called Sets, to make them separate from the default ones. The sets can also be used to categorize your actions into groups. Before you begin, read our post on how to Download and Install Illustrator Actions.

To automate Tasks with Illustrator Actions, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Plan the Steps
  2. Record
  3. Edit

1] Plan the Steps

The first step to successfully recording the action is to plan the steps. Think of what you want to make and think of the easiest steps to get it done. Write down the step and do test runs until you find the best and easiest ones. It is better to spend a long time planning properly and getting it done well.

2] Record


In Illustrator the Actions Panel is on the right panel by default.


If the Action Panel is not present, you can go to Windows at the top of the work area and press Action.


In the Action Panel, you will notice some default actions that you can try.    How-To-Automate-Tasks-With-Illustrator-Action-Create-New-Set

To record your action, go to the Action Panel and click Create New Set. You don’t have to create a new set, however, the new set will be the folder that keeps your actions separate from the default actions. You can create different sets to organize your different actions.


When you click Create New Set a dialogue box will appear where you can give a name to the set.

How-To-Automate-Tasks-With-Illustrator-Action-Create-New-Set-MY-SETFor this article, the set will be called My Set.How-To-Automate-Tasks-With-Illustrator-Action-Create-New-Set-MY-SET-Action-Panel

In the Action Panel, you will see the custom called My Set set there waiting to have custom actions placed in it.How-To-Automate-Tasks-With-Illustrator-Action-Create-New-Action

To record a new action, go to the Action panel and click on the set that you created then click Create New Action button.


A dialogue window will appear and you give your new action a name. Use a name that will describe what the action does. This way it is easy to choose the right action in the future. This window will also show the current set that the new action will be saved in. You can choose a different set that you may have saved or choose the default.


You can also choose to set a Function Key that will serve as a shortcut for the action.  You can choose between F2 and F12. When you choose one of the function keys, you are then able to choose if you want to use Shift or Control as part of the combination. Using a shortcut is optional so you can leave it at None. When you are finished choosing, you then click record.


When you are finished recording the action press Stop Recording/Playing.


To play the action, open a new document, create the text or object that you want to apply the action to then go to the action panel and select the action, and press Play Current Selection.


To delete an Action, a Set, or any of the steps from an action, go to the Action panel and click the Action, Set, or Step then press Delete Selection.

3] Edit

Actions can be edited after they are recorded. Steps can be deleted by selecting them and pressing the Delete Selection Icon. Steps can also be rearranged by clicking it, holding and dragging it to a new position.

Read: Illustrator vs Photoshop – When to use each?

Why are Actions important in Illustrator

Actions are important in Illustrator because they help to make repetitive work much easier. Having to repeat the same tasks over and over can make a task seem hard and boring. Actions in Illustrator also help to save time as repeated tasks can be carried out faster.

Can Illustrator Actions be Edited after they are recorded?

Actions can be edited after they are recorded. Each step of an action creates a different step like a layer. These steps are named based on what was done and can be deleted. They can also be rearranged in different orders, just click hold and drag to a different position.


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