45 free Photoshop actions to create stunning effects

UPDATED: Don’t waste your time repeating the same tedious steps to achieve an effect. Download these free Photoshop actions today!

Photoshop has a powerful programming language built in that allows you to record tasks as an ‘action’ and replay the steps to complete the task automatically. Not only can you record your own, but you can also import actions, opening up a whole range of effects and time-saving options. Here we’ve rounded up 45 of the best Photoshop actions that are free to download and install.

01. Art of Decay

This excellent free action creates a simple heavily-aged photo effect.

  • Good for: Photographers, designers

02. Black and White

This action adds a punchy high-contrast black & white effect to your photographs. It produces a nice grittiness with heavy grain and over-saturated blacks. Great for creating a stylized image.

  • Good for: Photographers

03. Page Curl

This simple action is based on a tutorial on how to create a convincing page curl effect in Photoshop, but with the action there’s no need to take all the suggested steps – simple click and run for a handy time-saving effect ideal for web designers.

  • Good for: Designers

04. Dramatic Sepia

This superb action offers a slightly more refined version of the standard sepia effect by adding a contrast curve to age the final result so that it feels like a faded photograph. Dramatic Sepia offers a great way to communicate a sense of age.

  • Good for: Photographers

05. Thinking of You

This is another stylized photographic treatment that adds a filmic, green-cast and heavily saturated shadows effect. The end result feels both blockbuster-movie-like, and very fashion orientated.

  • Good for: Photographers

06. High Key

This action requires a credit if you use it, but offers a very simple way to convert a regular photograph into a stunning high-key portrait with clean lines and an almost dreamy finish, without compromising essential areas of contrast.

  • Good for: Photographers

07. Teeth Whitening

Quickly and easily whiten teeth with a natural-looking result with this handy action from ModernActions. The script targets particular tones, brightening off-whites for a simple way to achieve a more pleasing set of gnashers!

  • Good for: Photographers

08. High Definition Sharpening

The final stage of image preparation should be to sharpen your images according to the final delivery method – you sharpen differently for print or screen. This free action from MCP Actions offers a simple one-click solution to sharpening, with the ability to control the degree of sharpening that’s been applied after the fact by adjusting the opacity and masking of layers.

  • Good for: Photographers

09. Bella Action

This action adds a beautiful warmth to your photographs, bringing out rich tones in hair and skin, and softening colours with a pink cast that creates a romantic, nostalgic feel.

  • Good for: Photographers

10. Contact Lenses

This simple set of actions allows you to quickly change the colour of eyes in your photos. Choose from a set of different actions according to the colour you’d like, and adjust for a final result. Great time-saver when you need to alter eye colour.

  • Good for: Photographers

11. Magic 3D

 Magic 3D

Want to go 3D with Photoshop actions? Create sophisticated pseudo-3D extrusions from text, shapes or layers with gloss and highlights using this great tool.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

12. Polanoid Generator 3

Photoshop CS6 actions 6

Turn any image into a Polaroid instantly with one of 10 different effects. Includes colour treatments and shadows automatically, and it’s one of those Photoshop actions you’ll use again and again.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

13. Soften Skin Effect

Photoshop CS6 actions 7

Used in combination with an existing selection or mask, this smooths skin while retaining textures and colouring saving clean-up time.

  • Good for: Photographers

14. Comic Action

Photoshop CS6 actions 8

Automatically turn your images into half-tone comic cells with hard outlines and simplified colours. Quirky and fun results!

  • Good for: Artists, graphic designers

15. Skin Glow Enhancements

Photoshop CS6 actions 9

That’s right: Photoshop actions can improve your skin! Skin Glow Enhacements is an action that brings skin tones to life with a healthy glow. Also has the effect of warming the entire image slightly, making for a sun-kissed tone.

  • Good for: Photographers

16. Lithprint

Photoshop CS6 actions 10

Create a lithograph-style image from your raw photos. This works best on larger images that have already been given a medium-contrast treatment.

  • Good for: Artists, graphic designers

17. Reflections

Photoshop CS6 actions 11

Automatically create reflections of your images, either against a plain background or a fake horizon. Free registration is required to download.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

18. Wedding Enhancers Kit

Photoshop CS6 actions 12

Photoshop actions are extremely useful for wedding photographers, dealing with a huge number of shots. Here you get a set of eleven actions that automatically create common portrait effects, especially around the theme of wedding photography. Includes skin smoothing and soft filter effects as well as b/w conversion.

  • Good for: Photographers

19. Pencil Draw

Photoshop CS6 actions 13

This action uses contrast to find the edges in your image and automatically render a pencil sketch effect. Start from a full-colour image with no need to convert to black and white first.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

20. HDR Action

Remove the lack of contrast that comes with HDR photography with this set of four actions; HDR fix light, normal, heavy, and clicker.

  • Good for: Photographers

21. Old Photo Action

Want to make your images look like they’ve through a time warp? Then get experimenting with this old photo action, which adds colour and contrast.

  • Good for: Photographers

22. Cross-Processing Action

Create highly stylised images with drastically different colours and contrast.

  • Good for: Photographers

23. Portrait Action

Desaturate the colour in your photography with this portrait action, which creates a gorgeous vintage effect.

  • Good for: Photographers

24. Split Toning Action

The area between greyscale and colour is split toning and adding this slight change to your photos can have a dramatic effect. You can also create retro and abstract images with this technique.

  • Good for: Photographers

25. Amatorka Action 2

Photoshop CS6 actions

Create an instant action-movie-style colour treatment with a blue-green cast, rich saturation and increased contrast.

  • Good for: Photographers

26. Photoshop Color Actions 2

Photoshop CS6 actions 3

A nice range of colour treatments including rich grainy black and white, bleach bypass, and some heavy casting effects. Great for experimentation.

  • Good for: Photographers

27. Rusty Vintage

 Rusty

Vintage Photoshop actions are extremely popular. This one applies selective desaturation and colour correction to create a distinct vintage feel to your images.

  • Good for: Photographers

28. Hand-colored Vintage Photo

Photoshop CS6 actions 5

This action creates a heavily stylised vintage look, complete with rough paper edges and cracking. Produces really beautiful results ideal for retro-styled images.

  • Good for: Photographers

29. STICKERS n TAPE

Photoshop CS6 actions 14

Create round stickers with a curl in the corner, or polaroid-style images with clear sticky tape holding it in place. Site requires free registration to download action.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

30. 1930s Glitter Text

Photoshop CS6 actions 15

Automatically convert your text into a snazzy 1930s-style retro treatment with shiny sequins and a nice 3D effect. It’s also easy to adjust after running the action as all the layers are retained.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

31. Gum Bichromate Print

Photoshop CS6 actions 16

Emulate 19th Century gum bichromate prints with this straightforward action that produces beautiful textured effects.

  • Good for: Graphic designers, photographers, artists

32. Outer Space

Photoshop CS6 actions 17

Create an outer space background automatically complete with space dust and nebulous gases. Randomly colours the scene to produce a different effect every time.

  • Good for: Graphic designers, game artists

33. Flyers and Posters

Photoshop CS6 actions 18

Render A3, A4 and A5 artwork as posters and flyers automatically with this excellent action. Site requires free registration for download.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

34. Paper Cube

Photoshop CS6 actions 19

Render your images onto a net ready for cutting and gluing together. The final result is a cube with six different images. Site requires free registration to download the action.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

35. Sticker

Photoshop CS6 actions 20

There’s always room for slightly cheesy Photoshop actions, right? Turn any layer into a cut-out sticker with border and shadow automatically. Allows you to customise the colour of the sticker easily.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

36. Stamp Generator

Photoshop CS6 actions 21

Turn an image into a stamp automatically using an included Photoshop brush to define how the frill will sit along the edge of the final artwork.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

37. Denim & Leather

Photoshop CS6 actions 22

Automatically generates a blue denim texture, ‘sews’ on a leather patch and embosses your own artwork onto the leather. Nice, simple and effective output that could be adapted for a variety of purposes.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

38. Modelize

Photoshop CS6 actions 23

Automatically make any portrait look like you’ve used a model with this action. A series of effects are built up to produce a soft-glow effect around your portrait for a magazine cover-image result.

  • Good for: Photographers, graphic designers

39. Remove White Background

Photoshop CS6 actions 24

Automatically remove white backgrounds with this suite of three actions that allow for different automated processes to strip out the background of your isolated images.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

40. Die-Cut business card mockup

Photoshop CS6 actions 25

Turn your business card mockup artwork into a 3D-style render for previewing with this useful action from ArtBees. Accepts a matte and texture to create a final render complete with depth-of-field.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

41. Texture Applicator

Photoshop CS6 actions 26

Apply textures easily with this free action from MCP Actions. Allows you to import and use textures from any source.

  • Good for: Graphic designers, photographers

42. Pinhole Camera Effect

Photoshop CS6 actions 27

Create the effect of a pinhole camera from any image with this simple action that reduces your image to a sepia, slightly soft and vignetted photo.

  • Good for: Photographers

43. 3D Anaglyph effect

Photoshop CS6 actions 28

Turn any image into a pseudo-3D anaglyph effect with this action that creates two separate channels for cyan and red, and overlaps them to lift the image off the page.

  • Good for: Graphic designers, photographers

44. Paper Fold

Photoshop CS6 actions 29

Automatically render your artwork onto a trifold paper design in pseudo-3D, complete with shadows and shading on the image. Ideal for rendering paper designs ahead of presenting them on-screen to clients.

  • Good for: Graphic designers

45. 3D box generator

Photoshop CS6 actions 30

Turn flat artwork into a 3D box-render complete with shading and shadows using this free action. Includes multiple light points for a believable final effect.

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