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Adding Copyright Data in Photoshop – Automatically

Last week, we looked at a process for adding copyright metadata to your images using Adobe Bridge CS5, applying the data during the Bridge “Import Photos” process. Before that, we looked at adding copyright data in Lightroom. However, I’ve not forgotten all the artists and designers out there who are creating images that don’t come from a camera. Today’s tip will cover adding copyright data directly in Photoshop, and automating it completely.

Note that Photoshop will recognize images with copyright status set, and will add a small symbol into the title bar of the image, as shown here:


In order to set this data, we will build a process for adding this to our images. The process can be segmented into three basic steps:

  1. Create a metadata template containing the copyright data we wish to add;
  2. Create an action in Photoshop that will apply the template in one click;
  3. Create a special setting that will run the action automatically every time we open a file. The setting has a scary sounding name, “Script Event Listener,” but it is easy to set up and I’ll walk you through it step by step.

Part 1 – metadata template

Fortunately, we covered the basics of step 1 last week, so see last week’s tip for step by step instructions on creating the metadata template. We will use the very same template in this week’s tip.

Part 2 – create the action

Once we have a metadata template ready, we can move on to creating an action that applies our metadata. Actions may sound intimidating, but don’t worry – I’ll walk you through it. We will simply use our action to record a few steps in our workflow. Here’s how we’ll do it:

Start by opening a blank document (File > New… and accept the defaults).

Next, open the Actions panel (Window > Actions).


So that our actions will be easily stored and backed up later, we will create a new action set, which is similar to a folder that holds your personal actions. Click the icon to Create New Set as shown.


Next, give your new action set a name. I called mine Mike’s Actions.


Now your set is ready to hold the action we will create.


Make sure the new set is highlighted, and click on the icon at the bottom for Create New Action as shown:


In the New Action dialog, we will need to give our action a Name (I called this one “Copyright2010”) and make sure that we designate the Set that we just created above (“Mike’s Actions”). Once these are entered, we click the button labeled Record.


At this point, the action is recording, and any steps you take will be documented in the action. Don’t feel nervous or rushed, there is no time limitation involved. Just take each step slowly and carefully. Notice the action name appears within the new set, and the red “light” comes on, indicating we are recording:


Now that we are recording, From the menu (not via keyboard shortcut) choose File > File Info…Look to the bottom of the dialog box, pull down the triangle next to the template name, and choose the metadata template created earlier (in our previous tip last week):


In order to apply the metadata in the template, Photoshop must know how to deal with data that may already be in your document. You have three choices:


For our purposes, we will choose “Keep original metadata, but append matching properties from template.” This will not overwrite any existing data that may be present.

Click “OK” to accept, then click “OK” again at the File Info dialog box. You’re done!

Look back to the Actions panel, and notice that a new step was added to our new action: “Set File Info of…” – this is the record of the step we just performed. Now, click on “Stop playing/recording” and the action has been successfully completed:


Now that our action is complete, we can run it any time by selecting this action, and clicking the “Play” icon – the action will add our copyright data.

Part 3 – create the Script Event Listener

Again, this sounds scary, but it’s straightforward – and this is one of the coolest automation features in Photoshop. What it does is allow you to run an action based on an “event” – for example, opening a new document. Here’s how we will add the Event Listener:

Choose File > Scripts > Scripts Event Manager. In the dialog that appears, check the box to Enable Events to Run Scripts/Actions:


Next, we will indicate the type of event that we want to “listen” for – the Photoshop Event that will trigger Photoshop to run our action. We will choose New Document from the pop-up list:


Now, we choose what happens whenever we create a new document. We want to run our action, so click the radio button next to Action and choose our personal set (“Mike’s Actions”) and our copyright action (“Copyright2010”) from the list:


OK, now we are ready to add this event. click Add, but don’t click Done yet.


And now, notice our event is added to the list, and our action will run whenever we open a new document.


Let’s add another for opening existing documents. Again from the Photoshop Event list, we choose Open Document:


Now as before, we ensure we have the radio button on Action, have our action selected, and click Add:


Notice that we now have actions for both “New” and “Open,” and we are ready to click Done. Because we are indeed done!


Now, every time you open or create a document, your personal copyright data will be added automatically, without you having to make a single extra click.


This takes a bit of patience to set up, but once done it will be worth the effort. You’ll always have copyright data in your images, and need never worry about remembering to add it ever again.

About Michael Hoffman (224 Articles)
Mike has been a photographer, artist, educator, and technophile for most of his life. Early in his career, he created technical illustrations and photographs for electronic equipment manufacturers, and taught classes in computer aided drafting and 3D modeling software. When digital cameras became widely available in the late 1990s, the move was a natural one, and has led to a happy combination of technology, software, photography and art. Mike is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop and Acrobat, and is well versed in Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, as well as Illustrator and InDesign. He has also contributed his time and efforts to the excellent work being done by Operation Photo Rescue, in restoring photographs damaged by natural disasters. As an active member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, he continues his quest for excellence in art, excellence in design, and excellence in education.

11 Comments on Adding Copyright Data in Photoshop – Automatically

  1. This is a wonderful tutorial. I had no idea I could do this! Thanks for taking the time to share this with everyone. It took you probably 3x longer to prepare this than it will take us to set this up so I say take a break and go get a smoothie, or a beer if that sounds better.

  2. This is a wonderful tutorial. I had no idea I could do this! Thanks for taking the time to share this with everyone. It took you probably 3x longer to prepare this than it will take us to set this up so I say take a break and go get a smoothie, or a beer if that sounds better.

  3. Great thanks, this works a treat and up till now I had been batching the data in bridge, no need for that anymore!

  4. Great thanks, this works a treat and up till now I had been batching the data in bridge, no need for that anymore!

  5. Will this work in CS4?

  6. Ehkho, yes indeed, it works for earlier versions as well! At least as far back as CS3, I’m not sure before that. mh++

  7. Thanks for the tips, I work with copyright sensitive images, so incase anyone decides to pinch them, this will back it up for me. Cheers!

  8. The only trouble is now i have to remember to take it off when sending an image back to a client when working commercially.

  9. Awesome. This is just what I have been looking for, thanks!

  10. Brilliant thanks! Lost this page for a while then found it again, YaY!

  11. sajad // 28/02/2019 at 6:16 am //


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