This post notes a few things to remember when creating Actions in Photoshop.
A best practice when creating Photoshop Actions is to never directly click on the Layers panel, as that would encode a specific layer name into the action. An exception would be immediately after creating a group, you can double-click on the group name to rename it or right-click on the eyeball icon to set the group properties.
Use the “Layers | New Adjustment Layer” Menu
When you are creating an Action, use the Layers menu for creating new layers, as the popup dialog allow you to name the layer and set its blending mode, etc. This is particularly good to remember if you generally use the Layers panel icon to add Adjustment layers in your normal “live” workflow.
Use Shortcuts for navigating Layers
Rather than directly selecting layers while creating an action, use the keyboard shortcuts to move through the layer stack. The following keyboard shortcuts can be used to navigate through the stack of layers (on a Mac substitute Option- for Alt- )
- Alt-, (alt-comma) moves to the bottom layer
- Alt-. (alt-period) moves to the top most layer
- Alt-[ or Alt-] moves up or down a layer
- Using a Shift-Alt- prefix does the above to also select a range of layers. For example, if positioned on a layer in the middle of the stack typing Shift-Alt-. moves to the top of the stack and selects the layers from that position to the top.
I recommend trying these shortcuts out while not creating an action to get a feel for them.