Batch editing your photos with Phatch

Photos I don’t know about you, but there are a number of simple tasks that I find tedious. One of them is doing some basic work with photos. That includes tasks like resizing and changing the brightness of photos to adding simple effects.

Take, for example, the photos I including at the top of blog posts. Like the one to the left. When I’m queuing up posts, I usually have a bunch of such photos, and I need them in a uniform size. Pulling them individually into an application like The GIMP and editing them is a tedious process.

Instead, I turn to a useful utility called Phatch. It’s a fast, easy to use batch photo processor that can save you a lot of time if you have a number of repetitive, simple photo editing tasks.

Let’s walk through the basics of using Phatch.

Installing and starting Phatch

Before you install Phatch you’ll need to make sure that Python, PIL (the Python imaging library), and wxPython (a GUI toolkit for Python) is installed on your computer. Most Linux distros come with Python as standard kit. PIL and wxPython, though, are a different story. if they aren’t you can eitehr either install them using your distro’s package manager or download and install them..

With that out of the way, download and install the software. If all goes well, icons to launch Phatch will be added to your menu – in Linux Mint, for example, you can find the icons under Menu > Graphics. Click the one labelled Phatch PHoto bATCH Processor.

When I was using Linux Mint 12, I ran into a problem where the application froze at the splash screen. I ran Phatch from the command line and got the following message:

IOError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '/usr/share/phatch/data/geek.txt'

I’m not sure what that message was about, and I couldn’t find anything about it online. So I took matters into my own hands and created the directory /usr/share/phatch/data and put an empty file named geek.txt in it. That fixed the problem.

Using Phatch

Fire up Phatch. What you get isn’t overly impressive – just a small window.

Phatch main window

But don’t let that fool you. That window opens to a world of useful functions. Those functions are called actions, and you have to add at least one before you can use Phatch. To do that, click the plus symbol on the toolbar.

Phatch actions list

Phatch comes with around 50 actions. These include actions to:

  • Draw a borders
  • Change the contrast
  • Crop a photo
  • Rename a photo
  • Transform photos to sketches
  • Add text
  • Add a watermark

In the Actions window, click an action and then click Add. You can add as few or as many actions as you want. Remember, though, that you have include the Save action at the end of the list.

A configured action

You can change the settings for each action by clicking on a setting in the main Phatch window. For example, by default the Save action drops the modified images into a folder on your desktop called phatch. I prefer to save my images elsewhere – for example, in the folder /home/scott/Temp/phatch.

Modifying an action

From there, drag and drop the photos that you want Phatch to process on to the application’s window. A new window pops up.

Drag & drop

Click Batch. Phatch gives you a list of the files you’re modifying and asks you to confirm those modifications.


Click Continue. Depending on the size and number of photos that you’re modifying, and the modifications you’re making, Phatch can take anywhere from a few to several seconds to process the images.

And if you’re going to use that action again, don’t forget to save it by selecting File > Save As. Phatch saves the action in a hidden folder in your /home directory.

Final thoughts

While Phatch takes a little work to set up, it can save you even a lot of time and effort by carrying out tedious tasks on multiple photos. While Phatch comes with a number of actions, chances are you’ll only use a handful of them. But you have them there if you need them. All in all, I find Phatch to be a useful tool. I’m looking forward to exploring a number of its actions in the future.

Photo credit: vashistha pathak

This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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