Adobe Photoshop – How to Make a Contact Sheet

Back in the good old days, everything dealing with photography was at a premium. That is, you really couldn’t just go out and shoot willy-nilly at everything and then print whatever you wanted. First, you were limited to the amount of photos you took by the film roll size. Then, it cost a pretty penny for the developing and printing, especially if you developed and printed your own film. To decide which photos were worthy of the cost of photographic printing paper, you needed to see what each photo looked like before taking the plunge. How did we do this back then? We would make a contact sheet. That is, lots of little photos would be developed on one sheet (as opposed to one photo per sheet – an expensive proposition). They came in handy and could save you some money in the long run.

Now we have moved on to the digital photography world where we can shoot and forget like crazy. But what do you do if you want to share your photos with someone, but really don’t want to send lots of images via email or some other way? The easy answer is to look back to pre-digital methods and make a contact sheet – a digital one. The process is pretty easy in Photoshop, because it is automated for you. Let me show you how.

Obviously, the first step is to have Photoshop open. Select File > Automate > Contact Sheet II, as shown in the screenshot below.


A Contact Sheet II pop-up window will appear, giving you the options for your contact sheet.


In the “Source Images” section at the top, you need to “Choose…” the folder in which the photos (you want to use to create the contact print) are located.



In the “Documents” section you will want to choose the size of your contact print(s). Generally you will want to choose the regular 8 by 10 size. A resolution of 180 (pixels/inch) is adequate for the print. The other options in this section can be left as shown below.

The “Thumbnails” section gives you the option of how many individual photos are on each contact sheet. You can choose either across first, or down first. For the “Columns” and “Rows” selections, you just need to figure out how many photos you want on each sheet. It helps if you keep in mind how many photos you have. That way you can evenly distribute the photos on the sheets.

If you choose “Rotate For Best Fit” you may get a contact sheet with photos that are vertical and horizontal. That is, the person looking at the contact sheet may have to turn the page (or their head) to see each photo. Choose wisely.

Lastly, you can choose to have the individual file names listed under each photo in the “Use Filename as Caption” section. I would suggest a font size of 8 or so to make it fit on the sheet.

Once you have selected all of your options, click on “OK.”


It may take a while for the contact sheets to be created, depending on how many photos you are working with. After Photoshop is finished, each individual contact sheet is created and will need to be saved like a regular Photoshop image. You can also choose to print each contact sheet as a PDF document, if you like.


So, it’s pretty simple. Now you can share your photos with anyone, and they (or you) can select which photos you deem print worthy.

See you next time!

Steve Holsonback
Instructional Media Design Specialist
Center for Academic & Professional Excellence
Ext. 3425




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