Easy Watermarks with Russell Brown’s
Adobe Watermark Panel Plugin for Photoshop CS5

by Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen on October 20, 2010

Watermarks add a layer of protection to your online images. Russell Brown’s free Adobe Watermark Panel plugin for Photoshop CS5 makes it easy to add watermarks to an entire folder full of images.

If you use Adobe Photoshop CS5, Photoshop guru, Russell Brown has made watermarking your images insanely easy. Install his free Adobe Watermark Panel plugin (for Windows or Mac) and you can quickly apply a graphic or textual watermark to a single image or to an entire folder of images.

It only works in Adobe Photoshop CS5, so if you own a previous version, what are you waiting for? Upgrade to Photoshop CS5 now!

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Download the Watermark Panel

    1. Download the Adobe Watermark Panel from Russell Brown’s website here.
    2. Extract (unzip) the files to a convenient location on your computer.
    3. You’ll end up with a folder called Watermark_Install_2.1.0 (for the current version). Inside that folder, the important file is called Adobe Watermark.zxp.

Install the Adobe Watermark Panel

To install the Adobe Watermark Panel, you’ll need to use the Adobe Extension Manager CS5. It’s included with certain Adobe products. You can download it for free from Adobe.

Adobe Watermark Panel: Find the Adobe Extension Manager CS5

Find the Extension Manager

Even if you do have the extension manager installed on your computer you may have some trouble locating it. Here’s how to find and run the extension manager and install the watermark panel in Windows 7:

    1. Close Photoshop CS5 if you have it open.
    2. Click the Windows Start button and type the word “extension” in the search box where it says “Search programs and files.” Do not hit the Enter key.
      • As you type, Windows will begin searching and, after a few seconds, will list several files containing the word “extension.”
      • Look for the Programs section of the search results. There, you’ll find an entry for Adobe Extension Manager CS5.
Adobe Watermark Panel: run Adobe Extension Manager CS5 as an administrator

Run as administrator

    1. The Extension Manager needs to be run with administrator privileges, so right-click on Adobe Extension Manager CS5 in the search results window and choose Run as administrator.
    2. Adobe Extension Manager CS5 will open and it will tell you its “Loading Extensions.” After several seconds, you’ll be presented with the extension manager screen which will list all of your Adobe products in the left panel. Click once on Photoshop CS5 64. (Click on Photoshop CS5 32 if your running the 32-bit version of Photoshop).
Adobe Watermark Panel: install the panel extension

Install the Panel

    1. Click the Install link at the top of the window.
    2. Navigate to the Adobe Watermark.zxp file you extracted earlier. Click on it and click the Open button.
    3. Accept the “Extension Disclaimer.”
    4. You’ll be asked to confirm that you want to install this “unsigned extension.” Click the Install button.
    5. Next, one of two things will happen.
      Adobe Watermark Panel: successful installation


      • If you get a message saying that you “do not have the appropriate permissions,” it means you forgot to run the Extension Manager as an administrator. Close the Extension Manager and repeat from step 4 – paying close attention to Step 6.
      • Or, the Watermark Panel will install successfully and it will be listed in the Extension Manager’s upper right panel.
    6. Once you’ve successfully installed the Watermark Panel, close Adobe Extension Manager CS5.

Open the Adobe Watermark Panel

Adobe Watermak Panel: open the panel in Photoshop

Open the Panel

      Now it’s time to use the Adobe Watermark Panel to add watermarks to some images.

    1. Open Photoshop CS5.
    2. Open an image to practice on.
Adobe Watermark Panel in Photoshop.

Watermark Panel Section 1

    1. In Photoshop’s Window menu, choose Extensions. Then, from the fly-out menu, choose Adobe Watermark.
    2. The Adobe Watermark Panel will open. It will appear to the left of the layers panel and any other panels you already have open in Photoshop.

Using the Adobe Watermark Panel

The Adobe Watermark Panel consists of four sections.

Adobe Watermark Panel: select source and destination folders

Section 2

    1. The first section, Select Watermark Source File, is where you choose the previously prepared graphic file to be used as your watermark. Or you can choose Use Text Entry to type your watermark text right inside the panel. If you choose this option, you’ll also be able to choose the font, color and size. You can even add the photo’s file name as part of your watermark.
    2. In section two, Select Images to Process, you’ll choose the photos you want to watermark: either an entire folder or just the images already open in Photoshop. You’ll also choose the folder where the watermarked JPEGs will be saved.
Adobe Watermark Panel: select watermark position and style

Section 3

    1. Section three is called, Select Watermark Position and Style.Here is where you get to be creative with your watermark.
      • Adjust it’s position (I prefer Center Bottom),
      • how far in from the side of the image the watermark will appear (Horizontal Offset),
      • the distance from the bottom edge (Vertical Offset),
      • size of the watermark (scale) and its opacity.
        • If the graphic file you’re using has already been properly sized and had its opacity adjusted – as I discuss in my previous article, Create Visible Watermarks in Photoshop CS5 – you can leave Scale and Opacity at 100%.
      • Click the Preview button to see what the watermark will look like on the first image in your folder. Because the Preview button is not live as it is in other Photoshop panels, you’ll have to click Preview after every change to view its effect. Clicking the Preview button opens the image in a new Photoshop tab called Preview Watermark Creator.
Adobe Watermark Panel: Select JPEG export settings

Section 4

    1. The final section, Select JPEG Export Settings, allows you to specify the watermarked JPEG’s maximum size and its quality (lower quality results in smaller files). You can also automatically sharpen it. The only difference between a Standard JPEG and a JPEG for the Web is that, with a Standard JPEG, you can set its resolution. Web JPEGs are automatically set to 72 pixels-per-inch.
    2. Once you have the watermark set the way you want it, click the Run button. Photoshop will open each image in the source folder, add the watermark and save it. You can track its progress by watching Photoshop work.

Save Your Work

    1. The Watermark Panel does not alter your original images. It produces new JPEGs and saves them in a new folder. If there is already an identically named file in the destination folder, the Watermark Panel adds a suffix (“_1”) to the new file; it won’t overwrite the original file.
Adobe Watermark Panel: save settings

Save Settings

  1. Once you’ve slaved away to create the perfect watermark, you may want to save your settings so you can use them again without having to fiddle with all the parameters again. Adobe Watermark Panel makes this easy:
    • As in other Photoshop Panels, there is a fly-out menu available by clicking the icon in the upper right corner of the panel. There, you can save your settings or load previously saved settings.
    • Save as many different settings as you like. Next time you want to watermark images, load the saved settings and all you’ll have to do is select the source and destination folders and click Run. Easy!


For more about these plugins and other Photoshop and photography-related information, visit The Russell Brown Show. View his Adobe Watermark Panel tutorial video here.

Thanks to Jodi Friedman’s site, MCPActions.com for the original tip about Brown’s Watermark Panel plugin.


Russell Brown’s Adobe Watermark Panel is an excellent watermarking tool. But it’s not perfect. For one thing, it only works with recent versions of Photoshop (CS5 or later)  and not earlier versions.

And, you’ll have to make sure that the size of your watermark will fit the narrowest photo to which it will be applied. The watermark is not automatically scaled to match the image. So, if you apply a 500-pixel wide watermark to a 400-pixel wide image, the watermark will be cropped and parts of its left and right sides will disappear.

For automatic watermark scaling, you’ll have to use Adobe Lightroom 3. The watermarking capabilities of version 3 are miles ahead of Lightroom 2. If you haven’t tried Lightroom yet, download a trial version from Adobe.

I’ll be discussing Lightroom 3 watermarking in a future article. Don’t miss it: subscribe to PhotoCitizen.

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1 matt February 25, 2011 at 8:20 am

thanks for the info, it has helped my work-flow a lot.

One question I have is the sharpening is so good, how do I sharpen images without the plug-in. I have tried but can’t get it as sharp and pure as the plug-in does??

people always have problems with compression but now my images are sharp and have a nice “pop” to them!!!

2 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen February 25, 2011 at 9:00 am

Hi Matt,

Specialized plugins for sharpening (or other effects) make life a whole lot simpler. Sharpening images by hand in Photoshop takes some skill and practice. I do almost all of my sharpening in Lightroom, but I’ve also used Nik’s Dfine sharpening plugin. For some images, it works better.

Which plugin are you using for sharpening and why do you want to avoid using it?


3 matt February 25, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Hi Alan,

I don’t use light room, I use DPP, I get nice and sharp images but when they are compressed the sharpness disappears, they go soft.

After using the Watermark Panel from Russell Brown, my pictures all look sharp, there is an option to sharpen and it does a great job.

I would love to know how to do this without the Watermark plugin, I will try Nik’s Dfine.


4 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen March 20, 2011 at 11:36 am


I’m not sure what’s causing your issues with sharpness. It’s hard to tell without viewing the images.

Generally, when JPEG images are overly compressed or enlarged too much, they will look soft. By the same token, if you start with too-small or overly-compressed JPEG originals, you’ll have the same trouble getting them to look sharp.


5 Shannon April 5, 2011 at 6:58 am

This is hands down one of the most well written tutorials I’ve ever used! Flow is perfect, no detail is left unsaid, frustration level was nil, outcome is exactly as promised. Wish you wrote all the tutorials I labor through as I learn, one at a time, the skills I need to accomplish my computing and designing goals. I will definitely return with the hopes that more of the information I need can be found here. Thank you!!!

6 Kelly July 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm

This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Thanks so much for the amazing “extension” and the info on creating the correct watermark. I normally use LR but I don’t like how you can’t control where the watermark goes in a batch process. Now my watermarking is super easy in PS as part of my final image edit!

7 Chuck July 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

This is great, but how do I keep the watermark from resizing? When I set the watermark percent it seems to be resizing it to a percent of the width of the picture. I don’t want it to resize at all, as I have it how I want it already.

8 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen July 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hi Chuck,

If your watermark is already the correct size, set the “Scale” to 100% under Section 3 (“Select Watermark Position and Style”). Let me know if that works for you.

– Alan

9 Chuck July 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

Alan, I tried that. My watermark was the correct size, I set it to 100% and then when I processed a test image it takes my watermark and blows it up to fit across the whole image. It appears that the percent is telling the watermark how much to fill up horizontally. I tried 50% and sure enough it increased my watermark to run across half of the image. 25% ran it a quarter of the way, etc.

10 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen July 30, 2011 at 7:49 am


The “Scale” slider does work in proportion to the image size – as you discovered. So, if your images are all different widths, the apparent size of the watermark will vary. That’s just the way the Watermark Panel works.

Adobe has solved this problem in Lightroom 3, but I’m not sure they’re working on a fix for Photoshop.

– Alan

11 Chuck August 1, 2011 at 5:27 am

Thanks Alan, I’ll make due. The problem I was having is the watermark was getting blown up and pixelated. So, I just made a nice hi res watermark so it would always scale down.

12 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen August 2, 2011 at 8:19 am


Glad to hear you figured out the problem.

– Alan

13 Dominik October 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

just installed the Adobe Watermark Panel but when trying to preview it, I get following message: Error: Input folder does not exist. : 87. Anybody knows how to fix this problem?


14 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen October 18, 2011 at 8:03 am

Hi Dominik,

I’m not sure what the problem is. You might try asking the question on the Adobe Forum for Photoshop. If you find a fix, please feel free to post another comment here so that others can benefit from it.



15 Jeremy December 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

I am having a similar issue Dominik. I usually get an “Error: Destination folder does not exist. : 61” I have tried making new folders, uninstalling an re-installing, renaming, etc… it was working and then it stopped. I wish there was something on this out there but I have not been able to find anything. Please somebody help.

16 Rebecca Watson March 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Love the plug in. So helpful. Thank you very much.

17 Darin March 11, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Hi Russel:
Will the panel work in CS5.1 Photoshop?

18 Alan Haynes / PhotoCitizen March 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Hi Darin,
The latest version (2.1.0) of the Watermark panel does work with Photoshop CS5.1. Older versions of the panel do not. Get it here.


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