Whenever you make many changes to a photo or other file in Photoshop, it is sometimes helpful to see a previous incarnation of your work. To quickly find a previous version of your work, use Photoshop's History panel. The History panel not only shows you all of a project's previous states, it offers options for deleting changes or making copies of those older states.
Opening the History Panel
Open the History panel while working in Photoshop by selecting "History" from the Window menu. The history panel shows each state of your current file, from opening the file through every edit you made in chronological order. Click any of the states in the History panel to see your project in that former state. For example, if you open a photo, then erase something before painting it, the panel will show "Open," "Eraser" and "Brush Tool" states. Click the "Open" state in the History panel to return the image to its original appearance. Clicking the "Eraser" state shows the photo after the erasure, but before it was painted.
Manipulating History States
Three icons appear at the bottom of the History panel for manipulating different versions of your work. After selecting any state in the History panel, create a new document based on that state by clicking the aptly named "Create New Document From Current State" icon. Click the "Create New Snapshot" button to create a copy of a state within the same document. Clicking the "Delete" icon deletes the selected state from the image, as well as all the states that followed it.
Brushing Back History
After you understand how the History panel works, try using the History Brush Tool to paint some interesting effects into your photos. For example, reduce the Vibrance in a photo to make it nearly black and white. With the History panel open, select the "History Brush Tool" from the Toolbox and click the check box beside the state in the History panel located directly above the Vibrance state. Dragging the brush on the photo returns the color where you paint. Alternatively, select the "Eraser Tool" and click the "Erase to History" check box in the Options bar to get the same effect.
Photoshop contains options to move back and forth through previous states without using the History panel. Pressing "Ctrl-Z" on the keyboard goes back only one state change. Pressing "Ctrl-Z" again returns you to the latest state. To move back through multiple state changes press "Alt-Ctrl-Z" repeatedly. Pressing "Shift-Ctrl-Z" repeatedly moves forward through the states. While there is no keyboard shortcut to open the History panel, if you open the Action panel using "Alt-F9," it has a History tab at the top that opens the History panel. To add your own keyboard shortcut for the History panel, select "Keyboard Shortcuts" from the Edit menu, expand the "Window" item in the Applications Menus list, select "History" and then add your shortcut key using a "Ctrl" or "F" key, such as "Ctrl-H."
Information in this article applies to Photoshop CC. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.
- Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
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