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Not everything that you try to do on a photo in Elements is going to be something that you want to keep. Editing photographs involves lots of trial and error. So knowing how to undo things that you've tried is a really important skill in Elements. So let's say that I want to try to eliminate this black dog from the snow. I might try to use one of the Healing Brushes for that, like the Spot Healing Brush, which is here in the toolbox. Now I can tell you in advance I already know that this isn't going to work, but that's the point. I want to show you how to undo something that doesn't work.
So I'm going to come in with the Spot Healing Brush, and I'll make the brush a little bigger by pressing the Right Bracket key. So it's bigger than the dog's leg and then I'm going to start clicking a few times over the dog's leg, trying to get the brush to cover the leg with snow that it copies from elsewhere in the image. After I've made just a few clicks, I can see that it's really not working and so I want to undo this. My first reaction might be well gee! I better try to erase what I've done, but that's not the right reaction. Let me show you what the Eraser tool does when you're working on a single layer in a photograph which is usually a special layer called Background.
You can see that here in the Layers panel, and I'll explain more about that in the chapter on layers. But for now, if I were to set my background color by clicking on the Background Color in the toolbox, and choosing a color in the Color Picker that opens, and then clicking OK, and then I went and got the Eraser tool, and I came into the image and try to erase what I've done, what happens is that the Eraser tool just paints with the background color. So using the Eraser tool is not the answer to undoing.
There are several ways to actually undo and one of those is to go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choose Undo, and the Undo command there will actually say what the last step that you performed was. So if I click Undo Eraser that gets rid of that red eraser mark. Now if I want to undo those Spot Healing Brush marks that I made, I can go back to Edit and now it says Undo Spot Healing Brush and I'll just keep going back there, Undo Spot Healing Brush a few more times, and each time I do, one more of my Spot Healing Brush marks goes away, but that's not very efficient, particularly, if I had made lots and lots of marks.
To make that undo go faster, I could use the shortcut for undo, which as you can see here on the Edit menu is Ctrl+Z. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z on my keyboard a few more times in order to bring back my dog's leg. So that's not a bad way to work if you just have a few brush strokes or Spot Healing Marks to undo. But what if I had made 20, 30 or 40 such marks? Then it could be really tedious to try to undo them with either the Undo command or using the shortcut Ctrl+Z. A better way to work is to use the Undo History panel to fix mistakes.
The Undo History panel is accessible from the Window menu at the top of the screen. So I'm going to go there and choose Undo History. Notice that the Undo History panel is now here in this column of panels, and it's really hard to see there. So I'm going to take it by its tab and drag it out, as I showed you how to do earlier in the course. And then I'm going to go to the bottom right-hand corner of this panel and drag down to extend it vertically, so that you can see everything that's in here now. In the Undo History panel there is now one bar for each of the actions that I took on this image.
Starting furthest back in time at the top when I open the image and then I made all the Spot Healing Brush marks, and then I use the Eraser. I'm going to make some more marks so that you can see how the Undo History panel works from scratch. I'll come in again with the Spot Healing Brush, which I'll select in the toolbar, and this time I'll start clicking on the front leg of my dog. Trying to cover him up, but not doing a very good job. Now I've made a real mess of the dog, but over in the Undo History panel there is an easy way to fix that mess.
I could just start clicking up these bars each of which represents one of the marks I made with the Spot Healing Brush, and as I do parts of the dog are coming back. Alternatively, I could take this slider on the left-side of the Undo History panel, and click-and-hold and drag it up to earlier states, like this, and when I release my mouse, the image will appear as it did back when I made that second mark with the Spot Healing Brush or I could just go to the very top of this list where it says Open, which is the first act that I performed on this image and click there to bring the image back to the way it looked after I opened it.
The really nice thing about the Undo History panel is that I can go back down in the other direction. So if I want to bring back all of those Spot Healing Brush marks that I made, I can come down and click on any one of these states, I'll just click on the last state to get back to where I was at that point of my editing. In other words, I can go up this list of states or down this list of states, and all of the states remain there. But watch what happens if I click somewhere in the middle of this list of states and then I do something else to the image. For example, if I get the Eraser tool again and I start trying to erase here, then all of the states after that disappear.
So that's one circumstance in which I'm not going to be able to rely on the Undo History panel to go backward and forward through my editing states. However, I can always go back to my original image, no matter what I do by going back to the top of the Undo History panel and clicking on the name of the image there, and that brings back the original photograph. The last thing to keep in mind about the Undo History panel is that whatever it offers while you're working on the image, will disappear once you close and reopen the image, then you'll get a fresh Undo History panel with no states in it and you won't be able to return to any of the versions of the image from the last time you were working on it.
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