Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
The smartest way to undo steps that you've taken as you edit an image in Full Edit mode is to use the Undo History panel. I like this method of undoing over others because it helps me to keep track of exactly what I'm eliminating and what I am bringing back as I undo and redo. To open the Undo History panel, I'll go to the Window menu at the top of the screen and I'm going to choose Undo History. That opens the Undo History panel down here at the bottom of the column of panels. It doesn't leave very much space to work with this panel.
So I'm going to drag the panel out of this column of panels by clicking on its tab and dragging over here, and then moving it up against that column of panels until I see a blue line. I'll release my mouse, and that starts a new column of panels here with just the Undo History panel in it. So it expands to take up the full length of the screen and that's a good thing, because I'm going to be filling this Undo History panel with States as I work on the image. Right now there's only one state in this panel and that is a state labeled Open.
This records the one thing that I've done to the image so far which is to open it. Let me do some more things to this. I'll just make some random edits and keep your eye on the Undo History panel as I do. I am going to go over to the toolbar and I'll select the Brush tool there and I'll make a mark on the image with the tool, clicking and dragging a line. In the Undo History panel, that action was recorded as the Brush tool state. I'll go back and do something else. I'll click on the Brush tool and from the flyout menu, I'll select the Pencil tool, and I'll come in and I'll scribble a signature above that line.
Now, in the Undo History panel, there's another state that bears the name of the tool that I use; the Pencil tool. Next, I think I'll crop away this white frame around the image. So I'll go over to the toolbar again and I'll select the Crop tool. With this tool, I'll move into the image and I'll click at this inner corner, and I'll move diagonally to the opposite inner corner, release my mouse, and then I'll accept that crop by clicking this green check mark. That's all recorded as a Crop state, here in the Undo History panel.
Now I am going to do something that requires resizing a brush. I'll move over to the toolbar and I am going to click on the Sponge icon here. From the flyout menu, I am going to choose the Dodge tool. I'll move into the photo, and I see that my brush tip is pretty big. I'd like to make the brush tip smaller. So I'll either press the Left-bracket key on my keyboard or I can go up to the Options Bar for this tool and I can go to the Size option and reduce the size of the brush. What I'd like you to see is that, that is not recorded as a state in the Undo History panel, because it's just changing the tool option, it's not actually doing something to the image; so not everything will appear here in the Undo History panel.
But when I apply the Brush by clicking and dragging over the image, lightening the area over which I'm dragging, that is recorded as a state here in the Undo History panel. Now, I'll do something that doesn't involve the tool. I'll apply a filter. I'll go over to the Effects panel here on the right, and I'll click on the first icon which is the icon for Filters, and that brings up all these Thumbnails representing different filters. I'm going to apply this Filter; the Rough Pastels filter by double- clicking its icon here in the Effects panel.
That's recorded as another state; the Rough Pastels state in the Undo History panel. So now that I have a number of States here, what can I use them for? What I can do is go back step-by-step, undoing one thing at a time that I have done to the image. I can just click on the preceding step and that removes the Rough Pastels filter. If I click on the Crop step, that removes what comes after that; the Dodge tool. If I click on the Pencil step, that removes the Crop. I don't have to go back step -by-step, I can skip steps.
So I might go all the way back to the Open step to see the brush as it was before I added any of my edits. If I want to bring back the signature that I applied with the Brush tool, and the Pencil tool as well as the Crop, then I'll click on the Crop state here. If I want to bring back my Dodge work as well as the Filter, I'll click on the Rough Pastels state. What I like about this method of undoing and redoing is that I can see exactly what I'm eliminating and bringing back, and how far back I'm going in my editing history.
By the way, by default, the Undo History panel keeps track of 50 states. I can increase that number in the Editor Preferences as I showed you in an earlier movie on Preferences. But I usually don't do that because having too many states can potentially cause a slowdown in image processing if I'm working on an older machine. Now, there are a couple of things about using Undo History that you have to be aware of or you may get tripped up. One thing is that the Undo History panel can only keep track of one linear history at a time. Well, what does that mean? It means that if I go back in time, say just before I cropped the image, back to the Pencil state, and then I do something else to the image anything else that qualifies as a History state, maybe I'll go back and get the Brush tool and I'll make another line here.
Everything from the Pencil state forward disappears except for the Brush tool mark that I just made and that's because the Undo History panel can only keep track of one line of history at a time. And as soon as I went back and then started doing something new, it was like branching off and creating a new history. Another thing to know about the History panel is that it only keeps track of history while the image is open. So if I close the image, and then reopen it next week, there won't be anything here in the Undo History panel. The history is not saved with an image.
Now, Undo History isn't the only way to undo. You've seen me many times in the course so far undo by going up to the Undo button at the top of the screen, and clicking it. If I'm undoing just one or two or three steps, I do use the Undo button or I'll use the shortcut for the Edit Undo command which is Ctrl+Z on the PC or Command+Z on the Mac. Both of those methods are quick and easy and they do allow multiple undos. But if I am trying to use those methods to step back 20, 30 or even 50 steps, it can be difficult to keep track of where I am, and what I've undone and that's when the Undo History panel really shines.
Unfortunately, the Undo History panel isn't one of the default panels, so you have to remember to open it. I suggest that when you sit down to do an Elements editing session, you go ahead and open the Undo History panel and leave it open on your screen, so you remember to take advantage of it when you do need to undo.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
180 Video lessons · 76073 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 94515 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 62017 Viewers
103 Video lessons · 31367 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.