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Join Justin Seeley, lynda.com staff author and design enthusiast, each week for a new 5-minute, self-contained tutorial that you can use to instantly improve your design workflow. This series covers techniques for print, digital, and web design, addressing the tools that creative professionals like you use most. Learn new ways to leverage layer styles and vector shapes in Adobe Photoshop, work more efficiently with text in Illustrator, and embed videos and even tweets in WordPress posts, and much more. Check back each week for a new installment, and a new design hack.
Hello, and welcome back to Creative Quick Tips. My name is Justin Seeley. And, this week, I'm going to be talking to you about the history panel inside of Photoshop. Well, to be more specific, I'm going to be talking to you about using the history panel to create snapshots of your documents as you work. Now, there are a lot of reasons why you might want to do something like this. For one, maybe you got the default number of undos set really low in Photoshop and you want it to run a little faster. That's fine. Or, maybe you've got a lot of undos but you're just worried about exceeding that number because of the amount of edits that you have to make to a file.
In any event, snapshots are a great way to capture your document and freeze it at an exact moment in time. You can also use this feature to create multiple documents, which can act as sort of a quasi-versioning system if you're working on things like website or app development. Let's take a look at how this works. So, here I've got my history panel open inside of Photoshop, and you'll notice that I freshly opened this file, so there's not a lot of information in here. But, as you work in Photoshop, this thing is going to track everything that you do to the file, whether you move something, you hide a layer, you delete a layer, you add a layer, whatever the case may be, its keeping track of everything that you do.
Now, in your settings, which you can access by pressing Command or Control+K, there's a section where you can control how many undo states you get in Photoshop. And so, that's how many steps the history panel's actually going to remember. By default, it's set to 20, so you'll get 20 steps that you can step back through. And so, as you make changes to things, you can actually go back in time based on those steps. However, if you need to go further back in time, my suggestion is to use this little button right down here, which says create a new snapshot.
So, let's just work around a little bit, and I'll create some snapshots and show you how this works. So for instance, let's say, the client comes back and they're like we don't like the keyboard layout in our app. No big deal. I can come in here and I can say, all right, let's invert the keyboard color. Maybe they like that a little better. You can see there that I inverted it. I can now create a snapshot of this. Right there. There's snap shot one and I'll call this inverted keyboard. And, I just double click to rename that very quickly, very easily. And so, let's go ahead now and let's create a duplicate of this.
Command+control+J, right there, and then, let's invert it back so, we have both of those. And then, we can just hide this very quickly. And, let's go ahead and create another snapshot here, and let's call this original keyboard hidden. Just like that. So, now I'm keeping track of all these. No matter what I do, I've always got these two states I can go back to. For instance, if I go back to inverted keyboard and click on it. You can see here that when I click on it, it automatically rolls back my Layers panel.
Look, the duplicate layer is not there. It's only the inverted keyboard. If I click on Original Keyboard Hidden, that layer pops back in. I can turn it on and off anytime I want. Pretty neat, right? As you continue to create these snapshots over the course of an entire project, it's really easy to create multiple files based on these just by right-clicking one of these and choosing New Document. When you create a new document, it basically just duplicates the snapshot. The file name of the new file will be the same name as the snapshot name that you had.
And, everything that's in your layers panel is duplicated over here. And then, you can just save this out as a separate version that you can send to the clients. Say, maybe you like this one better than this one, whatever the case may be. It's a great way of keeping track of multiple edits that you make throughout the course of a document. Now, the unfortunate thing is that if you were to close a document, and I'll go ahead and close this original document here. And, I'll save it. But, if I go back and open that again, you'll notice when I open it back up, I don't have those snap shots or those states.
It's saved in the last state that I left it in. So, that's the unfortunate thing. And, that's why you want to save out these snap shots as separate files. That way you've got them sort of backed up, so you can reference them any time you want. And, that's also why you should name these snapshots meaningful things so that you understand what exactly what changes were made to each individual one of these, so that when you're looking at them you can say, oh okay, I know exactly which version that is. You can bring it back in and you can make changes to it. No matter what you're working on, it could be a photograph, it could be an app mockup, it could be a website mockup, it doesn't matter what you're working on.
Using this little trick to create snapshots is a great way to ensure you can always roll back the clock anytime you want, and then saving them out as a new document is a great way of creating multiple versions of files quickly and easily. That's it! I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you learned something as well.
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