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Photoshop includes a history feature that allows you to essentially go back in time with respect to the adjustments you apply to your images. History is a little bit limited so it's important to understand how it works so that you can get the most out of it. To start off, let's take a look at the History panel. I'll go to the Window menu and choose History, that will bring up the History panel. I'll go ahead and enlarge it a little bit and move it to the side so that we can see our image a little better. The idea of history is that everything we do in Photoshop is being recorded up to a point.
There are limitations, and by default, Photoshop only remembers the last 20 history states. You can change that in preferences. I usually set mine to around about 100. But the idea is that we can then step backwards. So, let's for example just paint right onto the image. I'll grab the Brush tool an adjust my brush size. I'm currently painting with black. So I'll simply paint on the image. I'll paint one stripe an then another stripe, an another, an another. And now I've painted four beautiful stripes on my photograph. But I can always undo those actions. In this case I've painted directly on the Background Image layer, in theory, completely destroying some of the pixels found on that layer. But because I have history I can step backwards.
And there's a couple of ways we can work with history but the first thing to keep in mind is that history is fragile, if you close an image and then reopen it the history is no longer there. History is only here as long as you have your image open and again it is limited based on your preferences setting. The other thing to keep in mind about history is that it's linear. I can't pick an choose what sorts of things I want to undo. I can only go back in time. So for example, I can't undo the first brush stroke that I made, without also undoing the other brush strokes, because those were made later. I can step backward on the history panel.
I'll go ahead and click on the Previous Brush tool state for example. Essentially, telling PhotoShop that I want to go back in time to this specific point when I had done three brush strokes, but not the fourth. Or, if I want to undo all of those brush strokes, I can go back to my open step. And I can bounce back and forth, for a limited time. Let's assume that I undid two of my brush strokes and then I perform another task. Let's just assume another brush stroke, but now I decide that I actually want to get back to those other two brush strokes that I just got rid of.
Well, I can go back in time and undo this brush stroke, but I can't get those other two brush strokes back because I went back in time and started a new path in history. I know this seems a bit messy. But thankfully, in most cases, you only have to take a few steps back. And then you start performing some additional tasks, or you redo a task that you didn't do very well the first time. So, for example, I might undo all of my brush strokes, and then do something else. Maybe I didn't mean to paint at all. Perhaps I was trying to clean up the image with a Spot Healing Brush tool, for example.
So I can go back, and then start over generally speakign I actually dont work with the History panel very much. And thats because im a fan of keyboard shortcuts so lets take a look at how that would work ill go ahead and close the History panel. And then ill go ahead and paint those four brush strokes well maybe not exactly the same but still four brush strokes and now if I decide I want to undo I can press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on Macintosh that will undo the last thing I did. But if I press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z again, then the brush stroke comes back. I'm essentially able to bounce back and forth, back and forth by pressing Ctrl+ Zor Cmd+Z repeatedly.
If I want to go back multiple steps I need to add the Alt or Option key. So on Windows I would hold Ctrl and Alt and then press the letter Z. On Macintosh I would hold Cmd and Option and then press the letter Z. And that allows me to step back multiple steps. For my undo. And that's the approach I tend to take. I'll simply use the keyboard shortcut. If I seat tI made a mistake, I'll press Ctrl+Z on Windows, or Cmd+Z on Macintosh. If I've made several mistakes or "I need to take several steps back in order to recover from whatever mistake I did make, then I can press Ctrl Alt+Z on Windows or Cmd option+Z on Macintosh.
Repeating that keystroke as many times as I need to undo history states. Again, keep in mind that history is only available while the image is open. So it's important that you pay attention while you're working, and catch those mistakes as early as possible. But fortunately, when you do catch those mistakes, Photoshop makes it relatively easy to take a step back, and correct your work.
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