Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop

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I get a lot of questions from customers about how to do things in Photoshop. I am going to be posting some frequent asked questions from MCP Actions customers and blog visitors. If you have a quick question about Photoshop you want answered, please email me and I may use it in a future blog entry. If you have lots of questions on lengthier topics, please contact me for details on my MCP one on one training.

Question: “Sometimes I make changes in Photoshop that I do not like and I want to do backwards?”

Answer: Many photographers use the “Undo” or “Step Backwards” commands in Photoshop. If you are going back one step, this is fine, though I still prefer the methods I will show you in a moment. If you want to quickly undo your last step, instead of going under EDIT – and UNDO or STEP BACKWARDS, try using the keyboard shortcuts, “Ctrl+Z” and “ALT+CTRL+Z” (or on a Mac – “Command+Z” or “Command+Option+Z”

backwards Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop
pin it4 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop

Now for the more effective way of going backward – “The HISTORY PALETTE.”

To pull up your HISTORY PALETTE, go under WINDOW – and CHECK OFF HISTORY.

history Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop
pin it4 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop

Once you do this, you will have a history palette as shown here.

You literally click on the step you want to go back to. By default, you get 20 history states. You can add more by changing your preferences before editing but the more states, the more memory. I keep mine at the default. You can see your original at the top – and you can click on that to start your editing from scratch. But what if 20 is not enough, or what if you want to try a few different things with your photo, such as a color pop action and a black and white version? That is where Snapshots come in handy.

history2 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop
pin it4 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop

Making a Snapshot is easy. You just click on the camera icon at the bottom of the palette. This takes a “snapshot” of your photo exactly where you are in your editing process.

snapshot Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop
pin it4 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop

You can rename each snapshot or just use the default “snapshot1″ then “2″ and so on.

snapshot2 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop
pin it4 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop

Here is an example of a typical time I would use a snapshot.

I am using my Quickie Collection Actions to edit a photo. I run “Crackle” then “Under Exposure Fixer.” I like this base editing, but now I want to try a few color actions: “Color Sensation” and “Night Color” to see which I like best. So I make a snapshot after using “Crackle” and “Under Exposure Fixer.” I usually rename it so I know what I did to that point. Then I can run one of those other actions. Make a new snapshot and name it with the action name. Then go back to the first snapshot. Run the second color action and make a snapshot. Then I can click the different snapshots to compare and see which I prefer. This works great anytime you have multiple directions you want to take a photo, after doing some base work that you would want to retain no matter what you do for the rest of the conversion.

Have fun “Snapping.” I hope you find this tip as useful as I do.

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 Quick Tip | Using History Palette and Snapshots for effective editing in Photoshop

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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5 Comments and 0 Replies



  1. 1
    michelle says:

    okay that snapshot tip is awesome, so many times i can’t go back far enough to undo what i wanted. thanks for the tip.

  2. 2
    Missy says:

    That’s an awesome tip! I use the history palette but I didn’t know about the snapshot thing! I’ll be using that for sure! Thanks!

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    So if you go into the history palette, and click on the step that you want to go back to, can you delete that step without deleting every step that came after it?

  4. 4

    That was great information! :) Thank you! I’ve used the history palette but had no idea about the snap shot option!

    You’re the best! :)

    Thanks again -

  5. 5
    Tiffany says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I would love to learn how to tilt a picture in photoshop and how to get the white background all the way white.



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