How to Undo Edits Made in Photoshop Elements 12 - dummies

How to Undo Edits Made in Photoshop Elements 12

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Just as Photoshop Elements gives you many options for editing your images, it also gives you many options to undo your work if you decide you don’t like the changes that you made.

Ever since the Apple Macintosh brought a window-like interface to the masses, the Undo command has been one of the most frequently used menu commands in every program developed. You make a change to your document, and if you don’t like it, you simply choose Edit→Undo or press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z (Cmd+Z on the Mac).

Using the Undo History panel

Elements takes the Undo command to new levels by offering you a panel on which all (well, almost all) of your changes in an editing session are recorded and available for undoing at any step in an editing sequence.

Each edit you make is recorded on the Undo History panel. To open the panel, choose Window→Undo History. Make changes to your document, and each step is recorded on the panel, as you see in this figure.


If Elements slows down and you’re moving along at a snail’s pace, choose Edit→Clear→Undo History or choose Clear Undo History from the panel’s Options menu. Elements flushes all the recorded history and frees up some precious memory, which often enables you to work faster. Just be sure you’re okay with losing all the history in the Undo History panel thus far.

You can also choose Edit→Clear Clipboard or Edit→Clear→All to eliminate Clipboard data from memory.

Almost all steps are recorded because the number of steps the History panel can record is controlled by a preference setting that tops out at 1,000 steps. If you choose Edit→Preferences (Windows) or Adobe Photoshop Elements 12→Preferences (Mac) and look at the Performance preferences, the number of history states (times you can go back in history and undo) defaults to 50.

You can change the number to the maximum of 1,000, if you like. But realize that the more history states you record, the more memory Elements requires.

When you want to undo multiple edits, open the Undo History panel and click any item listed on the panel. Elements takes you to that last edit while scrubbing all edits that follow the selected item. If you want to bring back the edits, just click again on any step appearing grayed out on the panel to redo up to that level.

All your steps are listed on the Undo History panel as long as you remain in Elements and don’t close the file. When the file is closed, all history information is lost.

Reverting to the last save

While you make edits on photos in Elements, always plan on saving your work regularly. Each time you save in an editing session, the Undo History panel preserves the list of edits you made before the save and up to the maximum number of history states defined in the General preferences.

If you save, then perform more edits, and then want to return to the last saved version of your document, Elements provides you with a quick, efficient way to do so. If you choose Edit→Revert, Elements eliminates your new edits and takes you back to the last time you saved your file.

When you choose Revert, Revert appears in the Undo History panel. You can eliminate the Revert command from the Undo History panel by right-clicking (Windows) or Ctrl-clicking (on a Mac with a one-button mouse) the Revert item on the Undo History panel and choosing Delete from the context menu that appears. This command returns you to the edits made after the last save.