Photoshop Quick Tip: How to Use the Undo Options

Today I’m going to go over some of the basic undo options in Adobe Photoshop. We will cover the shortcut keys for undo as well as stepping backward and forward through the history states. Let’s start by opening up a new document and creating a few brush strokes on our canvas. To undo our last action, navigate to the edit dropdown and select undo, or we can use the shortcut Cmd+Z. Now you might notice that we can only undo once. If you keep pressing Cmd+Z it just goes back and forth between our last action. To understand what’s happening here, let’s open up the history panel under Window/History. In this panel, Photoshop, saves a set number of history states. When we use undo, or Cmd+Z, Photoshop will only undo and redo the last state. In order to go back further, we need to go back to Edit and select Step Backward, or simply use the shortcut keys Option+Cmd+Z. Now in the history panel you can see as we step back through all available states. In the same way that we step backward, we can also step forward by using Shift+Cmd+Z. Another method to undo several states at once, is to simply click on the state you would like to go back to. It’s important to note, however, that once you step backward through states and begin working again, a new set of history states will be saved and you will lose the old ones. One thing you might encounter in Photoshop is a limit to the number of history states available to you. To increase this number, which I highly recommend, navigate to the Photoshop dropdown, preferences, and then performance. Underneath History and Cache we can adjust the number of history states between 1 to 1000. I usually keep this around 100, but if you don’t notice any performance issues, this can be set as high as you’d like. Ok, that’s all I have for today. I hope you found this useful, and if you have any questions or comments post them below. And as always like and subscribe to receive more tutorials and useful tips.

In this tutorial I will be using Adobe Photoshop CC 2015. If you have an earlier or later version, it’s possible that you might see some subtle differences. I do the majority of my work on a Mac, but I will try and provide PC shortcuts as well.

Mac Shortcut Keys:

Undo: Cmd+Z
Step Backward: Option+Cmd+Z
Step Forward: Shift+Cmd+Z

PC Shortcut Keys:

Undo: Ctrl+Z
Step Backward: Alt+Ctrl+Z
Step Forward: Shift+Ctrl+Z

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42 thoughts on “Photoshop Quick Tip: How to Use the Undo Options

  1. I've been searching for an 'Undo' tool icon. Does Photoshop not have this?? In most photo editing programmes I've used there is always an 'Undo/Redo' tool Icon in the top tool bar. This is usually represented by back to back arrows. It makes editing so much easier. Is there no Undo/Redo button tool icon in Adobe??

  2. Why can't there be buttons for this? There's a button for just about everything else. Yet I need to press and hold three keys for a very commonly-used function to revert history? WHY? WHY? WHY?????????????????????

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