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Is History Repeating Itself?: A Photoshop Tutorial

Good morning scrappers! Tamara here back with a really quick tutorial on how to change your History States in Photoshop!  Have you heard the saying ” A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to always be valuable?” Our very own Thomas Jefferson wrote that wonderful quote, and although I feel quite certain he wasn’t talking about Photoshop, he was very correct when he stated how valuable history is…even if it is Photoshop history!

If you have ever used Photoshop’s Undo command, and I feel quite certain we all have, then you have used what Photoshop calls a History State!  Unfortunately, there have been several times when I have been working on a photo or layout that I have run a quick photo action, only to discover that I didn’t like it when I had finished it.  The easiest way to find your way back to the previous state of your photo, BEFORE your changes, would have been to take a snapshot of the layout or photo beforehand, but more often than not, I totally forget that step and I have to rely on the Undo feature in my program to fix my problem! The glory of the full Photoshop version is that we can just go to our History icon and see the past twenty steps or so  that we have applied to our photo and, if we need to go back a few steps, we can just click on the step we want to return to and begin our editing process again from that point.

In Photoshop, however, the default History is pretty low…meaning it will only go back twenty steps or so and if you have ever run an action on a photo, you know that sometimes those actions can be upwards of  fifty steps! At that point, you are stuck with a botched photo and you have to start your editing process all over again! Fortunately, you can make a quick change to your History States and never have that problem again!

With the introduction of Photoshop CS3, Adobe added a new section to it’s Preference dialogue box called Performance and this is where you go to change the History States in Photoshop. Go to Edit >Preferences >Performance. *(see below for earlier versions)

A dialogue box will pop up and over on the far right of the Preferences dialog box, you will see a box titled History and Cache. You can change your  History States there by changing the value in the input box.   Here, you can see that  I have increased mine to 500…I am overly cautious, so don’t feel like you have to change it that high…just set the number to whatever you like!  You will need to remember that the more History States you add, the more memory you’ll need on your computer. If you find that Photoshop is becoming too slow as you work on your images, try reducing  the number of  History States in your Photoshop program.

Once you have changed the History States, click OK  to exit out of the dialog box. Now you are ready to Undo as many times as you like! No more frustration!

*Earlier versions of Photoshop have this option as well. You will need to go to Edit>Preferences>General. You will see an option called History States. Type in the number of History States you desire.


Hope you find this a quick and easy tutorial and something quite useful! I know I do!

Have a great Monday!! Happy scrapping everyone!

comments +

  1. Monica, aka sparky_mom says:

    Ok that rocks!! Thank you!

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  4. kelly says:

    Thanks Tamara – great Tut!

  5. Kait says:

    While it is true that having the ability to have that many history states seems ideal, you will need to have more memory available on your computer. If Photoshop becomes slow as you work on your images, you will have to (a) reduce the number of history states or (b)add more memory to your computer.

    • Tamara says:

      Thank you Kait! I did make note of the in the tutorial but it doesn’t hurt to repeat it again! If you are having problems with Photoshop and you added a lot of history states..trying reducing them first for sure!!!

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I'm Mye De Leon

I'm a mom with a desire to give the best for her family and turned a lettering hobby into a multi6-figure business. These days, I eat strategy for breakfast and turn other businesses into successful empires.

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I'm Mye


My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.

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My business is to help your business generate more revenue so you can be who you want to be.