Showcase and discover digital art at yex

Follow Design Stacks

Subscribe to our free newsletter to get all our latest tutorials and articles delivered directly to your inbox!

Photoshop Elements 2 Undo History

Photoshop Elements 2 Undo History


Records most editing steps for multiple undo
Default location is fifth from the left in the well



The Undo History palette (formerly known as simply the History palette) records almost every step you make when editing in Elements. At any time, you can click on an earlier “state”, as these steps are called, and revert your image to that condition. This allows multiple undo. Until you do a new edit from the earlier state to which you returned, the forward states remain available. You can step forward and backward to make comparisons.

However, the minute you do a new edit from an earlier state, all subsequent states are deleted. To clarify, if you step backward in the History palette by clicking on an earlier state, and then do any new editing, all states that followed the one to which you stepped backwards are deleted.

The number of states available is determined by the setting you choose in General Preferences, which can be found by choosing Edit > Preferences > General (the illustration below only shows the top portion of the Preferences dialog box).
preferences - history states

Please note that history states require a lot of memory, so if you have limited resources, you may want to cut down on the number of states saved. On the other hand, if you are working with small images, and have tons of RAM, you can raise the number of states saved.

Once you have done more edits than you have history states set for in Preferences, the oldest edits are eliminated from History as new edits occur. Remember that each brush stroke, and each mouse click with a tool is one edit. If you think you may need to step back in history (use multiple undo), keep an eye on you history states.

History is not saved once you close the document.

Please note that palettes which are in the palette well will not stay open while you edit. To bring a palette out of the well, click on its name tab and drag it out.


The illustration on the left, below, shows the History palette. (I was playing with the Effects Browser—can you tell?) Each of the labeled panels is a state. You can return your image to any of those states by clicking on the state’s name. Subsequent states will be deleted once you perform any new edits from an earlier state.

Note the little tab on the extreme left end of the last state (the dark blue state). Drag on this to return to earlier states. This can be fun to play with—it will scroll your image backwards like a movie in reverse. Drag it forward again to watch the movie the other way.

On the right below, is the same palette menu accessed by clicking on the little arrow in the upper right corner of the palette. Use the Clear History option if you are having memory problems and need to free up your resources. Note that Delete and Clear History can be accessed by right clicking on a state in the palette. [Note that all illustrations shown above and below are from Elements 1. Except for cosmetic differences, they are the same in Elements 2.]

history palettehistory palette menu



To display any palette which is not currently on the screen, choose Window > Show [palette name]. To close a palette, click the X in its upper right corner. You can group palettes under a shared blue bar by dragging the name tab of one under the blue bar of another.

To hide all palettes and the toolbar, press the Tab key. To hide the palettes, but leave the toolbar in view, hold down the Shift key while pressing the Tab key. Pressing the Tab key again will bring them all back. This can be a big help if the palettes are overlapping an image you are trying to work on.