Tutorial: Save your Document History in Photoshop

Have you, either as a designer or layout artist, ever worked on a design or scrapbook page, really liked the final result, and then couldn’t remember how you achieved it? I know I have.

Photoshop gives us the History Panel to help us in situations such as these.  There is a LOT we can do with the History Panel, but today I would like to focus on just one thing. One thing that is easy to do. One thing that can be really helpful to us all, I think, and that is saving the history state of a document.   Here’s what you need to know:

1. If you do not have your History Panel open, you can find it by going to the top Menu Bar, then Window > History.

2. By default, Adobe saves 20 history states, in order to save memory. If you would like more states to be saved, you can reset that number by going to: Edit > Preferences > Performance.  I have CC2015 set to save 50 History States.

Photoshop Elements users:  You may set your history states, as described here; but PSE does not offer you the option of saving your steps, as described below.


3.  Before (preferable) or immediately after opening a document,  you must set up Photoshop to record and save your working steps.  This is how:

  • Edit > Preferences > History Log (I am using CS2015.  If you are using another version of Photoshop, your path might be slightly different. Just look for the History Log.)
  • The History Log options box will open for you. You may choose Metadata, Text File, or Both.
    • You will be able to read Metadata in Adobe Bridge or in Photoshop using the path: File > File Info > Photoshop.
    • You will be able to read “Text File,” using Notepad or Text Edit (Mac), or Word (You will need to change the File Type to “Text Files” in the lower right corner of the Word “Open” window).
    • You may choose both if you like.
    • Choose where to save your Text File by Clicking on the “Choose” button.
  • In the “Edit Log Items” drop-down box, you may choose:
    • Sessions Only: Adobe only records basic session information, such as when the file was opened and closed.
    • Concise: Information on actions taken on the document.
    • Detailed: This includes the most data, such as opening; closing; dates and times of actions taken.  (I choose this option. I want as much information as possible.)


4. Now you are ready to work on your document.  Just begin working as you normally would and Adobe will record all of your steps.  You can view your steps at any time by clicking on the History Tab in your open panels. How to use the information you see there is a tutorial for another day. For now, just know you can view it there if you like.

5.  Once you are finished working, save your document as your normally would.   If you have to close your file before you are finished working on it, that’s okay.  When you reopen the file, Photoshop will automatically start recording your steps again on the same metadata or text file.

By reviewing the metadata file or text file, you will be able to tell exactly what you did during your working session(s).

If you decide to view your information via Photoshop:  File > File Info > Photoshop, you will see something like what is pictured below.


If you decide to view your information view Text File, you would see something like this:


It’s great to know that we can get lost in the creation process without having to worry about remembering what specific steps we took.  By viewing our History State, we will know!

View this tutorial on the  Karen Schulz Designs You Tube Channel.

I hope you find this tutorial helpful!

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Comment (1)

  1. Stacey

    thanks so much for this tutorial. I would hit something and that box would pop up but had no idea what it was. now I do! thanks so much for the adorable cluster too!

    August 31, 2015 at 6:59 pm
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