Photoshop: Don't understand the undo/redo system

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Unlike most modern apps, Photoshop only has a single "undo". If you press command-z a second time, Photoshop will redo the change instead of continuing to undo. Not even Illustrator or InDesign works this way at this point.

To work around this issue, I customize my keyboard shortcuts to use "step backward" (command-z) and "step forward" (command-shift-z). For the most part this works great and I've been very happy with it.

But it brings up a new problem: if I change the selected layer, then press command-z ("step backward") then the layer change is undone as well. This is a constant frustration for me, and it seems there's no solution to get both the behaviors I want.

To me, there are two possible ways to fix this problem:
• Adopt a standard undo/redo system with multiple levels of undo/redo
• Make layer selection a separate step in the history

Personally I don't care that much, I'd be happy with either. But adopting a standard undo/redo system makes more sense to me, for consistency amongst the CS apps (as well as other apps). Perhaps it could be an option if there's disagreement over what works best for people.
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Michael Piontek

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Posted 8 years ago

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Alec Bethune

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Step Backwards undoes Layer Selection.


Stepping backwards will often times undo a layer selection. This gets messy. I will select a layer, make a modification, then step backwards. It will then select back to the previous layer I had. It's terribly frustrating and disorienting.

I work with several others who run into the same problem. If this is a 'feature' of step backwards, I highly recommend adding multiple undo options and keep them separate from step backwards.

Thanks for listening!
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Allen W

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unfortunately, adobe will probably never fix this...
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Dermot Power

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This still causes problems for me on a daily basis - Photoshop seem to be more motivated to broaden the software than tighten the existing version. I wish they had a good competitor that we could move over to but the competition is just not good enough yet and Corel Painter is steadily worse with each release. Hopefully Art Rage Or SketchBook pro will sort their keyboard shortcut problems out and we can all stop having to make do. (Art rage's brushes are far superior to Adobe's but the software is too clunky to use- at least for me). Check thru the history of this problem and particularly Kris Hunt's patronising replies to see what you are up against. basically it's the user's problem!
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yoann.3d

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I confirm that this is solving the problem for me !

To install the script StepBackwardSmart:
1*Download it from:
http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/35...

2*Put it in the photoshop folder:
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC (64 Bit)\Presets\Scripts
It is probable that you can put it whenever you want, i don't know.

3*In photoshop, go to File - Scripts - Script Events Manager

4*In the down part of this window, open the dropdown menu of "scripts", choose "Browse", it is all the way down

5*Go to the file at the location described in the second step

6*Clic "Done"

7*Go to Edit - Keyboard Shortcuts Or use the shortcut alt shift ctrl K

8*The shortcut you want to assign is in the Application menus - File - Script (search a bit, the name is "StepBackwardSmart")

Voilà !
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Dermot Power

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This works for me most of the time (see my comment from a year or so ago above). But the dreaded 'layer select undo problem' came back a few days ago and I realised it was because p'shop had lost a lot of my keyboard shortcuts - not sure why, I reset them again and have fixed the problem. Photoshop keyboard shortcuts often don't 'stick'. For example I have set 'command shift A' as flip canvas horizontally but half the time it brings up the camera raw conversion dialogue box despite going in to the preferences and setting the Cam Raw keyboard shortcut to blank. And restarting p'shop and even restarting the computer. But you are right this script is a great workaround - when it fails it is probably because the shortcut fails. And when it fails i usually don't notice until I realise I have been working on the background layer again.
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Allen W

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with that keyboard shortcut problem, what version of photoshop are you using?
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yoann.3d

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I think that the best solution would just be to reprogram the stepbackward function.
Ideally, you could setup the things you want to have integrated into this stepbackward: brush strokes, layer selection, layer visibility, selecting a color, whatever.
A menu with boxes to thick or unthick would just be perfect and solve everyone's problem i guess.
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fruityth1ng

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Let's be frank, the fact that this is still an issue is EMBARRASSING. It's a stubborn headed non-response by *someone* at the photoshop team sticking to their guns, holding that this is the "correct" design. It is not, and people are noticing. I'm unfollowing this topic since it is hopeless, some designers' pride is taking prevalence over usability here. I'll just install the polycount script on every new release of photoshop. Like the "free artboard movement" tweaks that are needed with every new release, too. Adobe, you're making software for professionals, is the learning curve of photoshop really your main hurdle to more sales?
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Allen W

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what are the "free artboard movement" tweaks?
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Allen W

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the reason adobe has the default undo function designed the current way is to enable the user to easily toggle any new changes back-and-forth so the user can easily decide on changes. but this causes problems for users that need a more standard undo system--particularly for users such as painters and illustrators who make lots of brush strokes.

a better approach to the default undo system is to make it work more like "step backward" and give users single-key shortcuts for each undo and redo [such as press Z for undo and press X for redo]. this will maintain the convenience of toggling back and forth while simultaneously allowing the convenience of multiple undos and redos.

if adobe will ever make the default undo system work more like "step backward" as outlined above, perhaps adobe will have more incentive to fix this "wrong layer selection" problem.
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yoann.3d

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This does not really explain why they would remove the good old undo. They could have very well kept it and make this "before after" feature another single function (the "compare function").
It was then more straightforward, and avoiding this torrent of disappointed people :p
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Tim Bentley

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Stepping Backwards reverts change to the layer AND moves to prior layer selected.

I am constantly stepping backwards. One of my biggest gripes with PS is when you select a layer, mark the layer some how (with a brush stroke for example), then step backwards, it does not stay on the layer you selected, instead reverts back to the layer you were on previously. Please Adobe, revert the change made to the layer, not the layer selected prior to the mark. That is two actions in my opinion and should be treated as such.
Is this a known issue? Something Adobe is currently fixing? Am I making any sense?
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Allen W

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this has been a major complaint for many years. but adobe has done nothing. if adobe can comment on this and say they will fix it in the next version, it would be awesome. but so far, no hope.

adobe seems to be more focussed on adding new features than to reexamine and improve workflow.
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Tim Bentley

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Stepping Backwards undoes change AND takes me back to previously-selected layer -....

Not unlike most folks posting in this community, I use Photoshop more than any other program and have used it for going on 20 years, give or take a year.
There is one hangup I have that I constantly run into that bugs and frustrates me that I wish could be addressed. It seems to be a simple issue on the surface.
I tend to use dozens and dozens of layers when creating illustrations. If I select a layer to edit, make an edit to that layer then Step Backward (that is, I undo the change I made), Photoshop undoes the change and takes me back to the layer I was on before making the change. If I want to continue to work in the layer I selected, I have to find it again and, as most of you know, finding the layer again can be a bit time-consuming.
When I Step Backwards, I expect to undo the change I've made to the layer I am on and NOT undo the change *and* take me back to the previously-selected layer.
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Allen W

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this problem is one of the big reasons why photoshop is not a drawing-friendly program.
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James Marcrum

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Undo, stepping backwards and automatic layer changes.

Why does stepping backwards change what layer you're working on? Say I'm editing layer 2 and then switch to layer 3. Then I make two brush strokes on layer 3, and realize I don't like them. If I "step backward" twice, I'll be back on layer 2, even though I want to be working on layer 3. At best I have to annoyingly reselect layer 3, and at worst I might accidentally do work on the wrong layer. "Undo" is useless here because it bafflingly only ping-pongs between your last change.

Why on earth would it work this way? Why, at the very least, do we not have more options for either keeping layer selection immune from any changes or adding a layer change to history, so that in my above example, I'd have to "step backward" 3 times to be back on layer 2?
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Official Response
In Photoshop CC (2015) update, step backwards shouldn't change the layer selection.
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Dermot Power

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At last!!!?
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fruityth1ng

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Jeffrey, we've known each other for years through this topic. I for one will raise a glass tonight to this super-welcome feature. Thank you! :) !
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Tim Bentley

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This is amazing! This update will save me so much time per project. I will actually have to adjust my current workflow to adjust to this update -- adjust for the better, of course!
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Jason Thomas

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Really glad about this!!! I'm the one who posted the image of the drawing in an earlier comment and post. This will save a lot of heartache and headaches!
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Dermot Power

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iPhone thumb fumble meant a limited reaction from me earlier... really happy that photoshop made this change - will make my life a lot easier from now on. Might have deserved a bit more fanfare!
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Allen W

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i'm happy this will finally get fixed. but i wonder why it took so long--was it really that hard to fix?

btw, can we get an update to also fix it for Photoshop CS6? many of us are not ready to go CC yet.
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Chris Cox

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Yes, it wasn't that simple to change. The originally stated problem is not a bug in any way, but the unintended side effect that people complain about is the selected layer changing. So we had to work around the layer change due to stepping back in history, along with safety logic to prevent it from selecting something that no longer exists.

No, older versions will not get new features.
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Jason Thomas

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Thank you (and possibly your teammates) so much for fixing this. A lot of artists (especially the ones who use a Wacom) are going to have a lot less frustration now!
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Dermot Power

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I've read Chris Cox's reply several times and I've no clue what he's on about - guess it doesn't matter if the 'not bug' is fixed ...
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Gener7

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I just had to field a user's question on this topic in the Adobe Photoshop forums. Since I use CC 2015, I was not able to duplicate the poster's problem, or even knew it existed, I thought it was his Prefs file.

I did dig up the polycount link for CC 2014 and earlier users. You will have to use the "Smart Step Backward" script if you own earlier Photoshop versions.

Use this link, the older one no longer works.

http://polycount.com/discussion/78932...

And yes, thanks for fixing this.

Gene
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Dermot Power

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I hate to pick at an old wound that we all assumed has been healed but the undo/redo layer select problem persists in one special case; selection of layer masks. If you select a layer, then add a mask, draw on or fill the mask, then undo (because you filled it with white instead of black for example) Photoshop selects the layer instead of the layer mask. Then without realising it you start drawing on the layer instead of the mask. Not as problematic as the layer selection problem because you will usually spot the mistake immediately as you'll usually draw with pure black or pure white which is more evident than if you were painting on a layer with colour. But its a glitch that gets me most days I am using p'shop.
anyway.. . hate to moan but I wonder if anyone else has this problem?
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Stephanie Chergi

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How do I undo "deselecting a layer" (or often in my case, multiple layers)?