History Palette

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The History palette shows you every step you’ve taken since you opened your picture. At the top you see that I’ve opened the picture of Hunter. I changed the brightness/contrast and vibrance, then I changed the image size and saved it as a new file.

If I decide against changing the image size, I just take one step back to Vibrance. Often I’ll make a few changes to a picture, then go back several steps to see if the changes I made were better or worse than the picture I had before. It isn’t infinite, so be aware that you can only go back in time so far. Why can’t this be real life?

The Layers Palette

The two palettes you need are Layers and History. Go to the “Window” menu on top and click on those two palettes and they will show up on your workspace.


It is important to always be aware of what layer you are on in a PhotoShop image. When you add type, it automatically creates a new layer. If you paste another image into this one, it automatically creates a new layer. If you become frustrated because nothing you’re doing is working, it’s probably because you’re not on the right layer.

layers palette

If you open your image and the layer labeled “Background” is locked, it means you can’t make any changes to this layer. Just click on the lock icon next to the word “Background” and it will become a normal layer.



The Floating Tools Palette

Instead of introducing all the PhotoShop tools to you, I’m just going to tell you about the ones you’ll need for cropping, changing brightness/contrast, and changing the resolution of your image.

Over to the left on your workspace should be a floating Tools Palette. It may be shown as one long column, or a shorter two-column palette. If you want to change to either format, just click on the right side at the very top.

tools palette

The Move Tool

The Move tool is very important. If you aren’t in the middle of using a different tool, like cropping a picture, you should be using this tool. Get in the habit of clicking on it when you finish with a function.

The Crop Tool

Usually when I open a new picture, I crop it first. If I don’t like it, I use Edit > Undo until I get it right. When you are done cropping, click on the Move tool and you will get a screen that asks if you want to crop, or cancel? Click accordingly.

The Hand Tool

The Hand tool moves your image around, just like if you placed your hand on it.

The Zoom Tool

There are several ways to zoom in and out. You can use this tool, or, since I have a Mac, I use command + or command -. ┬áIf you use the zoom tool, look up at the top of your screen and you’ll see a magnifying glass with a “-” in it for zooming out.



The Undo Button

Life should have an Undo button. The best feature PhotoShop has is the Undo button.

photoshop top menu

Just go to the “Edit” menu and you’ll see Undo. If you’ve done something you didn’t want to, or have reconsidered, just click Undo and you’ll be back one step. Or you can use “Step Backward.”

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If you’ve made a few changes that you want to undo, use the History palette and just move up to where you wish you were before you screwed up. For more information on the History palette, go to the post “History Palette.”