How to Enable Photoshop’s Old Undo Keyboard Shortcuts

Photoshop cancel preview imageMichael crider

Not all changes are for the better; sometimes you just want to undo them. This is how I feel about Adobe Photoshop’s current undo / restore keyboard shortcuts. Here’s how to bring back the old – and much better – classics.

How old Photoshop undo shortcuts work

A quick reminder: for years, Photoshop has implemented a very handy undo / restore keyboard shortcut. To undo something, you can press Ctrl + Z (Command + Z on a Mac.) Press it again to undo the undo. In other words, it would restart the step you just canceled. It was great for quickly comparing the edits and changes you had made to your images.

For example, you can turn off a load of different layers, add a mask or paint in some detail, and then use Ctrl + Z (or Command + Z) to quickly toggle the changes you’ve made on and off so you can directly compare their effects. It was a very effective way to make sure that the changes you were making were for the best – and that you haven’t horribly over-edited your images.

Photoshop history states screenshotPhotoshop’s historical states document every action you take.

As for canceling more than one step? You can use the shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Z (or Command + Option + Z on a Mac) to go back in the different states of the document history. Ctrl + Shift + Z (or Command + Shift + Z on a Mac) would move you forward again. Easy!

Unfortunately, while these keyboard shortcuts have been popular with many, they violate the almost universal convention of undo / restore keyboard shortcuts. So, in the latest versions of Photoshop, Adobe has gone for the more traditional Control + Z (or Command + Z on a Mac) to undo as many steps as you want, and Ctrl + Shift + Z (or Command + Shift + Z on a Mac) to repeat each step.

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There is a keyboard shortcut to switch to the previous history state (Ctrl + Alt + Z or Command + Option + Z). however, functionality is not quite the same and does not work in all situations.

Obviously, it’s pretty clear that I like things the old fashioned way – although I can see a case for the new way. The good news, however, is that selecting the set of keyboard shortcuts you have available is as easy as flipping a toggle.

Enable classic Photoshop undo shortcuts

To restore the old undo shortcuts, open Photoshop and click Edit> Keyboard Shortcuts.

Check the “Use old undo shortcuts” box and click “OK” to save your changes.

enable old undo shortcuts in Photoshop

The next time you fire up Photoshop, you’ll be back to the good old days.

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