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The Revert Workaround

One of my most often-used Photoshop tools is called Revert. Found under the File menu, the Revert command might be thought of as the “throw it all out and start over” tool. That’s how it’s usually used, anyway. Revert discards every edit you’ve made, every last one, since the file was last saved. Or if it hasn’t been saved yet, it will revert to the same state as when the file was opened. Revert simply means to go back to the last saved state. And it’s actually very useful, even when you don’t want to just “throw it all out and start over.” Here’s how.

I employ something I like to think of as the Revert Workaround. Let’s say I’m editing away for several minutes when I realize that I skipped a step earlier in the process. Yes, I could go back in the History palette to find that place and make the appropriate edit, but then this approach just throws away every edit I’ve subsequently made. And I want to keep those edits. So in fact, I use my Revert Workaround to go back, but without throwing away any edits. The trick is that while reverting throws out all edits, it doesn’t clear the clipboard. So if you flatten your image and select it all, you can eventually paste it back onto the original image once you revert. In this way, you can have the best of both worlds: you can go back to the image’s original state, and still keep your edits.

To do this, start by flattening the image you’re working on, then selecting all of the canvas (CMD-A or CTRL-A) and copying it (CMD/CTRL-C) to the clipboard. This effectively creates a current saved state, with all of the edits I’ve made included. Now I’m free to revert the file to the last saved state by clicking F12 or choosing File>Revert from Photoshop’s File menu and watching as the image reverts back to its original version. From here, I then paste the clipboard (CMD/CTRL-V) to apply a layer with all of my new edits. This way I’m able to save all the editing I’ve done—by pasting it onto a new layer—while still permitting me to go back in time to the original file to make the earlier edits I wanted to make.

This might be useful for selecting and editing a specific portion of the frame, or it could have to do with wholesale color and exposure changes to the entire file. I can duplicate the original image file for some editing flexibility, or I can make selections and edits to any portion of the frame that I choose and blend layers together. The point is, by copying and pasting the edited file atop a reverted original layer, I can reap the benefit of going back to an earlier step in the process to make any necessary changes, without going so far as to throw out the hard work I’ve also done. With this Revert Workaround, I employ the Revert tool regularly to get a second chance on my edits by going virtually back in time without sacrificing all of those subsequent edits.

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