History Log: HIDDEN Photoshop Script That Generates Written Tutorials


In this tutorial, you are going to learn about a little-known Photoshop feature know as the “History Log” that will allow you to track all the edits that you make to a photo.

This script basically allows you to create a written-step-by-step tutorial automatically.

This feature is helpful if you need to keep a record of your edits for a client, legal purposes, or to simply remind you of the edits that you have applied to an image.

As you may already know, Photoshop is always tracking your edits. You can see what Photoshop is tracking through the History Panel (Under Window > History).

The problem with the History panel is that you can only see the generic basic steps that you have applied.

History Panel

In this case Levels, Vibrance, and Smart Sharpen. But you don’t get specific information on the settings or options that were applied to those adjustments.

Also, you cannot export these History States as text.

If you want to track all the steps and settings that you have made to a file, then you have to enable a little-known feature called History Log.

How To Use The History Log in Photoshop

The History Log is a textual history of the edits that you have made to an image. In other words, Photoshop tracks all the changes that you make and saves them as text.

All you need to do is enable this feature, and let Photoshop you the rest!

Here are the three basic steps to get you started using the History Log.

Step 01 – Enable The History Log

Bring up the Preferences Panel by pressing Ctrl K (Mac: Command K).

From the History Log tab, enable the History Log checkbox.

History Log Preferences

Step 02 – Decide Where To Save The History Log Steps

Under “Save Log Items To” you can decide where to save the written steps that the History Log Tracks.

Where to Save History Log

Metadata

You can save the History Log’s text information within the image file itself, in the Metadata.

Keep in mind that storing many editing operations within the file metadata increases file size.

If you need to prove that the file’s metadata has not been altered in any way, you can use Adobe Acrobat to digitally sign the file.

Text File

You can save the History Log in a separate text file. Selecting this option brings up the “Save As” window, and you can give the text file a name and decide where to save it in your computer.

Both

The “Both” option will allow you to save the History Log both within the metadata of the image and in a separate text file.

Step 03 – Select The Level of Detail History Log

Under “Edit Log Items” you must select the level of detail contained in the History Log.

History Log Details

Sessions Only

Keeps a record of each time that you start or quit Photoshop and each time that you open or close files. The filename is also included in the history log. This option does not contain any information about edits that you make.

“Sessions” is a useful setting for time tracking. But keep in mind that with this setting the History Log will not record activity. Only open and close times.

Concise

Concise includes the information from the Sessions option, along with the text that appears in the History panel next to the History state. Only a basic description of the steps but no details on settings or options used.

Detailed

Records the same information as the Concise option, and it also gives you a complete history of all the changes made to your image. Including settings, options used, and file locations.

The information displayed with this option is very similar to the text that appears in the Actions Panel when you open an action to see the steps.

How To See The History Log Steps

Once you save your history log, you will be able to see the changes you made to a file. There are at least two ways that you can review the History Log.

View The External History Log File

To view the external text file, just go to the folder where you saved the file and double-click on it.

This will open the text file and you will see the detailed information about the changes you made.

View The History Log Within The File’s Metadata in Photoshop

From Photoshop, you can see the Metadata information of any file.

If your History Log is saved within the file’s metadata, then go to File > File Info, and then select the Photoshop Tab.

From this panel, you will see the history log of the currently active file.

Metadata History Log

Don’t forget to watch my Lightroom CC course on Adobe’s website!

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Shara Abel

Thank you! I searched high and low for this information!!! I was so frustrated not being able to go back in history…THANK YOU!!!
Also, thanks for participating in the PS Summit… your video was great! Thanks for helping us out!

Randolph Croft

Thanks for the info. I would love the option to click on something in History and make it into an Action.

That’s probably too useful.

Also, thanks for the videos on YouTube. I’m a subscriber!