I found myself struggling with “amnesia” and asking myself: “How the hell did I do it?” Six months ago I’ve created some work using some effects. I remember that I achieved a very interesting effect by accidentally clicking some option by mistake. Now, I have no idea about the particular effect, but my question is more general (not about an effect):

Actual question

Is there a way to create the full history of the particular workflow in Illustrator – which I can use after a long time (when I will have forgotten some step in work creation). Obviously, I need it saved after closing the file.

  • 1
    unless you did your effects non-destructively with the Appearance panel, I'm afraid you're out of luck...
    – Vincent
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 8:43
  • @Bakabaka I look for History, not for "undo" etc... Just to see the steps, even if it "listing" without direct possibility to recreate the steps... Let's say "Live bucket applied" "Star tool used" etc
    – Ilan
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 8:54
  • related (with some snark by someone called @Scott, almost feels like home): forums.adobe.com/thread/776702
    – Vincent
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 8:57
  • Actually since many CAD apps are vector and they can in fact do nonlinear history as can illustrators appearances panel (but yeah it would be painful). So could it have a history panel. But i digress Ilan its gone sorry. Any chance you can show the effect? We can then guess what you did
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 3, 2014 at 21:07
  • Has anything changed with this, or has there been a work-around? I'm trying to learn Illustrator, and find myself now and then wondering what function I just did (hit wrong shortcut key, etc) and a history would help me immensely! I've used it as a great crutch in learning Photoshop, and wish there were a way to do this in Illustrator. I read the thread above and laughed - being able to jump back and forth between 2 history states to compare is so important! And not hitting Cntl-Z and Cntl-Shift-Z just to do that would be so nice...
    – DoctorWhom
    Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 6:13

1 Answer 1


I always used to find it a bit odd that that the history panel only seems to make a feature in Photoshop... It might well be chock full of anchor placements and nudges but I'm sure groups of the same actions could be grouped... It always winds me up when I need to hold down Ctrl + C for half a minute or more to get back to an earlier state. CS6 has a default max undo depth of 200 and there are no options within the program to change this, which isn't great. You can increase it manually in the preferences file though (Details on how to find it are here: http://helpx.adobe.com/illustrator/kb/preference-file-location-illustrator.html but note that your preferences file may also be called "AIPrefs" rather than "Adobe Illustrator Prefs" as they mention). However, these undo levels will only ever be stored in your RAM and not within the actual file for next time you load it.

Most things retain their editability and you can go back and see the appearence panel to reverse engineer an object but perhaps it's a complex shape that has been merged with the pathfinder tool, or something else that is destructive such as text that's been outlined and then warped. The best thing you can try to do is avoid the more destructive tools that make it far harder to edit objects in future and/or duplicate (Alt + drag) objects before you do so. Vectors take up very little memory so often it's handy to duplicate work as you go so that you can see progress and old ideas. It's a shame that this kind of 'history saving' needs to be such a conscious effort rather than automatic within the application. (and there's no plugins for it that I can see)

ps. The guys on https://forums.adobe.com/thread/776702 seem very unhelpful and a bit too keen to dive in front of bullets to protect their beloved Adobe.

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