Is it possible to get the paramaters used at any point of the history? Say I used the color balance tool, is it possible to view from the history the settings I used when applying it? (Photoshop must store this information if it can revert and reapply it right?)

I am using Photoshop CS4, thanks.

  • 1
    This is an interesting question, but I believe Photoshop's history is implemented by saving document states (which is why its memory usage gets so high over time). So it's not actually storing the action parameters and re-calculating the state by re-performing a sequence of actions (might be more memory-efficient, but it would take a lot of CPU/GPU power). Mar 30, 2012 at 13:52
  • @Lèsemajesté oh no! I hope not. I would expect them to store that information for usefulness anyway even if they didn't use it for calculations. Seems like a big oversight to me.
    – George
    Mar 30, 2012 at 14:21
  • Well, it's possible that the parameters are stored in the history as well (they are quite useful). I'm just saying that's not how the history states are reverted/restored. Mar 30, 2012 at 14:23
  • the javascript reference only lists 4 properties for a historyState object (name, parent (document), snapshot (yes/no), and objecttypename). No mention of parameters. However in the same reference, they cite an example where they alter the snapshot property, but that is marked as read only, so: bad documentation.
    – horatio
    Mar 30, 2012 at 14:34

3 Answers 3


In the preferences set the History Log to a Text file (and set a save location for it) and choose "Detailed" from the drop down.

Once you do this Photoshop will track settings.

For example you could then open the text file and see something like this:

2012-03-29 15:33:47 File Untitled-1 opened
        Preset Kind: Custom
        Adjustment: curves adjustment list
        curves adjustment
        Channel: composite channel
        Curve: point list
        point: 0, 0
        point: 100, 83
        point: 172, 211
        point: 255, 255
Color Balance
    Color Balance
        Shadow Levels: 0, 0, 0
        Midtone Levels: 23, -52, 95
        Highlight Levels: 0, 0, 0
        With Preserve Luminosity

Note... if you don't have this set.. there's no way to get the info from a previous image. As far as I'm aware, this is the only way to get previous settings used and until it's set like this the data is not stored anywhere specifically.

  • Do you know if this has a filesize cap? Does it append or clear the old log between photoshop sessions?
    – horatio
    Mar 30, 2012 at 20:49
  • @horatio I don't know specifically. I can find out though. My current log goes back to Feb 5, but there was a reinstall at that time. So for me, it makes sense that it starts at that date. Being a text file, it can grow pretty long ans still be small in terms of kb. But again, I'll check.
    – Scott
    Mar 30, 2012 at 21:02
  • I guess we know it appends then, and that the file sizes aren't too scary. One could leave this on and GREP (etc) for filenames if curiosity or the need arose.
    – horatio
    Mar 30, 2012 at 21:05
  • 1
    Heck, one could use the timestamps for billing or journaling purposes
    – horatio
    Mar 30, 2012 at 21:06
  • This is great, I will make sure to have this on in the future. I thought there must be a way to get this info, thanks! @horatio a good idea, but hopefully it wouldn't come to that.
    – George
    Mar 31, 2012 at 10:51

The short-but-inadequate answer is "No, Photoshop doesn't store that information." The real answer takes a little longer to explain, but is important for an understanding of how to use the program most effectively.

To work with Photoshop efficiently you must develop the habit of using non-destructive editing techniques for everything you do. "Non-destructive" means that you don't take actions that change original pixels or that you can't change later, and Photoshop provides plenty of tools to make this possible.

In your case, you have applied a color balance correction. If instead of using Image > Adjustments > Color Balance you apply a Color Balance adjustment layer (using the adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel), your settings are stored in the adjustment layer itself and are forever editable. You have not changed the original pixels at all. This applies to any image adjustment. Even Highlight/Shadow, which is not available directly as an adjustment layer, can be applied after you convert a layer to a Smart Object, and will thereafter be editable as a Smart Filter.

Rules like "Never apply corrections directly to a layer," "Don't erase -- mask instead" and "Make it a Smart Object before you apply a filter" will allow your Photoshop composites to "remember" the adjustments you applied and they will be editable no matter how many times you save the file or how long ago you saved it.

Adjustment layers come with an additional bonus: you can copy them from one document to another, so you can (for example) apply exactly the same Color Balance settings to multiple images just by pasting the same adjustment layer onto each image.

For a thoroughly readable and practical introduction to Photoshop, I recommend Scott Kelby's "Photoshop CS4 for Digital Photographers" and Deke McLelland's "Photoshop CS4 One-on-One." Both will groove in the techniques you need for a non-destructive workflow, get you up to speed on all the most essential features of Photoshop, and keep you entertained at the same time.

  • Thanks, I was aware of some non-destructive techniques but didn't know about adjustment layers. I don't normally do a lot of actual photo-editing in photoshop but this is great knowledge to have :)
    – George
    Mar 31, 2012 at 10:52

Perhaps you know this trick - hold the Alt key when invoking an adjustment dialog via keyborad shortcut (e.g. Ctrl+Alt+B for color, Ctrl+Alt+U for hue, etc), which will pop-up the dialog with the last parameters used. Obviously will work only for the LAST color, hue, etc.. adjustment you made.


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