Camera Raw Filter Failure

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Today’s Question: I saw your recommendation to use the Camera Raw Filter in Photoshop to get access to the Camera Raw adjustments for a photo that has already been processed. However, sometimes when I choose “Camera Raw Filter” from the Filter menu, my photo changes in appearance, but the Camera Raw window doesn’t appear. Do you know how I can fix this?

Tim’s Quick Answer: This description indicates that you are selecting the “Last Filter” command from the Filter menu, rather than the actual filter you want to apply (the Camera Raw Filter in this case). Instead of choosing “Camera Raw Filter” from the top of the Filter menu, select the “Camera Raw Filter” option that appears a little further down on the menu in the section that begins with “Filter Gallery”.

More Detail: When you apply a filter in Photoshop, that filter will then appear a second time at the top of the Filter menu, in addition to the normal position on the menu for that filter. Before you have applied any filters, that top menu item will be labeled “Last Filter”. However, the “Last Filter” item will be disabled at that point, since there isn’t yet a previously applied filter to apply.

Once you have applied a filter to any image, the name of the most recently applied filter will appear as the top item on the Filter menu, in place of the “Last Filter” option. If you select the filter from that top position on the menu, the applicable filter will be applied to the image with the exact same settings you used the last time you applied that filter. No dialog box will appear before that filter is applied, so you’re not able to adjust the settings for the filter.

If you want to apply the same filter, but with the option to refine the settings you used the last time you applied that filter, you can hold the Alt/Option key while choosing the Last Filter command. That will cause the dialog for the filter to appear, but with the settings you used the last time you actually applied the filter.

If instead you want to start with the default values for the filter, you’ll want to select the specific filter from the Filter menu, rather than from the Last Filter position on the menu. In the case of the Camera Raw Filter, that means choosing that option from a few positions down below the Last Filter option at the top of the Filter menu.