Today’s Question: I made a series of adjustments in Lightroom Classic, with one of the steps along the way being a content-aware cleanup. After applying more adjustments, I realized the cleanup wasn’t good. Is there any way to go back and fix just that one step without losing all the work I had done after that step?
Tim’s Quick Answer: No, you can’t undo a single history state without also undoing the adjustments that were applied after that history state. However, you can reset an individual adjustment based on a review of the history states.
More Detail: The history in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic is linear, meaning you can go back in time to a given history state, but doing so will cause all steps that had been applied after that state to also be undone. So, if you performed ten steps in history, for example, and you realize you want to undo the third step, with the history feature you can only go back to step three so that steps four through ten would also be undone.
However, because all your work in the Lightroom Classic develop module is non-destructive, you can always reset or refine an individual adjustment. This can be based on reviewing the history states to get a sense of what was done, which can inform your decision about what needs to be changed.
Today’s question indicates that a cleanup done with the Healing tool is the history step that represents a mistake. You can therefore simply select the Healing tool again, click on the edit pin for the spot that you want to fix, and press the Delete key on the keyboard to delete that correction. You can then use the Healing tool again in that area to improve the cleanup work as needed.
If you wanted to undo an individual adjustment, you can obviously see what adjustments were applied in the history list. This could help you determine which adjustment you need to reset, for example. In addition, the history states for individual adjustments show the degree to which the adjustment was changed and the new value for the adjustment based on the change.
For example, let’s assume you applied a Clarity adjustment, then went back and increased the value for Clarity to a very high level. If you later decide that was too much, you can look at the history states to determine what the prior value was.
To the right of these history states you will see two numbers. The first number indicates the change in value for the adjustment, and the second number indicates the updated value. So, for example, if you see Clarity listed with the first number being +25 and the second number being 45, then you know that Clarity had been set to 20, but then you increased it by 25 so the new value is 45. Setting Clarity to 20 would therefore set it back to the value it was at before the additional adjustment.
The point is that while you can’t undo individual history states without also undoing all adjustments performed after that state, you can refine or reset individual adjustments based on a review of the history for an image.