Being able to undo your work is one of the best perks of Procreate and digital art in general. No pencil stains, eraser shavings, or worn out paper. The undo feature is one of Procreate’s most attractive features, but it can have its downsides if you’re not careful. You especially need to be careful about closing your design if you have any changes you might want to undo.
Once you leave your Procreate design and return to the gallery, or close the app, you can’t undo anything in your design. Procreate does not store your version history, so the best way to return to an earlier version of your design is to regularly back up your Procreate file as you work.
The fact that Procreate can’t undo anything after returning to the gallery or closing the app is a big bummer. That said, we’re artists, and we’re creative. There’s a workaround for everything these days, including the Procreate undo issue.
Let’s dive into what Procreate’s undo feature can and can’t do. Then, we’ll dive into a workaround to make your Procreate undo life easier.
Is There a Procreate Undo History?
Procreate does not have an undo history that lets you search through your past actions and revert your design to an earlier version. You will need to undo, one at a time, until you are back to the point in your design that you want to be.
Procreate is not like Google Docs, which lets you look through your version history and instantly bring an older version of your work back to life.
With Procreate, you have to undo each step individually by either doing multiple two finger taps, or holding your two fingers down for a continuous string of undo actions.
I love Google Docs and I love Procreate, for different reasons, obviously. One way that I wish Procreate had followed in Google Doc’s footsteps is with creating a version history feature.
There are SO many legitimate reasons why you’d want the ability to go back to your earlier versions of your Procreate work. And one of those very legitimate reasons is what we’ll talk about next.
But first, let me go on a very necessary tangent. If you haven’t tried Skillshare yet, you’re really missing out. Especially since you can get a trial of it, absolutely free. I’m in love with Skillshare and it’s actually the first place I turned when first learning how to use Procreate.
Yes, Skillshare taught me everything I needed to know to get started with Procreate, which was invaluable. They’re classes are top notch and taught by real professionals in the industry. If you’re new to Procreate, or want to take your skills to the next level, grab a free trial of Skillshare and take advantage of all of their amazing classes. For $0, you have nothing to lose.
Ok, back to the Procreate undo issue.
Is There a Workaround for Undoing in Procreate?
Even though I’m obsessed with Procreate, the fact that Procreate doesn’t have version history this is a huge drawback. It’s not a big enough drawback to make it worth it to switch to another drawing app (nothing compares to Procreate in my book). But, it’s a big enough drawback that you’ll want to be REALLY conscious of it.
There are forums full of people who didn’t realize that Procreate didn’t store a design’s undo history and then learned the hard way.
There are other people who had the unfortunate experience of accidentally closing the app or returning to the gallery and then having a huge facepalm.
Be really careful as you work.
- Don’t return to the gallery unless you’re 100% sure that you won’t need to undo anything
- Don’t close the app unless you’re 100% sure that you won’t need to undo anything
- Keep your iPad charged so that it doesn’t die and leave you with a design you can’t undo
- Keep your iPad and Procreate updated so that they don’t crash and leave you with a design you can’t undo
Basically, put your iPad in a bubble and see how much art you can get done that way. Just kidding.
Yes, it’s important to be conscious of how you use your iPad and Procreate so that you’re not left with changes you can’t undo. That said, there are some workarounds that can help:
1. Regularly back up your Procreate files to the Cloud
If you back up your Procreate files to the Cloud, you’ll be creating your own version history. The key to this trick is remembering to do it. If it helps, set a timer as a reminder (on a different device so that you’re not closing Procreate and losing your undos).
How often you back up your Procreate files depends on how intricate your design is, how fast you’re working, and how much you care. Honestly, you probably won’t be as neurotic about this when working on a casual design as opposed to one that you plan to publish.
Recommended Procreate Tools
These are my favorite Procreate tools that I wouldn't be able to live my Procreate life without!
- Skillshare: I take a LOT of Skillshare classes and they are the reason that I started using Procreate in the first place. These classes are amazing and you can take them for FREE! Click here to get a 30 day free trial of Skillshare
- Matte Screen Protector: these matte screen protectors will make your iPad screen feel more like traditional paper. Click here to find them on Amazon! Make sure to get the right size for your iPad model.
- Printful: it's SO rewarding to see your own art on a shirt, mug, sticker, poster, and so much more. Whether you want to start selling your art and sharing it with the world, or you just want a gift for yourself or a friend, having a great printer is important. Printful is my favorite print provider, offering a ton of high quality products to print your own art on. Check them out and sign up for a free account here!
So, how do you back up your Procreate files, exactly?
Whenever it’s time for a back up, follow these steps:
1. Click on the wrench in the top toolbar
2. Click on “Share”
3. Choose “pro” for the format
4. Choose the Dropbox or Google Drive option depending on the cloud service you use
If you’re diligent about saving your Procreate files as you go, you’ll be safer should you lose your undo capabilities. If something goes wrong, just import the most recent Procreate file back into Procreate and you’ll have an earlier version to work from.
Of course, this work around isn’t as ideal as being able to track every single change but, based on how often you make your backups, you’ll get pretty close.
In general, saving your Procreate files is actually more complicated than it seems. In order to make sure that your art is protected for the long term, you need to take some intentional steps. I’ve written an entire guide about properly saving your Procreate work so that it’s safe should anything happen to your iPad.
2. Create new layers as you work
If you create new layers as you work, you can simply delete your most recent layers if you need to revert to an older version of your design. This trick is especially useful if you’re experimenting with new techniques or are testing out a style.
If exporting your Procreate files all of the time sounds really tedious, this is a more efficient way to revert to old versions of your design. Simply delete your new layers, and you’re done!
Of course, you need to remember to create new layers in the first place, so set a timer if needed.
Once you’re done with your design, simply merge the layers and you have a clean, finished product.
Be careful about merging your layers though. This is also an area where you can run into “undo” trouble.
Can You Unmerge Layers in Procreate with the Undo Feature?
When you merge layers in Procreate, you can undo it as long as you haven’t closed the app or returned to the gallery. If you closed the app or returned to the gallery, you can’t undo your merging and your layers are merged forever.
Yes, the same principles of undoing in Procreate apply to everything within Procreate, including layer merging.
This is why you need to be extremely careful when merging your layers and 100% sure that it’s the right decision.
To be safe, you can simply keep your layers separated and fight the instinct to clean them up.
It’s better to deal with a layer-heavy Procreate design instead of having design elements you can’t get rid of because all of your layers are merged.
Going back to our past recommendations, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from layer merging mistakes is backing up your Procreate files beforehand.
Save your Procreate files when all of the layers are independent and separate. That way, if something goes wrong, you can simply re-import your older Procreate design and work with the layers individually again.
It would be great if Procreate added a version history feature to their software. But, they haven’t yet, so we need to improvise. Luckily, there are some workaround, albeit a bit clunky, that can help you recover if you end up in any undo disasters.