The best thing about creating your graphic design work digitally is that you can make any mistakes and still be able to revert back to the previous versions by redoing your actions. And you can undo and redo up to 200 times!
Especially after spending hours working on complex artwork, you will want an automated way to retrieve your previous work rather than have to redo the same thing manually. Hence, knowing how to redo in Adobe Illustrator is so helpful in improving the productivity of your design process.
There isn’t one way to redo any of your actions, and you will learn all of them here. Your choice comes down to personal preference.
In this tutorial, I will show how to redo in Adobe Illustrator CC with a Mac OS X desktop. This is not applicable to a mobile device.
What is Redo in Adobe Illustrator?
Doing a redo in Adobe Illustrator is to undo an undo. In other words, let’s say you’ve done an action and you changed your mind. For example, you undo outlines for text, and you wish to redo it now.
You undo that so that the artwork can go back to the original version. After you undo that action, you realised you prefer the previous action. That’s when you “tell” Illustrator to redo and it will reverse the last action.
Redoing and undoing in Illustrator can be very useful, but there are some situations where you can’t do that. You can’t redo an action if you did not use the undo function, and you can’t redo or undo what you’ve done within the View menu.
A best practice used by many graphic designers is to leverage the benefits of the Illustrator Preview Mode. In this way, you can quality-check your work and cut down the undo and redo steps before saving or exporting it.
How to Redo an Action in Adobe Illustrator: 4 Easy Ways
Very quickly, you can redo an action by using the keyboard shortcut, Command + Shift + Z for Mac, or press Ctrl + Shift + Z for Windows. You can also redo an action by selecting Edit on the Illustrator menu, then select Redo in the dropdown menu.
Method 1: Use Keyboard Shortcuts
The first method is the fastest way to redo an action in Adobe Illustrator, which is to use keyboard shortcuts. To use the undo command on the keyboard, press Command + Z on a Mac.
Or press Ctrl + Z for Windows.
If you changed your mind and wish to redo or go back to the artwork before you did the undo action, the keyboard shortcut for the Redo command is Command + Shift + Z for Mac.
Or press Ctrl + Shift + Z for Windows.
You can use this as many times as you have done an undo action.
Note: Do not use the Command + Y or Ctrl Y keys. These shortcut keys are meant to be for the Redo action in Adobe Captivate. If they are used in Adobe Illustrator, all your graphics will turn to Outline mode and colors will turn black. You may freak out, but hang in there, just press Command + Y or Ctrl Y again to bring back your artwork in Preview mode.
Method 2: Edit Menu
In order to use the Redo function in the Edit menu, first, go to the top menu bar, select Edit, and select Redo in the dropdown menu or go to Edit > Redo.
If you see that the Redo option is greyed out and not possible for you to select, that’s because you have not used the Undo feature yet. You won’t be able to Redo anything if you did not Undo anything.
The Redo feature is to get back what you’ve done before the Undo action was used, hence an Undo action has to be done first before you can Redo anything.
Method 3: History Panel
To access any recent state of the design you produced during the current Illustrator working session, you can use the History panel, similar to the one in Adobe Photoshop. You can see new stages being added to the History tab whenever you add any design elements. If you have a new document now, get started by selecting a drawing tool and creating your artwork.
To access and use the History panel, take the following actions:
First select Window from the top menu bar, scroll down the drop-down menu and select History, or go to Window > History.
The History panel will open up. If you’ve just opened your file or it’s been newly created, you will not see any actions listed in the History panel.
As you get to take action on your artwork, you will start to see a list of actions appear in separate individual stages in the panel. For instance, if you select the Pen tool and start using it, each of the points created with the Pen tool will be recorded as one stage in the History panel.
If you were to undo one action, you can see that one of the stages in the panel will be highlighted and your artwork is changed back to what it was based on your undo action.
If you want to redo that, you can select any of the stages after that undo action. This method is great if you have too many steps to undo and redo, you can skip all of the unnecessary steps and select the stage of your artwork you are looking for.
Anything you’ve done before has been recorded and will be accessible via this History panel. They will not disappear if you were to select earlier actions. The actions are listed in order of earlier actions on the top to later actions at the bottom.
The number of stages listed on the History panel is not unlimited. The default number of undos and redos is 100 times. To change it, you can select the History panel options on the top right-hand corner, represented with three horizontal lines.
Select Set History Limit in the drop-down menu and the preferences window will open up.
Go to the Others section and under History States, you can select either 50, 100 or 200 states and click the OK button. That’s a huge amount of undos and redos you can make!
Method 4: Version History
You are able to undo and redo every file version you’ve saved using the Version History panel.
If you haven’t done so, the first step is to save your Illustrator file to Creative Cloud. To do this, select File from the top menu bar, then select Save As… from the drop-down menu, or go to File > Save As…. Select the Save Cloud Document button in the open dialog box.
The Save to Creative Cloud window will open up. Name your file in the Save As field. Then, select the Save button. You will now see that your file is in the .aic format.
Next, open up the Version History panel by selecting Window on the top menu bar and then selecting Version History in the drop-down menu, or Window > Version History.
You won’t see any history versions for now since you just saved your file in Creative Cloud. Go ahead to work on your file, make changes and save your file as and when you want to. To save your file, the keyboard shortcut for the Save command is Command + S for Mac or Ctrl + S for Windows.
When you go back to the Version History panel, you will realize that each time you save your file, a timestamp will be made.
You will be able to select that version at every timestamp. Also, a preview of that version is shown in a small window above the timestamps to allow you to see what it was like before you decide to revert to the version you desire.
When you’ve decided to revert to a specific version, undo or redo by clicking on the three dots on the right side of the selected version. Then, select Revert to this version in the drop-down menu. The revert function will change your artwork to the selected artwork version in a few seconds.
Note that all versions saved will be available in the Version History panel for 30 days, after which they will expire.
If there are versions you’d like to save after 30 days, you can do that by selecting the bookmark icon on the right side of the timestamp.
Is There a Redo Button in Illustrator?
The great thing about Adobe Illustrator is that the sky’s the limit to reproducing anything you can imagine to life. Using it for nearly 20 years, I find that the difficulty of creating something can range from simple graphics to complex artwork. This also means that the tools available are only those that allow you to create something as close to freehand drawing as much as possible.
You won’t find tools and elements inside Illustrator that are like Canva or Adobe Spark where you can just click on a button and the graphics will transform to what you want.
In this case, there aren’t any undo and redo buttons in Illustrator that you see in Canva, as of today. Also, as someone who has been practicing graphic design for some time, I would say that keyboard shortcuts work best. To redo anything, simply use the keyboard shortcut will do.