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In this review, we highlight the recent progress made in light-controlled self-healing and shape memory polymers. We analyse the materials design, underlying mechanisms and chemistries involved in the different methods developed for these two types of emerging photoresponsive materials. We show that these two seemingly different groups of functional materials are linked by a number of common approaches enabling their optical control, particularly the approaches based on the photothermal effect and photochemical reactions of photoswitching groups incorporated in polymer structures. Possible future developments and perspectives of using light as a unique trigger for polymer self-healing and shape-memory are also discussed.