What’s a PSD file, and how do I open one?

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by David Em
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PSD is a file format that stands for Photoshop Document. A PSD file ends with .psd and can be opened with an image editor.

PSD file.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

Adobe offers a suite of photo editing, graphic design, and video editing tools. Photoshop is one of Adobe’s top software, and it’s a powerful editing tool.

PNG, JPG, and PDF are common file formats. They’re also easily opened by computers. However, PSD files aren’t.

Related article: How to remove a background in Photoshop

The following explains what a PSD file is, and how you can open or convert one.

What’s a PSD file?

PSD stands for Photoshop Document and is a native Adobe Photoshop file format.

The file extension format for a PSD is .psd, and it’s common among artists and graphic designers.

A PSD can contain a single image, but what makes a PSD unique is that it can store multiple high-resolution images, layers, or objects.

The maximum dimensions for PSD files are 30,000 pixels high and wide.

While PSD files are excellent, they’re a proprietary format of Adobe. Without Photoshop or other Adobe applications, you may not be able to open them.

Related article: How to resize an image in Photoshop

How to open a PSD file

The best way to open a PSD file is to use Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

Since PSD is a native file format to Photoshop, it’s the only program that allows you to open, maintain, and edit the layers without any problems.

Other Adobe applications, such as Illustrator, After Effects, and Premiere Pro, can also open PSD files.

However, other Adobe products won’t have the same ability for editing, as they’re video and audio editing applications. If you’re only looking to open a PSD, they’re great options.

Aside from Adobe, other programs for opening a PSD include GIMP, Affinity Photo, Photopea, CorelDRAW, Apple Preview, and Google Drive. All but Affinity Photo and CorelDRAW are free ways to open a PSD file.

How to create a PSD file

PSD files are native to Photoshop, and it’s the only way to create one. To create a PSD, take the following steps:

  1. Launch Adobe Photoshop.
  2. Open a file.
  3. Edit your file by adding a layer.
  4. Click File.
  5. Click Save As.
  6. Click .PSD as the file format.
  7. Click Save.

The steps are straightforward to create a PSD.

With many layers, you’ll find that the files quickly become quite large, and the file type may become a PSB, which stands for Photoshop Big. It’s essentially a large PSD.

How to convert a PSD file

Since many sites and platforms don’t accept PSD files, you may want to convert them into a more commonly supported file format.

Another common reason to convert a PSD is for printing. To print a PSD, you need to convert it to a PDF.

Before converting a PSD file into another file format, it’s crucial to note that it’ll combine all the layers into one, and you can’t convert it back.

So, make sure you keep a copy of the original PSD or are positive that you don’t need the layers.

If you already have Photoshop installed, take the following steps to convert a PSD to another file format, such as JPEG, BMP, PNG, or GIF:

  1. Upload the PSD.
  2. Click File.
  3. Click Save As.
  4. Click the file format of your choice.

Photoshop is the best for creating, opening, and converting PSD files. However, you may not have Photoshop.

If that’s the case, use GIMP, Photopea, or CloudConvert. All three are free programs that allow you to convert a PSD to other common file types, like PNG, JPG, TIFF, or BMP.

Conclusion

Photoshop is a robust editing tool that’s capable of creating its native PSD file.

A PSD is incredible because it’s capable of storing up to two gigabytes of data, including images, layers, masks, and objects.

Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are the best for opening PSD files. However, CorelDRAW and PaintShop Pro are excellent alternatives.

Featured image courtesy of Canva.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.

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