Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
Let's spend a few minutes in this video talking about the various different file formats you can might run into when you're working inside Photoshop and need to save a file so you can send it to something else, some other application to use there or something like a page layout application, or you're going to email it to someone or put it up on a website or something like that. So whenever you work inside Photoshop, whenever you open a file, regardless of what file format it is, it's actually getting opened up and converted into a Photoshop document while you're working on it. So I'm going to run you through a variety of different file formats that you might run into and kind of explain what they are used for.
And now as I said, when you open up the file, maybe whether it's a JPEG off your camera, or a Camera Raw file, at some point when you finally get it into Photoshop, it's getting converted into that PSD, that Photoshop document file format. Now, if you don't do anything to the file and just close it or save it again, it's still going to be the file format that you opened it up as. But if you've done things to the file like added a layer or added some text or things like that, then we call that the working file that's going to be saved as a PSD by default. And that working file is what preserves all the layers, all the channels, all the masks or selections or paths that you've added to that particular file.
It's important to always keep this working file separate from whatever file format that you're going to end up saving it as, because if you ever want to go back and make changes, change the type or move things around, of course, you're going to need access to that layered file. That's your original. So you really only throw that away or flatten it down, discard it, if you're absolutely sure that you never want to change your mind again. Any other file format you're going to choose from, or at least most of them, you're going to end up creating what we call a flattened version of it. And a flattened file is where all the layers get compressed or collapse into a single layer and then you save that flattened version as a different file format.
So for instance, if I were to actually go save this file, you can see it's a layered file. There is a bunch of layers. I have just turned them off right now to reveal them as I talk. But this is a layered working file. It's a Photoshop file. If I were to go to File > Save As and save this as a different file format, let's go ahead and choose from Format, let's choose say JPEG. What's going to happen is it's going to say oh, well because you're not choosing the PSD format, this file must be saved as a copy with that Format option chosen. And in order to do that, I'm going to not be able to save out the layers. So that's why you get a little warning symbol next to the Layers checkbox.
And it's grayed out because it's not available in that file format. So one little working rule here is you don't necessarily need to do a Flatten command. There's an actual command in the Layers panel that you'll learn about later where you can choose Flatten and then save your file. The file can be flattened as part of the saving-as process. So I actually tend to recommend people not to do the Flatten command. Because then they accidentally do a Save instead of a Save As and they have lost all their layers. So basically choosing the file format as part of the Save As command, doing the automatic flattening in order to create that file is the better way to go.
It's a way to protect the original layered file from ever being saved over. Well, let's go and cancel this. Let's talk about some of these other file formats then that you might derive from this layered Photoshop file. Of course the first one, the one you probably are already familiar with somewhat is JPEG. Now, JPEG is a compressed file format. It's what's called a lossy compressed file format. In order to save space to make the file smaller, it actually does throw away original information from the file that may not be all that important. How much information gets thrown away depends on the Quality setting that you choose.
So at the very high end, the highest Quality setting, your eye may not actually be able to notice anything that's thrown away. Whereas if you go lowering the Quality then you actually start seeing things like artifacts and compression artifacts and so forth. JPEG is probably one of the most common file formats. It's typically what people use to email each other. It's what a lot of the online photo services accept. If you use your Shutterfly or Flickr even Facebook or whatever, you're typically throwing up JPEG file formats to those online services. A key thing to remember about the JPEG file format, just keep in mind, is that because it is a lossy file format, you typically only want to save something as a JPEG one time, which is why it's important to keep that layered Photoshop file around.
Let me explain. If you open up a file that's already been compressed as a JPEG, and then re-save it as JPEG again, you're compressing it a second time. So every time you open, do something and re-save, that lossiness gets accumulative and you're actually deriving a lower quality each time you do that. So that's why if you need to make a change or want to do some more retouching or move things around or whatever, you want to go back to the original layered Photoshop file, make those changes there, and then save out a JPEG from that original Photoshop file so that lossiness of the compression is only happening one time.
If you're shooting JPEG off your camera, of course, you want to make sure that you're shooting what the highest quality JPEG possible, so that at capture time, you're not losing too much information just from the very beginning. Okay. So when it comes time to save this file, let's say as a JPEG, these are layered Photoshop file and we're going to do a Save As, just like I was showing you earlier. So File > Save As, and from our File Format list, we'll choose JPEG. And typically, every file format you choose here, when you choose the file format, when you click Save, you're typically presented with a secondary dialog box for options for that specific file format.
So the options of interest on a JPEG, of course, are the Quality setting. The default is 5 or Medium. These word presets are just presets for a particular number. So if you typed in 10, it would automatically switch over to Maximum. If you take the slider all they way over to the right, the Maximum value is actually 12 not 10. And Maximum is typically the setting you would use if you wanted to archive your final corrected files, let's say as JPEG, so they take up less disk space, but they don't actually introduce noticeable defects when they do the compression.
Of course, when you're just trying to do a quick comp or do an email photo or whatever, throw it up on a Web Photo Gallery where you don't care about absolute highest quality, 5 is a good starting point. You can see as you lower the Quality setting, the file size is updating to let you know what that's going to look like. Just to kind of take it down a notch, if we take it all away to 0, I can see the Preview checkbox is turned on. And it may be tough to see our video, but you'll see if I look at the edges of the text here, it's getting all mangled and artifacty or pixelated, because JPEG is really compressing a lot of that information and throwing it away. Okay.
So again for archival purposes, you would take it all way to Maximum, and that's fine. Hopefully again you're keeping the layered version around if you think you need to do further editing and if you need to save out another JPEG, you would do it from that layered Photoshop file. Okay, so I'm going to hit Cancel. Don't be surprised if you choose a file format from your original Save As dialog box and yet another dialog box comes up. It's typically because there are additional options that you may want to choose from. The next file format that's really common for a web graphic at least is the GIF file format or a GIF depends on what side of the country you're from I guess.
And this is also a lossy file format, but from a different perspective. The loss happens before you actually save the file out. In order to save a GIF, it has to be converted into what's called an 8-bit graphic. All that really means is the graphic that can only have up to 256 colors or less. It's typically not ideal or used for photographs. It's more used for graphics, web graphics. Areas of solid color, things like buttons, or logos, or labels or things that you might identify as areas of solid color or high-contrast edges on a website.
So banners and backgrounds and things like that. So typically what happens when you actually want to save a file as a GIF, you convert it to an 8-bit graphic first. I'm not going to get into that in this video here, we'll cover that later. But typically you're reducing the thousands of colors that might be available on a particular image and telling it to only use a certain set of colors to represent the overall image. So the file size is typically very small, because there's just not a lot of color information in it. So those are two file formats most used for the web: JPEG and GIF. There is a third file format that is used for web graphics, but also just interactive content and that's the PNG file format or PNG.
It's great for working with Flash. It's also a file format that you might use when you're doing presentations like working with Keynote on Apple, Macintosh's or PowerPoint. And the reason why is that PNG is one of the few file formats that actually supports real nice quality transparency. So, GIFs can be transparent, but only one level of transparency, meaning a color can be chosen to be turned invisible or transparent, but it's only one color. So you get a very hard edge, a pixelated edge. PNG supports true Alpha Channels or masks with 256 levels of opacity between 100% and 0 opacity.
So a nice soft drop shadow that you can actually see through the soft edges, right? The PNG file format is something that supports that or if you mask an image out to a transparent background. If you save a file like that, as a JPEG, then all those transparent areas will get converted to solid white, opaque white pixels. And that's typically not what you're going to want if you're trying to overlay these files on top of each other and see through around their edges. So the PNG file format is great for again PowerPoint, Keynote and working with Flash and creative interactive content. A couple of file formats to talk about for printing that are common that you might run into.
Now, the first one is an EPS format, an Encapsulated PostScript file. This is kind of an old-school format. It's kind of being phased out. I mean some people still use it, but it's largely been replaced with other file formats. It's something that you typically would see in a print workflow either using a product like InDesign, or Quark or Illustrator. And basically, what's happening when you save a file in EPS, your pre-rendering or pre-printing the file to disk, and then attaching a preview file that travels along with it. Now that can either be a JPEG preview or even a TIFF preview depending on which platform you're saving the file from.
The key point about an EPS file is that it cannot be modified. I mean you can't get to the pixels inside an EPS file anymore without reopening that in Photoshop. So you can assign a color to an EPS file, let's say, once you place it into a product like InDesign or Quark or Illustrator. A lot of production artists like this file format because they are protected. A designer can accidentally assign a spot color to it for instance. That color information needs to be baked into the EPS as you actually save it out. So when you place an EPS in these other products, again you're actually just making a reference to the EPS file that's sitting on disk.
What you're actually seeing in that application that you place it into is that preview image just so it can be represented during design time. When you actually print the file, the preview file is not actually used as the printed version. It's actually taking the EPS file and sending to the printer and outcomes the high quality version of that behind it. Another file format that is common in printing workflows is TIFF. This is a little bit more flexible than EPS files, because you can actually assign spot colors to them. So for instance, if you have a grayscale TIFF file, you can apply a color to that and tint it in products like InDesign, Quark or Illustrator, because the color values of those can be adjusted.
So just something to keep in mind. There are some different reasons to have EPS and TIFF. A lot of time, at least in an Adobe workflow, if you're going from InDesign or from Photoshop to InDesign or from Photoshop to Illustrator, you can just simply just place your layered Photoshop file. There is actually no need to flatten it or save it out as an EPS or a TIFF. The advantage of that is that you still maintain access to the native original layered file. In fact, there is a feature called Edit Original. So if I place the Photoshop file in say InDesign, it gets rendered and represented as if I had flattened the version in Photoshop before I save it out, but it's still the layered version behind the scenes.
So if I need to make a change, I can just Option+Double-click or Alt+Double-click on that Photoshop file that's been placed in your Illustrator or InDesign. And it simply opens that original layered file back in Photoshop. You make your change, do whatever you want to do to the file, change the text, move it to layers around, whatever it is you're going to do, when you save that Photoshop file, when you go back to Illustrator or InDesign, the updates are automatically applied. So a lot of flexibility and it kind of makes EPS and TIFF seem a little old school and dated. You'll still run into them if you're a designer and working with others that really haven't quite adopted a PSD workflow between Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.
But if you haven't actually started playing with that kind of workflow, I encourage you to check it out. Okay, the bottom-line, lots of little acronyms and three and four letter words I'm throwing at you. At the end of the day, the most important file format you really care about is keeping that layered Photoshop file around as long as possible, because it's what's going to give you the flexibility to change your mind. And then when you do have a need to save out a file as a different format for your other purpose, it's as simple as doing File > Save As. Don't bother doing the Flatten command. So you don't need to go to the Layers menu or the fly-out menu of Layers and say Flatten image first.
Just skip that step. Instead do File > Save As, choose the file format that you're interested or need, whether it be PNG or JPEG or whatever. Let's do PNG for this. As part of that Save As process, it's automatically going to save out a copy. It's not going to save over the original PSD file. You can see it's picking up the PNG file format. It's giving you the warning sign to let you know that this layer will be flattened as part of the process which is not a big deal because you're keeping that layered Photoshop file around. Okay, so there you have it. PSD is your friend.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.