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There are a variety of different file formats that you're going to run across when you're working in Photoshop. So we're going to take a minute and take a look at when you might save in one file format over another. The first file format that we should look at is the psd or the Photoshop file format. As soon as you open your documents into Photoshop, and you start adding layers. Whether they're adjustment layers or alpha channels or type layers or additional photographs. When you save that file, you have the option to save that file in a few different file formats.
But for me, I've always saved these files as .PSD files, because I know that as a Photoshop document, all of my features in Photoshop, regardless of whether or not they're smart objects, regardless of whether they have transparency in them. I know that the PSD file format can save all of those different options. Saving this file as a PSD file also tells me that that is my master file, meaning that it's the one that's flexible, it's the one that has all the layers in it.
And if I need to save off derivatives from it, maybe to post online or to be printed, I know that I can always go back to that Master PSD file, which will be my high resolution file, and the flexible file that contains all of the different layers in it. Now, if you are saving as a PSD file, Photoshop will ask you if you want to save with maximum compatibility. And I would suggest that you do this, especially if you're working with a product such as LightRoom or really any other product that doesn't support layers.
Because in order to display a PSD file in one of these other products like LightRoom or like After Effects, you'll want to make sure that you save this flattened version. That's what the maximize compatability does, it saves Both the layered document as well as the flattened document in a single PSD file. The PSD file format also allows other Adobe products like InDesign to show different layers and actually manipulate those layers, turning them on and off In the design program, so that you don't have to return back to Photoshop to make just quick changes.
Now, if you prefer the TIFF file format is also an excellent format to save layer documents. And in fact, the TIFF file format can save all of those same Photoshop features like your layers and alpha channels and the TIFF file format also plays really well with applications that can't read layers. If you're saving really large files, Photoshop will automatically default to the large document format. This large document format, it supports documents up to 300,000 pixels in either dimension, either height or width, and all of the Photoshop features are supported.
So if the file is larger than two gigs and you try to save it as a PSD file, then photoshop will automatically change the default format to PSB. If you're trying to save a two gigabyte file as a TIFF file, that's not a problem. You can actually save a TIFF file up to 4 gigs, but beyond 4 gigs, then Photoshop will automatically default to this PSB. Now, when we are two and 4 gigs per document, that's a really large file, and only a relatively few number of photographers or designers will ever need it.
But if you're doing huge panoramas or heavily layered large files, you just might need the PSB file format. Let's talk a little about JPEG. JPEG is a flattened format, meaning that it doesn't support layers. It's also compressed, and it uses a lossy compression. So, in order for a JPEG file to save space, it throws away information by selectively discarding data and it selectively discards this information based on the quality settings that you choose when you're saving the file.
So you can save a JPEG with the highest quality, and that highest quality is almost undetectable to the eye, as long as you don't do more manipulations to it. As soon as you start to make a big change to a JPEG file, That file starts breaking down, and you'll start getting banding in it, and you'll see compression artifacting. However, JPEG's one of the most commonly used files and it's especially useful when you're trying to send smaller files online. Whether you're trying to send them to a, a lab to get printed or if you're trying to send them to a client via email or even if you're posting them online.
You really only want to save a JPEG file once. You don't want to save over the original JPEG because every time you do you are re-compressing the file. And JPEG, you should know, cannot have transparency. The next format, the GIF file format or the JIF file format, is also a flattened format. And it's also lossy, but in a different way, you actually have to convert your image down to only having 256 colors in it. So you've got to adctually change it from an RGB file that has 8 bits per channel into an index color file before you save it.
Now, this most commonly used for a graphic like a logo. And the benefit is that it does support transparency, but it only supports one level of transparency. So, the pixels will either be on or off which means that if you have a nice rounded circle in your logo your probably going to get a little bit of pixelization or jagged edges. Around that circle, because again, the transparency only has one level, on or off. PNG is probably a better file format for working with other apps that require a flattened image, and you need to support multiple layers of transparency, because PNG supports a full alpha channel mask, so it's got 256 levels of transparency.
And a good example of this would be if you want to place your logo maybe in Lightroom as a watermark or as an identity plate the PNG is the file format to use for that. There's also a file format called Photoshop PDF and there are many reasons that you might want to use the PDF format. If for example you need to hand off your document to another person and that person doesn't have Photoshop. You could use the Photoshop PDF format and they could open it if they download the free Acrobat Reader.
And, you might be thinking, well, you could just send them a JPEG as well, and that's completely true, but one of the advantages to the Photoshop PDF is that you can actually password protect the document. So they would have to know the password to open the document or you could choose not to password protect the opening of the document, but you can password protect, whether or not that person can print the document. So these security setting can really help you, if you need to send something to a client that might be a prototype, an you really can't have anyone else view the document.
Then we have the DNG format, the digital negative format. This is a RAW file format, and it's an openly-documented, openly-licensed archival format for your RAW captures. So you can convert your images from maybe a proprietary camera manufacturer's format, like a .NEF or .CRW into a DNG format. And the benefit there is that hopefully in the future, those files will be supported, you know, 100 years from now, because it's this openly-documented format.
Now, I don't want anyone to be confused. When you're in Photoshop, and you go to save a file, there is a format called Photoshop Raw. But this is not the same as the DNG file format. You do not want to save your layered files in Photoshop in the Photoshop raw format. Just save them out as .psd files, and ignore that Photoshop raw. So that wraps up this overview of the most important file formats that you'll run across while you're working in Photoshop and why you would chose to save in one format over another.
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