Photoshop Tutorial: Saving files in Photoshop CS6

What you’ll learn in this Photoshop Tutorial:

  • Understanding file formats
  • Saving for print

This tutorial provides you with a foundation for working with saving files in Adobe Photoshop. It is the fourth lesson in the Adobe Photoshop CS6 Digital Classroom book. For more Adobe Photoshop training options, visit AGI’s Photoshop Classes.

Photoshop Tutorial: Saving files in Photoshop CS6

Adobe Photoshop allows you to save your files in a variety of file formats, which makes it possible to use your images in many different ways. You can save images to allow for additional editing of things such as layers and effects you have applied in Photoshop, or save images for sharing with users who need only the finished file for use on the Web or for printing. In all, Photoshop allows you to save your file in more than a dozen unique file formats.

As you work on images, it is best to save them using the default Photoshop format, which uses the .PSD extension at the end of the filename. This is the native Photoshop file format, and retains the most usable data without a loss in image quality. Because the Photoshop format was developed by Adobe, many non-Adobe software applications do not recognize the PSD format.

Additionally, the PSD format may contain more information than you need, and may be a larger file size than is appropriate for sharing through e-mail or posting on a web site. While you may create copies of images for sharing, it is a good idea to keep an original version in the PSD format as a master file that you can access if necessary. This is especially important because some file formats are considered to be lossy formats, which means that they remove image data in order to reduce the size of the file.

Understanding file formats

While Photoshop can be used to create files for all sorts of media, the three most common uses for image files are web, print, and video production. Following is a list of the most common formats and how they are used.

Web Production Formats

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

This is a common format for digital camera photographs and the primary format for full-color images shared on the web. JPEG images use lossy compression, which degrades the quality of images and discards color and pixel data. Once the image data is lost, it cannot be recovered.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

GIF files are used to display limited (indexed) color graphics on the Web. It is a compressed format that reduces the file size of images, but it only supports a limited number of colors and is thus more appropriate for logos and artwork than photographs. GIF files support transparency.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

PNG was developed as an alternative to GIF for displaying images on the Web. It uses lossless compression and supports transparency.

Print Production Formats

PSD (Photoshop document)

The Photoshop format (PSD) is the default file format and the only format, besides the Large Document Format (PSB), that supports most Photoshop features. Files saved as PSD can be used in other Adobe applications, such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Premiere, and others. The programs can directly import PSD files and access many Photoshop features, such as layers.

TIFF or TIF (Tagged Image File Format)

TIFF is a common bitmap image format. Most image-editing software and page-layout applications support TIFF images up to 2GB in file size. TIFF supports most color modes and can save images with alpha channels. While Photoshop can also include layers in a TIFF file, most other applications cannot use these extended features and see only the combined (flattened) image.

EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)

EPS files may contain both vector and bitmap data. Because it is a common file format used in print production, most graphics software programs support the EPS format for importing or placing images. EPS is a subset of the PostScript format. Some software applications cannot preview the high-resolution information contained within an EPS file, so Photoshop allows you to save a special preview file for use with these programs, using either the EPS TIFF or EPS PICT option. EPS supports most color modes, as well as clipping paths, which are commonly used to silhouette images and remove backgrounds.

Photoshop PDF

Photoshop PDF files are extremely versatile, as they may contain bitmap and vector data. Images saved in the Photoshop PDF format can maintain the editing capabilities of most Photoshop features, such as vector objects, text, and layers, and most color spaces are supported. Photoshop PDF files can also be shared with other graphics applications, as most of the current versions of graphics software are able to import or manipulate PDF files. Photoshop PDF files can even be opened by users with the free Adobe Reader software.

Video Production Formats


See Print Production Formats, above.

TARGA (Truevision Advanced Raster Graphics Adapter)

This legacy file format is used for video production. The TARGA format supports millions of colors, along with alpha channels.

Choosing a file format

In this section, you will save your file to share online and for printing. You will use two common formats, JPEG and Photoshop PDF.

Saving a JPEG file

To save a copy of your image for sharing online, whether on a web site or to send through e-mail, you will save it using the JPEG file format. In this lesson, you will use the Save menu, but in Lesson 12, “Creating Images for Web and Video,” you will discover additional features when saving files for use online, including how to use the Save for Web feature in Photoshop.

1 Choose File > Save As.

2 In the Save As dialog box, type farm in the File name text field. From the Format drop-down menu, choose JPEG. If necessary, navigate to the ps04lessons folder so the file is saved in this location, then press the Save button. The JPEG Options dialog box appears.

3 In the JPEG Options dialog box, confirm the quality is set to maximum, and leave the format options set to their defaults. Press OK. This completes the Save process for your file.

4 Choose File > Close to close the file and click Save when prompted.


Because JPEG is supported by web browsers, you can check your file by opening it using any web browser, such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Safari. Open the browser and choose File > Open, which may appear as Open File or Open Location, depending upon the application. Navigate to the ps04lessons folder and double-click to open the file you saved.


Saving for print

In this part of the lesson, you will change the color settings to choose a color profile more suitable for print to help you preview and prepare your file for printing. You will change the resolution of the image before saving it.

Changing the color settings

You will now change the color settings to get a more accurate view of how the file will print.

1 If ps0401_work.psd is not open choose File > Open Recent > ps0401_work.psd. You can use the Open Recent command to easily locate your most recently opened files. The file opens.

2 Choose Edit > Color Settings. The Color Settings dialog box appears.

3 From the Color Settings drop-down menu, choose North America Prepress 2. This provides you with a color profile based upon typical printing environments in North America. Press OK to close the Color Settings dialog box.

Select the North America Prepress 2 color setting.

4 Choose the Zoom tool () from the Tools panel, and then click and drag to create a zoom area around the text at the top of the image. The text is magnified to fill the entire display area.

5 Choose View > Proof Colors. Notice a slight change in the color of the red stroke around the text, as the colors appear more subdued. The Proof Colors command allows you to work in the RGB format while approximating how your image will look when converted to CMYK, the color space used for printing. While you will work on images in the RGB mode, they generally must be converted to CMYK before they are printed.

The title bar reflects that you are previewing the image in CMYK.

Adjusting image size

Next you will adjust the image size for printing. When printing an image, you generally want a resolution of at least 150 pixels per inch. For higher-quality images, you will want a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch. While this image was saved at 72 pixels per inch, it is larger than needed. By reducing the physical dimensions of the image, the resolution (number of pixels per inch) can be increased.

1 Choose Image > Image Size; the Image Size dialog box appears. The image currently has a resolution of 72 pixels per inch.

The image is at a low resolution of 72 pixels per inch.

This low resolution affects the image quality, and should be increased to print the best image possible. For this to occur, the dimensions of the image will need to be reduced so the image will be of a higher resolution, but will be smaller in size.

Resampling changes the amount of image data. When you resample up, you increase the number of pixels. New pixels are added, based upon the interpolation method you select. While resampling adds pixels, it can reduce image quality if it is not used carefully.

2 In the Image Size dialog box, uncheck Resample Image. By unchecking the Resample Image checkbox, you can increase the resolution without decreasing image quality.

You can use this method when resizing large image files, like those from digital cameras that tend to have large dimensions but low resolution.

3 Type 300 in the Resolution field. The size is reduced in the Width and Height text boxes to accommodate the new increased resolution but the Pixel Dimensions remain the same. For quality printing at the highest resolution, this image should be printed no larger than approximately 2.9 inches by 1.8 inches. Press OK.

In this image, you are not adding pixels, you are simply reducing the dimensions of the image to create a higher resolution.

Increase resolution without decreasing quality.

4 Choose File > Save. Keep this file open for the next part of this lesson.

Saving a Photoshop PDF file

Images containing text or vector shapes may appear fine in low resolution when viewed on a computer display, even if the vector information is rasterized (converted into pixels.)When the same images are used for print projects, they should retain the resolution-independent vector elements. This keeps the text and other vector graphics looking sharp, so you do not need to worry about the jagged edges that occur when text and shapes are rasterized. To keep the vector information, you need to save the file using a format that retains both vector and bitmap data.

1 With the ps0401_work.psd image still open, choose File > Save As. The Save As dialog box appears.

2 In the Save As menu, navigate to the ps04lessons folder. In the Name text field, type farm print version. From the Format drop-down menu, choose Photoshop PDF, then press Save. Click OK to close any warning dialog box that may appear. The Save Adobe PDF dialog box appears.

3 In the Save Adobe PDF dialog box, choose Press Quality from the Adobe PDF Preset drop-down menu, and then click Save PDF. If a warning appears, indicating that older versions of Photoshop may not be able to edit the PDF file, click Yes to continue.

4 Your file has been saved in the Adobe PDF format, ready to be used in other applications such as Adobe InDesign, or shared for proofing with a reviewer who may have Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.

Congratulations! You have finished the lesson.