Many users have expressed concerns that their Photoshop files were somehow being held hostage by Adobe.  Of course, we’ve listed a lot of other apps that work with Photoshop.  But here’s a new workflow I just figured out.

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1. Open your file in Photoshop.

2. Choose File > Save As.

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3. From the format menu choose Photoshop PDF.

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4. Choose the option to Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities.


The file can be opened in the free Adobe Reader application and printed.  Many other apps can easily convert PDF files too.

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When you open the Photoshop PDF file in Photoshop… all the layers are intact.

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The PDF file is slightly larger, but not substantial.


There is no difference between the files as far as image quality. To test I placed the PDF and the PSD on top of each other in Photoshop.


When setting the top layer to Difference mode, no pixels showed as being modified.

So this seems to work well as an alternative for those who are concerned about access to their files if they dropped their use of Photoshop.

Dave Cross also has a good article on cross version compatibility of Photoshop files.


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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Interesting. How does this compare to saving as a TIFF file? TIFF files are readable with just about every graphics program ever made which I thought would be better than ‘Many other apps’ as you suggest about the PS PDF. I save as TIFF and preserve the layers but I’m not sure how compatible that type of TIFF is, do you know?

    • I use that method too. TIFF files are compatible with most graphic apps. PDF files are native to everything (even phones).

      • TIFF files are compatible with most graphics apps – for reading AND writing.
        PDF files are native to everything (even phones) – for READING ONLY (mostly). And, to be pedantic, there is nothing ‘native’ about a third party application that runs on your chosen operating system or device to read PDFs, but I get your point that you can view PDFs on everything.


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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.


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