What is a PSD File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert PSD Files

Picture of the PSD file icon
PDF File Icon Used With Adobe Photoshop.

Used mainly in Adobe Photoshop as the default format for saving data, a file with the .PSD file extension is called an Adobe Photoshop Document file.

Though some PSD files contain just one single image and nothing else, the common use for a PSD file includes much more than just storing an image file.

PSD files support storing multiple pictures, objects, filters, text, and more, as well as using layers, vector paths and shapes, and transparency.

Note: Some file extensions look similar to .PSD but have nothing to do with this image format. WPS, XSD, and PPS are a few examples.

How To Open a PSD File

The best programs for opening and editing PSD files are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements, as well as CorelDRAW and Corel's PaintShop Pro tool.

Other Adobe programs can use PSD files too, like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Adobe After Effects. These programs, however, are mainly used for video or audio editing and not as graphics editors like Photoshop.

If you're looking for a free program to open PSD files, I recommend GIMP. It's an extremely popular, and completely free, photo editing/creation tool that will open PSD files. You can also use GIMP to edit PSD files but, since it has problems recognizing complex layers and other advanced features that might have been used in Photoshop when the file was created, you could run into problems.

Paint.NET (with the Paint.NET PSD Plugin) is another free program like GIMP that can open PSD files. See this list of free photo editors for some other free applications that support opening PSD files and/or saving to the PSD file format.

If you want to quickly open a PSD file without Photoshop, I highly recommend Photopea Photo Editor.

It's a free online photo editor that runs in your browser that not only lets you see all the layers of the PSD, but also do some light editing... although nothing like what Photoshop provides. You can also use Photopea to save files back to your computer in the PSD format.

IrfanView, PSD Viewer, Open Freely, and Apple's QuickTime Picture Viewer, part of their free QuickTime program, will open PSD files too, but you can't use them to edit the PSD file. You also won't have any kind of layer support - they just act as PSD viewers.

Apple Preview, included with the macOS, should be able to open PSD files by default.

Note: If the program that automatically opens PSD files on your Windows computer isn't the one you want to open them by default, changing it is pretty easy. See my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for help.

How To Convert a PSD File

The most common reason to convert a PSD file is probably so you can use it like a regular image file, like a JPG, PNG, BMP, or GIF file, perhaps. That way you can upload the image online (many sites don't accept PSD files) or send it over email so it can be opened on computers that don't use PSD-openers.

If you have Photoshop on your computer, converting a PSD file to an image file format is extremely easy; just use the File > Save As... menu option.

If you don't have Photoshop, one quick way to convert a PSD file to PNG, JPEG, or WEBP is through Photopea's File > Save for Web option.

Most of the programs from above that support editing or viewing PSD files can convert the PSD to another format using a similar process as Photohop and Photopea.

Another option for converting PSD files is through one of these free image converter programs.

Important: You should know that converting a PSD file to a regular image file will flatten down, or merge all the layers into one single-layered file in order for the conversion to take place. This means that once you convert a PSD file, there is no way to ever convert it back to PSD in order to use the layers again.

You can avoid this by keeping the original .PSD file alongside your converted versions of it.

More Information on PSD Files

PSD files have a maximum height and width of 30,000 pixels, as well as a maximum size of 2 GB.

A similar format to PSD is PSB (Adobe Photoshop Large Document file), which supports larger images, up to 300,000 pixels, and file sizes up to around 4 exabytes (4 billion GB).

Adobe has some advanced reading on the PSD file format in the Adobe Photoshop File Format Specification document on their site.

More Help With PSD Files

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email. Let me know what kinds of problems you're having with opening or using the PSD file and I'll see what I can do to help.