Quick Tips

Getting Smaller Photoshop Files

Do your Photoshop PSD file sizes seem a little large? It may be because of a Preferences setting that makes Photoshop save a flattened version of your Photoshop image, along with your layered Photoshop file. Why does Photoshop do this? Because there's a slight possibility you might share this file with someone using Photoshop 2.5 (just like there's a slight possibility that Congress will vote to cut their own salaries), and Photoshop 2.5 didn't support layers, so it can't read your layered document. But because, by default, that flattened version is included in your layered file, guess whatâ”2.5 can open the flattened image. What luck! Who cares? I'd rather have smaller file sizes all year long, and if you would too, go under the Photoshop menu (the Edit menu in Windows), under Preferences, under File Handling, then in the File Compatibility section, for Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility, change Ask to Never. Think about this one for a minute and you'll wonder why this is turned on by default. Think about it for two minutes and you'll wonder why it's in Photoshop at all. Don't spend too much time on it, or you'll start to wonder who's the poor soul that's stuck on version 2.5.



  1. Greg 10 September, 2008 at 16:33 Reply

    What about Lightroom ? Doesn’t Lightroom 2 require this format in order to interface with Photoshop ? I know Lightroom 1 did.

  2. Seim Effects 10 September, 2008 at 19:44 Reply

    Great tip. I always wounder what that annoying popup was, but never took the time to see. They should not have that as default.

    I too would like to meet the guy using 2.5 🙂


  3. Dave Catley 10 September, 2008 at 20:15 Reply

    There is actually a use for the “Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility” option in PS for Lightroom users.

    If you want to import your PSD files into Lightroom as part of your workflow then this compatibility is required otherwise Lightroom won’t be able to import the image.

  4. Peter 11 September, 2008 at 08:13 Reply

    It’s actually not just for Photoshop 2.5 but also for other applications that can read Photoshop files but only ever need a flattened version. For example, I think InDesign complains if you place a file that has this setting turned off, and many image viewers won’t be able to display the image or even just display a thumbnail since they rely on the flattened version and can’t flatten the layers themselves (which is a more complex task than one might think).

    Another thing to consider is that larger files (and if you have to handle composites with 80 layers or more you’ll know what I mean) will take longer to load in other applications that support Photoshop files (Bridge for example) since the application can’t use the pre-flattened composite but has to do all the flattening work work itself.

    And if I remember correctly you also lose the ability to quickly open a flattened version of a file if you don’t need the layers (for example, you just want to make a quick sRGB JPEG for the client to approve) by holding down a modifier key when opening the file in Photoshop.

    I’m not saying “Leave that option turned on!”, I’m just saying there is more to it than just compatibility with Photoshop 2.5, and there is definitely a reason why it is there.

    Another note: Smart Objects are also a huge file-size-increaser, so if file sizes are a concern, avoid them where possible.


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