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Getting Started with Photoshop

Information on Photoshop basics including: how to open and create a new image, navigating palettes, learning the parts of a layer, how to use guides, and where to go for more help at the University of Michigan.

Saving a Photoshop file

Save a Native File for Future Edits

it is highly recommended to save a copy of your Photoshop file as a Photoshop Document or .PSD. A Photoshop file or PSD is also referred to as a native file and the benefit of saving a PSD is that it will store all of your layers, even hidden ones, so that you may come back and edit them later. This allows for more freedom in editing your images at a future time. Think of the PSD file as something for your archival purposes.

Save an File for Sharing

We all know that not everyone has access to Photoshop, so this means that not everyone can open your PSD files. Additionally, you cannot upload a PSD file to most photo-hosting websites like FlickR or Imgur. PSD files are perfect if you want editing an image again in the future, but not good for sharing. This is where image files, such as .JPEG, .GIF, and .TIFF, come into the picture. These files differ from PSD files in the fact that they are "flat" and often do not contain layer information that can be edited at a later time. 

There are many different image file types out there and Photoshop can save your images to a wide variety of these. Please check out the Image Files tab in the All About Images guide for more information about the types of image files.

Saving Images (for printing)

Here are the steps you'd take to save your file for print purposes: 

1. In order to save your image for print purpoes, choose "File" in the top menu of your Photoshop window, then "Save As".

Screenshot of save as feature in Photoshop.

2. You should then see a dialog box appear with several different options for saving your file. If you're using Photoshop on a Mac, your "Save As" dialog box may not be configured to show you all of your options outright. If your dialog box looks similar to the one below, click on the small, downward facing arrow icon to expand it (image left)You should then see an expanded set of options appear (image right).

Screenshot of Photoshop save as dialog box with arrow pointing to small dropdown iconScreenshot of save as dialog box with expanded options.



3. From here, choose your file type by selecting one in the "Format" box. 


Screenshot of save as dialog box with file format dropdown selected

Many of the file types vary in their exporting capabilities, so you should determine the best format for your specific project. If you're working with a publisher, or are preparing images for publication, make sure to speak to your printer about which file types they prefer. If you need more information about the differences between file types to help you find the right one for your project, click here to view the "File Types" section in the "All About Images" LibGuide.

4. You're almost there! Finally, click "Save" to complete this process. Before finally exporting your image, Photoshop will prompt you to fine tune some options that are specific to the file type you chose. 



Screenshot of the JPEG Options dialog box in Photoshop.

This is usually just a set of options that let you fine tune exactly how you want your final image processed. Unless you need to tweak something very specific about the way your image is being saved, you can usually always hit "Ok" to accept Photoshop's default exporting features. 


5. You're done! Head to wherever you've saved the file and check it to make sure everything went smoothly. 

Saving Images (for web)

Save As For Web:

Perhaps you’ve been working on an incredibly high quality image that was originally meant for print purposes, and now you’d like to share it on the web. Or, maybe, you’ve cut down a video file to 25-50 frames and made an animated .gif file that you’d like to share online. In either of these instances, using the “Save As for Web” offers great options that are specific to online environments.

With static images (as in a JPEG file), you may want to compress differently so that your file size doesn’t end up being too large; this would be especially important for uploading images to websites that have file size limitations, or for webpage loading purposes.

To begin, choose “File —> Save for Web”

File save as for web screenshot

You should then see a dialog box appear:

Save as for web dialog box

Depending on which file type is selected, you may see different options in this dialog box. I’ve got mine set to JPEG, and there's a plethora of information available to me: file type (JPEG), "Quality" (which is indicated by the slider), "Preview" options (which currently has "Monitor Color" selected), "Convert to sRGB" colorspace option, width and height options, and the file size (in the bottom corner of each image). You can even have a “2-Up” screen where you can compare both the original image and it’s compressed version off to the right:

2-Up screenshot

Two particular things you may want to specifically change are the dimensions of the image (width and height) and the “quality” settings. These will have a noticeable effect on the size of your image:

If you’re making a GIF file, then you’ll have a different set of saving options (such as restricting the amount of colors used in the resulting animation or decreasing the “dithering” to lower file size):

Screenshot of GIF saving options

All of the changes you make are best assessed visually, so feel free to play around with these sliders and tuners until you’ve got an image you’re satisfied with. And remember, you can always look at the bottom corner of the screen to assess how large your file is before exporting.

When you’re happy with your changes, you can select “Save”. The best part is that this process is independent from the original image you’re working with. So any changes that you make in this screen don’t affect the file sitting in your photoshop file, which is incredibly helpful! Your layers/changes/edits are preserved and unaffected for any other processing you’d like to do later.

And, with that, you’re ready to put your file on the web!

Curious to view this process in real time? Check out this video at Adobe TV, which demonstrates this functionality further.

Image: "Flowers" by Raffaele Camardella (; Flickr Creative Commons license.