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What is a PSD File?

How to Open, Edit, & Convert PSD Files



Question: What is a PSD File?

Did you find a PSD file on your computer and wonder what program should open it? Maybe someone emailed you a PSD file but you're not sure how to use it. Perhaps you tried to open the PSD file but Windows told you that it could not open it.

Before you can open a PSD file (assuming it's even a file format that's intended to be viewed or edited), you'll need to determine what kind of file the .PSD file extension refers to.

Answer: A file with the PSD file extension is an Adobe Photoshop Document file.

Other types of files may also use the PSD file extension. If you know of any additional file formats that use the .PSD extension, please let me know so I can update this information.

How To Open a PSD File

The easiest way to open a PSD file is to double-click on it and let your PC decide which default application should open the file. If no program opens the PSD file then you probably don't have an application installed that can view and/or edit PSD files.

Warning: Take great care when opening executable file formats received via email or downloaded from websites you're not familiar with. See my List of Executable File Extensions for a listing of file extensions to avoid and why.

PSD files can be opened and edited with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements. Corel's PaintShop Pro tool works with PSD files as well.

If you're looking for a free program to open PSD files, I know Apple's QuickTime Picture Viewer, part of their free QuickTime program, will do it but you won't be able to use that program to edit or convert the PSD file. You also won't have any kind of layer support - it's just acts as a PSD viewer. It's the same thing with Open Freely, another free tool that'll open PSD files.

GIMP is 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 in to problems.

If you know anything else useful about PSD files, please let me know so I can update this page.

Tip: Use Notepad or another text editor to open the PSD file. Many files are text-only files meaning no matter the file extension, a text editor may be able to properly display the file's contents. This may or may not be the case with PSD files but it's worth a try.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the PSD file but it's the wrong application or if you would rather have another installed program open PSD files, see my How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension guide for making that change in Windows.

How To Convert a PSD File

There are two main ways to attempt to convert a PSD file to another file type:

The first option involving opening the PSD file in its native program is preferable because it's both easier and will probably result in a more accurate file conversion. Of course if you don't have a program that opens PSD files, a third-party file conversion tool (the second option) could be very useful.

Important: You cannot usually change a file extension (like the PSD file extension) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion using one of the methods described above must take place in most cases.

Still Having Problems Opening or Using a PSD File?

See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more. 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.

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