Skip to main content

photo & video

Beginner Photoshop Troubleshooting

Lesson 4 of 5

Troubleshooting File Formats in Photoshop

Ben Willmore

Beginner Photoshop Troubleshooting

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2000+ more >

Lesson Info

4. Troubleshooting File Formats in Photoshop

Lesson Info

Troubleshooting File Formats in Photoshop

Then let's talk about file formats. When I open an image, and I go up here to the File menu and choose Save As, this menu has a boatload of choices in it. Now, there are some file formats that are very common, they're used all the time and those are mainly the ones in here called JPEG. That's probably the most common one you'll ever run into is JPEG. We also have TIFF which is rather common and we have Photoshop file format, which is at the top. But you should know that there's certain qualities of these file formats that make certain ones more ideal than others, depending on what it is you're saving. And if you're ever saving things for the internet, the first thing is I wouldn't usually got to the File menu and choose Save As. If you're saving for the internet, there's a choice called Save for Web. It will offer you some of the same choices, although it looks a lot more complicated so some people stay away from it 'cause there's more settings in it, but the main thing is in the upper...

right, here you can choose between the file formats that are mainly used on the internet. And once you choose JPEG, the main setting you have in here in a quality setting. The higher the setting, the larger the file is and the more detailed it will be. The lower the setting is, the smaller the file size will be but there won't be as much detail in it. And the two more common file formats for the internet are GIF and JPEG. But for photographers are so used to using JPEG, they seem to use it for absolutely everything and that can become an issue. Let's say you have your logo or you have your signature that you've got and that's what you're saving, you're gonna display it on your website. If you end up using JPEG file format, and you load it on your website, it's not gonna look good. What's gonna happen is around the edges of your graphic, it's going to have what I call popcorn which is just random specks of terrible looking stuff and let's see if I can get this to start to have it. If you look at this graphic and you look right around the edge of the text. There's a preview in here right now and you see it looks a little bit kinda random around it where it doesn't look as smooth as it used to. If I bring the quality setting as high as it goes, you might be able to see that we used to have nice texture in there and other things but as I bring the quality lower, you will find that around the edges of the text, it starts becoming not smooth and this is what I call popcorn because I think it looks like little things shaped almost like popcorn. And that's what you're usually gonna get if you save a graphic, something that's not a photograph. Instead, it's solid colors with crisp edges and that's usually what you have when you have a logo or if you scan in your signature. It's a solid background color with really crisp graphics that are in there. If that's the case, stay away from the JPEG file format. At all costs. If you have a graphic instead of a photo. If you have a graphic, then you wanna either use the format called GIF or the one called PNG, P-N-G. Both of those are much better at saving graphics. They don't usually produce that popcorn-ish effect around the edge and when you choose it, the main thing you'll have is the number of colors that should be used. The higher the number of colors, the larger your file size will be and the smoother it will look. What you wanna do is find the lowest number for the number of colors that still makes the image look good. And as you bring it really low, you'll find that your image will start looking speckle-y or where you'd have very precise colors, they become a little more generic. So you're looking for the lowest number that still makes the image look good because the lower the number, the smaller the file size and so we're looking for the lowest acceptable setting. So when saving for the internet, first, don't choose Save As, choose Save for Web. 'Cause that's does some extra steps that makes it look good on the internet. Secondly, try to not make JPEG your universal file format. Make that a file format that you can use for photographs but stay away from it at all costs if what you have instead is a graphic because with a graphic, the edges will not stay nice and crisp and smooth. Instead, you could use GIF or you could use PNG if it's for the internet. The other thing about file formats is if I do choose Save As, 'cause I'm not going for the internet. I'm just saving the image for other purposes. There are two file formats in here that are good, what I could call working file formats. What I mean by working file format is I'm not done with the picture yet. I'm gonna save it, close it, 'cause I'm going to lunch, I'm gonna come back after lunch, open it again, and continue working. Then I'm save it, close it, go home and the next day, I'll come in, open it up and continue working. That's my working file format. There are two file formats that are best as working file formats and that would be Photoshop file format and TIFF. There's no quality difference between the two and there's not a big amount of technical advantage of one versus the other. There used to be in older versions but now, they're relatively comparable, so you can kinda flip a coin and pick between the two if you'd like. The way I do is if I have layers in my file, I usually use Photoshop file format. That has a file extension on the end of your file as dot PSD and I use that as just a visual indication when I'm looking at a folder full of images that if it ends in dot PSD, it's gotta have layers 'cause that's the only time I use that file format. If it has no layers whatsoever, then I usually default to TIFF. It's not for a technical reason as far as that goes but it's just, when I look at a folder of images, if I'm consistent like that, I can say, oh, the PSD file. That's got layers in it 'cause that's the only time I use that format. The TIFF, that doesn't have layers in it 'cause that's the only time I use that file format. And the reason to choose TIFF or the one that doesn't have layers is TIFF is a relatively universal file format meaning many, many programs can open them and it is a common delivery file format. If you're gonna send an image to a magazine or to somebody else, a TIFF file is pretty universal. Photoshop's a little bit more specialized. Not ever program can open a Photoshop file. All right, so that's in general what I was thinking with file formats 'cause there's just a lot of things that you can get into that will mess you up. Any questions about which format to use by chance? Yeah? You got a microphone here on the end, come over to you. I was just gonna say, until last year, I didn't know about the PSB, the large document, 'cause like, to this digital cameras, the files are large and I couldn't save as a PSD or I kept getting the message it couldn't save and then I found out that saving as a PSB, I could save those large files but what's the difference between the PSD and the PSB other than it allows you to save these, is there a penalty? Okay, yeah I understand the question. Let's take a look at it. If I go to the File menu and choose Save As, what he's saying it, sometimes it gets files that are so large and by large, don't necessarily mean width and height. It might be that you're combining together 100 pictures that you took with your camera into a single end result, which I sometimes do. I do something where I use a flashlight and I'll light the tire of a car and then I take a different exposure to light the other tire of the car and then different exposure to light the hood and a different one for the roof. So I can control the angle of the light on each one of those and then in the end, I put them all in one Photoshop file to combine 'em together. So I have the light in all those areas at once and that can make it so my file size ends up being huge. And the Photoshop file format has a limitation on how large of a file it can save and I actually don't remember the exact number. It might be two gigabytes or it might be four, something like that. There's a particular number but if you ever run into it, you'll try to save your image in Photoshop file format. It'll start to save and then it'll get to a certain point and it'll beep and and say, hey, I couldn't do this and it's because you ran into the limit of however that maximum file size is. And so, they ended up inventing another file format and it's called Large Document Format. And it has a file extension on the end as PSB for Photoshop Big. And that's got the same qualities as a Photoshop file format image, meaning you don't lose any quality and all the features are retained and all that, but it doesn't have that smaller file size limit so you're probably not gonna run into it that often, but if you do really complex imaging like the one I mentioned when I light everything separately and then combine 'em together. If it ever just doesn't let you use the Photoshop file format, you could use Large Document Format. The problem with that is it's not supported by most other programs, so it's fine if the next thing you plan to do is open it in Photoshop and when you're completely done with your image, you might do something called save a copy and save it out as a JPEG or something else to deliver to other people, but know that that file probably won't be able to be opened by other programs, so you'll have to do a Save AS when you're completely done and save it out as a more common file format, maybe combine the layers, flatten the image with that. And I believe and I could be wrong 'cause I don't know the exact numbers in my head. I think TIFF has a slightly higher limit on the file size, so that's one instance where if you need to save an image that won't fit Photoshop, you could try TIFF, but Large Document Format is even bigger limit. The advantage of using TIFF would be, TIFF is a more common file format so it would be more compatible with other programs. All right, now, let's get into some kind of random things that you can end up messing with you when you're working in Photoshop.

Class Description

Discover solutions for your everyday Photoshop troubleshooting. You will learn how the misapplication of Photoshop's workhorse functions - selections, layers, masks, color mode and more - can create problems that cascade throughout the rest of your project. Develop a mental workflow that will help you quickly diagnose and fix these issues in the future.  

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.1.2

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Carol Haggerty

Thank you Ben! So much great information. How much time have I wasted trying to figure out why so many of these quirky things are happening?? I'm so happy to have the reasons now! I've been using ps for a few years now and would recommend this class to beginners or any self-taught individuals (like myself). Thank you again!

Judy Mitschelen

Another excellent course from Ben. As always, he is well-organized and explains clearly with mini summaries for each section that reinforce rather than feel redundant. Love his teaching style and even though this is in the Beginner track, I picked up some new tips and locked in some good triage ideas for when things don't seem to be working right.

Vu Phan

Fantastic. These lessons are very useful to me. I appreciate for what you have done. Thank you so much