There are many image formats around. The most popular are JPG, PNG, and BMP due to their small sizes. However, some image file types contain editing data. These files are considerably larger. But, it makes transferring editing data to another computer a lot easier. These files are typically exported to the three most popular image types for more efficient usage.
One of the most popular image-editing file types is PSD.
Photoshop Document, more popularly known as PSD, is a proprietary file type which allows users to save editing data from Adobe Photoshop. A PSD file rarely contains just one image. Typically, it contains all the assets which are used during its editing phase. Assets may include several pictures, texts, layers, vector elements, transparency, and more. PSD files compress assets and settings into one portable file.
Typically, we can access proprietary file types only through the software that is developed to process it. It becomes a problem when you have such files without the right program to open it. Ideally, Adobe Photoshop, or any the company's family of creative suite programs, can open PSD files.
Luckily, the popularity of the Adobe Creative Suites, along with the file types associated with its family of applications, paved the way for other programs to accept PSD files as well. That means you can now view PSD files, in various degrees of details, without using Adobe Photoshop.
Below are 10 ways to open PSD files without Adobe Photoshop. Take note that the programs and solutions below are not from Adobe. Additionally, some of the applications may show quirks and limitations when opening PSD files.
Choose the best application or solution according to your needs.
The PSD file type was created to handle image editing data in Adobe Photoshop. However, subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud might be expensive for some. Additionally, it is not economical to sign-up for such services if you don't regularly use the creative suite applications.
There are robust alternatives to Adobe Photoshop which can open your PSD file without any issues.
GIMP, which means "GNU Image Manipulation Program," is one of the best open-source alternatives to Adobe Photoshop. The simple photo manipulation tool packs dominant feature under the hood. Its features can compete with its paid counterpart. It can open and edit PSD files as you would in Adobe Photoshop. Aside from the newest and the most advanced features, GIMP can handle any editing functions without any issues. This free application is available in Windows, MacOs, and Linux Systems.
Paint.NET, along with the PSD Plugin for Paint.NET, is another powerful tool that can open PSD files. It is a freeware which can handle basic to intermediate image manipulation. The application is perfect for quick edits to your images. While it is not as feature-rich as GIMP, it can preview any standard image editing needs. Paint.NET is also one of the fastest image editors around. It can run from budget netbooks to powerful systems without any issues.
Affinity Photo is one of the most serious Adobe Photoshop competitors in the market. It is entirely compatible with Adobe Photoshop files and other image file formats which includes PSD files. Affinity Photo is targeting creative professionals and creators alike. While it is a paid solution, the image editing application is arguably cheaper with its one-time license fee instead of Adobe's subscription-fee system. Affinity Photo also features RAW editing, professional retouching, digital painting, batch processing, and a lot more.
There are times that you just want to view the image in the PSD file without the need of editing. The default image viewers of most operating systems can only handle the popular image file types. It is a hassle to open resource intensive applications like Adobe Photoshop just to have a quick view of a PSD file.
Here are some image viewers that can open PSD files:
IrfanView is one of the most popular Windows image viewers with the first version released back in 1996. It is surprisingly lightweight at only around 3MB download. The image viewer can open PSD files quickly with support for Photoshop Filters. Aside from standard image file types, it supports numerous media file formats such as TIFF, ECW, EMF, ICO, and more. It can even open RAW image format. Interestingly, IrfanView also accepts MP3, OGG, AVI, MKV, MOV, MP4 WMV, and MPG. The flexible image tool can also scan, batch convert, apply effects and extend functions using plugins.
XnView is an efficient photo manager, image converter, and basic editor. The free image viewer accepts 500 image file formats which include PSD and other Adobe Creative Suite file formats. Moreover, you can export to up to 70 file formats. It supports metadata editing, JPsEG lossless transforms, batch processing, and more. There is also XnView MP which is an enhanced version of XnView Classic. It is multi-platform and offers Unicode support which allows translations to other languages.
Nowadays, a lot of desktop applications have counterparts in the cloud. The accessibility of web applications makes it a popular option for most people. It is perfect for those who do not have their computing devices at hand all the time. Log in to a computer with an Internet connection, and you can continue your work online. Online solutions are also perfect if you are not keen on installing desktop applications just to view PSD files
Not a lot of people know that Google Drive can open different types of files. It's an excellent tool to view PSD files without installing anything on your computer or signing-up for another web service. Upload the PSD file to your Google Drive account and it can show you a preview.
Double-click on file to open a preview. Right-click on file to view more options. Preview will open the file right on the Drive. Hover over Open with and choose Pixlr Editor. It will open a new tab where Pixlr Editor will load. Pixlr Editor is a web-based image editor which supports layers, object transform, and other editing tools. Take note that the editor uses Adobe Flash technology which may require additional installation of the Flash plugin.
Photopea Online Editor is an excellent alternative online photo editor especially if you are not comfortable with Adobe Flash which Pixlr uses. It accepts PSD files along with XCF (GIMP), Sketch files, TIFF, DNG, SVG and other popular image formats. It takes a cue from Photoshop and GIMP, albeit a bit less potent as it is in the cloud.
Photopea Online Editor supports layers, layer masks, blend modes, brushes, and other editing tools. You can also export your image as a PSD file. You can export Images as JPG, PNG, SVG, PDF, and others. Photopea Online Editor is also available on Google Drive. Right-click on a PSD file in Google Drive, hover over Open with, then choose Photopea.
Unlike JPG, PNG, and BMP, you can't use PSD files another document or application as it holds editing data. You need to export the PSD files to any of the popular image formats before you can use it. You can typically do it in Adobe Photoshop. However, you can convert PSD files for easy viewing and usage using the following tools:
Go2Convert is a set of free online tools which allows you to convert and resize photos. It can handle PSD files up to 50 MB. You can export images to popular formats such as JPG, BMP, GIF, and PNG. Other format options are TIFF, SVG, and more. You have the option to resize the image and choose the image quality during conversion. Converted photos are available on the Go2Convert website for two days and can be linked from their portal.
Convertio is an online converter service which accepts and converts various file types and formats. You can upload files from your computer, Dropbox, Google Drive, or direct URL. You can save the output files to your computer or directly to Google Drive or Dropbox.
You can convert PSD files to JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG and other popular formats. Proprietary file formats are also available such as ERF (Epson RAW), NEF (Nikon RAW,), RAF (Fuji Graphic File), X3F (Sigma Cameras), and more. The free conversion limits uploads to 100 MB files or less . Ads supports the free conversion. Convertio offers subscription plans for higher file size, conversions per minute, concurrent conversions, and conversion priority.
PSD Converter Bot is an offline PSD converter for Windows 10. It is available directly from the Microsoft Store. The tool can preview PSD files and convert PSD files to JPG, PNG, PDF, ODP, ODS, ODT, and SVG. PSD Converter Bot is a simple offline tool for fast PSD preview and conversion.
The applications and solutions above are mostly free or has a free version. They can provide solutions for viewing PSD files when you need it. While these solutions work, they have limitations and quirks especially when the applications update and changed. However, if you regularly edit images and view PSD files, Adobe Photoshop is still the best solution in which you should invest.
Allan Jay is a web developer who loves to read and watch tech reviews, especially cutting-edge technologies. He likes exploring and taking photos of the places he visited.