Changing How Photoshop Saves Images To Disk

Every one of these options affects how Photoshop saves images to disk. The following list explains how the options work and the recommended settings:

I prefer to set the Image Previews option to Ask When Saving. And by all means, turn that first File Compatibility check box off!

  • Image Previews (Ask When Saving): When Always Save is active (as by default), Photoshop saves a postage-stamp preview so that you can see what an image looks like before opening or importing it. This preview appears when you select the image in the Open dialog box.

The problem with previews is that they slightly increase the size of the file. This is fine when doing print work a little thumbnail isn’t going to add that much but when creating Web graphics, every byte counts. That’s why I prefer to select Ask When Saving from the Image Previews pop-up menu.

This option makes the preview option available in the Save dialog box so that you can specify whether you want previews on a case-by-case basis when you save your images.

  • File Extension (Use Lower Case): This option decides whether the threecharacter extensions at the end of file names are upper- or lowercase. Lower is the better choice because it ensures compatibility with other platforms, particularly Unix, the primary operating system for Web servers. (Unix is case-sensitive, so a file called Image.psd is different than Image.PSD. Lowercase extensions eliminate confusion.)

Maximize backwards compatibility in Photoshop format (OFF!): This option is pure evil. If you never change another preference setting, you should turn this one off. I know, I know, if it was so awful, Adobe wouldn’t have it on by default.

But believe me, this option should be named Double My File Sizes Because I’m an Absolute Fool, and even Adobe’s designers will tell you that you probably want to go ahead and turn it off.

Okay, so here’s the long tragic story: The check box ensures backward compatibility between Photoshop 6 and programs that support the Photoshop file format but don’t recognize layers. It’s a nice idea, but it comes at too steep a price.

In order to ensure compatibility, Photoshop has to insert an additional flattened version of a layered image into every native Photoshop file. As you can imagine, this takes up a considerable amount of disk space, doubling the file size in the most extreme situations.

So turn this check box off. And when you want cross-application compatibility, save an extra TIFF version of your file. Actually, there is one instance when you might find this option useful. It permits After Effects 3 or Illustrator 9 to open files that contain layer effects that were added to Photoshop after those products shipped.

  • Enable advanced TIFF save options (on): When turned on, this check box permits you to save all data, including layers and annotations, with a TIFF image. It also lets you choose to apply JPEG or ZIP compression instead of the usual LZW. No doubt about it, turn this option on.

  • Recent file list contains (4) Files (Your call): This option determines how many file names appear when you choose the new Open Recent command, which displays a list of the images that you worked on most recently. You can simply click an image name to open the image.

The default number of file names is four, but you can raise it to 30. Raising the value doesn’t use resources that would otherwise be useful to Photoshop, so enter whatever value makes you happy.