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Photoshop: Smart Objects lose track when saved to a different filename or filetype (user error)

If you drag an image into the canvas and have the option enabled to convert it to a smart object automatically, when you try to edit that smart object you are unable to save it to update it. Instead you get the usual save dialog and if you save in the default folder (temporary items) it doesn't actually update the smart object.
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  • Jeffrey Tranberry (Chief Customer Advocate) April 05, 2011 19:41
    I think this is because you are placing a file type without layer support - like JPEG.

    The workaround is the save the file to a new location as a PSD after you've edited and choose Layer> Smart Objects>Replace Contents... and select the PSD you created to replace the JPEG file you originally placed.
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  • EMPLOYEE
    I’m confident
    Brett N (Official Rep) April 05, 2011 21:35
    When working on a Smart Object (by double-clicking its thumbnail in the Layers panel or by going to Layer>Smart Objects>Edit Content) do not use the File>Save As command when you are finished. This will create a copy (Save As always creates a copy) of your smart object. The saved edits will then be in a new file that is not a smart object in your original file. Always use the Save command, you should not see a dialog asking where to save the file at all (smart objects are not separate files, they are embedded in your original file but become a file in your Temp folder when you open them for editing).
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  • These are the steps to replicate my problem.
    1- Create new PSD file
    2- in Preferences > General, enable Place or Drag Raster Images as Smart Objects
    3- drag a JPG from finder into the newly created PSD file (it should make it into a smart object)
    4- double click on smart object and it'll open up the JPG - make any changes to it and try to Save. It'll bring up the file path dialog for me.
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    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) December 13, 2012 23:50
      I'm pretty sure I have not changed any of my code in that area since I added Smart Objects.

      If you save to a different filename, the connection is lost - and that includes the file extension.
    • Hmm, I'd love to get to the bottom of this, if you think this discussion has value...

      I was not intentionally saving to different filenames, etc. I was simply editing a placed image converted to a smartobject.

      Just now, I fired up Photoshop CS3, and made a test doc, consisting of a transparent "layer 1". saved it as psd. Then, I placed a 24bit png image into it, accepted the default size, then made this image (now existing on the original layer) into a smart object. [aha, here is the crux of the matter!]

      The image has already become a smart object, by the act of placing... I missed that graphical icon tag on the layer thumbnail.

      So I was converting this smart image *again* to a smart image, not realizing it already was one... So when I then went to edit it, I got a warning about rasterizing. I did so. then, any edits to this ".psb" image window were reflected immediately in the main photoshop layer in my original window. Does this make sense?

      Somehow the act of making a smart object into another smartobject layer was obviating the need to ever be asked to "save as"... so when I began using CS6, the prompting for "save as" and not updating my edited smartlayer was seeming to me to be a change in functionality... hmm, let me ponder this in CS6 now, and report back.
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  • EMPLOYEE
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    Brett N (Official Rep) April 06, 2011 00:07
    That's the exact workflow I used (except I used a TIFF originally, I double-checked with a JPEG). It works correctly for me. I go to File>Save, no save dialog, the changes are saved, and now viewable back in the New PSD (what I previously referred to as the "original file").

    Sounds like Photoshop is acting up on you. You many want to try resetting the preferences and trying again.
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  • It does the same thing with my work colleague though :-\
    Tried it with PNG?
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  • Hi Genius,

    I am using PS CS3 and one of my PSDs became a Smart Object somehow.......... WHen I opened it ... all layers were merged........... I clicked on the Smart Object part in the Layer window and my layers were restored........... not I made a lot of updations & changes to it........... I saved the file ..... closed it and opened it............. all my latest changed have gone......... How can I get them back......... please help.......... Lots of time wasted............ Thanks in advance........

    Regards,
    Thendral
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  • I found this randomly while searching for an explanation as to why CS6 keeps opening the "save as" dialog everytime I update and save the contents of an smart object. I don't know iF something changed from cs5 to cs6 in this regard, but strangely enough, I don't recall having this trouble before. Maybe I was being lucky?
    Anyway, thanks to you I've found out that including a jpg as smart object via dragging or replacing smart object contents is the culprit of the "save as" dialog appearing everytime. Honestly, I don't really understand the explanation (I mean, I get it, but... come on, I think "smart" objects should be a little smarter in this regard, shouldn't they? Or at least include some warning) but nevermind, at least now I know how to prevent this issue from happening. THANKS!
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  • 1
    I'm adding to this thread since I just upgraded from 5 to 5.1. Just so people know, the "save as" dialog started occurring after that upgrade. I never had a problem with jpg smart objects before that.

    Just so we're clear, the "save as" dialog box is a BUG that Adobe needs to fix quickly. There should never be a dialog box, ever after saving a smart object and regardless if the image is a jpg or not.

    Adobe, fix this problem! Until then, I'm asking my IT guy to downgrade me to photoshop 5.
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    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) December 02, 2012 21:55
      Glad I could help you understand more about Photoshop.
    • I agree wholeheartedly, Josh
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  • I have Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 on Windows 7 64 bit. I have been getting this same problem as from this week.

    Resetting or deleting the settings file does not solve the problem.

    I also only get the Save As window after pressing Save and the Smart Object NOT being updated even after I had saved it anywhere in the Temp folder.
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    • Hi Chris,
      On the contrary, many of us do expect PS to track the smartobject from creation to editing, and if the format does change (real world use: we place a jpg or tiff, then need to silo it via alpha channel) we expect PS to know about it, and even if we're asked to save to a new file format (e.g. psd), then PS should automatically link to the new saved version.

      Imho, software developers need to think like how we use the product, and not let limited coding forethought dictate that we're "holding it wrong"... make sense?

      I'm not trying to be a know it all, sorry if it comes across like that. I am pointing out again what is obvious in this thread... you devs all are kicking against the goads. We want more useful, intuitive editing flow!
    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) January 12, 2013 19:18
      This is not limited coding, this is practical limitations because the user explicitly placed a file with specific content. The user can save that file to other names while they are working, and Photoshop should NOT try to track every variant that is saved - just what the user placed. That's part of why you get a warning when you first edit a smart object - to remind you that saving to new filenames or formats won't update the contents.

      It even works the same way in other applications that allow externally linked files (not just embedded). If you change the filename, or format, or duplicate the file -- the parent document won't see the change, and will ask how to proceed because it is still looking for the original filename and format.

      Really, you're expecting something totally unrealistic.
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  • I’m outmost frustrated
    Ähh? How can this topic be marked as resolved? Even with the newest CC 2014.2 the bug still persists after 4 years! It doesn't matter if you place or drag a jpeg file into PS. As soon as you edit the object and want to save the save as dialog appears. Why the heck do I need to save, fiddle through the files system, just to replace the existing smart object? That is absolute crap and not worth of Photoshop! 4 YEARS!!!
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  • I’m even more frustrated
    I read the previous posts. The solution is a workaround! It is a bug!

    A)
    turn OFF the setting "automatically create smart object when placing"
    Place jpeg
    Convert layer into smart object
    double click to edit
    edit
    close and save
    smart object is updated
    ALL FINE

    B)
    turn ON the setting "automatically create smart object when placing"
    Place jpeg
    double click to edit
    edit
    close and save
    SAVE AS Dialog appears, smart object can't be updated

    I definitely call this a bug that hasn't been fixed for 4 years! So when Photoshop automatically creates the smart object during the place command it messes up the process.
    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) March 29, 2015 20:49
      No, it is not a bug.

      You ignored the warning to save the file back to the same filename and filetype. You saved it as a different filetype (and possibly filename), and thus the smart object can't update because it is looking for a change to the original file, and you saved your changes to a completely different file.
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  • This is definitely a bug. It doesn't bahave like a smart object should.
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    • Chris, I have to disagree with you again. What you are describing has nothing to do with the case scenarios I posted. I did nothing of the steps that you were describing. Why do you so fiercely insist that it is a user error when you don't follow the simple steps I lined out to reproduce the bug?

      You wrote:
      "The Save As dialog appeared because you added something to the document that could not be saved in the current file format (like adding a layer to a JPEG file). "

      I did not do that. I created a new Photoshop document, which has been saved in PSD format. I than just place a jpeg file INTO that Photoshop file and have the PSD file saved. If I turn the new LAYER that was created by the place command into a smart object I can double click, edit, and save that layer/smart object.

      Instead, if Photoshop saves me the step of creating the smart object manually, but does it for me, having the setting turned on, then double click, edit, safe does not work. The save after an edit should work the same way.

      This is a bug, q.e.d.
    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) March 30, 2015 19:09
      It has everything to do with what you posted. If you saved back to the same filename and format, then the smart object would update. But you added something to the document that could not be saved in the current format (like a layer in a JPEG file), got the SaveAs dialog because of that, then saved to a different filename or format and broke the connection to the Smart Object -- just like you were warning NOT to do in the warning that comes up when you edit a smart object.

      If you had not added something that the file format could not support, then the Save As dialog would not have appeared. Ergo, you did add something that the file format did not support. If you had saved to the same filename and format even from the Save As dialog, the Smart Object still would have updated. Ergo you did not save to the same filename and format like you were instructed.

      So far you have described your series of mistakes, but not described any bug in Photoshop. Please read what I have already written (and the warning when you edit) more carefully so you can avoid making those mistakes in the future.
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  • Hi Marcus,

    This thread returns! As is evident, Mr. Cox is adamant that user error is at play. The rest of us are adamant that the functionally has changed in recent versions, and is not consistent with what real-world usage cause us pro users to expect. Exactly as you said, Case B is a common usage pattern.

    Rather than label this a bug, and thus provoke ire, perhaps it should be called a desired functionality change. But unless you know a product engineer or can corral a developer at a convention, I doubt anything will change here, disappointingly.
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    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) March 30, 2015 18:58
      No, it is working exactly as it should, exactly how the help files say it should, and exactly the way the warning dialog tells you.

      The mistake is saving to a different filename or format -- which you have already been told will break the connection to the Smart Object.
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  • I’m super frustrated
    I'm sorry, Chris, but I give up trying to explain you. This is my last attempt. I did NOT add a layer to a jpeg file. I'm working with a PSD file. It makes no sense to keep the argument going when you don't read or understand what I was writing. You are making conclusions about things that I did not do. When editing a smart object the save as dialog should NEVER come up when saving the file.

    The bug is that Photoshop creates or opens the smart object wrongly when the setting "automatically create smart object when placing" is turned on.

    Follow my two examples A and B. If you double click the smart object you will see that the opened file has a .psb ending, which is the Photoshop blob format that doesn't has the file size limitation of .psd files. Therefore you can edit the opened smart object in any way you want, close and save it, and the changes are updated in the PSD file.

    Now take example B. If you double click the smart object it does not open in .psb format. It opens in he original placed file format, in may case jpeg. This is why I can't make any changes without using the save as dialog. Here you are correct. Remember embedded placed files and also smart object are saved *inside* the psd file. So either Photoshop saves the placed (embedded) file wrongly in the original file format instead of using psb or Photoshop wrongly opens the the original format instead of psb. Either one is wrong.

    Since the only difference is the setting "automatically create smart object when placing" which should just save you from turning the placed file into a smart object manually. So the problem is not what edits you do in a smart object. The difference is just this setting. The difference is just if I turn a layer into a smart object or Photoshop does this. This different behavior caused by a setting that should not have any side effect is therefore called by definition a bug.

    It's a bug not a feature!
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    • I don't disagree with you about changes in a JPEG file at all. The problem is not the jpeg file. The problem is that Photoshop saves a placed file in the original file format when that setting is turned on instead of using a psb/psd format. That is the whole problem.
      The preference is not unrelated. It makes the difference in the workflow. So the better workaround is to turn the setting off and manually turn the layer of the placed file into a smart object. This saves me hours of work when I need to replace with higher resolutions.
    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) March 30, 2015 21:28
      That is not a bug, it should use the original file when placing. Photoshop only has to resort to using PSB when you create a new Smart Object from layers, because the file has to hold every possible thing that can exist in a Photoshop document.

      The preference is unrelated to your mistakes and does not need any changes.

      The mistake is still when you saved your edited file to a different filename or format.
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  • I’m still super frustrated
    1
    Chris, I double checked the help file. You are correct that the stated behavior is that Photoshop will save embedded files with the original format:

    "Although you can place JPEG files, it's better to place PSD, TIFF, or PSB files because you can add layers, modify pixels, and resave the file without loss. (Saving a modified JPEG file requires you to flatten new layers and recompress the image, causing image quality degradation)."

    This was not the way it worked in earlier versions. I might have access to a 5.5 version end of the week. I will double check it. Therefore you can argue if it is a bug due to the changed behavior and the dependency on just a setting or if it is just a very bad design decision. For me a bug is a behavior that doesn't follow the manual. So in that case I have to admit that you would be right and it would not be a bug. It might be questioned if a bug is still a bug if the manual has been changed to reflect the buggy behavior ;-)

    In any case the main topic remains: Is that behavior a desired behavior or should it be changed?
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    • Chris, there might be reasons for the internal design that I can't see, but
      from a users standpoint I can't see any benefit in that design. I just cost me hours of extra work, so it annoys me tremendously. It makes my work harder and kills valuable life time. I have not seen any advantage that this behavior would give me. If all placed embedded pixel objects would be internally saved in psb format all the problems and inconsistent behaviors would be gone. I need to go to bed now, but I will try to explain you in more detail why this behavior causes pain in various situations. If you have time I would be glad if you can give me examples where this behavior is of benefit to the user experience.
    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) March 30, 2015 22:17
      There are several benefits that you should see (linking files, editing in other apps, etc.), plus more that would take a bit of thought to understand. And much of it is just required by the nature of linked files (you must track the file that was linked, not copies of it that were saved somewhere else).

      And yes, ignoring warnings and the details in the manual usually does lead to problems.

      No, the placed files need to be saved in their own format as much as possible, not converted to PSB. Converting everything to PSB would destroy much of the functionality and power of Smart Objects, and is not even possible when linking files. And, of course, we can't convert vector files (PDF, AI, EPS) into PSB without losing the vector nature of the files.

      Please, stop trying to explain your mistake. We already understand that you made a mistake, and the nature of that mistake. Instead, take some time to read the warnings, read the help files, and try not to repeat your mistake in the future.
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  • This reply was removed on 2015-03-30.
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  • Marcus and pgurney, I'm a researcher with the Photoshop team. If you're game it'd great to connect. Sometimes there's slippage between our intentions and user expectations, and its obviously of benefit to understand that and potentially address it. I'm at cpearson@adobe.com, be in touch!
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  • 1
    Hello Charles, thank you for the kind invite to a discussion. Edward Sanchez also had a good suggestion to allow Photoshop to serve both creator intentions and customer expectations...

    May I quote the now-removed-but-disputed post:

    **
    But here's a solution that doesn't conflict with any of the counter arguments (however weak and illogical they are) -> add a new -snip- option!

    As a subset of "Always Create Smart Object when Placing", add "Convert placed image files to PSD Smart Objects".
    **

    I'd be happy to chat about this. It would make SmartObjects even smarter!

    Thank you,
    Paul
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    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) April 02, 2015 04:27
      Yeah, that profanity filter has randomly hit me a few times today. What's funny is that I copied and pasted the identical text to a new comment - and that worked. So it isn't that particular word, it's some kind of bug in the system. We'll submit a report to GetSatisfaction about it (but I'm going to get more data on it first).

      Yes, I worked with a few early autonomous systems and balancing robots back at Carnegie Mellon.
    • where I say p__hed downhill, I had k__ked downhill; might have to have the full paragraph for the trigger...
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  • I should have noted I've already talked to Edward. Please be in touch!
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    Hi Charles, thank for the offer. I really appreciate it. I will try to get in touch with you tomorrow. I wanted to respond yesterday, but we had a major storm. The trains didn't go anymore and I had to drive for two days having no time to work on the computer.

    Thanks
    Marcus
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  • 1
    Chris, you removed my compliment to Charles - badly done, besides the rest of it. I am putting it in again here, phrased again, and addressed to his point of view.

    Charles, thank you very kindly for standing up and entering in here on the positive, forward-moving, and attentive way. It is much appreciated.

    As far as embeddable objects, as you probably know and others should, Apple attempted this in the mid-early days of the Mac and its OS, where it very seldom was actually operable. Adobe finally brought the concept to work adequately in the CS packages, only amongst its own software.

    Object embedding is technically, but especially humanistically, a large challenge. There are many possible states, not to speak of the unexpecteds-handling necessary, and there are many ways that persons who use the results may vary in their natural expectations.

    Truly good software is a pleasure as it as automatically as possible adjusts and adapts in these humanistic ways. I am sure you know the feeling when met.

    A talented designer will do the best they can with their imagination, and then prepare to deal intelligently with the further cases that are sure to come, admitting to the complexity of the case.. Smoothness and dependability to the person who uses the design comes above all else, for friendly manners, for product value, and for actual technical competency, the kind we reward,

    That's the path you're on, and I commend it. This is the kind of thinking which will save Adobe from itself, at least on the technical side. Also others, if those in high chairs realize to listen similarly,

    Thank you, and the tip of an experienced hat,
    Clive
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    • Chris Cox (Sr. Computer Scientist) April 02, 2015 01:35
      Yes, posts that violate the terms of use for the site (SPAM, off topic, threats, insults, duplicate post mistakes, trolling, etc.) will be removed. It's a public forum, so we get a lot of messes that need to be cleaned up.
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