Photoshop: "Copy PNG to Clipboard" should be an option when right clicking layers/folders in the Layers Panel

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  • Updated 7 months ago
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It's great that Photoshop now has "Quick Export as PNG" and "Export As..." when right clicking layers and folders in the Layers Panel. I feel like the only thing missing is Copying the selected item as a PNG to the Clipboard for quickly pasting somewhere. 
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Ram Kanda

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Posted 7 months ago

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Rob Rippengale

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If you mean quickly pasting into the filesystem as a file, that's not possible. There is no way to take part or all of an image and copy it to the clipboard "as a PNG" -- image data is copied as a pure Bitmap. The PNG format is only applied to an actual file stored in a filesystem.

When you use Windows to copy a file to the clipboard, only the path for the file is copied. Then some other program (like the File Explorer) can use that path to locate the file and copy or move it.

So, for Photoshop to copy the image-being-edited to the clipboard as a PNG you could paste into the filesystem, it would have to export the image as a file somewhere and copy the path to that file to the clipboard. But Photoshop would have no way of knowing when you were done with the file it made, so it would never delete it and eventually your disk would be full.

Better and easier to use Export to make the PNG file where you want it, or into some temp folder and later move it where you want, so you remain in control of your files.
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Rob Rippengale

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The above "pure Bitmap" phrase is simplistic. It is possible for a program to copy image data that is more than a normal Bitmap into the clipboard, so that the same or some other informed program can use it. Sometimes the original program keeps the memory block and just posts a pointer, and sometimes the full data is copied in, along with a format specifier so the other program can know what exactly is in the clipboard. So, it would theoretically be possible for Photoshop to copy the entire formatted-as-PNG file contents into the clipboard and assign some special format flag, and some other program might know the clipboard data has already been formatted to the PNG specification and simply save that data directly into a file without processing it... But that is not normal and the File Explorer doesn't expect to take image data out of the clipboard and create a PNG file with it. It expects a file path in there so it can copy or move that file.