Photoshop: How did I get a flattened PSD after saving PDF?

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So I'm not going to rage. I really want to. But I won't. I'm using Photoshop CS 5.5 (Windows). I was on the sixth version of a high fidelity Website mockup. The client asked that I provide them the design in PDF format. So from within the .PSD file, I select "Save As" and choose PDF as the format. I complete the PDF wizard and all seemed good.

No. Apparently, when you save as a PDF, it turns the PSD file you actively have open into a PDF? I noticed that the file type changed to PDF from PSD on the tab. "That's stupid," I thought. "I'll just change it back to a PSD, since I've made a few modifications since I saved it last."

You know, in Dreamweaver when you execute a "Save As", it opens the new file in its own tab. Just a thought.

Maybe my next choice was wrong, but it seemed instinctive to me. I decided to "Save As" again, but this time as a PSD file. I still had my layers in tact, so I didn't think there would be a problem.

I close out the file. When I open the PSD file back up just a few minutes ago, it's COMPLETELY FLATTENED. GONE. MY WORK IS GONE. Awesome. Thank you.
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Mason Shewman

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Posted 8 years ago

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Chris Cox

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It doesn't "turn into a PDF", Photoshop just displays that last filename you saved the document to. Nothing changes about the document except the filename/path.

When you saved the PSD, you had to have chosen to not save layer data, or you flattened the document and forgot about it before saving.

Saving as PDF doesn't flatten the document, nor does it change the document.
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Stephen Lavallee

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I don't know what version of PS you're talking about, but in CS6, at least, saving as PDF, automatically unchecks 'layers' if you aren't careful. Then when you save as PSD again, it's still unchecked.

Again, there needs to be a more conspicuous warning that you are about to lose all your layers.
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ted garrett

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I have the same Problem. I can choose to save the PSD first and then save as PDF after and close the tab. Then goto to open the PSD that I SAVED WITH LAYER DATA, and wammo its flattened. Or I can save as pdf first, then SAVE as PSD and Close the tab, reopen the PSD and Wammo its messed up again. So Saving a PDF without Preserving Photoshop Edibility in the PDF and saving a PSD before or after saving the PSD will in turn automatically do the same in the PSD no matter which way you go about it. Its the stupidest thing ive ever seen, i have ruined so many jobs trying to fix this issue its not funny, PHOTOSHOP Has cost Thousands of dollars and ticks me off!!!
Edit: I also forgot to explain that the reason i have to UN-check "Preserving Photoshop Edibility" while saving a PDF because it makes a smaller file size for uploading to print services who have file size limits.
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Official Response
I think there is some user confusion here. When you have a layered PSD, then choose File>Save As... and select PDF, and UN-check "Preserving Photoshop Edibility" the open file is not flattened at that point.

If you go back to the File menu, Save is disabled. You have to choose "Save As..."



When you do, the format is set to Photoshop PDF (Note that Save: "Layers" is unchecked with a ! warning symbol):



If I change the Format pop-up to "Photoshop" note that Save: "Layers" is still unchecked with a ! warning symbol:



If I save the file now, yes, the resulting PSD will not have layers. If you address the options/warnings, and check "Layers" then save the file, the resulting file will retain the layers.

Are you saying, that if you ensure that "Layers" is checked at this point and save the file the resulting file has no layers? I haven't been able to reproduce that.
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Mason Shewman

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It's been a year now, and I've finally cooled off. ;) Actually, I only now realized there had been activity on this thread.

While the potential flattening of a PSD is certainly an unfortunate outcome and arguably a less-than-intuitive user experience - I appreciate that you took the time to outline what was ultimately a (my) user error.

I'm using Photoshop Extended CS6 now. I've done everything I can to replicate the issue in and I can't. The integrity of my PSD file and all of its layers stays in tact regardless of the PDF options I select during a "Save As".

I've been using one version or another of Photoshop for more than a decade now, and I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I've had a legitimate gripe with the program. It's a great product, and Adobe's commitment to it and the rest of the Creative suite deserves recognition. Thanks.
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PECourtejoie, Champion

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Jeffrey, how comes that a setting a user set for a given file format is applied to another one?
Wasn't there a setting to have "copy" added when "as a copy" is selected?
I'm posting here because another user complained of lost work on twitter because of this sequence of events.
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Cody Backhaus

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I actually ran into this tonight with Photoshop CC, and I was really confused - This hasn't happened to me before.

Jeffrey, this response at least makes sense to me, as I opened my recently saved PSD and had no idea why this was happening.

My question is this: Could the Save window call out the fact that layers were not going to be saved through a dialog box? A warning in the dialog is simply not enough for someone who is a full workday in on their project and misses the warning button (which I later found) at the bottom of the Save window. Just thinking of UX here. The project that this happened for me on is minuscule, but I could see this impacting deadlines or causing some serious repercussions to timelines if missed.

Just a note: I don't mean to contest the great minds at Adobe, just simply trying to open a discussion regarding potential user error.
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Robert Asaad

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I've had this issue for years, probably since Photoshop CS3. I'm on CS5.5 now.

There's only one guaranteed solution that works...

1) Before saving to a PDF, duplicate your PSD file
2) Open the PSD duplicate
3) Save as PDF
4) Close
5) Delete PSD duplicate
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aaron nagucki

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I had the same issue. However, it is completely user error. When you save as PDF. The PSD file essentially closes and the file then becomes filename.PDF. You save that file without layers. Then if you Save as PSD because you thought you erased it, you accidentally leave layers unchecked. This then replaces the closed PSD into a PSD with no layers... aka flattened, also know as useless. I suggest opening the flattened image, add a layer with large font that says "DUMB" on it. Print it out, tape it right above your workstation. Then you will always remember what not to be. Alternatively, you should do the same thing but tape it to your chest for 1 hour after you have made this mistake. This way people will understand how you feel because it really is user error. The save as dialog box doesn't reset every time you use it.

If this was too harsh for you I'm sorry, I have another Idea that you will actually like. Every time you are going to save something as a PDF, go to your history panel of your PSD. Take a snapshot and then save. Also, every time you are finished with an awesome photoshop file, take a snap shot with your history menu camera. Name these snapshots as "pre-PDF" and "post-awesomeness". This way if you open your psd and it's flattened, you can click one of your snapshots and get back to work with layers. It's unfortunate that there isn't a magic genie to turn a flat psd or pdf into a layered file, but hey, you can never have too many snapshots. I hope this helps
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A Dobe

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OK, I have a different scenario.

The following does NOT have to do with saving as a PDF.

It pertains to basic saving a PS file as a PSD.

Over the last few years with PS CS 3, I have had this problem on a periodic basis: when re-visiting a saved PSD file, the layers have mysteriously flattened. The age of the files does not seem to matter. Whether they are several years old or recent files, this flattening of layers can happen.

Here are my questions:

1. Can my PS possibly be corrupt? If so, is the best solution to delete the program and re-install?

2. Could my computer have a glitch? Perhaps it's not sending proper
signals to PS to save with all layers remaining intact?

FYI: I have had multiple problems with my MacBook Pro over the last 4 years. The problems included multiple freezing / crashes and repetitive / sticky keys. Many times, the problems would occur after intensive PS editing. The Apple folks could never figure it out. After I got a new battery, things seem to have improved. I also run my Disk Utility more regularly now.

3. Please review the steps for careful saving so that the PS layers
really do remain intact. Maybe I have carelessly skipped an important step when I have saved certain images.

4. Please provide troubleshooting tips regarding which Dialog box items
to UNcheck, to make sure that the layers stay intact.

Thanks ahead of time for your assistance.
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Chris Cox

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1) Yes, but then you'd get an error message and a confirmation dialog asking if you want to read the composite.

2) Nope.

3) Yes, you probably made a mistake when saving.

4) It's just the "layers" checkbox in the save dialog - that's all.
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marte thomson

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This all goes back to "Save as copy" - it was always safer to "save as copy", then you would have preserved the first version (make sure you save it first.) The copy version will have "copy" in the name, but at least you will not have lost anything.
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marte thomson

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Another side but related issue is whether you are saving the layered file to open in PS or to open in Acrobat. The layers are not preserved when you open in Acrobat, even if they are preserved in PS.
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Chris Cox

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Layers cannot be preserved in Acrobat, because Acrobat has no idea how to work with Photoshop layers (which are more complex than what Acrobat works with).
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KenJyi Yos

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Jeffry, I dont think it's user confusion, this is a user interface problem Adobe could address easily. Photoshop has a pop up to warn us of trivial things (comparatively) such as fonts or to maximize compatibility but there's NO pop up to ask if i want to KEEP my layers?! I think there's something wrong with their priority system for warning it's users about how the file is saved. A tiny ! triangle in the middle of the save dialogue is not much of a warning. After all, we're talking about LAYERS here. Obviously there are lots of people who's logic is to check their file extension before closing the file they spent so much time working on. Once we discover we are working under the wrong extension we try to correct it. Now that I think about it, I've even gotten pop ups that warn me when I'm saving layers saying it will increase the size.
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Pierre Lefebvre

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I totally agree with KenJyi Yos !
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Stephen Lavallee

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I totally agree with KenJyi Yos.....I mean, without functional layers, Photoshop would be completely useless. There absolutely needs to be a blatant warning about this issue when you are about to lose your layers. I don't think I ever encountered this before using CS6 (or whatever the newest one is...I use the cloud service)...I'm not sure how though, since it appears that it has happened to others using older versions, just as I have.

Seriously, if I'm saving a psd and I'm about to lose my layers, Photoshop should punch me in the skull before it lets me do that. When would I EVER want to lose all my layers in a psd?
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Chris Cox

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Many people want to save copies of their images without layers.

And the choice to save layers or not has been in the save dialog for many years.
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marte thomson

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Even if you check the "layers" checkbox, and save as pdf, the layers do not appear in the Acrobat Reader.
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Chris Cox

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Correct, Acrobat does not know how to work with Photoshop layers.
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R B

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I've had the same problem and I now have to redo everything.

Isn't that the function of "Save As"? To create another file of another type???
You're saying that it doesn't flatten the psd file automatically but here's the thing:

-I SAVED AS pdf, with the Editing Capabilities unchecked because I intend to have a separate working PSD file for that.
-After that, with all the layers still visible (and seemingly untouched in my Layers window), I SAVED AS again, this time as a PSD file to make sure I have a workable file with workable layers.
-At this point I assumed I already have a separate PDF and PSD file, in different locations in my computer.
- Then it showed a dialog box saying I haven't saved the file with layers something something and if I would like to save the file in a workable format. I chose NO because, less than a minute ago, I saved a PSD file of my work (needless to say the layers WERE there in the Layers window when I did).
-Now when I opened the PSD file...tah-dah! IT'S FLATTENED.

So what the f-ing h is going on?
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Chris Cox

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Please read the previous posts. You saved without layers, and then forgot to turn the saving of layers back on.
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Abbott Fleur

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This is a horrible UI implementation. If I save as jpg, gif or almost any other format, when the save is complete, the PSD is intact, my layers are fine. Is there anyone out thee who purposely would want to change the format of the PSD and loose layers, just because you have to save a copy as PDF to send to others (since most of the world does not have Photoshop).
I have had this issue before, and always try to keep the files separate, but I'm not a machine...I expect the software I'm using to not put me into this position.
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Bill CTS

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This is a travesty... I get prompted for all manner of inconsequential things, but destroying 25 hours of work on a PSD happens just like that?

I get reminded that something will save with COPY appended to the file name. I get asked if I want to maximize compatibility... And someone above has the temerity to lead with the comment "it is user error"?

Bad on me for not realizing that everything is protected with redundancies and warning prompts EXCEPT for the nifty feature where the Save as PDF and Self Destruct functions go together into one button with NO prompt...

Terrible job allowing this to occur.

Thank you to the consumer advocate saying there is some confusion here.. there sure is. I truly hope some one in development makes certain this never happens to anyone again...
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Mason Shewman

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What version of PS are you using? I believe the latest versions of Photoshop (CS6+) have modified the Save As PDF wizard to prevent the PSD file from being converted into a flattened PDF file. But the issue still exists on CS5.5 and lower.

I know how you feel. I wanted to kick a puppy (or a developer) when I created this thread.
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Bill CTS

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Hey Mason- Since you're the originator of this thread, I appreciate you saying hello. Yeah, it was 5.5. I was mind-crushingly frustrated last night. I am usually meticulous about saving many copies of work, and got sloppy last night. But even so, with some of the protections that ARE there, for this to be allowed... sheesh...

But lessons learned... Fixed or not in CS6, I will probably NEVER again save as PDF without first creating a new PSD expressly for the purpose of saving as PDFs.

And lastly, all venting and frustration aside, this is really brilliant software, and I'm grateful to the developers and community members who contribute to my ability to make a living doing something creative. :-)

Peace!
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mo satarzadeh

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RB I am having the EXACT same issue word for word and it has NOTHING to do with user error or at least not in regards to "Layers" being unchecked. Mine is, was, and always will be checked. I've been using Photoshop for about 10 years now, doing this same exact action in the past has never yielded this problem even with different installs of CS6, but now on this new install of it I am getting this problem.
After some testing it is clear that it has to do with saving a psd as a pdf and unchecking "preserve editing capabilities" then wanting to resave the file as a PSD again. This is frustrating to say the least. I'm glad it happened on something I can recreate within half an hour but saddened to see there is no fix or a way of restoring a previous copy.
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PECourtejoie, Champion

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The french user posted a step by step. Seems that there is no more warning icon next to the layers checkbox. http://imgur.com/a/OjhSI
Also, in this step of events, if one unchecks "layers" when saving the PDF, copy gets added to the filename. NOT for a PSD, or not when layers gets unchecked by the fact that the preserve editing abitilites is unchecked when saving to another file format.
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Jordan Chase

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Just wanted to chime in and say even though it is not a bug, it is very easy for the end user to mistakenly save a PSD without layers as the result of saving a PDF of an open document (without editing abilities). I for one think it would be a good idea to somehow notify the user. A dialog with a "don't tell me again" checkbox in it or something to that effect. This problem used to get me all the time if I wasn't looking out for it. 10 year PS user here for what it's worth.
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SidianMSJones

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This is ridiculous. When I save as PNG, JPG, etc, I get a separate file than my PSD and the PSD remains open.

But when I save a PDF it closes my PSD? Naturally many people would assume that it actually *changed* the PSD, given the save behavior of most other file types.

I've lost a lot of work to this in the past and came here hoping to find it was just user error. Really it is just bad UI design on the part of Adobe.

The question is "answered" and not solved.
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Christine Raymond

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100% agree with all frustrated users. Yes, it is a user error but c'mon adobe, give us a break. It's simply too late once we realize your save as a pdf with/without layers has it's own set of rules as so eloquently said by SidainMSJones above.
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marcel vossen

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Layers in the PSD project are gone after saving a copy of my work to a PDF for a ....

Hi there,

I have experienced something that is very weird in Photoshop CC yesterday, I understand this is how it always works but I consider it a huge problem.

I was working on a PSD with multiple layers and I wanted to save it both as a PSD and also as a PDF file to send it to the client. I first saved my document as a PDF unchecking the box to keep the layers, assuming that this setting is only for the PDF output filter. I unchecked it because that will shrink the document to a reasonable size of 10 Mb instead of 100 Mb. After that I saved it also as a PSD, at that time, all the layers were still visible in the document I was working in.

When I later re-openened the PSD file, to my horror all the layers were gone there as well!

At Adobe they said it is just the way the software works , but i think this is really dangerous for the user, I lost a lot of changes I made in the different layers because of this.

If a user would want to merge all layers into one, he/she could do so with 1 mouseclick, but I definately didnt expect this when I saved the document as a PDF.

After all, when I save the document as a JPG and after that as a PSD, I dont lose all my layers do I?

This just doesnt make any sense! If anyone can explain to me why this is better than just saving the PDF without layers and keeping the project intact, I'd like to hear that...

Marcel
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Bob Beecher

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In early automobiles, the gas peddle wasn't always on the right side. (I don't know if that true, but suppose it was.) Well, of course, people would press the accelerator when they wanted to stop and some three dimensional objected would get flattened.

People complained and one self righteous person said, "just look at the peddles before you hit the breaks. It's that simple." Nevertheless, things kept getting flatten until one day a major car manufacturer, I think it was Ford, decided to do what we call today: "fix the user interface." They studied the problem and decided to always have the gas peddle on the right side.

Adobe telling us to make sure one of the check boxes is checked is like Henry Ford telling Model T owners to look at the peddles before slamming on the breaks. Henry fixed the problem and Adobe can too.
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Dylan Gaul

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Saving out as PDF flattened my PSD.

Hi,
I've been using PS for 8 years now and this has to be the most frustrating thing that happens with the program - the psd Ive been working on is flattened. I was saving out my document as a .pdf, and the mistake I think I made was unchecking "Preserve Photopshop editing capabilities". I thought this option would allow the pdf to be reopened and editable in PS; thinking that this would increase the size of the pdf I unchecked the option. Now I have a pdf and a flattened psd. Awesome.
Why is saving pdf different from saving out a jpeg or png? Why would I want to flatten my psd?
Great user experience.
Dylan
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Christine Raymond

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After losing too many art files I've spent the time to learn that when you are saving your work as a pdf, you need to check the box as a copy on the same screen as where you choose to save as a pdf. It will be fine.

This is stupid & needs to be changed. When I'm working on multiple projects, a co-worker asks a question or my phone rings it's too easy to make a mistake.
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Dylan Gaul

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Hey Christine,
Thanks for your reply- it's nice to hear I'm not the only one! It gave me me quite the emotional rollcoster when I open my psd!
I will never forget to check that box again, cheers
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Christine Raymond

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I'm thinking when you hit 'save as' pdf you didn't select the 'as a copy' box. See attachment...
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Jim Cloughley

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This is the Norman Door of Save.
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Peter Par

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I am a powerhouse Photoshop user for over 15 years.  I purchased my Creative Suite CS5 for $2,600.  I would never ever assume SAVE AS PDF would replace my PSD file.  I would assume my PSD layered file is safe.  Someone should kill the developer that change this from the previous version of Photoshop.  CHANGE IT BACK.  IF IT ISN'T BROKEN, WHY THE F!$&%$ FIX IT! 
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Fabien Dodard

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled PHOTOSHOP CC 2017 FLATTEN BUG.

This bug just cost me hours of work : ( . I have a file with multiple artboards in Photoshop. Saved the PSD, then wanted to save a copy as PDF, did that. Then I continued my work. When I finished, I saved the PSD file again, on top of what I had saved before, and closed my file thinking: I'm Done! on the next. Unluckily for me, That PSD files (as well as the PDF), got flattened without my knowledge. I lost all my layers, all of my work pretty much. Happened two times on two seperate files.

So it seems like when you have a file with multiple Artboards, and save as a PDF mid-way, and save as PSD after that, that PSD gets flattened.