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 7 years ago

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Joseph Berkey

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled PSD loses layers.

I've been working on developing my resume in Photoshop for the past couple days and finally finished it.  It was a very populated document with a lot of layers, organized with folders and looking pretty!

Once complete, I saved the .PSD.  Afterwards, I decided to Save As a Photoshop PDF, set for Smallest File Size.  Now I got my finished PDF!

But wait, I realized I needed to make a couple edits post .PDF, so I go back to Photoshop, layers are still all there :)  So I make my edits and Save As a .PSD.  I decided to close Photoshop before exporting another .PDF because I had other activities in line.

Upon my return of opening the original PSD... all my layers are gone now.

I have recreated this weird loss of layers twice more to verify my order of operations.  This is totally lame!
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Anthony Graziano

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Photoshop: I save a PSD file with layers, save as a PDF, reopen the PSD file, and....

Problem: I save a PSD file with layers. Next I Flatten Layers, change the Image Size and save as a PDF. I close the file. When I reopen the PSD file, all my Layers are gone.

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Brian Pohuski

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Eliminating Flattened PSD Syndrome: Accurately reflect updated workspace upon sav....

Objective: Need to accurately reflect updated workspace upon save of a "non-editable" PDF.

For example:
We have two files.
Non-layered PDF: "file.pdf"
Layered PSD: "file.psd"

We "Save As" the open PSD document.

We save as a PDF instead of PSD

After pressing "save" The dialog options are displayed with "Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities" selected by default.

I do not want others to have access to editable content in Photoshop, so i disable this.

Upon saving, I return to the Photoshop Interface.

Notice that the file has changed from "file.psd" to "file.pdf". Currently this saved file cannot contain these layers because they have been disabled when it was saved. The layers currently show however as if this was being edited.

This is the cause of all problems. How can a file that is not able to be edited by photoshop show a workable file with layers in Photoshop?

My suggestion would be:
Upon save of a file that does not have "Photoshop Editable Capabilities", display the file as if it were opened after save. As in, display the flat PDF that the faile currently exists as and not as in its PSD editable state.

This has caused many people issues, and a quick search will show horror storys of people saving flattened versions of PSDs because of this problem. Here is why this is extremely important:

I am still in my PDF that displays layers (even though apparently the file I am in cannot contain "Photoshop editable" layers).

I make a change to a layer (since I still have layers to work on apparently).

Now I wish to save my changes to my original "file.psd" document. Since I am in "file.pdf" currently I use the "Save As" option.

I make the change from PDF to PSD as my file type. Notice that the warning mentioned at the bottom describes as requiring to be saved as a copy. The user at this point blows this off since they won't be saving it as a copy of the PDF. They will be saving it as the PSD.

Since I want to update the original file "file.psd", I remove the word and space " copy" from the filename.

Herein lies the problem...
Consider this: The file I am currently working in is a PDF without photoshop editing capabilities, however, it somehow still contains workable layers in the user interface.

Since that was present, I made changes and am about to save as a PSD. If saving as a PSD and I have layers present, naturally I am going to automatically think I will be saving with layers. the only indication otherwise is a tiny alert icon present next to a checkmark that says "Layers"

I, the user, never unchecked or checked the "Layers" check box in the "Save As" dialog box. I unchecked the "Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities", but never touched the option in "Save As". This is thought because the file I am in still has the layers from before since they were never flattened in the workable document.

Naturally this would mean, that it is in its default state and nothing should be concerned. Further, the warning talks about "Save as copy", which the user already blew off since they are saving over the old file in a different file type.

In addition, the Layers check box "!" indication here is extremely easy to not notice when saving back and forth between PDF and PSD files, and it is not clear what it means.

The only notice that is displayed when the user saves is the warning to override the PSD file, of which it is accepted.

When the user then saves, the file displayed is still "file.pdf" with layers.

Since the user saved over the PSD version with the updated changes, they close the file. The file then warns that the PDF does not conform to what is being displayed in the editor. The user selects "Do not save" because they have already saved the PSD and PDF files to the specifications that they wanted at the time. In the user's mind, the PDF is flat, and the PSD is layered.

After exiting the file (and possibly Photoshop), the user then returns to the PSD document, "file.psd", only to find that countless hours (possibly more) of work have been lost due to a simple check box that was changed without the user making the change, and a tiny yellow "!" mark that made no sense anyway.

All of this can be avoided by:

When the user saves a file into the PDF format and un-checks "Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities"... upon the save being completed, the PDF in the user interface editor should be displaying the PDF in the state it is currently in -- that state is a flattened PDF, NOT a fully editable document.

Not changing the editor to reflect this state change, causes major issues for people.
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Brian Pohuski

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For the record, this post above was from 2014 and was merged by someone in 2018. In 2022, I'll likely post my next comment about this still being an issue.
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Wes Calvin Bourdon

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Try this: save as a PDF, then PSD - close & reopen (its flattened).

Try this: start with a layered psd...
"save as", choose PDF, save
now your working file in photoshop still has layers.
Choose to save as again and go back to a PSD. close your file.
When you open it... it is flattened.

If I choose "save as a copy" - this is the fix... HOWEVER for 12 years this box has been checked by default. and I didn't have to manually check it every time... so I forget and I end up with a flattened psd.
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Pierre Lefebvre

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled When saving in PDF then in PSD all layers is flatened and hours of works forever....

You must absolutely fix this problem if you want your program to be professional...

If we save a file in PDF,  every thing seams fine, every layers are there
and are editable. There's no message of caution if we try now to save it again in PSD.......

But when we reopen the PSD file, every layers is gone. The image is flattened and
hours of works are lost !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This situation happens a lot in production, to save in pdf for the boss or client, then in psd,
then in pdf... ...

Please change this before people suicide by your fault !

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David Converse

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This is user error, plain and simple. When you Save As in pretty much any program, your original file IS NOT SAVED. Its a NEW file, with a new name, possibly in a new format.

The fix is easy. Save first, THEN Save As, then close the NEW file and reopen the old one.
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Pierre Lefebvre

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When the program make people do an error because a lack of logic and congruence can we really say it's an user error ???
Save in TIFF with no layers then in PSD. All layers will be safe !
Save in any other format than PDF then in PSD. All layers are safe !
Save a PDF in InDesign or Illustrator then save in native format. Again,
all layers will be safe !

As photoshop uncheck the layers box of the psd save menu when we save in pdf,
and there's no logic to do that, and no one never want to save in psd with no layers,
can we really say this is an user error ???

Ton of people will loose precious works if they don't change this issue.
Adobe must think about those people !!!
At least if they make a caution message the moment we save in psd in this particular situation.

Also, they must make their programs the fastest and unstressed.
Your solution to save take time. When we have a lot of works to do fast,
we really want to save in any format with just a single click ! Really it helps !
It's even faster to re-check the layers box then save in psd. But it's something
we have to do and remember anytime. it's really stressing.

So i really hope they could understand what it change and make an update ! There's no reason to stress the users and make their work more difficult and stressing ! Their job is just the opposite if they want to continue to make the best program !
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Brian Pohuski

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User errors happen because of bad user experience and poor interface design. So, even if (and I say "if" begrudgingly) this is a user error, the fact that many people over the years have felt so passionate about this topic means that it is still a problem that needs to be addressed to improve customer satisfaction.

Either way, it is a problem I hope Adobe examines in more detail soon.
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User errors also happen when people don't take the time to understand how a process works. 
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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I've created a story internally for our engineers to review this experience to see if there's something we can do to prevent this mistake.
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Pierre Lefebvre

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Pierre Lefebvre

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Nothing new about this ? 
This is very stressing every time i have to save in pdf even if i know the tricks.
Why don't you ear the complains of your users ??? 
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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Has something along those lined ever gone wrong when you checked »As a copy« when saving the pdf? 
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Pierre Lefebvre

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So i must do more works because adobe don't want to do it for all user ? 
Thousand and thousand click, no one would never forget to click, and all layers will be lost again.. 
Don't we use programs to work faster ?)
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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If by »do more works« you mean click the pertinent field/s in a dialog window then the question appears nonsensical ... of course you need to specify what Photoshop is to do or how would you expect Photoshop to operate without user input? 

Feel free to employ the automation options Photoshop offers, Scripting in particular might help you streamline this process. 
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Pierre Lefebvre

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Good idea thanks, an action works fine. 
I was thinking that saving and loading could sometime make problem in action,
but this works fine. So easy and i was not thinking of it !

But i continue to think that adobe must change the way pdf is saved.
Most people want to always save pdf with no layers, and psd with it.
Why not to make it by default save as copy for pdf ? 

I always try when someone have to works after me on something, to make it the most easy for him. Clear and easy. The problem will continue to occurs for new users but you save me !)
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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Actually I meant Scripts in the sense of a JavaScript (or VB or AppleScript) that Photoshop can run and which should provide a little more leeway than Actions. 
But if an Action works satisfactory, so much the better. 

The number of people who have suffered from this issue seems to indicate that Adobe has provided, well, at least an easily misunderstood dialog/interface. 
And it would certainly be good if they found a way to improve it ... but I expect the Photoshop team has a lot of »fish to fry« and only a limited number of »burners«.