How to Save a Photoshop File to a Previous Version

You might be wondering, “how do I save a Photoshop file to a previous version? In a recent discussion forum, a user asked, “Does anyone know how to save a file in Photoshop CS2 so it can be opened in Photoshop 6? Our answer refers to backwards compatibility when opening files from any newer version of Photoshop using an older version of Photoshop.

How to Save a Photoshop File to a Previous Version

This is a rather perplexing question. If you have the current version of Photoshop with its extensive feature set, why would you want to open that file in an older, discontinued version of the application? With the advent of the CreativeCloud subscription service with free access to constant updates, the need to do this sort of thing is frankly a thing of the past.

Another thing to keep in mind is that many of the older versions of Photoshop just don’t work on today’s computers. Your first clue will be the fact that if you want to install the previous version, your computer may not have a floppy drive or even a CD drive.

That said, there are still a couple of options available to you, but you should be aware that none of them will keep any layers or effects applied to the image you’re working on. If you’re not willing to sacrifice this job, then you’re just out of luck.

  1. There is an option in Photoshop preferences called Maximize PSD File Compatibility (in the Edit > Preferences > File Handling menu ) . Make sure this area at the bottom of the File Compatibility area is set to Always or Ask . However, turning this option on results in larger file sizes. If you only need this feature occasionally, you can set it to Ask and Photoshop will ask you if you want to maximize compatibility each time you save a file. When this option is used, the layers are saved along with a flattened composition of the image. A common best practice is to never check the Do not show again box when you see Photoshop’s Format Options dialog box when saving an image. You never know what version of the app the next person who opens the image might be using.
  2. The easiest way to save a file for a previous version is to simply flatten it by saving it as a jpg, gif, or png image. All effects and other additions using the latest version will be baked into the resulting file. Note that there is absolutely no way to save a .psd file from the current version – Photoshop CC 2017 – which can be opened in CS2, CS 6 or any of the CS versions of the app and expect things like Content-Aware Fill or Camera Raw are there.

Ramifications of opening newer PSD files with older software

Still, when you open a newer Photoshop version file in the earlier version of Photoshop, the new Photoshop features will not carry over when the file is opened in a version that does not contain these features. If the file is edited and saved from the previous version, unsupported features are discarded. That is why, in many cases, the adage “It is easier to open down than up” is important.

For example, there are some new blend modes that have been added since Photoshop 6 came out. If you used any of these in your file and then edited it in the previous version, your image may look different. Other new features like smart objects, certain effect layers, layer sets or groups, layer comps, etc., do not roll over. You may want to make a duplicate of your file and simplify it as much as possible before trying to open it in an older version.

The same applies when opening Photoshop files in software other than Adobe that reads PSD files.