Why You Should Choose TIFF Over PSD to Save Your Photoshop Files

Why You Should Choose TIFF Over PSD to Save Your Photoshop Files

The other day I was watching an interesting tutorial on workflow, when I noticed that the photographer saved his Adobe Lightroom files using the TIFF format. I hadn’t done too much work with TIFF’s, (also known as TIF) but after a bit of research this workflow made complete sense. After doing the initial tweaks to your photo in Lightroom, you can save the file uncompressed, or using lossless compression, in the TIFF format if you’re going to do further edits in Photoshop. As this great article from Cambridge in Colour states "TIFF files are an excellent option for archiving intermediate files which you may edit later, since it introduces no compression artifacts."

Additionally, when speaking about using only Photoshop, I found that the majority of the industry seems to agree that TIFF is the better solution than PSD when saving files for later edits. So far the main reason seems to be that TIFF is widely supported by other applications. It’s possible to open layered TIFF files in applications that don’t support layers and see a flattened version of the image. In order to do this with a PSD, one needs to go to the File Handling settings in Photoshop and set it to “Maximize Compatibility” of PSD and PNB’s. Nowadays many applications, like Pixelmator, support layers and so make it easier for you to edit your photos if you don’t have Photoshop at hand.

The TIFF File Format

  • More widely supported than PSD.
  • Supports layers
  • No duotone support 
  • Originally created by Aldus Corporation who was acquired by Adobe in 1994.

The PSD File Format

  • The native format of Photoshop
  • Supports all of Photoshop’s features
  • Supports files up to 2 GB in size (for larger files, save as PSB)

Additional Resources:

All of the file formats supported by Photoshop, including TIFF. 
Wikipedia Article on the TIFF format. 

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