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Why were all my layers merged into one when saving PSD file?

Explorer ,
May 07, 2019 May 07, 2019

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Help! I had at least a dozen layers in progress when I saved the file at the end of the day's work yesterday. I saved it as a PSD file, just as I always do. But when I opened it this morning, all it has is one background layer with all my work merged together!! 1) Is there any way to get my layers back? 2) what could I have done to cause this to happen?

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correct answers 2 Correct answers

Community Expert , May 07, 2019 May 07, 2019

Have you saved as a PDF at any stage during your work? If so , and you uncheck Preserve Photoshop Editing capabilities then the layers are not saved. No problem for the PDF  but there is a nasty "gotcha". All your layers are still available in the open document and when you then go to save them as a PSD then the layers button in the PSD save dialogue is now unchecked. There is a warning but it is very easily missed.

Dave

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Community Expert , Sep 17, 2021 Sep 17, 2021

Save as layers is no longer required in the save dialogue as the standard Save As formats automatically save with layers intact and PDF now saves as a copy i.e. it does not destroy the original format. This is a safer soloution to the original issue than many that were discussed here.

 

Dave

 

Edit - since posting this reply in September, the original issue was re-introduced when the version with legacy Save As was released. So once again after saving as PDF you can lose your layers in your next

...

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LEGEND ,
May 07, 2019 May 07, 2019

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This seems to happen when the file is corrupted (e.g. the save fails, a server goes away, software or system bugs... all of these can happen).

Photoshop first writes a merged layer, then starts to save all the other layers. If this now fails, you at least have the merged layer. You will need to use backups to go back any earlier.

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Community Expert ,
May 07, 2019 May 07, 2019

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Make sure layers is checked when you save.

Screen Shot 2019-05-07 at 1.59.57 PM.png

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Community Expert ,
May 07, 2019 May 07, 2019

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Have you saved as a PDF at any stage during your work? If so , and you uncheck Preserve Photoshop Editing capabilities then the layers are not saved. No problem for the PDF  but there is a nasty "gotcha". All your layers are still available in the open document and when you then go to save them as a PSD then the layers button in the PSD save dialogue is now unchecked. There is a warning but it is very easily missed.

Dave

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Explorer ,
May 08, 2019 May 08, 2019

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Yes davescm! That's it! That's exactly how it happened. Thank you so much for figuring this out.

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Community Expert ,
May 08, 2019 May 08, 2019

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You're welcome. Once you know, it only catches you once. 🙂

Dave

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Community Expert ,
May 08, 2019 May 08, 2019

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That said, having a Backup Plan should never be Rocket Surgery.

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Community Beginner ,
Sep 17, 2021 Sep 17, 2021

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Hi Dave,

I know it's been a few years, but now the psd save dialog box doesn't have any checkbox for layers. It only appears for "save as copy", which is annoying/problematic 😕 I never had this problem in previous versions and learned about it very quickly in Photoshop 2021; I hope that this very important "save layers" checkbox is re-added to the dialog box!

 

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Community Expert ,
Sep 17, 2021 Sep 17, 2021

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Save as layers is no longer required in the save dialogue as the standard Save As formats automatically save with layers intact and PDF now saves as a copy i.e. it does not destroy the original format. This is a safer soloution to the original issue than many that were discussed here.

 

Dave

 

Edit - since posting this reply in September, the original issue was re-introduced when the version with legacy Save As was released. So once again after saving as PDF you can lose your layers in your next save to PSD if you did not preserve editing capabilities in your PDF save. Save a Copy will allow you to recheck 'layers'

 

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New Here ,
Dec 10, 2021 Dec 10, 2021

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Dave, my guy, it surely does not just save as a copy. The PDF thing just nerfed my project, this is absolutely still a problem in Windows 10. But I did have to go digging to recheck the layers box, as it tried to do the same thing on a new document. 

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Community Expert ,
Dec 11, 2021 Dec 11, 2021

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What I wrote was correct at the time. Unfortunately when the legacy Save As was brought back, after demand from users, the old PDF gotcha was also re-introduced.

Dave

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 15, 2021 Dec 15, 2021

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What a load of crock! I have now lost two very large projects by following your exact insructions, Dave.

 

Very dissapointed in Adobe. I have lost countless hours now.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 15, 2021 Dec 15, 2021

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And yet, the single layer, "merged" file is still nearly a GB. This is a software and program problem, Adobe...not a user problem like you have been blaming for so long.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 15, 2021 Dec 15, 2021

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Even Adobe's own staff doesn't know what the right answers are depending on what time it is!

 

Rant over. Do better!

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 15, 2021 Dec 15, 2021

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I'm actually relieved I'm not the only one. Strangely enough my former boss, on the same version of Photoshop, couldn't replicate this "problem" and after reading Adobe Dude's reply, I thought it was some flaw in my software. Tried uninstalling/reinstalling Photoshop 3 times and no improvement. This is a really crappy change in the software that I'm sure will cost many people innumerable hours of work.

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Community Expert ,
Dec 15, 2021 Dec 15, 2021

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@Jon22268612ss2b  Did you read the thread? This was fixed when I posted in September then the problem re-introduced when the update containing  legacy Save As was released.

I am not an employee, just a user that, like many others, was caught out by this in the past. I now double check the Layers box if I have saved as PDF.

 

I've added an edit to my September post so no-one else is misled if they did not read the rest of the thread.

 

Dave

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 15, 2021 Dec 15, 2021

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Hi Dave,

 

Yes, I've read the entire thread, but despite you writing in September that this issue was fixed ( that "the standard Save As formats automatically save with layers intact and PDF now saves as a copy i.e. it does not destroy the original format") it wasn't working that way on my computer. My layers continued to get merged in psds, even though the individual layers were/are visible in the open document. Your saying that the problem was fixed didn't mean that it wasn't still happening on my software (and still is). There is no layers box for me to check when I save a psd. 

 

I think that the certainty with which you responded suggested some involvement in the software/company, but good to know.

 

Autumn

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 15, 2021 Dec 15, 2021

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As a follow up: I just discovered my version has the ability to "Enable Legacy Save As" in Preferences>File Handling and checking that box now enables me to select/deselect Layers when saving. I'm not sure if I already had the updated version when you posted in September, but in any case I'm glad I can now specify to save those layers!

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Community Beginner ,
Feb 14, 2022 Feb 14, 2022

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This is the ticket. Thanks so much for posting. The "Save A Copy" change to Save As was a terrible idea. 

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New Here ,
Jun 13, 2024 Jun 13, 2024

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Three years later I find this thread and - hallelujah - resolved my problems! Thank you for figuring this out and sharing the solution.

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Community Expert ,
May 07, 2019 May 07, 2019

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There is no way to get them back...

Melissa Piccone | Adobe Trainer | Online Courses Author | Fine Artist

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