Personally, I love Photoshop’s PSD file format. It’s a way to save everything that’s going on in the image editor at a given moment, so you can pick up work later, or incorporate slight changes in an elaborate file without having to start from scratch.
However, a lot of people – image artists included – aren’t ready or willing to spend the money for this expensive image editing suite. Whether your friend send you an important file, or you downloaded a PSD file from the Internet, it can be a real chore to work with if you don’t own a copy of Adobe Photoshop yourself.
Luckily, there’s some free tools that allow us to work around this restriction; free applications that allow you to view and edit a PSD file in a familiar editing environment.
Paint.NET is a great, free image editor. It’s no Photoshop, but nevertheless a very capable and user-friendly image editing suite. However, if you’re partial to the application, you might have noticed that it lacks the ability to work with PSD files. That’s where the Paint.NET PSD Plugin comes in.
After downloading, copy the PhotoShop.dll to the FileTypes folder that’s located in the Paint.NET application directory. The next time you run Paint.NET, the Photoshop PSD file will be recognised, and can be opened like any other file.
GIMP is a free open-source image editor, and is often said to be the closest thing to Photoshop, feature-wise. More complex than Paint.NET, it also sports a much steeper learning curve. If you’re new to GIMP, but interested in learning how to work with the application, we have a number of articles and tutorials to get you started.
Similar to Paint.NET, GIMP can be extended by a wide array of plugins. However, for Photoshop PSD support, none of those are needed. GIMP supports the PSD file format out of the box, so you can jump right in after installing the application.
If you’re only interested in viewing the Photoshop PSD file, there’s no need to install a full-fledged image editing suite. Instead, take a look at IrfanView.
You may have heard of IrfanView before, or even used it. It’s been around for a long time, and although it’s starting to look something like a relic of a previous era, it has in no way been rendered obsolete as an image viewer.
At only 1.5 MB in file size, it’s an incredibly compact and versatile image viewer. As a rule of thumb, if it’s an image file, IrfanView will know what to do with it. The same is true for Adobe Photoshop’s PSD file, which IrfanView can open by default.
If it’s just the occasional PSD file that’s thrown your way, it might not even be necessary to install anything at all. Instead, Go2convert is a website that offers to convert Photoshop PSD files on the fly.
To get started, just upload your PSD file to the website – no log in required. You then choose one of an incredible amount of different output formats, including most standard image file types. After giving the green light, an archive file will be generated for your convenience. Included in this archive are all the separate layers, and a single merged image.
What tools do you use to work with images? Was it included in this round-up? Let us know in the comments section below the article!
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