The 7 Best Ways to Open a PSD File Without Photoshop

Joel Lee Updated 06-11-2018

Photoshop definitely got it right with the PSD file format. It saves the complete state of a still-being-edited image so that you can close down and resume work later. When working with images, you should always keep a PSD copy around in case you need to make tweaks to the image later on.


The problem is that PSD isn’t an open format. While PNGs, JPGs, and BMPs can be opened in nearly every image editor, PSDs can only be opened by certain apps that know the file format. Your best bet? Pay for an Adobe Photoshop CC subscription plan.

Or use one of the many free options below. Are they as good as Adobe Photoshop? No. In fact, most of the following apps can’t actually edit PSDs—they can only view PSDs as flattened images. That’s the cost of proprietary software. But hey, if flattened image viewing is all you need anyway, then these options are well worth trying.


open PSD in GIMP

GIMP should honestly be your first stop when trying to open and edit a PSD file for free. Not only is it the best free alternative to Photoshop, but it’s available across Windows, Mac, and Linux, so you can learn it once and use it on all of your systems.

And if it wasn’t clear, yes, PSD support is built right into the app. No need to fiddle with third-party plugins or anything.

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

The nice thing about GIMP is that it can actually process the individual layers of a PSD file. The downside is that some layers are unreadable to GIMP, or need to be rasterized so that GIMP can work with them. Saving over the PSD could ruin the file if you intend to open it back up in Photoshop later.

GIMP is open source software, which comes with several benefits (like being able to peek at the source code whenever you want).

Download: GIMP (Free)

2. Paint.NET

open PSD in Paint.NET


I’ve always respected Paint.NET because it knows exactly what it wants to be: an image editor that’s better than Microsoft Paint without being as bloated or intimidating to learn as GIMP and Adobe Photoshop. It’s right smack in the middle.

But if you want to make it more powerful, you can—by installing various third-party plugins. And if you’re going to do that, there’s one plugin that you absolutely should use: the PSD plugin.

  1. Download the PSD plugin.
  2. Extract the ZIP file’s contents.
  3. Copy the PhotoShop.dll file.
  4. Navigate to the Paint.NET installation folder (mine is located at C:/Program Files/
  5. Paste the PhotoShop.dll file into the FileTypes subfolder.
  6. Launch Paint.NET.

With the plugin installed, you should be able to open PSD files without a hitch. Note that even though Paint.NET can usually handle PSD layers just fine, you’ll run into occasional issues because Paint.NET doesn’t support all of Photoshop’s features.

Download: PSD Plugin for Paint.NET (Free)


3. Photopea Online Editor

open PSD in Photopea Online Editor

If you’ve never heard of Photopea before, you’re in for a treat. This lesser-known web app is basically like an online alternative to Adobe Photoshop 5 Lesser-Known Free Online Image Editing Tools to Replace Photoshop Adobe Photoshop costs a pretty penny. Fortunately, you can get most of its best features for free in a few online tools. Read More or GIMP. It’s obviously not as good—web apps rarely get close to their desktop counterparts—but it’s still useful.

The layout is similar so you’ll feel right at home. Want to open a PSD file? It’s easy.

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

And the cool thing is that Photopea can read individual layers, which is a level of feature that I’d never expect from a free web app. It’s great though, allowing you to edit your PSDs without charge no matter where you are. Just hop on with any computer.


Website:Photopea Online Editor

4. XnView

open PSD in XnView

XnView is a freeware image organizer that lets you browse and order your image collections in various ways, as well as process them using basic image editing tools like color palettes, filters, effects, rotations, etc.

The great thing about this lesser-known app is that it can read over 500 formats and export to over 70 formats, so not only is it useful for viewing images, but also converting them.

  1. Go to File > Open.
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

When downloading, you can choose between three setup types: Minimal, Standard, and Extended. Minimal requires the least amount of disk space and is all you need to open PSDs. No need for add-ons, plugins, or anything like that.

Download: XnView (Free)

5. IrfanView

open PSD in IrfanView

IrfanView is similar to XnView in that its main use is as an image viewer and converter. It may not support as many formats as XnView does, but it supports all of the important ones—and that’s all that really matters, right?

While IrfanView can easily render flattened PSDs, it can’t edit or save them unless you first export to a different format.

  1. Go to File > Open…
  2. Find and select the PSD file.
  3. Click Open.

We recommend keeping this app on your system. Use it as your primary image viewer and you’ll never be disappointed by it. The best part, at least for me, is that it’s extremely lightweight and fast. Plus you can further enhance IrfanView with some nifty plugins.

Download: IrfanView (Free)

6. Google Drive

open PSD in Google Drive

It may seem weird to use Google Drive as a file viewer, but you absolutely can — and it works rather well. Check out our master guide to Google Drive to learn more about it, but the important thing to know is that PSDs are viewable through Google Drive on the web.

  1. Visit the Google Drive page.
  2. Click My Drive and select Upload files…
  3. Find and select the PSD file.
  4. Click Open.
  5. Double-click the file to view.

There are several other methods you can use to upload images to Google Drive, but this is the easiest if you just want to view one single file. When would you ever use Google Drive for this? Maybe when you aren’t on your own PC and can’t install any other software.

Website: Google Drive

7. Go2Convert

This last option is not a way to view, open, or edit PSD files. It’s simply a way to convert PSD files into other formats like PNG and JPG. If that’s the entire reason why you wanted to open PSDs in the first place, then you might as well skip the middle steps.

  1. Click Select File.
  2. Navigate and select your PSD file.
  3. Click Open.
  4. Click Upload Now.
  5. Once the upload is done, you can choose dozens of formats to convert to. Optionally, you can even resize the image and pick what kind of compression to use (for certain formats).

Simple and straightforward. Nothing more to it.

Website: Go2Convert

Why Not Use Adobe Photoshop?

These solutions definitely work, so if you’re happy with them, go on and keep using them. But if you intend to do serious PSD editing in the future, you really ought to consider grabbing an Adobe Photoshop CC subscription plan.

You can certainly get by with GIMP, but again, it has its limitations and quirks. GIMP is okay for casual users, but Photoshop is objectively better. Check out our comparison of GIMP vs. Photoshop GIMP vs. Photoshop: Which One Is Right for You? Adobe Photoshop is the most popular image editing app. GIMP is the best free alternative to Photoshop. Which should you use? Read More for more details.

Related topics: Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Image Editor.

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  1. toolpic
    May 13, 2020 at 9:59 am

    Thanks for sharing all useful, psd opener, previously i am using pixlr which unable to open psd, but the one you shared which is photopea is nice, one more usefull editor which do the work is it is also a similar editor like photopea not that much good editor but they dont hide many paid feature. It has all paid feature of photopea in its free version.

  2. Clive McGonigal
    December 11, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    The google Drive and Pixlr editor integration has not been working for 6 months now. Anybody got an idea if a fix is on the way? Pixlr blogs recognises the issue but no time frame for a fix

  3. Mark
    April 27, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    This is helpful. Thanks.

  4. Brandon
    February 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned Krita yet.
    It is free, open-source, and multi-platform; has an active community; doesn't flatten the image layers; and is actually a good alternative to Photoshop.

  5. Ting Feng
    November 22, 2017 at 3:09 am

    Microsoft Expression Design 4 can also open psd files

  6. UndisclosedUser85295
    September 15, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I came here to download the extension for, and it works (at least in my situation). However, you will need to update that link as that CodePlex (the website that the file is hosted on) is on the verge of shutting down (at least at the time of writing this).

  7. Hristo Georgiev
    September 6, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    I am installing GIMP now. doesn't open a PSD file ....
    photopea is a good tool but kind of slow and slaggy

    • Doc
      October 18, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      TL;DR? The instructions are in the article:
      Download the PSD plugin.
      Extract the ZIP file’s contents.
      Copy the PhotoShop.dll file.
      Navigate to the Paint.NET installation folder (mine is located at C:/Program Files/
      Paste the PhotoShop.dll file into the FileTypes subfolder.
      Launch Paint.NET.

  8. RAGibson
    December 13, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    How do I get GIMP on my Mac? Can't find the app....

    • EasyAsMacPie
      July 26, 2017 at 1:09 am

      Since the question is vague, here is a run-through:

      To download from the website, click on OS X and then click on one of the options: via Bit Torrent or directly. (If you don't know what Bit Torrent is, choose "directly".) If a pop-up asks you where to download on your Mac, save to your desktop.

      Depending on your Mac setup, the app may automatically install after downloading has completed. If not, locate the file that starts with "gimp" followed by the version number and ends with an extension ".dmg". Double click on that file to begin installation. Then go through the setup.

      After setup, your Mac may place the app's icon in The Dock and/or start up the app. If not, use Finder to go to the Applications folder and find the GIMP folder. Expand the GIMP folder and click on the GIMP icon to begin running the app. (You can drag the icon to The Dock to make it easier to run the app.)

  9. justago
    November 2, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Its kind of glib for MUO to recommend Photoshop in the Cloud. Photoshop is a professional program for professionals, and any casual user who can afford the outrageous pricing. And it is not just for photographers. Adobe said if you just want the photo editing portion of Photoshop, then get Photoshop Elements. But Elements does not have all the 'photo' features of Photoshop, despite their claim.
    In Canada, the cost of Photoshop in the cloud is around twenty dollars monthly when you add taxes. That's $240 per year, before any price increases. And the price for Elements keeps climbing with every release. And each release has a few minor additions or adjustments, making it an upgrade, not worth paying full price for. (My brother bought CS5 for $850, and Adobe said that was a discounted price because he owned Elements. What a rip.)

    There are other programs out there around the $100 price range that can do everything Photoshop does, and they, for the most part have free upgrades until a new version (at a discounted price) comes out. And not nearly the learning curve of Photoshop programs. And not nearly the memory hogs.
    ON1 Photo - they are also releasing ON1 Photo RAW in November which is 4 time faster and more effective than Lightroom. And must less than half the price. No monthly fees.
    Corel Paintshop Pro - Super program with free upgrades until the next version.
    Corel After Shot Pro 3 - equivalent to Lightroom, much cheaper.

    I have the above and have tried trials of other fine photo editing software. And they have plenty of free Tutorials, not like Elements. Too bad everyone keeps raving about Photoshop and Elements, both of which has enormous learning curves and little valuable support. (Even though I paid $149 for Elements, I rarely use it. I have three versions which I purchased and none of them are as good as other programs.) There are oodles of courses out there for Photoshop and Elements, and all for a price. That alone should tell you something. You need an expensive course to learn them? On top of the cost of the program.

    For basic, minor adjustments, no one needs Photoshop. Freeware programs such as Photoscape and Irfanview can do many photo tweaks, and easily.

    That's my rant, anwyay. I hope I haven't been disrespectful. Not my inention.

  10. Melanie
    November 2, 2016 at 6:16 am

    I use On1 Photo10 as a standalone program. It's powerful, cheap and supports layers.

  11. tjrostaf
    November 1, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    On the Mac, Graphic Converter opens PSD files.

  12. Larry
    November 1, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Hello Simon
    I enjoyed your reviews and they will be a help to me. Sometimes if you can get the simple straight of it in a short article it is best. I will put you on my white list and look forward to more. Thanks Larry Chitwood Resaca Georgia. 30735 United States

  13. Ehsan
    July 9, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    very nice

  14. lee
    May 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    firealpaca and medibang also can open/edit psd files!

  15. Michal
    April 27, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Thank you very much for your post. I was looking for how to open psd. file in the and the Paint.NET PSD Plugin works great.

  16. bhavin
    April 6, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    GO2Convert is best solution. Thank you so much Dear Sir/Mam. Have good day dear.

  17. John
    April 4, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Hi guys, do you know about Photopea? Just go to . It supports many features of a PSD file and you can save your work back to PSD.

  18. Shina
    March 16, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    This has been a tremendous help! Thank you so much! I think I will go with GIMP.

  19. Anonymous
    February 14, 2016 at 4:52 am

    Just search "123" or "123 Photo Viewer" in Windows Store for Windows 8.1/10, it's the easiest way and also totally safe.

  20. Chloe
    February 2, 2016 at 8:05 am

    This article is extremely helpful. Just like a life-safer to me! Thank you so much!

  21. Anonymous
    January 24, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    In Windows 8.1 or higher, you can use the app "123 Image Viewer HD" to directly open PSD files. As many other software, it requires the .psd file be saved from Photoshop with maximum compatibility.

  22. Ralph
    December 12, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    Excellent Information....well done!

  23. Anonymous
    September 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    The world of digital graphics is effectively dominated by Adobe, but some continue to insist certain non-Adobe, alternative graphic editors (GIMP) can open, edit and save PSD files with faithfulness to the original.

    Is this completely true, and if not, where does the comparison stop?

    The reason for asking is an Adobe-linked graphics professional has warned that PSD files cannot be handled transparently by GIMP or other non-Adobe editors. That is, GIMP or other editors will be unable to process the PSD file so that the results are indistinguishable from an Adobe graphics editor.

    • Anonymous
      November 6, 2015 at 11:52 pm

      Hi BG,

      Unfortunately, the Adobe professional is ultimately correct.

      GIMP is a fantastic tool, and I use it in conjunction with Scribus to produce high quality results, however working round trip with Adobe .PSD files does not work reliably.

      For simple files that don't utilise certain functions available in Adobe, interacting with an Adobe generated .PSD in GIMP will be fine, however that generally isn't the case.

      There are incompatibility issues that prevent 1) all .PSD's being opened/ imported faithfully by GIMP all of the time, and 2) if GIMP updates the file, it may modify the file in ways that mean round tripping the file back to Adobe results in loss of some of the original Adobe elements within the .PSD.

      So, GIMP *may* be helpful in taking some original work done in Adobe, and converting it for ongoing futures use in GIMP (where you the abandon Adobe original going forward, converting to .xcf), however during that conversion process there will likely be complete loss of some elements and corruption or conversion of other elements. In some cases, having to recreate those elements in GIMP is going to be an acceptable outcome: in others it won't be.

      JohnP, Gary Dauphin, Dee and str8wak pointed out a specific list of known issues:

      - Adobe's Layer effects aren’t handled well (or at all) by GIMP.
      - There are also some differences between the tools in the way Groups and nested layers are handled.
      - ANY plugin generated effect must be “rasterized”.
      - Vector graphic elements in Adobe will be rasterized by GIMP on import, such as Text elements. This can be a problem if needing to scale artwork up or down for printing (GIMP doesn't currently support vector graphics: a tool like Inkscape or Scribus can).
      - GIMP has no support for CMYK format .psd files. This format is used by professional printers. You'll need to use a tool or service to convert the file to RGB first, then back again for printing.

      To limit some of the noted problems, you may want to get an Adobe user to flatten the elements in the original .PSD, and save an alternative version for you before attempting to import the file to GIMP. This may help eliminate some issues.

  24. str8wak
    October 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    The only problem with GIMP, for me, is the lack of CMYK support (yes, I know about seperate - doesn't work as good)... I use photoshop expressly for high res artwork to print... I would *LOVE* to use GIMP instead, but it just won't do the CMYK like PS... until it does, i'm stuck with adobe...

    *side question - anyone know if inkscape et. al., can do CMYK?

  25. Raymond Beets
    September 13, 2012 at 6:24 am

    Paint.NET also has a PSD plug-in that has been functioning well for me thus far.

  26. Saurav Azad
    September 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    paint .net is actually very good photo editor tool

  27. Samit Tandukar
    September 11, 2012 at 10:39 am

    zoner photo studio free can also open psd files

  28. Ahmed Khalil
    September 11, 2012 at 5:11 am

    Still PAINT.NET surprise me, i like this app so much, it can do alot of things fast and silent

  29. Ahmed Khalil
    September 11, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Their are many PS viewers avalaible for free too, with any of them you can open PS files with out Photoshop existance.

  30. Michael Jan Moratalla
    September 11, 2012 at 4:02 am

    again thanks for that I already downloaded the 2 said software above.

  31. xbalesx
    September 11, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Thank you for this...specifically the converter ideas.

  32. JohnP.
    September 11, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Layer effects aren't rendered well. PSD content should be flatten if you want them to be rendered like with photoshop. ANY plugin generated effect must be "rasterized".

  33. Deekshith Allamaneni
    September 11, 2012 at 2:46 am

    I feel GIMP is the best (at-least for me).

  34. IamAshMcLean
    September 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    I think you forgot Picasa. It's a good program for opening most of the Images. ;)

  35. Freecycle Me
    September 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm

    Thanks for the write up. I have tried all bar the last and I will continue with Gimp as it allows the best manipulation if not total.

  36. Gary Dauphin
    September 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    The only problem with GIMP, at least as far as I can tell with latest versions of both pieces of software, is that GIMP will not import the PhotoShop file AND keep its layers intact, even though GIMP fully supports layers.

    • Truefire_
      September 11, 2012 at 12:04 am

      I just opened a PSD file in the GIMP, and it kept all the layers... not sure what you did or didn't do.

      • fatihamzah
        September 11, 2012 at 3:29 am

        Sure, GIMP normally kept the layers. I think the best is GIMP for freely edit, also for open PSD files

    • Pavlo
      December 20, 2014 at 10:49 am

      My problem is that GIMP rasterizes text objects, so I must type content for web-pages myself... It is time consuming!

    • Dee
      January 3, 2015 at 1:13 am

      Yes, GIMP retains the layers as long as your opening the file in GIMP again, but try importing the file into Final Cut Pro, and the image is not longer's flattened.