Moving files backwards from Photoshop CC

[a blog post I did on another site a month or so ago]

Here’s one of the concerns many people have with Adobe Creative Cloud: if down the road I stop my cloud membership, can I open my files in older versions of the software. Of course there is no way to absolutely guarantee that it will work, although historically – in Photoshop at least – you can open psd files in an older version. If your psd file contains features that are not supported by the older version, the file still opens but those features cannot be edited.

So I did a little experiment and in Photoshop CC I added 3 things that are new/unique to that version: applied Iris Blur as a Smart Filter, applied Camera Raw as a filter to a type layer, and added a rounded corner rectangle (in PS CC I can now edit the corners).

Then I tried to open the file in Photoshop CS5 (going back two versions) and saw this dialog:

I clicked Keep Layers and the file opened.

Visually, it looked exactly the same as the file I saved in Photoshop CC.

But when you look at the Layers panel, there are some warning icons that tell me that I cannot edit the settings for these features, and in the case of the editable rectangle, it becomes a standard Shape Layer.

If I attempt to edit either of the smart filters, the Photoshop CC effect disappears. I can edit the contents of the smart filter – in this case edit the type or the original photo – but I cannot edit the Photoshop CC effect.

So the good news is (at least in this case) is that the file opened and the original look was preserved. But, as you would (hopefully) expect the new features are not supported or editable. Once again, this quick test in no way will take away everyone’s fears, but to me it is encouraging to see the theory in practice. And, I would advise (as I have for years) to save both a multi-layered psd file and a flattened copy – I would expect that future iterations of Photoshop CC will be able to read jpegs and tiffs.

Based on some questions I received, I thought I’d do another test. This time I did some “typical” Photoshop work that did not include any new features only found in Photoshop CC: Extraction with a mask made into a Smart Object and a couple of adjustment layers. Saved in Photoshop CC as a psd file and opened in Photoshop CS6 – not problem whatsoever.

So it appears that if you use “standard” Photoshop functions (i.e. not new in Photoshop CC) theoretically there should be no reason to have any problems opening the file in a previous version.


See also this post from Richard Harrington on PhotoFocus