How to Create a PDF File With Adobe Photoshop

Saving a document as a PDF file is a good option for printing or sharing Photoshop documents. Photoshop PDFs preserve layers and other Photoshop data so you can edit all aspects in Photoshop later if needed. Editing saved PDFs is available in Photoshop CS2 or later; however a saved PDF in one version may not be fully editable in earlier versions of Photoshop.

Saving in PDF Format

To save a finished document as a PDF file, select Save As from the File menu and change the format to Photoshop PDF. If you want to edit the PDF later, be certain to save Layers by checking the box under Save Options. The Save As window also provides options for specifying a color profile, saving notes, spot color or alpha channels.

Select a file name and save it in PDF format.
Select a file name and save it in PDF format.

When you click Save, a second window opens where you can select a PDF preset and specify a large variety of options, including compression, color conversion and password-protection.

Using PDF Presets

When the Save Adobe PDF window opens, click the Adobe PDF Preset menu to choose a Preset. These include:

  • High Quality Print for printing in your home or office
  • Press Quality for sending to commercial printers
  • Smallest File Size for posting online or attaching to emails
  • PDF/X-1a, 3, 4 are Adobe PDF specifications that may be required by advanced users
High Quality Print can be used for any home printer.
High Quality Print can be used for any home printer.

After selecting a preset, you can modify it as desired. For example, in the General tab options, you can embed page thumbnails and optimize the PDF for fast Web previews. Make sure to check the box next to Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities if you will need to edit the PDF later.

Password-Protecting a PDF

Click the Security tab to view the password options. Here, you can password-protect the document from being opened as well as restrict printing and editing abilities. Create a Document Open Password to prevent unauthorized users from viewing the document.

Use separate strong passwords for opening and editing a PDF.
Use separate strong passwords for opening and editing a PDF.

Under Permissions, create a Permissions Password to prevent unauthorized users from opening the PDF in an editing program or printing the PDF. A Permissions Password should always be used with a Document Open Password to prevent anyone from simply opening the document and removing the Permissions Password.

Other PDF Options

The options under the Compression and Output tabs can be used by advanced users to fine-tune the features of the pdf being created. For most users, adjusting these options shouldn't be necessary.

Click the Summary tab to review the PDF settings. Note that you can change the Compatibility option if you are sending the PDF to anyone without the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat.

A dialog box warns that the Photoshop PDF isn't compatible with older software.
A dialog box warns that the Photoshop PDF isn't compatible with older software.

Click the Save PDF button when you're done configuring the settings.

Tip

  • Advanced users may also want to save adjustments to the preset using the Save Preset button. Note that security options won't be saved with the new preset.

ProTip: Using the Actions Panel

The Actions Panel includes an option for saving a document as a PDF. To open the Actions Panel, press Alt-F9 or select Actions from the Window menu. Click the Save as Photoshop PDF option and then double-click Save below it.

Double-click Save in the Actions Panel to save as a PDF.
Double-click Save in the Actions Panel to save as a PDF.
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