How To Save Layered Files
With Photoshop Elements

When making changes to a photo I always work in Layers. This is a tip explaining how to save Layered files in Photoshop Elements. This way you have maximum flexibility to change your image while still preserving the original state of the document. And I name those Layers so I can remember what I did to them. I never touch the Background Layer. That way I can always go back to how the photo was originally.

As soon as I open the image I press Control (Mac: Command) + J to make a new duplicate Layer to work on. Some people say the J stands for Jump as in “Jump a New Layer to the Top”. I don’t know about that, but I do know that it creates a new duplicate Layer named Layer 1 above the Background Layer.

Now I can make changes to the new Layer without affecting the Background Layer. If I want to run the Shadow/Highlight command on it, I would double-click on it’s name in the Layers palette (Layer 1) and rename it to something descriptive like "shad/hilite".

Double-click on the name "Layer 1" in the Layers palette to highlight it. Now you can type in whatever name you want to give the Layer.

Then maybe I would make a new Levels Adjustment Layer, and then a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer.

If I use the Clone Stamp Tool. I create a new blank Layer to put my cloning changes on.

Now I have a multi-layered document with the original state of the image still intact on the Background Layer.

To save this Layered file I go under the File menu and choose Save As… From the Save As dialog box I select Photoshop from the Format drop-down field. That will automatically put a .psd extension after the name of my photo. Then I click the Save button.

Photoshop Elements save as dialog box

In the Save As dialog box do the following. A. Check the Layers box so that the layers are saved with the image. Check the Embed Color Profile box so the colors are displayed correctly. B. Choose Photoshop from the Format field. C. Use this field to navigate to the place where you want to save the file. D. A .psd extension will be added when you choose Photoshop from the Format field in item B.

At this point I have two images. My original un-altered image and the one I just created by doing a Save As command which has all the Layers I created. I consider this my Master file.

With my new .psd file still open I go to the Layers palette and from the drop-down menu on the right side of the palette I choose Flatten Image. When I do this all the Layers are merged down into the Background Layer.

Photoshop Elements Flatten Layers

Click on the little white triangle in the top-right corner of the Layers palette and choose Flatten Image from the drop-down menu.

After choosing Flatten Image all your Layers will be merged down into one Background layer. Now it looks just like when you first opened the file except all of your changes are now applied to the file.

Again I go under the File menu and choose Save As… But this time from the Save As dialog box I navigate to where my original image is located and I select the same format as my original image from the Format drop-down field. Click the Save button. A warning will appear saying that an item with that name already exists in this location and do you want to replace it with the one you are saving. Click on the Replace button.

My original file has now been replaced by the newly altered image. Now I have two different images. A multi-layered file and a single-layer file. If I want to make additional changes to the photo I open my .psd file with all the Layers in it where I can add new Layers or alter the existing Layers, or delete any of the Layers. But remember the original Background Layer is there just how this photo was before I ever touched it, so if I want I can get rid of all the Layers I created and start over from the very beginning.

If I do make additional changes to the Master file, I just go under the File menu and choose Save when I am done. Then I flatten the Layers and go under the File menu and choose Save As and save over the last version of my Final Altered file by giving it the same name and location as the old Final Altered file.

I hope you found this tip on how to save Layered files helpful. If you have a Photoshop Elements tip you would like to share, go to the bottom of the tips page and submit your tip for the benefit of all to see.

Until next time,




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