Crop Requires “Save As”

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Today’s Question: I frequently share JPEG images online. Periodically I want to apply some quick edits to these images before posting them, so I will open them in Photoshop. I apply my edits, and then save and close. However, if that edit includes a crop, then when I choose Save I am presented with the Save As dialog. Do you have any idea why this is happening?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You are being prompted with the “Save As” dialog because you have the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox turned off. You can avoid the “Save As” dialog in this scenario by either turning the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox on before cropping, or by selecting Layer > Flatten Image from the menu after cropping.

More Detail: When you turn off the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox on the Options bar for the Crop tool and then apply the crop, the Background image layer will be converted to a “normal” layer. With this option the pixels aren’t actually removed from the image when you apply a crop. Instead, the canvas size is reduced to hide the cropped pixels. This requires a “normal” layer rather than a Background layer.

When you have any layers beyond a Background image layer (including adjustment layers, additional image layers, or a Background image layer that has since been converted to a “normal” layer), you can only save the image in a file format that supports layers. The JPEG file format is not one of those options. Instead, you would need to save the image as a TIFF file, a Photoshop PSD file, or a Photoshop PSB file (for images beyond the 30,000 pixel per side limit).

To enable you to save the image as a JPEG after the crop, you have two basic options. The first is to use the Layer > Flatten Image command to ensure there are no layers other than the Background image layer. The second option is to make sure the “Delete Cropped Pixels” checkbox is turned on before applying the crop in this type of scenario. I do, however, recommend turning that option back on when you’re done, assuming you normally prefer to apply a “non-destructive” crop to your photos.