Selections and File Formats


Today’s Question: I created a selection in Photoshop for a JPEG capture, and saved that selection so I could put it to use again in the future. When I choose the Save command from the File menu, however, Photoshop prompts me to save the image as a Photoshop PSD file. I just want to save the updates to the JPEG image. Is that not possible?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, it isn’t possible to save a JPEG image with a saved selection. Saved selections (among a variety of other features in Photoshop) can only be included with images saved as either a Photoshop PSD file or a TIFF image.

More Detail: When you open any supported image type (such as a JPEG image) in Photoshop, you can make full use of all of the available features within Photoshop for that image. So, for example, after opening a JPEG image you can save selections, add adjustment layers, and much more.

However, in order to save some of the advanced features of Photoshop as part of an image file, you need to use a supported image file format. A JPEG image, for example, doesn’t support layers, layer masks, saved selections, and other advanced features of Photoshop.

While you can use these various features with a JPEG image (or other supported image formats), that doesn’t automatically mean you can save the image in the same file format with all of the advanced features included.

JPEG images don’t support alpha channels, which are required to support the option to save selections as part of an image in Photoshop. The reason Photoshop is prompting you to save the JPEG as a PSD image is that you have made use of features that the JPEG file format doesn’t support.

So, if you want to retain your saved selections or other advanced features, you’ll need to save the image as a Photoshop PSD file or as a TIFF image.