Old PSD Compatibility


Today’s Question: I have some Photoshop files that I think are from 2005 (or earlier). I can’t get them to open and am receiving the message “Could not complete your request because it is not a valid Photoshop document.” I am sure that I clicked the button to maintain compatibility along the way. Is there any way you can suggest that I might be able to retrieve these files?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The message you’re seeing indicates that the file you’re opening is either corrupted or isn’t actually a Photoshop PSD file. If you suspect the file format could be something other than a PSD file, you could open it as a different file format. You could also try a recovery tool to see if it can salvage a corrupted file.

More Detail: When Photoshop presents the error message “Could not complete your request because it is not a valid Photoshop document”, it indicates that the file does not appear to be the type of file expected. In this case, in other words, the PSD file you are trying to open doesn’t appear to Photoshop to actually be a PSD file.

It is possible that the file you’re trying to open isn’t actually a PSD file. For example, it could be a JPEG image that somehow had the filename extension changed to PSD. If that were the case, renaming the image so that the filename extension matches the actual file type would solve the issue. I suspect that is not the issue in this case.

Unfortunately, I suspect that in this case the PSD file are corrupted. Newer versions of Photoshop are still able to open PSD files created with older versions of Photoshop. Certain features might not be supported in some cases, and the appearance of the image may not match what was created originally in an older version of Photoshop. But the files can be opened with newer version of Photoshop.

Note that the “Maximize Compatibility” option for PSD files is not required in order to simply open an older PSD file in Photoshop.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the files in this case are corrupted. You might check to see if you have backup copies of the files that are not corrupted. In addition, you could attempt to use a recovery tool to salvage the corrupted PSD files. For example, one such tool is the Photoshop file extract/recover tool found here: