One of the most irritating occurrences for a Photoshop user is when the program crashes unexpectedly and you lose all your work. You can search everywhere for the file, then when you find it and open it, it is corrupt.
Of course, there are ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. By saving updated versions of your file at regular intervals whilst you are working on a project, you can ensure that you always have a fairly recent version of your document to return to if a crash should occur.
But what if you have forgotten to do this and have now found yourself without a functional PSD file at all? Luckily, there are a few things you can do in order to try and retrieve your file. Although they are not guaranteed to work, these solutions can sometimes allow you to access a recent version of the document, saving you hours of work.
The most common solutions are to search for an earlier version of your file by going into the properties of the files (right-click). Or you can also try to open a flattened copy of your file.
Table of Contents
- What Causes a PSD File to Become Corrupt?
- What Are Some Potential Solutions?
- Effectively Back Up Your Files to avoid corrupted PSD files to be lost forever.
There is a video at the end of this article explaining everything, click here to jump directly to it.
What Causes a PSD File to Become Corrupt?
The root of many problems that occur with all programs, including Photoshop, is a computer crash. If your PC crashes whilst a file is in the process of being saved, then the full file is never fully written since the file-writing process is interrupted by the crash. This means that corruption is, in these circumstances, highly likely to occur.
Corruption can also occur due to an unexpected Photoshop crash, but the most common cause is a crash of the computer system.
What Are Some Potential Solutions?
Method 1: Retrieve an Earlier Version of the File
If you cannot fully restore the uncorrupted version of your PSD file, then the next best thing is to be able to retrieve an earlier version of it. Of course, this version might not contain the most recent edits, but it will probably save you hours of work since you won’t have to redo everything.
So, how can we do this? Let’s begin by browsing the files on our computer and heading to the folder that contains the corrupted Photoshop document.
Once you have managed to locate the file, right-click on it and choose Properties from the list that pops up as a result.
Doing so should open a new tab, which displays lots of information about the properties of the file. Here, choose from the top menu the title that reads ‘Previous Versions’. There wasn’t one in our case, but if there is an item listed here, simply go ahead and select it by clicking on it.
After clicking on this version of the file, you should notice that it opens up. The version that opens will be a slightly older version of the file, reflecting how your Photoshop document appeared and what its properties were on that particular restore date.
Of course, if your file is a version from a date further back in the document’s history, you will have to redo a lot of the edits that you have made to the file since its restore date. But, if your file is a more recent version, you will be lucky enough to not have to redo as much of the work, only having to re-apply the most recent edits.
Method 2: Search For a .TMP File
If the Photoshop software has abruptly crashed whilst you were in the process of saving a document, causing that document to become corrupt, then there will probably be a copy of the file in the temporary folder, stored on your computer.
Although this method does not always work, it is worth a try since it might allow you to fully retrieve your PSD file.
You will want to begin by opening up the Files application on your computer. The title of this will differ between Windows and Mac, but it is, for both computers, where your documents, images, and other files are stored.
Once you have opened up the Files application, go ahead and find the search bar (for Windows devices, this is located at the top right of the tab). This is used for navigation purposes and for finding particular files based on the keywords that you type into it.
For this process, we’re going to type in ‘%temp%’.
Doing so will produce a list of files that meet the search criteria. We are going to select the top one from the list.
Clicking on this folder should open it, showing the files that it contains. These files are all temporary files, as shown by the extensions titled ‘.tmp’ and ‘.temp’. Find the corrupted Photoshop file that you would like to restore within this folder and open it in Photoshop.
Once the file has been opened successfully in Photoshop, select File > Save As from the Menu Bar along the top of the screen.
Choosing these options will cause the Save As window to open, in which you can save the document and set the properties with which it will be saved. At the bottom of this window, you should hopefully see options to set the name of the document and the file type.
Click on the dropdown menu that controls the file format of the document to reveal the list of possible formats. From this list, select the file type ‘PSD’ in order to convert the file from a .TMP / .TEMP file to a Photoshop document.
Then simply hit the ‘Save’ button at the bottom right of the window to save the document as a PSD file! This file won’t be completely up-to-date but having access to it will hopefully save you many hours of work redoing it all.
Note that this method might not work for severely corrupted files and will only be valid when there is an old version of the document in the temp folder on your computer.
Method 3: Try to Open a Flattened Copy of the File
Although we are not too sure about the effectiveness of this solution, we have seen it floating around various help sites and community support forums so thought that we would include it in case it happens to work well for you!
You can try to open a flattened copy of the corrupt PSD file by locating it in the files application on your computer then holding down Alt [Win] / Option [Mac] + Shift on your keyboard whilst clicking on the file to open it.
Method 4: Check for a Version of the File in the Open Recent Tab
Although this method often only works for files that have not been severely corrupted, it can be a very quick, easy, and effective way of retrieving lost files. If you have not managed to save a Photoshop document whilst working on it, then it can usually be found in the Open Recent tab.
So, if you experienced a computer or software crash and didn’t manage to save your PSD file, then chances are that there will be a restorable version of the file in the tab of recent documents, as displayed on the Photoshop home screen.
The most recent files that you have been working on in Photoshop should be visible on the home screen of the program. So, you can see them immediately, in most versions of Photoshop, by simply opening up the program.
If, however, they do not appear upon loading the program, then you can also view a selection of your most recent files by heading along the top of the screen and choosing File > Open Recent from the menu bar.
Here, select the relevant PSD file from the list that appears to open and restore it.
Method 5: Use Professional Tools to recover your damaged PSD file.
If none of the above methods have worked, then you might want to consider trying an online tool or a piece of software that is dedicated to repairing corrupt PSD files. These are often very quick and easy to use and tend to have high success rates.
You can find plenty online by conducting a quick internet search, or you can check out some of the ones we have listed below. Remember to make sure that you trust the software before downloading it to your computer.
- DataNumen PSD Repair– Professional but expensive tool that can make miracles. Referred as the best PSD file repair software in the world, it can save you many hours of work and It promises to recover as much of your data as possible.
- PSD Repair Kit – This popular online tool has plenty of positive reviews and can successfully repair Photoshop files that are in the worst state of corruption.
- Recovery Toolbox for Photoshop – This service is well-respected and completely free to use. It enables you to repair PSD files in four simple steps. It sometimes manages to fully restore a PSD file that has been corrupted, and sometimes works just partially- you might get most of your layers back but not all of them.
- Online File Repair Service – Although it comes at a cost, this online service allows you to quickly and easily repair corrupt PSD files with no software download required. At a cost of $5 for files of less than 100MB, and an extra $1 for every 50MB over 100MB, the service is definitely worth consideration, particularly for smaller files.
Effectively Back Up Your Files to avoid corrupted PSD files to be lost forever.
Of course, the wide range of issues that come hand-in-hand with losing healthy files due to computer and software crashes could be avoided if you know how to effectively back up your files.
Although these tips may not work at resolving issues that have already occurred, learning them will mean that the next time a corruption occurs, you will be prepared with backup files that you can use to simply return to a very slightly older version of your document.
Especially for Photoshop users, getting into the habit of regularly saving your work is absolutely essential to the development of a healthy workflow. It is almost always impossible to be able to tell what may go wrong at any time, so it is best to just not take risks and keep saving any changes that are made to your document.
But where can you store these backup files? Well, it is really a matter of personal preference. Factors such as the amount of remaining storage you have access to, how much you trust your computer, and the purpose of your work may all have an impact.
You can choose to save the backup files either to external storage devices or to Windows backup utility. This Windows feature can be enabled or disabled, as set by you, and can be a great way to avoid losing healthy versions of your files.
If the System Restore feature is enabled on your computer, then Windows will create shadow copies of your documents and will store them as restore points.
The feature can be enabled by first heading to the control panel on your computer, then choosing System Protection from the panel.
Clicking on this will open the System Protection tab, in which we will want to make sure that the Protection Settings are set to ‘On’. Then you should be all set! Note that this option might not be available on all computers.
Another way to effectively back up your files is to enable Photoshop’s AutoSave feature. With this enabled, then in the case of a future unexpected system crash, power failure, or closing of a document, you will be able to open a recent automatically saved version of the document.
You can enable this feature by opening Photoshop then heading along the top of the screen to Edit > Preferences > File Handling.
Doing so will open the File Handling section of the Preferences window, in which you can alter the general settings of your Photoshop software.
Within this tab, tick the box entitled ‘Automatic Save Recovery Information Every:’ and select a time interval beneath this option that indicates how often you would like an updated version of your file to be saved.
So, now that the AutoSave function has been enabled, how can you access the automatically saved versions of your lost and corrupted files in the future? Well, you can access them in the files section of your computer, in the following location:
Within this file location, you can simply click on a Photoshop document to open an earlier, but hopefully recent, version of your file!
And that’s about all there is to know about the potential ways by which you can repair corrupt PSD files, and the safety measures that you can implement in order to avoid encountering the same issues again in the future. None of the methods are guaranteed to work, but it is always worth trying them all.
Want to find out more about recovering PSD files? Then take a look at this video by James Ssekamatte in which he demonstrates the process of recovering a corrupted PSD file using Sketchbook Pro- a method that has worked for multiple people who have encountered the issue.
Captivated by the digital world and particularly attracted by everything related to creativity, Martin is an amateur photographer and digital marketer who has more than 10 years of experience with Adobe Photoshop. Check his about page here
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