Photoshop is arguably the most popular and well-known image editor in the world, and its native PSD (PhotoShop Document) file format is equally popular. Since many people don’t have access to Photoshop, other image editing apps like GIMP have included the ability to read and write PSD files.
Unfortunately, you may occasionally run into problems opening certain PSD files that were created by recent versions of Photoshop, so read on to learn more about what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do about it.
Can GIMP Open a PSD File?
Yes, GIMP can open PSD files that were created by Photoshop, or by any other app that can use the PSD file format. However, some PSD files that were created by newer versions of Photoshop may contain data that cannot be read properly by GIMP.
Whether you love them or hate them, Adobe has been constantly adding new features to Photoshop since the launch of the Creative Cloud platform, while GIMP hasn’t had a major update since 2018. If your PSD file depends on any of these new features, you may run into problems with missing or corrupted data when opening the PSD file in GIMP.
That being said, a PSD that was created by the latest version of Photoshop should open just fine if it contains nothing more than basic layers and image data, so it’s always worth a try!
How to Open a PSD File in GIMP
Opening a PSD file in GIMP is extremely simple, and works exactly the same way as opening any other file in GIMP.
Launch GIMP, then open the File menu and click Open. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + O (use Command + O if you’re using GIMP on a Mac).
GIMP will display the Open Image dialog window. Browse to find your PSD file, then select it and click the Open button.
Your PSD should now load in GIMP – but you might be in for a bit of a surprise about how it’s displayed.
Manage Your Expectations
In my testing, GIMP was able to open every PSD file that I tried, but it simply ignored almost every part of the file except for the pixel layers, although some items got converted to pixel layers unintentionally.
Adjustment layers, smart filters, and similar advanced features were completely missing after opening in GIMP, which can have a huge impact on the final display of the document.
Other Ways to Open a PSD File
GIMP isn’t the only non-Photoshop image editor that can open PSD files, but most of them have the same limitations that GIMP does when opening them.
So if you’re relying on advanced features for your document and you can’t open it in GIMP, you’re probably going to have to go to Adobe to get it done. I know, I know, but it’s the only way to make it work.
Fortunately, you don’t have to pay for Photoshop to get this done! Here are a couple of free options you can try that should have full support for your more complex PSD files.
Using Photoshop on the Web
Web browsers and internet connections have gotten incredibly fast, and many companies are pushing the boundaries of what can be accomplished in a web browser. As a perfect demonstration of this fact, Adobe is now testing a version of Photoshop that you can use directly in your web browser.
It’s not as capable as the full version of Photoshop that you run on your own computer, but it *can* open PSD files properly – and it’s free, at least for now.
The only catch is that Adobe is currently only testing Photoshop on the web in Canada (lucky me!), although they may have expanded to new markets by the time you’re reading this, so make sure you check to see if it’s available for you.
You’ll need to sign up for a free Adobe account if you don’t already have one, but that process is fast and easy, especially if you sign in with a Google account.
Note: You need to use either Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge to access Photoshop on the web. Firefox, Safari, and other web browsers are not supported. That’s the only reason I’m using Edge in those screenshots, I swear!
Photoshop Free Trial
Alternatively, you can download Photoshop for free and use it for seven days. It will take some time to download the app and install it, but you’ll get a perfect result with no missing layers, adjustments, or other data when opening any PSD file.
This option also requires you to sign up for a free Adobe account, but it will give you a 100% free taste of exactly what you can accomplish with the full version of Photoshop on the desktop, as well as some handy online storage space and access to the extensive Adobe Fonts library.
Yes, that sounds very much like they want you to get hooked, but there are no strings attached to this free trial, and you don’t have to give them any payment information to start using Photoshop – it will just stop working after 7 days unless you sign up for a subscription.
A Final Word
Congratulations, you now know how to open a PSD file in GIMP, as well as a few other methods for opening PSD files without a monthly paid subscription from Adobe.
If they are complex files filled with new features from the latest version of Photoshop, then your PSD files might not load properly in GIMP, but you should still be able to access your content safely using one of the other suggestions.
Good luck!About Thomas Boldt