Is Photoshop PDF a Vector File? All You Need to Know

PDF means Portable Document Format and it is an easy to open file format which can be opened on multiple devices. If you need to send a Photoshop design back and forth for any reason saving it as a PDF is much more convenient as it can be opened on the many available PDF software while saving as a PSD file would require the other person to also have Photoshop.

However, Photoshop is a raster-based program so the question is can you open and save PDF vector files on Photoshop?

Is Photoshop PDF a vector file?

No, Photoshop PDF is not a vector file. PDFs created in Photoshop are created in a raster format as Photoshop itself is a raster-based program. Some tools such as the text and a few editing tools are vector-based but any PDF created on Photoshop will embed the vector graphics in a raster file format.

If your file is saved as a PSD then you can continue to edit the vector-based elements like anchor points and paths within Photoshop but as soon as the file is converted into another format such as PDF the ability to manipulate the vectors is lost. Another drawback is that once a PDF file has been exported from Photoshop it can only be edited on Photoshop and not on any other program.

Should you design logos in Photoshop or Illustrator?

Can I open a vector file in Photoshop?

Yes, vector files can be opened in Photoshop if you open them as a smart object. This will allow you to resize and edit vector-based images without compromising the quality of the image.

To open a vector file in Photoshop:

  1. Go to “File” in the top bar menu and click “Open as Smart Object”.
  2. Select the required file and click “Open”.
  3. If you open a vector based file as a normal image Photoshop will convert it into a rasterized form and the image will become pixelated if it is resized or edited.
opening a vector file in Photoshop as smart object

Alternatively, you can copy (ctrl/cmd+c) a vector object from Illustrator or other vector-based programs and paste (ctrl/cmd+v) directly onto an open photoshop canvas/artboard. Photoshop will prompt you to choose how to place the vector, one of the options will be as a smart object.

How to save as PDF in Photoshop

To save a PDF in Photoshop:

  1. Go to “File” in the top menu and select “Save As”.
  2. When the dialog box opens click on the drop down menu next to “Format”
  3. Select the option “Photoshop PDF”
  4. Click “Save”
save as pdf in photoshop

If the PDF file is too large to email there are 2 ways to make it smaller. Go to the options box when saving your PDF file and un-check the option “Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities”. The second option is to go to the compression tab in the options box and set the image quality to “High” instead of “Maximum”.

If you uncheck Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities then remember not to delete the original PSD file so you can make changes to your images in the future if needed.

Photoshop save as PDF not available

There are several options to resolve this problem. In the updated version of Photoshop 22.4, the Save As PDF option is missing. The alternative is to go to “File” and select the option “Save A Copy”.

Adobe took note of user complaints as the Save a Copy option was proving cumbersome and introduced a legacy option in Photoshop 22.4.2 where users can revert to the “Save As” legacy workflow. This allows all the options in “Save As” and “Save a Copy” to be compiled under the dialog box of “Save As” thus clearing up the confusion introduced in version 22.4.

Final Word

 Photoshop PDF is a raster file rather than a vector file and in order to maintain editing capabilities, you should save it as a PSD file in order to make future editing easy.

Despite Photoshop being a raster-based program, vector files can be opened and edited in Photoshop as smart objects.

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