Friday Tip – PSDs and Drive Space

Here’s one right from my past experience this week. Here’s the story: a few days ago I was trying to free up some drive space on my laptop (I know, this doesn’t happen to anyone else right?). Anyway, as I was looking through some photos in Lightroom I thought I’d filter through the whole library to see only my PSD files. HOLY CRAP! You wouldn’t believe the amount of files that popped up. Now realize, I’d never done this since the day I started using Lightroom. I had PSD files all over the place. Some where there for a reason but a lot (I mean like 60-70% of them) were there just because I was messing around. Then it hit me that Lightroom saves the PSD file as soon as you hit “Edit in Photoshop”. Regardless of whether you save it in Photoshop after that – it’s always saved in Lightroom, thus eating up a lot of hard drive space. So the tip is this:

1) Go to the Library module and scroll down the left side to the Metadata Browser
2) Expand the File Type item and click on Photoshop Document (PSD)
3) Select the PSDs that you don’t need anymore by Ctrl/Cmd – clicking on them.
4) Hit the Delete key to delete those photos. If Lightroom asks if you want to remove them from the library or delete from your hard drive go ahead and choose the Delete from Drive option.

Wanna know how much space I freed up by doing this? Over 4 gigs! Apparently, I like to hit the Edit in Photoshop button a lot. Actually, it’s probably from doing a lot of demos over the past year but I’d still bet you’ll free up a decent amount of hard drive space from getting rid of PSDs that you don’t need anymore.

Well folks, another week down. I’m really psyched because I gave up chocolate for lent (don’t ask me why – I have no idea but it became a personal crusade after a while to see how long I could go without eating it) and now I get to eat it again on Sunday. Actually, I was trying to be a good role model for my kids in joining them to give something up for lent and some how my absolute favorite food became the victim. Anyway, I predict a chocolate overload on Sunday (Lent is over on Easter) which could a) lead to a bunch of posts coming out on Sunday night because I can’t sleep or, b) lead to no posts on Monday because I have a chocolate hangover. We’ll have to wait and see. Happy Easter!


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  1. HI Matt,
    I don’t seem to be able to find what you’re asking me to do here on LR2. I cannot find the “metadata browser”… any help?

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  2. Matt –

    While playing with LR2 Beta, I noticed that when I choose to “Edit in Photoshop,” I don’t get the option to “Edit a copy with LR Adjustments” and CS3 just opens the raw file without the adjustments. What am I missing?

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  3. I had the same problem early on. This was compounded by the fact that my library was kept on a server so writing those PSDs to a network drive was taking forever. What I did was create an export preset that wrote the PSDs to a local “Edits” directory and then launched PS. This way when I can quickly and easily cleanup my failed experiments and they don’t clutter my library. If I want to save them, I just reimport them into lightroom.

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  4. There is another way to avoid these useless PSD. I drag the image which I want to open to the PS icon in the dock. LR then passes the CR2-File to PS which opens it using camera Raw. I can open it then in Photoshop. I get the PSD only if I save it!

    I nevertheless can understand why LR does not behave the same as Bridge wrt the communication with Photoshop.

    Thanks for your great Blog, Matt!


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  5. matt,
    i’m guessing you have a chocolate hangover today?
    hope you make it thru ok…

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  6. Bridge doesn’t save a PSD or TIFF when you open a file there in Photoshop CS3 so why does Lightroom. I cannot see the point really of saving like this. The amended RAW file has all the changes saved safely if you need to go back and you can save the file you want in Photoshop CS3. Seems a pretty redundant save. Am I missing something?

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  7. Mike – Nope. No way to change this.

    Gary – Why do we all use Nikon? Good question. I guess we all just prefer it. No special deals or anything. Before the D3 and D300 I’d saw the playing field was pretty even but those two cameras make it really appealing to be a Nikon shooter these days.

    Jose – still need PSD files for saving layered image files in case you ever need to go back and change something.

    Brian, AP, and John – Not really sure about your questions. If I figured anything out I’ll let you know.

    Thanks and Happy Easter!
    Matt K

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  8. Hi Matt
    I have a question, maybe you can answer it for me. I made a ten step gray scale on photoshop CS3. I had the highlights for RGB to read 242, Midtones 128 and the Shadows RGB to read 36. I check the readings in Camera Raw and they came out the same. Then I brought this gray scale into Lightroom in the Develope Module and I get Totally different readings ( Highlights 95.1, Midtones 50.6 and Shadows 12).

    What’s your opion?

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  9. Hi and thanks for the tip but I don’t quite get it: We go from lightroom file, to photoshop file and back to lightroom file when we edit through photoshop. Is the PSD file on top of our final lightroom file? I have about 40 PSD files but I don’t understand why I should get rid of them. How do I know if this is an ‘extra’ file and I’m not deleting the only file I have? Sorry to be so thick and thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this

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  10. Hey Matt,
    That was great tip since I just realized my HD was in the red zone. I also used your folder tips to move some of my older folders to my external HD.
    One thing…I have jpeg’s showing up wihen I click the PSD metadata filter..any idea why? I have to be careful and double-check the externsion before hit the delete button.

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  11. A seemingly unrelated -but important- issue is whether to convert raw files to DNG format, or not, in order to save storage space. This, independently from format life expectancy issues, and only regarding to the fact that DNG files do a supposedly tighter lossless compression, which saves storage space, over PSD files. Matt, any thoughts on this?

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  12. As always, great point, Matt. In my workflow, usually when I edit with Lightroom adjustments, I save the edited image and then come back and delete the resultant PSD and re-import the edited version. I wish this could happen faster and that this path, reflecting what I do, were available:

    1) Create XYZ.PSD and open it
    2) When we return to LR, have some way of specifying the edited file name
    3) Copy any non-EXIF metadata from the original to the edited file
    4) Offer to eliminate from the catalog the original
    5) Delete XYZ.PSD

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  13. Those psd files all over the place that automatically get saved in Lightroom really bother me. When I open a file in Photoshop, I would rather decide myself whether to save it and especially where to save it (I don’t save edited files with the originals but Lightroom does). Setting preferences to save as .tif isn’t really dealing with this problem. I think Lightroom should have something in preferences about saving files manually and maybe even a folder to direct edited files to.

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  14. Well Matt, I did not like the word you used ‘HOLY CRAP’
    HOLY is something Divine, don’t degrade it using these words.Thank you and your tip was great .Thanks for that.

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  15. Hi Matt; I love your show with the other “Photoshop Guys.” Discovered it a few weeks ago after I bought my first DSLR (Canon Rebel XTI). BTW, why do you all use Nikon? Isn’t there anyone who gives tips on using Canon cameras?

    I bought the camera to take on my trip to Turkey in April. Now I’m trying to suck up as much information as I can before i leave. Thanks to Lightroom, I’ve decided to shoot RAW. I hope I don’t regret that when I get home.

    I’m looking forward to Easter Sunday as well. The joy and hope generated by that day is wonderful.

    Have a great Easter.

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  16. Wow! Giving up chocolate for lent! But I guess giving up broccoli for lent is kind of not in the spirit (in either sense). I’ll pot my money on the chocolate hangover. 🙂

    Great tip, too. Sometimes just playing around can cost a lot of drive space.

    discover the spirit

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  17. Matt- I’m waiting for Sunday anxiously as well! Thanks for this tip- you saved me some much needed space!

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  18. You just saved me 6 gigs of drive space. Thanks, Matt!

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  19. In preferences > External Editing you can switch the format between PSD and TIFF

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  20. Is there any way to change the behavior so that it doesn’t automatically save the PSD? I’ve been wondering this for a while for the reason you highlighted here.

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  21. I like you Matt always give up something I just love for lent. So every year I give up WATER MELLON no matter how much it hurts.


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