Is there any sensible reason to use layered .tifs as work files instead of .psd? I recieved a layered .tif file from other agency designer and was baffled as why would someone use it as a format for handing over to someone else. Is this a compatibility issue? Both author and I are working on Adobe CC package, latest versions.

Same goes for embedding files in Illustrator or InDesign. Is there any advantage to convert .psd file to .tif and then link it? In my opinion it impedes workflow - it adds unnecessary steps between editing .psd file and seeing it in other compatibile program.


2 Answers 2


If working in InDesign, then no there's no viable reason to use the .tif format over psd format.

Not everyone uses InDesign though. Therefore not every workflow can utilize the .psd format for linked assets. PSD and AI are proprietary Adobe formats so they work fairly seamlessly with other Adobe products. However, as soon as you throw a non-Adobe product into the workflow, that seamlessness may disappear. You may have received .tif files because you are not directly connected to the original editing office. Therefore if the file leaves their workspace they may wish to deliver the most common denominator and a .tiff would ensure a wider range of application support, even if the editing capabilities were lost.

QuarkXpress doesn't support linking to .ai files last I checked. Not sure about XPress with .psd but I'd suspect it's similar.

There's also some who think a .tif may be better because its more universal. While that's somewhat true, I don't feel it's always the safest format to save editing data. See here: Saving Working Files as PSD or TIFF?

  • Me and my coworkers don't use Quarks software, but there is a huge page on their site about it's advantages compared to indesign. And it says that the .psd and .ai compatibility is present. quark.com/en/Products/QuarkXPress/InDesign-Alternative But you're probably right about the compatibility reason.
    – Hassan
    Apr 23, 2018 at 12:31
  • @Hassan you realize that page merely refers to perpetual license vs the Adobe subscription, and mentions nothing about support for native Adobe formats, right? :) I mean the license is an advantage. Last I touched Xpress was a version or two ago (couple years) and it still would not place .ai files. Maybe they've changed things since then.
    – Scott
    Apr 23, 2018 at 17:31
  • 1
    Another reason may simply be space and laziness. If the image started out as a TIFF file and you only added some adjustment layers, it’s easier to just hit Ctrl/Cmd + S and save it back as the original file, rather than creating a new file, doubling the space taken up as well. I’m currently tweaking about a thousand TIFF illustrations for a book, taking up about 80 GB in total. If I saved them all separately as PSD files, I’d have to Save As a thousand times, and I’d end up with ~150 GB of files instead of 80 GB. Much easier to just keep them all as TIFF files. Apr 23, 2018 at 22:37
  • @Scott it has FAQ section where it says it can - to quote "QuarkXPress can import both AI and PSD and allows you to adjust blend modes of PSD layers.". But that's beside the point - I'm not a Quark user and it won't change in forseeable future, and in my example both agencies are using Adobe software.
    – Hassan
    Apr 24, 2018 at 6:08
  • It's not impossible that Xpress has been improved in the last 4-5 years :) It's been quite a while since I've needed, or used, Xpress.
    – Scott
    Sep 10, 2021 at 6:23

The only reasons I can think of would be:

  1. Filesize issues, whether for storing or transferring (this is less of an issue than it used to be)
  2. If the end user doesn't have Adobe apps
  3. If you don't want the end user making changes - but in this case you'd be providing a flattened version, while holding onto the layered working file.

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