So I have this PSD with several transparent layers. As I need to hand out the file for a professional printing, I export it through Photoshop (CS5) using the usual PDF/X-4:2008 PDF 1.4 profile to retain the transparency.

But the written PDF doesn't have any transparency :

  • when I open it under Adobe Reader (with the transparency rendering option set to on), it has a white background
  • when I open it under Photoshop, it also has that white background which means the transparency is not kept

So I guess there's something wrong with the layers as the profile used is the correct one, but I don't know what. Any hint ?

  • The PDFx format does not support transparency. Why do you need transparency if this is for press?
    – Scott
    Oct 30, 2012 at 0:52
  • Logo printing on white clothes. Also, yes, the X/4 standard allows transparency : iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/catalogue_tc/…
    – shroom
    Oct 30, 2012 at 0:59
  • Well, I get no transparency ever if a Photoshop file is saved as PDFx. This may be a shortcoming of Photoshop. Illustrator seems to save the transparency with no issue.
    – Scott
    Oct 30, 2012 at 1:08
  • Do you export (as you say in the text) or "save as" (as in the header)? Have you tried both?
    – user7179
    Oct 30, 2012 at 3:50
  • I used "Save as", you can't make a PDF with the "Export" option :)
    – shroom
    Oct 30, 2012 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


After specifying the name of your file, you should get a Save Adobe PDF window with a set of options. At the top, under Adobe PDF Preset: choose [High Quality Print]. This will preserve your transparency settings.

  • You can see what each preset does (including whether it flattens transparency or not) here: help.adobe.com/en_US/photoshop/cs/using/…
    – Anne
    Nov 19, 2012 at 22:53
  • I'll try that next time thanks :) Though it also says "This preset creating ISO PDF/X-4:2008 files supports live transparency (transparency is not flattened)", so I'm still clueless on why this doesn't work here.
    – shroom
    Dec 6, 2012 at 15:23
  • This answer doesn't seem to be holding up these days. I tried converting a file to High Quality Print settings and still did not get the transparency I needed in the final file.
    – user147048
    Dec 30, 2019 at 16:02
  • @user147048, how can you tell it didn't work?
    – Wolff
    Dec 30, 2019 at 16:38
  • 1
    Photoshop has changed a bit since 2012. For Photoshop CC, make sure you check "Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities" in the PDF specific options. I tested this with both High Quality Print and Press Quality and they both worked for me. As for how to tell if it worked or not, re-open the saved PDF file in Photoshop. If transparency didn't save, the background will be white instead of the classic transparency checkerboard.
    – Anne
    Jan 1, 2020 at 16:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.