I'm a web developer and on a regular basis I need to work with .psd files that have been provided by a designer. My needs are low - mostly I just toggle layer visibility and then save as .png, which I further slice and dice with Paint.NET (my tool of choice because I'm more proficient with it).

Now, so far I've been using a... borrowed... Photoshop, but I'd like to finally purchase a copy of my own. Unfortunately it's pretty expensive, so I'm wondering if the cheaper Photoshop Elements can do the trick, too? Will it support all the layer blending effects and other tricks that artists are so fond of using? If I turn off a layer will I still get the same picture as I would in the full Photoshop?

  • 1
    Good question, I believe it's fine for layer effects except for groups of layers and complex adjustment layers, but I'm not 100% sure. I wrote a quick write-up a while ago of the key differences between PS and PS elements for web work here which might also be useful background: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/a/15879/3327 Commented May 8, 2013 at 10:33
  • @user568458 - Layer groups are common, unfortunately, even several levels of them. The current file I'm working with has 685(!!!) layers. Needless to say, LOTS of grouping. I don't know what "complex adjustment layers" are, but I wouldn't put it past the artists to use them. I've seen layers that muck about with contrast/brightness of the stuff beneath them, combined with layer masks and links to other layers (whatever that does). Is that it?
    – Vilx-
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 13:07
  • You realize with Adobe's announcement yesterday, Photoshop now costs $30 a month rather than the $700 it previously cost.
    – Scott
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 14:04
  • @Scott - Hehe, yeah, perfect timing! I only found out myself! I didn't know it while I wrote this question.
    – Vilx-
    Commented May 8, 2013 at 16:41
  • I still think Elements is a better solution given Adobe's "no pay, no play" policy regarding subscriptions.
    – Scott
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


From adobe forums:

...if the file is a CMYK file you won't work well with that in PSE, and if the file contains composite layers or layer sets/groups you will need an add-on to be able to view the folder contents in PSE...

and also

...PSE will let you save as a pdf, but it's a very basic kind of pdf, lacking much of the info that a print shop would expect to find in the file...

So the answer would be - no Adobe Photoshop Elements does not fully support all .psd files created with Adobe Photoshop.

But in your case it might work since you do mostly really basic work with it, but as soon as the designer uses some advanced feature, you might not see it in Elements or have problems working with that layer (and judging by the .psd files I get lately they fancy using all possible combinations of different features).

  • So far almost every .PSD file I've come acrosss has had layer groups. Effect layers (outline, glow, brightness/contrast, etc) also are common. So - probably not. :P
    – Vilx-
    Commented Jan 10, 2014 at 21:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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