I do not have Photoshop installed on my own local machine unfortunately, but would like to know if Photoshop can export an image file to a PNG and retain the separate layers for a different program such as Paint.net?

3 Answers 3


TIFF is a widely supported image format that can save layers and transparency (which Photoshop can open). There's not a ton of advantages of using PNGs over TIFF unless you're using them on a website. Whether it works with Paint.net or not, I'm not sure, but you could give it a go! You could also try saving as PSD (Photoshop's native format) which work with some other software but they may need plugins to work.

  • My use case is to save an image with all the layer and transparency information but have it viewable in its composed form in viewers that do not support layers. TIFF worked for me because the viewer I use supports TIFF and shows only the first (bottom?) layer, so before saving: I compose the image by merging all the layers, copying, undoing the merge, paste as the bottom layer (so it is normally not visible because I have a background layer on top of it) and then export to TIFF. When loading back I can import all layers and get back my original work.
    – Guss
    Commented Nov 20, 2022 at 10:55

If you export in PNG format, all layers are rasterized. This format isn't vectorial and doesn't support layers. Only Adobe Fireworks (Dismissed) can save .png with all layer but are readable only by themselves. Check if Paint.net can read .psd format (photoshop native) with all his layers.


Like marcusdoesstuff says, one option would be to save out your file in a TIFF.

Another option would be to save it in a PSD format and use a plugin to open the PSD in Paint.NET. One is available here, although I can't speak to how well it works as I do not have Paint.NET to test it.

  • PNG does not inherently support layers. So exporting a PNG would merge all of the layers into one. I would recommend PSD or TIFF as stated above because they support layers. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 21:29
  • 2
    PNG has user definable sections so it can support whatever you like it to (with a baked raster image for "dumb" programs). Old image editors like Macromedia fireworks could export PNG files with layers and vector graphics baked in. Unfortunately, the creator of paint.net is not interested in supporting this workflow. Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 20:15

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.