I'm using (or trying to use) Photoshop CC (14.2.1 x64) to produce small bitmaps for a .Net Micro Framework device. Memory is at a premium so I need to produce the screen assets in 16 bit RGB 565 format.

I have my document set up in RGB (I've tried RGB 32 and RGB 16) but when I come to "save as" bitmap / bmp is not one of the available options. Most help articles I've found online suggest that this is solved be using RGB not CYMK, but as you can see from the screenshots below, it has not fixed it for me.

Where is BMP in the 'Save As' list?

How can I save a file as .BMP in Photoshop CC?



  • 1
    Offhand, I'd say you need 8-bit RGB, not 16.
    – Scott
    Jul 25, 2014 at 0:09
  • And you'd be right :-) Why force you to work in 8 bit in order to save in 16. Very counter intuitive. Anyway, please do post this as the answer and I'll mark it as such.
    – dumbledad
    Jul 25, 2014 at 0:14
  • Is this isolated to CC, or is it for all Photoshop versions? @Scott
    – Dom
    Jul 25, 2014 at 0:40
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    @MrE.Upvoter (Dom.... :) ) BMP is a 24bit image format. Even though Photoshop supports up to 96 bit images, BMP doesn't. It's like trying to get transparency in a jpg... sure Photoshop can add the transparency, but when saving, the format just will not support it.
    – Scott
    Jul 25, 2014 at 1:25
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    @Scott thanks for the explanation, I really need to remember 'x bit' in Photoshop means '3 x x bit channels' (or 4 x 8 with alpha). All the numbers were confusing (a 32-bit, 96-bit image?) but I understand fully now.
    – Dom
    Jul 26, 2014 at 11:17

2 Answers 2


I believe bmp only supports 8 bit RGB (24bit images)

Things can get confusing when dealing with the word "bit" at times.

By Adobe definitions.....

8 bit RGB = 24bit image (8 bits R, 8 bits G, 8 bits B = 24).

16 bit RGB = 48bit image (16 bits R, 16 bits G, 16 bits B = 48).

Using these numbers, standard RGB images are referred to as 8 or 24 bit. 16 bit refers to an RGB image with more than normal color depth.

Photoshop has the ability to work with 8, 16, or 32 bit RGB, which translates to 24, 48 or 96 bit images. However, most non-photo software (web browsers) utilize 24bit RGB images and often don't support the 48 or 96 bit images.

To further confuse matters, you can have an additional bit depth for transparency. For example a 32bit Image can refer to a 24bit image + 8 bits of alpha (transparency). [BMP doesn't support transparency so it can't save 32bit images either]

Additional Note: As pointed out this Question shows how to save an RGB565 bmp image with Photoshop. But you still have to start with a 24 bit image.

  • So when I save as 16 bit RGB 565 (as in this question), which I can now with your suggestion to work in 8 bit, isn't the 16bit referring to the color depth?
    – dumbledad
    Jul 25, 2014 at 0:57
  • @dumbledad I updated my answer with some additional information.
    – Scott
    Jul 25, 2014 at 1:22
  • Ah, 8 bits per channel, so 16 bit RGB 565 has less color depth than 8 bit. That was definitely confusing me, thank you.
    – dumbledad
    Jul 25, 2014 at 6:20
  • Photoshop does support 16 bit RGB 565 as a "save as" format, this question shows how
    – dumbledad
    Jul 25, 2014 at 6:29
  • Ahhh... I stand corrected. I'll remove that from my answer.
    – Scott
    Jul 25, 2014 at 6:30

change your file into RGB mode then save as...

  • 1
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