I am trying to do some touch up work on an extremely large .tiff file. The file is roughly 80GB(It is an aerial photo). The software I normally use for viewing such a large file is ArcMap(unrelated to graphic design) However because some touch up work needs to be done(Editing out clouds, etc.) I need to bring it into Photoshop. The problem is that Photoshop refuses to load a file so large. I'm running Windows 7 64 bit with 24GB of RAM. I have read that 64bit Photoshop is only limited by the amount of RAM you have. So... If I were to actually put more than 80GB of RAM in my machine, would I be able to open and edit the photo? I'm sure someone out there has a method for editing such a large photo. Any ideas?

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    Can you split the photo up and edit each section individually then put them together again? – Hanna Jan 8 '16 at 23:29
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    Usually this is broken up and stiched back together. Never heard of anyone working on a single file that large. – DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ Jan 9 '16 at 4:37
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    @Darth_Vader There are users reporting working with files larger than 60GB: goo.gl/rhlzNH . If the computer is sufficiently equipped and Photoshop properly configured of course. An article on Adobe help site goo.gl/gh2wEw reports the PSB file size limit at 4 exabytes, that is 4 million terabytes! The second link which I have just located gives pointers on how to configure Photoshop for large file sizes, much more detailed than what I provided in the answer below. – user45605 Jan 9 '16 at 16:58

I wonder if it is a file format issue. Photoshop uses PSB format for files over 2GB and is limited by the pixel dimensions of 300K x 300K pixels. Even if it cannot load the entire file in one swoop it will swap it to disk and render the visible part. You may want to check the settings in Photoshop to make sure you have plenty of disk space where it is allowed to create swap files. If my memory serves me well you need about 4 times the file size for swap file. If you are not set up for it, you may try increasing the maximum disk space it can use. So, check to see:

  1. If you can output the file as PSB from the source
  2. If not, find out how to convert a file in the format you are using, say TIFF, to PSB outside Photoshop
  3. Check Photoshop scratch disk usage and make sure there is plenty of space there, I would shoot for 500GB available minimum

I am not sure these will allow you to open the file but I believe this is the right path to follow. Unless someone corrects me on this, which is possible.

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  • Thanks for the great info! If you could elaborate... Do you know of any way to achieve your second bullet point (convert to PSB outside of PS)? – GeoJohn Jan 11 '16 at 14:36
  • @GeoJohn I do not know a way to make the conversion, it was a suggestion to try and find out if there is a way to make this conversion. Adobe may be of help. – user45605 Jan 11 '16 at 14:44

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