I'm creating a poster that is 50cm x 70cm at 300dpi. The empty document is 5.1M when saved... which still seems ridiculous for a completely empty white document, but I can live with it.

When I place a linked 4.3M JPEG image (File -> Place Linked...) and save, the PSD balloons to 95.5M. Nothing else, just a 4.5M JPEG linked in an empty document.

This seems completely absurd... the file is under 5M and it shouldn't even be including it, and when the JPEG is opened in Photoshop itself it's full in-memory size is only 34.9M.

How is it managing to waste all this space? How can I prevent it from doing so?

I've already tried:

  • Turning off "Maximize Compatibility" (Preferences -> File Handling -> Maximize PSD and PSB File Compatibility = Never)
    • Helped a lot, was 384M before I did this.
  • Turning off "Image Previews" (Preferences -> File Handling -> Image Previews = Never Save)
    • Didn't seem to do anything.
  • "Covering" the entire image in a solid white top layer before saving (in an attempt to let any preview image compress to almost nothing).
    • Didn't seem to do anything.

I'm using Photoshop CC 2015.05.0 on OSX 10.10.5.


It's pretty obvious that Photoshop is saving a version of the linked file in the PSD: if I delete the linked file and open the PSD I can still see the image in the document. What I am looking for is a way to disable this behavior so that it does not include that information from the linked file (I don't care about it showing up if the source file is missing).

  • Iin what color space was the JPEG saved? And what color space is set in photoshop for the poster file? 8bit? 16bit?
    – anon
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 13:42
  • A JPG is not the same as a PSD. Open a JPG in Photoshop and save it as a PSD without doing anything to it and the file size jumps up a lot. JPG is a compressed output format, PSD is a working format, big files are expected.
    – Cai
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 14:44
  • 1
    @Cali the file is linked, the whole point of which from my understanding it to not include it in the Photoshop file. since it's a linked file and it is only having operations applied to it (versus mutating the contents), it's size and format shouldn't matter all that much... as long as the operations are re-created when the PSD is opened by sourcing the file and re-applying the operations (Illustrator pretty much works this way with linked files). if the results of any of those operations are cached in the PSD file it will increase it's size, which is my best guess as to what's happening.
    – nrser
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 16:29
  • btw the solution was to re-create the file in Illustrator (In-Design probably works fine as well).
    – nrser
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 16:31

2 Answers 2


Although your file is linked, Photoshop still saves the flattened image data. With a JPG you are unlikely to see any file size savings by using linked files. If you link another layered PSD for example, you will see file savings since all it is saving is the flattened pixel output and nothing else.

The pixel preview it saves is scaled to its current size, so if you link a higher resolution image and scale it down it will only save the preview at the scaled down size, potentially giving you some file size reduction. But again, if it is a flat JPG your unlikely to save much on the original file size unless it is significantly scaled down. And if you're scaling your image up you're likely to add even more to the file size.

From Photoshop Help / Create Linked Smart Objects:

While Linked Smart Objects do not store the original file in the containing document, they still store a flattened and scaled version of the image data from the original file. In some cases, the size of this data may be much larger than the size of the original file

It's also worth noting that JPG is a compressed output format, simply opening a JPG in Photoshop as a PSD increases the file size significantly.

  • thanks, guess there's no way around it (i mean, except using another program... which is what we did).
    – nrser
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 17:35
  • No way around it PS unfortunately no, AI or ID is more than likely the right tool for the job in that case anyway (as you said) :)
    – Cai
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 17:49

Put a solid color layer on top of all layers. This layer must be visible before you save and close the file. With this trick, you can achieve 46% file size reduction.

  • Wow, that trick is good to know, but it makes completely no sense from a software implementation point of view. I just referenced it in this post of mine. Why on Earth would simply toggling the visibility of a layer need to change anything more than a single bit in the persisted data?
    – The111
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 5:18

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