I'm using a few layer styles for an image to sort of create metal effects and shine. On this particular example I have 8 effects being used, but they are making the file crazy big, in terms of file size. Normally (without the layer styles) the file size is about 6MB, but when I add my styles the size jumps up to >20MB, and this is a rather small file, so the insane growth of files on my much larger files becomes a real issue.

What is Photoshop possibly doing with 7 effects that it makes the file size so big? Is it saving every possible combination of the effects to make turning them on and off faster? If that's the case, is there a way to disable that?

If it's not any of these, I would to get some advice on what I can do to make these files just much more manageable. I tried the "Solid color on the top layer" trick, but that's way too tedious, plus it breaks my image previews (which I actually need for other reasons).

  • Why is a 20mb psd an issue? I can understand if it was a png or jpg that large, but the psd is a working file and file size should only be a concern upon output for screen use.
    – Scott
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 16:27
  • They are actually proofs for a customer, but sometimes the client asks for many, many revisions (all of which are saved together so that the client can order old proofs if they change their mind back), but wow I really did not realize that files this large was the norm, that's definitely useful information. Commented May 17, 2017 at 16:31
  • Files for print easily hit 1GB or more. The size of your .psd shouldn't really matter. I wouldn't send clients .psd files in any case (unless they've specifically paid more for those).
    – Scott
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 16:33

2 Answers 2


First of all: 20MB is not large. I routinely take photos using a Canon 4Ti DSLR which creates 25MB RAW files that are about 21MB when saved as a 1-layer TIFF with LZW compression (after cropping/fixing).

That said, you asked "why."

So normal bottom layer in a PSD is going to be a minimum of (pixel width x height x channels) bytes. For RGB color, this is 3 channels. A 1920 x 1080 RGB image is approximately 6MB. These are "memory sizes" not file storage sizes.

Each additional layer potentially is going to be the same memory size, but often is some fraction of this since additional layers are rarely fully filled.

Each layer mask is going to be a 1-channel image (one third the size of the above quoted 6MB in our example).

So if you have a 6MB base-layer, then you need to account for 14MB more across 7 additional layers. Not that big of a strecth.


I have clients working with 100-200...700 mb PSD files. One large brochure with many pictures (PSD, TIF, etc) can easily go into the GB+ range. For large print jobs this is 'normal'. Depends on what you are using these for.

One thing you can do, but this only adds up to the overall size, is create a separate folder with flattened PSD's, which will be considerably lower in size.

Keep the larger layered versions separately in case you need to go back and make edits.

  • O_O "One large brochure with many pictures" Please, do it in another program! O_o
    – Rafael
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 16:55
  • 1
    ...as links in ID of course!
    – Lucian
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 17:19

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