I have created a 1-page flyer in Photoshop at 72dpi as we are not printing this.

I finished the artwork and im needing to save it to PDF, but whenever i do so the pdf version is never as good a quality as the png version or jpg version that i have saved.

The attached front image is the PNG (jpg looks the same) but when i save to PDF, it results in the image blowing up in size.

png and pdf at 100%

  • 1
    They're different sizes in your screenshot... if they're the same size the quality is the same right?
    – Cai
    Jun 20, 2017 at 23:09

8 Answers 8


There should be a dialog box when saving your PDF from Photoshop. See the 'Adobe PDF Preset' dropdown at the very top of this dialog. Try exporting via different presets and see which one works better. The 'High Quality Print' or 'Press Quality' should give you the best results.

Also look into the 'Compression' tab and try turning off some of those settings.

enter image description here

  • i did try these and it hasn't changed anything really. I will check all of them again now and let you know but i believe its the same results i'm getting Jun 20, 2017 at 20:03
  • Part of the problem is you are not understanding that the different program you are using are rendering the exact same content in different ways. This is a display issue, not a content-changing issue. Acrobat and other PDF viewers will scale or not scale depending on their settings, and photoshop will scale or not scale depending on screen size and other settings. Just because something "blows up" in one program does not mean that anything has changed. If you zoom in to the PDF, does it really look different? PDF files can contain very high quality images, so don't blame it automatically.
    – user8356
    Jun 20, 2017 at 20:07
  • I think that those presets only have "downsample if above n resolution," but n refers to effective resolution (i think) and the effective resolution for the OP is probably lower than the preset threshold. Of course we don't know that for sure.
    – Yorik
    Jun 20, 2017 at 20:30
  • i tried what you suggested with the presets but it made no difference unfortunately Jun 20, 2017 at 20:37

Keeping the original document as a psd is important to maintain as much quality as possible and always can return to the higher quality state in needed to export again. When exporting out as a png, jpeg or pdf here are some things you should keep in mind. PDFs save a lot of information that images don’t like font types and vector shapes. You can change the jpeg compression for the pdf document while exporting. I have had issues where photoshop didn’t have the pdf control needed. This is where adobe acrobat shines. It’s a very powerful tool you can use to really slim out PDFs file sizes.


So, the problem is that you think dpi is a fixed size. It is not.

If you screencap something, it has fixed pixel dimension, but the "72 ppi for a screengrab" is sort of a hack: this is obvious when you consider that the "i" in ppi means "inches" and that there are 1080p 13 inch monitors and 1080p 50 inch monitors. Exact same pixel dimensions, different physical size.

For a PDF, though, the program is primarily aimed at physical printouts, so there is an specified physical size to reckon with, and the typical rule of thumb is going to be 300dpi/ppi (printed/downsampled; note that dpi and ppi are different but similar enough for informal conversation).

A 1920 x 1080 screencap unresampled (unaltered) is only suitable for about 6.5 x 3.5 inches. If you drop it full-size onto a letter-sized paper, it must be upsampled (or worse: stretched), and this results in a quality loss. This is the resizing that @billy Kerr mentions.

Aside from this, zooming any image on a screen is going to result in some loss of quality, and your pdf zoom level is not going to be faithful to the printed version. The 100% screencap is native resolution, the PDF is simulated, and often the 100% page size does not align with a physical ruler anyway.

So the short answer is: set up your PDF print size to be exactly px-width/300 by pix-height/300 inches and your images will not be resized or resampled.

Further: ppi is a flag set in the headers and is really only a recommendation. Not all image file formats even support the ppi flag. Only the pixels in are actual image data.

Do a deep-dive on ppi on this stackexchange and you will find more tangential discussion about dpi/ppi. Look especially for the term "effective resolution."

  • Citing an image solely in ppi/dpi is kind of like saying "I need to build a road exactly 60 mph long."
    – Yorik
    Jun 20, 2017 at 20:27
  • Also note that retina displays are sometimes actually rendering up to twice the display resolution (e.g. simulating 1080p with 2160p). No idea what the px dimensions are.
    – Yorik
    Jun 20, 2017 at 20:32
  • The terms haven't really changed. PIXELS have no size, they are not physical, ever. DOTS, and DPI, refer real size and are a physical quantity. A printing press deals with real dot size, for one thing. PPI and DPI do not mean the same thing and never will. And the resolution required for faithful reproduction depends entirely on the magnification, viewing distance, and feature size. You can't represent an insect magnified 100x with just 10 pixels, but you can use just a few pixels to represent a mountain from 50 miles away.
    – user8356
    Jun 21, 2017 at 19:11
  • @user8356 I should have put a trigger warning. Dots per inch as a concept in its simplest form is identical to ppi. Pixels are point samples without dimensions, but so are dots when detached from an implementation. Again, for the purposes of informal conversations they are similar enough conceptually that it doesn't matter. Reread what I wrote and you will see that I clearly stated they are not the same thing. But for a beginner, the very idea of a point sample is too deep down the rabbit hole. This is why I simplified and suggested the OP do further reading.
    – Yorik
    Jun 21, 2017 at 19:34
  • Of course you are right. I'm afraid it's been simplified so much that very few younger/less experienced designers and production artists realize they sometimes need to think about physical dot size (printing) and other times don't need to get hung up on "how big are the pixels" in regard to the quality of an image. These concepts are hard to explain in words especially! Pictures really help. I learned much years ago from Adobe manuals and pre-press guides. thanks for your explanations!
    – user8356
    Jun 22, 2017 at 19:52

It's because you are enlarging the image when you open the PDF in the viewer. The image only has a finite number of pixels, and when you increase the size it will look blurry.

You'd need to view it at the same size as the original to get the same quality. The issue is the size of the viewer/screen display, not the output of the PDF being changed to lower quality.

To put it bluntly, 72 dpi is not good enough quality if the PDF is to be opened full size on a large high resolution computer monitor. Increase the DPI to something like 120dpi instead (assuming the image is good enough resolution to begin with). You should see a marked improvement. If the file size is too big, change the compression settings when exporting as PDF.


So this is def more than a hack than i wanted to be in order to get the same results but turns out by changing my from 72dpi to 110dpi it got the pdf closer to the result i wanted


One solution might be to not save as PDF directly from Photoshop and instead just save as a .PNG, .Tiff or .jpg, then use Acrobat to convert the image file to PDF. That might preserve the appearance better.


I had the same issue and just figured it out. Make sure that when you are creating a new document, that it's set to 16 bit and not 8 bit.

enter image description here


I had this issue. This was my fix: I went to Edit -> Convert to Profile. I made sure that "Destination Space" was "Working CMYK-US Web Coated (swop) v2. Made sure that "Intent" was Relative Colorimatic (If you choose absolute colorimatic, you'll see a hazy version. That is what my pdf was looking like before I changed this setting). Click ok. Save as Photoshop PDF. Choose "Press Quality". I didn't mess with any other settings. Clicked Save and it looked perfect. Hope this helps someone. Good luck!

  • Hi and welcome to GDSE! I'm sorry but I don't think the OP's problem is about color profiles. It seems to come from some misunderstanding of how pixels are shown in raster applications versus in a PDF viewer. Furthermore "US Web Coated (swop) v2" is only the right choice if you are printing (the OP states that the PDF is for screen only) at a print house that follows this standard. If you use that color profile in Europe (where I'm from) you will most likely slightly wrong colors and too high total ink.
    – Wolff
    Sep 4, 2020 at 20:23

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