Lowering Layered File Sizes—Part One

with 27 Comments

Lowering Layered File Sizes—Part One
by Jen White

Have you noticed the astronomical files sizes of your layered scrapbook pages and other digital projects? 

With today’s hefty hard drives that are readily available at reasonable prices, it’s not really a cause for alarm. But still, I try and be mindful to not waste what I have. Good stewardship, right?

Here’s the deal . . . My 12×12 inch scrapbook pages are typically upward of 200-300 MB (megabyte) in file size. So, four of them would fill a GB (gigabyte). And, 400 of them would fill a TB (terabyte).

How big is your hard drive? See where I’m going? It fills up fast!

In this quick mini series, I’ll be sharing my not-so-super-secret tips for saving file size when working with layered documents in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Here’s tip #1.

THE BIG ONE—Tip #1: Select & Crop

After finishing your next digital project, save it in its layered state and then look at the
size of the file.

Where’s the file size located? You won’t find an easy place to view the file size of a document from within Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. My best advice is to locate it in the folder system of your operating system (Windows, Mac, etc) or view the file’s metadata from within your photo organizing software (Organizer, Bridge, etc).

Now do this:

selection• Press Ctrl A (Mac: Cmd A) to place a selection outline around the document.
• In the Menu Bar, choose Image > Crop.
• Press Ctrl D (Mac: Cmd D) to deselect.

Save again. Check out the file size now. It’s always a HUGE difference for me.

But, why?

The file size of your document isn’t just made up of what you see inside your document window. It also accounts for things that are hanging off the edges and hidden—a ribbon, a piece of paper, a photo, etc. All those hidden pixels are completely unnecessary.

Liberate your project—crop it.

 

 

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27 Responses

  1. Melissa McKee
    | Reply

    It’s killing me because I’ve used this technique before, and now I can’t seem to make it work. Is there a specific tool I need to be in, or is there a setting I could’ve inadvertently changed to make this not work? It’s a few keystrokes, it shouldn’t be this hard!

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Melissa. Maybe try restarting your program. No, you don’t need to be in a certain tool to make it work. If you continue to have a problem, email me directly and I’ll try to help. jen@digitalscrapper.com

  2. Maggie Adair
    | Reply

    Thanks for this reminder, I’ve just left my elements & papers hanging off the edge as you don’t see them anyway. Gonna have to go back & check them 😀

  3. Marianne
    | Reply

    So helpful. I need to set aside an afternoon and work on some of my huge files. Appreciate all your hard work keeping us up on the stuff we should know but don’t…

  4. AnneLou Robkin
    | Reply

    Can’t you also use the Trim command under Image in Photoshop to do this? I sure hope so, because that’s what I have been doing!

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi AnneLou.

      Sorry. Bad news to follow…

      Trim and Crop are definitely two different things in PS.

      Trim is used to remove transparent pixels or pixels of a solid color. It’s a very specific kind of cropping that will not have the same effect as the Crop command.

      So, if your goal is to remove all the hidden pixels outside of a layered document, the Crop command is the way to go.

      Hope this helps. xoxo

  5. Diane
    | Reply

    This is a great idea, I have done it but it is not part of my routine…will have to make it so! At what stage do you delete these layered files? From a scrapbook project that is completed? From pages created years ago?

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Ooooh, Diane. I wish I could give a concrete answer on this one. Here’s my personal inner struggle . . .

      KEEP. Those 100lb babies (a.k.a. 100MB layered pages) are my kin. They are a labor of love. How could I possibly toss them out??

      TOSS. In all honesty, I will probably never go back and reuse a page layout or change something and reprint. My eyes are focused forward, not back. Toss those babies OUT with the bathwater! The problem is…I just used the word “probably.”

      Sorry. That was a bit of a therapy session. I’m not any help. 🙁

      • Lisa
        | Reply

        I have re-used my layouts when I’m stuck on inspiration. I open up the layout, delete the photos and sometimes change the papers or recolor them and voila’ a new layout.

  6. Joan Storm
    | Reply

    This topic of lowering layered file sizes is very interesting and amazingly timely. I am excited to learn more about it. I sometimes do the image crop thing, but sometimes forget it. After understanding the value of reducing the pixels, image cropping will be a part of my final finish.

  7. C.J. Sturtevant
    | Reply

    Thank you, Jen, for this excellent tip! I’m going to use this rainy afternoon to free up some EHD space so I can move my PSD files from my computer and free up some space there ;o)

  8. noreen
    | Reply

    I have been using this for years but have never seen a big difference in the size of the file. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Noreen. Thank you for bringing this up! Great question.

      Everyone creates layered files differently. Some like stuff falling off of every available edge. Others like things neat and tidy and rarely have anything that creeps past the boundaries of the document.

      If you are the neat and tidy type, then you will see little to no difference after cropping your page.

      Hope this helps! xoxo

  9. Dianne Stephan
    | Reply

    Great idea! and it’s a simple fix. Love that!

  10. Linda
    | Reply

    So doing this still allows the PSD file to be edited/changed? The layers are still intact?

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Linda. You’re understanding correctly. After the crop, your layers will all be there and they can be edited or changed. 😀

  11. Mary
    | Reply

    After I print my page, I flatten it and save it. Should I be saving as layers? For what reason since Ive already printed it for my album? I never realized all the extras were still hanging around.Thanks for the information.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Mary. The decision (to not keep your layered document after printing it) is completely your call. There is no right or wrong answer. Some choose to keep, some choose to toss (or flatten). It could be argued both ways. As stated in a previous comment, here is my ongoing personal struggle. . .

      KEEP. Those 100lb babies (a.k.a. 100MB layered pages) are my kin. They are a labor of love. How could I possibly toss them out??

      TOSS. In all honesty, I will probably never go back and reuse a page layout or change something and reprint. My eyes are focused forward, not back. Toss those babies OUT with the bathwater! The problem is…I just used the word “probably.”

      Sorry to not be more help. xoxo

      • Maggie Adair
        | Reply

        I’ve chosen to keep my babies (old layered files) because I’ve often seen (sometimes months later) that there is something I need to change. It could be a grammar or spelling error, or I’ve used a photo in 2 different layouts of the same theme.

  12. Jennifer L
    | Reply

    Thank You! I can’t believe what a difference it makes. Some more than others but every little bit adds up!

  13. Nanci25
    | Reply

    If I reduce the size, then need to enlarge it again to print, will I lose any quality?

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Nanci. I’m glad you asked.

      Cropping your layered files does not reduce their quality at all. It simply gets rid of the hidden pixels, which in turn reduces the amount of space they take up on your hard drive.

      I hope this helps. 😀

  14. DorrieH.
    | Reply

    Jen, based on your tip, it seems like a good idea would be to do this cropping each time you are saving your layout for the final time. (If I could only remember to do this, huh?)

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      That is the trick, Dorrie . . . remembering to DO it! 😀

  15. Wendy Jorden
    | Reply

    Jen, after reading this article, I went to my scrapbook pages which were mostly our annual journals and applied your technique. Amazing! A few pages’ file sizes were reduced by half. I have many journals and travel photobooks – I will definitely be working my way through all these pages and save the cost of yet another EHD.
    Thank you very much for this article.

  16. Barb B.
    | Reply

    I never thought of that! Excellent suggestion. Now I’m off to check my layouts.

  17. Donna
    | Reply

    This is such a good idea, Jen. I know I am using up a lot of space on my HD so I will have to do this from now on 🙂

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