How to Convert PDFs to Layered PSDs

Photoshop is photo retouching and editing software designed and developed by Adobe. The software, generally included in Adobe's Creative Suite, is often used by graphic designers and artists internationally. One of the saving options from Photoshop is the Portable Document Format, also known as PDF. This document type is efficient because you can view it on any computer no matter the operating system. If you used Photoshop to save a document as a PDF and preserved the layering capabilities, you can open the document in Photoshop on another computer. The PDF with layering capabilities will open as a regular Photoshop file and include all the layers.

Saving Layered PDFs

Step 1

Navigate to the "File" menu and click "Save as" from the various options.

Step 2

Select "Photoshop PDF" from the "Format" drop-down list.

Step 3

Click the check box next to "Layers" in the "Save" list. Select "Save" to prompt the PDF settings box. Ensure that "Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities" is checked and click "Save PDF" to finalize the process.

Opening Layered PDFs in Photoshop

Step 1

Open Photoshop by double-clicking on its icon. Navigate to the "File" menu and select "Open" from the various options in the menu.

Step 2

Locate the PDF file on your system. If the PDF has multiple pages, Photoshop will prompt a new window including a thumbnail view of the pages.

Step 3

Select one specific page by clicking on the page. Hold the "Shift" key on your keyboard and click on other pages to import more than one page simultaneously.

Step 4

Click "OK" to open the PDF in Photoshop. Save the file as a PSD by clicking "Save as" in the "File" menu. Select a save location on your system and click "OK."


The Photoshop file will only include layers if the PDF has previously been saved from Photoshop with layering capabilities. A PDF saved in other software or from Photoshop but with no layering capabilities will not include layers when opened in Photoshop.