Well, it finally happened. Lightroom Classic now supports PSB files! To be clear, this is the February 2020 release (Version 9.2). So if you’re a Creative Cloud subscriber, simply update Lightroom to the latest version.
Myself, along with many other Lightroom Classic users have been asking Adobe for this feature for many years now and I’m happy to report that it finally happened!
What Is a PSB?
First off, what is a .PSB? It’s Photoshop’s Large File Format. When you’re working inside of Photoshop and your file exceeds 2 GB in size, you can no longer save that file in its native .PSD format. That means you need to choose something else. You might think to yourself, why not save your file as a layered TIFF? You can, but keep in mind that the TIFF file format is limited to 4 GB in file size, so you may hit the file size limit for that as well. PSB files can handle much much larger file sizes. In fact, I’ve had uncompressed PSB files take up as much as 46 GB in size!
Why Is This a Big Deal?
This is a big deal because up until now, Lightroom Classic had no previous support for PSB files. This is a problem, because camera manufacturers are continuously increasing resolution, and it’s not uncommon to get into PSB territory when working with these files inside of Photoshop. I can tell you from personal experience that nearly anytime I start creating composite images, stacking multiple layers into a single document, or using Smart Objects in Photoshop, my files always become PSBs. Also, if you create a panoramic image and bring it into Photoshop for further refinement, there’s a good chance it’s going to be a PSB file as well.
This is really important update to a lot of professional photographers and retouchers alike, because if you relied on Lightroom as an asset manager, you weren’t able to import or see these PSB files in Lightroom, not even so much as an icon to show that you had PSBs in any given folder. They just weren’t there. For some reason, Adobe wasn’t supporting their own file format, which puzzled me for a long time. But I’m not a software engineer, so maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye.
In previous versions of Lightroom Classic, you would have to create alternate workflows and workarounds in order to view your PSB files. For me personally, I would often just navigate to these files at the system level using Finder on my Mac, but it took more time to do. So, having native PSB support in Lightroom Classic is a really big time-saver, especially if you work with PSBs on daily.
One of the things that I’ve always loved about Lightroom Classic is the workflow and tight integration that it has with Photoshop. It’s truly unmatched by any other software combination. As a commercial photographer and digital artist, I rely on Lightroom Classic and Photoshop on a daily basis in order to create commercial imagery and earn a living as an artist. Furthermore, as a business owner, workflow is everything. It’s what keeps things running smoothly and efficiently. So, whether you’re implementing a linked Smart Object workflow or just creating massive PSB master files with a ton of layers, this was a really important update Lightroom Classic. So, download the latest version of Lightroom, open your catalog, and start synchronizing your folders!
Other Helpful Resources
To see the full list of top new features in the February 2020 release of Adobe Lightroom Classic, check out Adobe’s support page: https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/help/whats-new.html
Learn how to use PSBs to speed up your workflow in my article, Photoshop’s Hidden Gem Revealed: How to Save Large Files in Seconds, Not Minutes.
Learn more about product photography with my tutorial "The Hero Shot: How to Light And Composite Product Photography."