Photoshop Won’t Import Images

Photoshop is a powerful program. Most people use it to edit, resize or Save As, and not to its full capacity. In this article, we’ll look at importing issues with Photoshop and how to fix them.

Images in Photoshop should be opened, not imported. Incorrect opening of files, resize to thumbnails on screen to save memory use of the app. Open the image through File – Open.

It’s easy to get lost in the abyss of Adobe programs. Some use place, some use open. Some import. Let’s look at the Photoshop procedures for images.

Import Images

Photoshop is an image editing program. We use it to alter images: color, size, format (but there are certain things that Photoshop can’t do). Usually, we use Photoshop in conjunction with other Adobe products.

Importing images is not something that we do in Photoshop. Images should be opened through File – Open or Double Clicked (but this will only work if the file is already saved as Photoshop) or Right Click and Open.

This will open the file to its correct parameters.

Drag and Drop

Drag and Drop changes the file significantly. It will open the image as a thumbnail and most definition will be lost. This is to save internal memory. 

Unless you just need a visual of what the file is I would advise against drag and drop.

Different Options to Place Images

There is no real import option for files in Photoshop. You can import video files but that is not the same as images and Photoshop treats mp3 files differently.

People get confused with the different programs. Lightroom uses Import and this makes users look for the import option in Photoshop.

Photoshop supports almost all formats.


So although we are in effect ‘Importing’ a file, we actually select Copy and Paste or File Open if we already have a Photoshop file open and we wish to add an image to it.

Choose File / Open – Select your file

You may need to resize the placed artwork with Transform to fit into your artboard.

A placed image (or vector) will appear as a new layer.

File Won’t Place or Import

If you have a file that won’t place or import there is the possibility that the file is damaged.

Often receive files for jobs that I’m working on that won’t open or behave as they should. There is a couple of reasons for this:

  1. The file is corrupt
  2. The name is incorrect
  3. It’s not compatible with Photoshop

If the file is corrupt the easy way to confirm this is by file information. If you open the file location and the Size Info reads 0kb then this file is corrupt and needs to be deleted. Hopefully, you have a duplicate stored in another drive, so it can be recovered.

If the name on your file contains any Cyrillic characters then Photoshop won’t be able to open or place the image. If you loaded your Photoshop (or any Adobe products) onto your machine and selected English speaking then you can’t open files that have non-English characters in their filename.

Lastly, your file may not be compatible with Photoshop. As I say Photoshop will open pretty much all formats except .WAV files, Canon HIF/HEIC files, Quickdraw Picts. You may need to change the original format and then open it in Photoshop.

The other thing you can’t do is change the file extension. I was receiving files from a third party and couldn’t understand why they weren’t placing or opening in Photoshop. I had to Open the file individually in Photoshop and resave them.

When I had initially discussed with the client what format the file needed to be, I had said .jpg. They hadn’t really understood what I was asking (my bad – don’t just assume everyone knows what you are talking about!)

Anyway, this person was just renaming the file with a different extension, not actually saving it.

This plays havoc with your system, as it knows it’s not a .jpg but is still trying to place it as one.

In conclusion

It’s easy to get confused by all the different tasks available, especially if you are new to Adobe or don’t use the programs regularly.

Photoshop is a fantastic program but most only use about 20% of its functionality. Remember to Open, Place or Copy and Paste your file but not import.

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

Is it worth learning Photoshop?

Can’t quit Photoshop

Photoshop won’t save

Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on

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