What is an EPS File and How to Open it in Photoshop

Photoshop can handle lots of file types. Sometimes, knowing which file type you need for your particular project is half the battle. That’s why it’s important to know about different file types as well as their advantages and limitations. 

Hey there, I’m Cara! We’ve talked about various file types in previous blogs here on Photoshop Buzz. Today, we’re going to learn about what is an EPS file and how to open it in Photoshop!

What is an EPS File?

When Adobe Photoshop was first developed, the program was so new and innovative that Adobe had to develop file formats like the basic PSD that would work with it. EPS files, or Encapsulated PostScript files, are another file type that Adobe created in the late 1980s. 

Because of its early creation and what the file type allows users to do, it became a popular file choice in the design industry. It isn’t used as much today in favor of native file formats, but the EPS file still has a solid place in the industry. 

So what is so special about this file type?

EPS files are vector files that allow images and other elements to be scaled drastically without quality loss. Thus, EPS files are commonly used to create highly scalable illustrations, art, and logos. 

They are often used for high-quality image printing – particularly if you’re wanting to scale the image up very large. EPS files can be used to print huge images for billboards and other large applications with plenty of detail and little to no quality loss. 

The format also makes it easier to add images or illustrations into creations that are mostly text-based. It is often used by illustrators and graphic designers working in Adobe Illustrator or other similar tools. 

With the move toward native file formats, EPS is often used as a standard file format to transfer images between operating systems. You can’t use the Linux files on a Windows system etc. But you can convert your file to an EPS before sharing and accessing the file with multiple systems.

What Are EPS Files Used for?

More modern file formats like PDFs have stepped in for some of the things that EPS files were used for in the past. However, the file type is still useful today. 

As a legacy format, it is compatible with nearly all systems and software. Beyond sharing between operating systems as we mentioned, most professional printers at least have backward compatibility with EPS files. 

The EPS file format is one of the most common formats that professional printers use for large-scale projects. It can be used on older printers that may outdate PDFs and other modern file formats. Plus, even modern computer-controlled engraving machines easily convert EPS data into detail. 

In the advertising industry, EPS files are used extensively for billboards and other large-scale images. The files also offer lossless compression, which means you can also downsize the files significantly without losing image quality. 

What Are the Disadvantages of EPS Files?

Of course, for all their benefits and uses, there are a few disadvantages of EPS files as well. 

The mathematical data that makes this impressive scaling possible is a little complicated. For the image to appear correctly in a thumbnail preview, the image settings must be correctly established before creating the EPS file. This can be time-consuming and needlessly slow things down in a fast-paced work environment.

Once a file has been saved as an EPS, it is no longer editable. If you notice a mistake in the image, you’ll have to convert it back to the original design file to make the edit. Then, you’ll have to resave as an EPS to continue. 

Finally, though EPS files serve as a bridge between various systems and hardware, you do need specific software to open them. Adobe Illustrator is commonly used with EPS files, but they can also be opened in Photoshop, which we’ll look at next.

How to Open an EPS File in Photoshop

You can open EPS files in Photoshop, but you should be aware of their limitations. If your aim is to edit the EPS file, you should convert it to PSD first. The EPS file is viewable and you can resize it, but that’s about it. The file is not editable. 

If you want to take advantage of the scalability, it is advisable to open the EPS file as a smart object. This will allow you to expand the image without pesky pixelation problems cropping up. 

Further, opening the file as a smart object allows you to make edits like applying filters and making other image modifications. 

There are a couple of ways to open EPS files in Photoshop, both of which take advantage of the smart object feature. 

Opening an EPS File as a Smart Object

Run Photoshop then go to the File menu. Instead of choosing Open as you normally would, scroll down a few places to Open as a Smart Object.

Navigate to your EPS file and select it. Then click Open

Though Photoshop can handle vector files to an extent, it is primarily a raster program. Thus, the software will automatically rasterize your EPS file for viewing. 

To that end, a Rasterize Generic EPS Format box will open. Pick a high resolution and click OK. Photoshop will then display your EPS image.

Opening an EPS File with the Place Embedded Command

What if you want to open an EPS file as a layer inside of a project you’re working on? If you use the previous method, the program will open the file in its own document. You can open the file as a layer using the Place Embedded command.

Go to File and scroll down to Place Embedded. 

Navigate to your EPS file and click Place. The EPS file will appear as a smart object on a separate layer within your active document. 

Pretty nifty!

Saving EPS Files in Photoshop

It’s important to note that you can also save files in the EPS format in Photoshop. Simply go to the File menu and choose Save a Copy… You have to choose this option as the other Save commands will not offer EPS as a format.

Then, when the dialog box opens, click on the Save as type box to expand the list of available file formats. Choose Photoshop EPS from the list. 

And there you have it! Everything you never knew you needed to know about EPS files and Photoshop. Curious about other file types and how to use them in Photoshop? Be sure to check out more of our tutorials such as the differences between JPEGs, PNGs, and GIFs or how to save as an SVG in Photoshop.

About Cara Koch
Cara fell in love with photography circa 2014 and has been exploring all corners of the imagery world ever since. When she felt limited by Lightroom, she dove headfirst into Photoshop to learn how to create the images she wanted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *