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How to Save a File When Photoshop Freezes

Published: 11/07/2023

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Do you need help saving files when Photoshop crashes or becomes unresponsive? Whether you're a graphic designer or a real estate photo editor, nothing feels more catastrophic than when Adobe Photoshop freezes while working on a project for hours with a looming deadline.

I learned it the hard way, yet I was able to prevent starting from scratch ever again. After several years of photo editing, I've come up with different ways how to save a file when Photoshop freezes, including steps on how to recover unsaved files.

How to Save a File When Photoshop Freezes

To save a file when Photoshop freezes, you must first unfreeze the program, relaunch Photoshop, and then recover the files to save them. For example, when you reopen the program, you can enable the Auto Save and Background Save functions, recover from recent files, or recover the project from a temp file.

When Photoshop crashes, several layers, effects, and other edits may go down the drain. If you can't save your file while working, there are ways to recover it when Photoshop freezes. With these techniques, you can save your creative work and have a stress-free real estate photo editing workflow.

Step 1: Manually Unfreeze Photoshop

Unfortunately, you can't directly save a file once Adobe Photoshop becomes unresponsive. Before anything else, you need to unfreeze Photoshop forcefully. Afterward, that's the only time you can try different methods to save files.

Unfreeze Photoshop on Windows

If you're a Windows user, follow these steps to unfreeze Photoshop manually.

  1. Press CTRL + Alt + Delete.
  2. When the Task Manager window appears, click on Start Task Manager.
  3. Choose Processes, then click on the Mem Usage column.
  4. Select the processes that use the most memory. When other programs end, you will now have available memory for Photoshop.
  5. If Photoshop remains unresponsive, click on Photoshop in the Processes, then select End Process.
  6. Relaunch Photoshop, then press CTRL + S to save your document.
Click on Start Task Manager, then select Processes and choose Adobe Photoshop to end task

Unfreeze Photoshop on Mac

For Mac users, follow these steps in closing Photoshop.

  1. Press CMD + Opt + Esc.
  2. Select an application from the list (other than Photoshop) in the Force Quit Applications window.
  3. Click on Force Quit. Wait for Photoshop to work again.
  4. If Photoshop remains frozen, choose the program in the Force Quit Applications window, then select Force Quit.
  5. Return to Photoshop and press CMD/CTRL + S immediately to save the file.

Step 2: Recover an Unsaved File if Photoshop Freezes or Crashes

After unfreezing Photoshop, there are different ways to recover and save files.

Method 1: Enable the Auto Save Feature

If you have enabled the Auto Save feature in Photoshop, the program will save a backup copy of your work at a set interval. This method ensures you can access the file when you open Photoshop again.

  1. Navigate to Edit (Windows) or Photoshop (Mac), expand Preferences, and click on File Handling.
  2. Set the interval beside the Automatically Save Recovery Information Every option. You can choose intervals every 5, 10, 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Photoshop may crash or freeze without any warning, so I recommend setting the Auto Save feature to either a five- or 10-minute interval.
  3. You can save other File Saving Options settings to control how and where to save the files. In the Image Preview, I recommend choosing Always Save, although this may consume more storage space.
  4. In File Extension, you may select between Use Lower Case or Use Upper Case.
  5. In the Default File Location drop-down, you can choose to save the files either On Your Computer or in the Creative Cloud.
  6. Tick the Save As to Original Folder checkbox if you want Photoshop to save file copies in the same folder as the original versions.
  7.  Click OK after setting the preferences. 
  8. Reopen Photoshop to activate the preferences.
Select on Edit and choose Preferences then click on file handling

This method lets Photoshop save recovery information in a separate backup file. In this way, Photoshop will automatically open the most recently saved backup copy. You'll know it's a backup copy if the file name now has a "Recovered" added to it. 

Select file handling then set the interval for how long to automatically save the file

Method 2: Use Background Save

The bigger the file size, the longer it takes for Photoshop to save your project. There was a time when Photoshop would freeze as you saved large file files. This essentially locks you out of the program and prevents you from doing anything until you finish the saving process. 

The second way to save a file when Photoshop freezes is to use the Background Save command. This should let Adobe Photoshop continue saving your large file as you work.

  1. Navigate to Edit (Windows) or Photoshop (Mac), expand Preferences, and click on File Handling.
  2. Tick the Save in Background checkbox beside the File Extension option.
Choose Preferences, then select File Handling

Method 3: Recover From Recent Files

Another way to save your file when Photoshop freezes is to recover from recent files.

  1. Head to File.
  2. Choose the Open Recent option.
  3. When you see the recent files you've worked on, select the file you want to restore to open it.
  4. Press CMD/CTRL + S to save the file.
Click File, then select Open Recent and choose the file you've worked on

Method 4: Recover Photoshop File From a Temp File

As the name implies, temp files hold data temporarily while you're working on a permanent file. These often serve as a backup in case of power loss or program crashes. This is why you can see and recover files from them.

These are steps in recovering Photoshop files from a temp file.

  1. Open the Windows File Explorer.
  2. Go to User\YourUserName\Local Settings\Temp.
  3. Sort the files by Type and choose the TMP File.
  4. Open the most recent file in Photoshop, press CTRL + S, then choose your save settings.
This temporarily saves the data and serve as a backup to recover the file

Follow these steps for Mac users.

  1. Go to Finder/Application/Terminal.
  2. Type in open/temp, then press Enter.
  3. When you see the Temporary items, go to Photoshop Temp.
  4. Sort through the PSD files.
  5. Open the latest file in Photoshop, then press CMD + S to save the file.

Step 3: Update Photoshop or Your Hardware

Aside from enabling the Auto Save feature, there are other precautionary measures you can take to prevent Photoshop from freezing and losing your files.

Related Questions

How Can I Access Auto-Saved Projects?

When Photoshop freezes and you have the Auto Save turned on, you can access the projects by going to File and clicking Open Recent. Alternatively, you may check the temp files.

Why Is My Photoshop Unresponsive?

Adobe Photoshop can become unresponsive and not save your file if you have corrupted preferences or a bug because you still need to update the software. Moreover, Photoshop requires a lot of processing memory to run smoothly. As a result, it may also freeze when your computer doesn't have enough memory.

Why Can't I Save Files in Adobe Photoshop?

If you can't save files in Adobe Photoshop, it may be because there's not enough memory space on your hard drive or the file isn't correctly formatted. In some cases, Photoshop won't let you save files if the file is too large for a particular format.


When Adobe Photoshop becomes unresponsive, you need to close the program manually and then relaunch it to save your work. It also helps to enable the Auto Save and Background Save functions once you get back. With these techniques, you can save hours of hard work and prevent losing crucial edits.


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