Open Photoshop PSD files in Paint.NET

pain-net-logo Paint.NET is a powerful, free, image editing program for Windows that was originally intended to be a replacement for Windows default paint program. While Windows paint program continued to remain a kid’s play tool, Paint.NET grew and evolved from a free alternative into a powerful image editor of it’s own.

On features, Paint.NET’s borrows heavily from Photoshop, but who doesn’t? Photoshop is an image editor of the highest caliber. It sets the standards and other image manipulation programs tries to keep up with it. The PSD file format too has become the de-facto standard for saving image files with layer information. It wouldn’t be nice if Paint.NET can’t open them. So the Paint.NET PSD Plugin was developed.


This plug-in can load, make limited edits and save Photoshop .PSD files on Paint.NET. The plug-in does not and could not support every feature provided by the PSD file format as PSD is complex and poorly-documented. Only those elements in PSD that have counterparts in Paint.NET are implemented.


  • Layers
  • Masks (loading only)
  • RAW or RLE compressed files (loading only)
  • The following color modes are supported for loading an image
    • Gray scale
    • Indexed
    • 32 Bit-RGBA
    • CMYK (lossy conversation)
    • Multichannel CMY (lossy conversation)
    • Duotone (as gray scale)
    • Lab (lossy conversation)
    • For saving an image, only 32-Bit RGBA is supported

The plug-in is currently not very efficient in memory usage. Also be careful of PSD files with lots of small layers. In Photoshop, a layer can have different dimensions than the image. When loaded into Paint.NET, all layers get the same dimensions as the image, which can be very memory-intensive.

The plug-in is definitely not an alternative for Photoshop but it facilitates viewing of PSD files without Photoshop and possibly a minor edit.

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