How to Export Layers as PNG Files in Photoshop CC

Here is a great way to export layers as PNG files in Photoshop CC, no matter how many layers you have. You can export them all at the same time, potentially saving you hours of time going through each layer and exporting individually.

Particularly if you are working with the likes of webpage mockups, which can often have hundreds of different layers, the ‘export to layers’ feature can be a real lifesaver, freeing up your time to focus on designing and not laborious file management.

Video Tutorial

Use my quick 2-minute tutorial above to watch along as I demonstrate this technique and give you a few tips along the way. You can take your time and watch me go through each step at your own pace.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

Prepare Document

Step 1 – I have used a simple webpage mockup below to demonstrate this export option. The Photoshop document consists of around 60-70 layers, including text, smart object, shape, and raster graphics layers.

Before you move forward to the ‘export’ menu, you need to do two things:

Step 1A – Decide on whether you want to export every single layer or some of the layers. There is an option in the export menu to export ‘visible layers only’, so if you decide you only want to export some layers, check the ‘visibility’ icon off (the eye icon next to every single layer) for the layers you do not want to export.

Step 1B – Decide whether you want to rename your layers for export, or keep them as they are. By default, when you run the export, Photoshop will name each file as follows:

Suffix_number_layername + file type.

The ‘suffix’ and ‘file type’ you can type and choose in the export menu, and the ‘number’ will automatically be added chronologically based on the position of the layer in the document. The ‘layer name’, however, you will need to change in the document before you run the export.

If you don’t change the layer names, it will take whatever the layer is called e.g. ‘vector smart object’, or ‘shape 3’, for example, and use that in the final file name. So if you want all your layers to have a specific name and not the generic names applied to them, make sure all your layers are named accordingly.

For your text layers, if you want to keep them editable, you will have to leave them as they are.

Step 2 – Once your document has been prepared, go to ‘file > export > layers to files’.

Export Options

Step 3 – The ‘export layers to files’ menu will appear. First, select a save destination by clicking ‘browse’.

Step 4 – Choose your destination using whatever default finder or file browser/manager you use (as you can see below, I’ve selected my ‘images’ folder), then press ‘open’.

Step 5 – Next, set your ‘file name prefix’. As I discussed in step 1B, this will form the first part of a three-part name for your name (suffix_number_layername).

If you leave it blank, it will, by default, add the suffix ‘untitled’, so set your prefix accordingly. I have set mine to ‘webpage’.

In addition, you can also decide whether to check on ‘visible layers only’, as I discussed in step 1A. If you did turn off the visibility of layers you didn’t want to export, make sure this is checked. If you want all layers exported, just leave it unchecked.

Step 6 – Under ‘file type’, set either ‘png-8’ or ‘png-24’.

Difference Between PNG-8 and PNG-24

Quite simply, png-8 uses a 256-bit color palette, and png-24 uses a far greater color palette, closer to that of jpg. If you have very few colors in your document, you can probably get away with png-8, as these files are much smaller.

However, if you are working with more complex color palettes, say with photographs, select png-24. The files will be bigger, but the color profile will be much slicker and far more accurate.

Step 7 – Lastly, select your ‘png-24 options’ as follows:

Include ICC Profile – Check this if you want to keep the exported color palette as close to your original color selections as possible. This is particularly important if working with brand guidelines that give you specific color codes to use.

Transparency – You’ll most likely want to turn this on. Each exported layer (file) will have a transparent background. If checked off, the background will fill with a default color (commonly white).

Interlaced – Leave this off. Interlaced files were more popular back when Internet speeds were slower, so that the file could load in increments. It will unnecessarily increase file size.

Trim Layers – This is another option you’ll likely want checked on. ‘Trim layers’ trim each export file to the size of the object or text inside it, and no bigger. If you leave this off, every layer will export to the size of the document, which will give you chasms of space and each file will need to be cropped anyway.

Run Export

Step 8 – Once you are happy with all your settings, click ‘run’ to run the export.

Step 9 – Be patient. The export will run through every single layer. Depending on how many layers you have, this can take time. Large files with hundreds of layers can take five, ten, twenty minutes, and even longer to export.

Step 10 – Once the export is complete, you will get a confirmation message. Click ‘ok’.

Step 11 – Check your exported files. As you can see below, in my ‘images’ folder I have all my files sized with the ‘suffix_number_layername.filetype’ arrangement. You can change the file names by double-clicking them to edit the name.

Batch export options, like in this tutorial, can make your life infinitely easier when it comes to working with lots of different files and layers that all need to be exported.

Hopefully, with the ‘export layers to files’ option, you can say a final farewell to time wasted going through each layer or file manually and exporting everything one by one.

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