What are Native Files in Graphic Design

Defaults for software like Paintshop Pro (PSP), Photoshop, and more

The default file format of an application is proprietary and these types of files are not meant to be transferred to other applications. The main reason being, these files typically contain filters, plug-ins, and other software that will only work within that specific application.

Usually, special software-specific image properties can only be retained when an image is saved in the software's native format. For example, layer styles and text in Photoshop will only remain editable when the image is saved in the native Photoshop (PSD) format. Lens effects and PowerClips in CorelDRAW can only be edited when the document is saved in the default CorelDRAW (CDR) format.

Major Graphics Applications and Their Default File Formats

  • CDR — CorelDRAW
  • CPP — Corel Photo-Paint
  • PSD — Adobe Photoshop
  • PDD — Adobe PhotoDeluxe
  • AI — Adobe Illustrator
  • UFO — Ulead PhotoImpact
  • PSP — Paint Shop Pro
  • MIX — Microsoft PictureIt and PhotoDraw

When an image is being sent to another application it should be converted or exported to a standard image format. The exception would be if you are transferring an image between applications from the same publisher. For example, you should have no problem sending Adobe Illustrator files to Adobe Photoshop, or Corel Photo-Paint files to CorelDRAW.

Also, keep in mind that you usually cannot use an earlier version of a program to open files saved from a later version of the same software. In most cases, you'll lose image properties that are specific to the later version.

Another interesting aspect of native file formats is that, in certain situations, other applications can be attached to the originating application through the use of a plug-in. A great example of this is Luminar from Macphun. When Luminar is installed on your computer it is also installed as a Photoshop plugin. You can launch Luminar from Photoshop's Filter menu (Filter > Macphun Software > Luminar) make your changes in Luminar and, when finished, click the Apply button to apply your work in Luminar and return to Photoshop.

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