What To Do When Photoshop Won’t Let You Save As JPEG

Following an update the Photoshop team made to the program in May of last year, users on both Windows and Mac can no longer use the “Save As” function to store images on their devices in JPEG format. Understandably, this change has frustrated longtime users who pay for access to the program. What can you do when Photoshop does not allow you to save as JPEG?

According to the development team, you will have to choose to “Save a Copy”, which creates a copy of your file that you can export as any file type you like. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut control or “command + e” to save files in JPEG format.

Saving files as JPEG is a common function that many people use daily as they complete creative work on their laptops. So, read on to find out more about what you can do when this function no longer works, and why the change was implemented in the first place.

How Can You Save Files as JPEG When Photoshop Won’t Allow It?

There are two key ways you can resolve this issue for yourself and get your work in the file format you need:

  1. Using the “Save a Copy” function in the latest version of Photoshop
  2. Using shortcuts like Command or “Control + e” 
  3. Use alternatives to Photoshop like Placeit.net

1. Save a Copy 

“Save a Copy” is the new function that was added in the May 2021 update to Photoshop rolled out to users on all platforms. It is separate from the “Save As” function but serves the same purpose.

The regular “Save As” function allows you to save files as TIFF, PSD, and PSB files which as non-layered. On the other hand, “Save As Copy” is reserved for the layered file types such as JPEG and PDF.

To use the “Save a Copy” function, go to the File tab and select “Save a Copy” from the drop-down menu, then follow the prompts to choose the file format you need and add a copy of your work to your computer’s hard drive.

2. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are the quickest way to perform actions on a computer because they allow you to accomplish tasks without relying on drop down menus and dialog boxes. This creates more efficiency. Who doesn’t like getting things done faster?

The shortcut to save a file in JPEG format is “Command + e” on Mac or “Control + e” on Windows.

Piggybacking off of the subject of keyboard shortcuts, you can also change your key bindings in Photoshop settings to make it easier for you to use the Save As Copy function. For example, if you are comfortable using “Control + Shift + S” to Save As, you can go into the Edit menu and select Keyboard Shortcuts to change this default so that it initiates Save as Copy instead.

This process is a bit more involved, but not terrible. Now that we know how to work around the Save As issue, let’s explore why the Photoshop team made this change to begin with.

3. Using a Photoshop Alternative 

Placeit.net is a graphic design site that saves you time and money by allowing you to create your own designs directly in your browser without pesky downloads. You can create an account for free or sign up for premium to access even more templates and design options.

Why frustrate yourself with the changes to and cost of Photoshop when you could be using something more cost effective.

Why Does the Save as Copy Function Now Exist?

The change to Photoshop is a result of an update that Apple made to the Mac operating system recently, which led to the removal of the API (application programming interface) that is used by Photoshop to make the Save As function possible. Because of the change, the team could no longer manipulate the Save As dialog box to allow users to name different file types.

 So, the Photoshop developers were forced to make the Save As Copy function as a result. They had to make sure the base name of files was final before adding the dialog option to save them. This is the way that the Mac operating system now operates.

Long time users of Photoshop are frustrated with this change because they have to work against their muscle memory and complete extra steps to use a function that honestly has not changed since it was invented. There is also disagreement over the fact that the change affects users on all platforms, despite only Mac users needing the change.

Some of the other complaints about the change are that users now have to remove copy from the file name every time they want to save, and that the addition of the extra steps disrupts their workflow within Photoshop.

Reverting to the Original Save As Option

As of last year, it appears the Photoshop team has listened to user feedback and added a way to restore the typical functioning of Save As. You can update the settings within your personal Photoshop by doing the following 

  • Windows– navigate to Photoshop, preferences, file handling, then file saving options and choose enable Legacy Save As
  • Mac– navigate to edit, preferences, file handling, then file saving options and choose enable Legacy Save As

On Mac, Save As and Save As Copy will appear in the same Legacy dialog box allowing the workflow to function as before. If you pick Save As instead of Save As Copy, you will get a warning that the files could be overwritten because a copy is not being made.

On Windows, the workflow will return to normal, and it will be as if the update never happened. There will be no warning about overwriting files like there is on Mac because the need to make copies of files was never apparent on Windows

With Legacy “Save As”, all user concerns are addressed and everyone can go back to using Photoshop just the way they like it. When users are accustomed to a certain look and feel of an application, it is best not to change things unless it is for the better. However, Photoshop did not have a choice in this case.


To save photos as a JPEG when Photoshop won’t let you, you can either save a copy of your work in JPEG format, use keyboard shortcuts, or enable legacy “Save As”. The change in “Save As” workflow was prompted by Apple’s deletion of the API that made “Save As” possible in a recent operating system update.