Why Does Photoshop Open Images at 72 DPI?

The quality of an image is based on the image’s resolution, which is determined by the number of pixels or dots per inch. 300 DPI is considered high resolution ensuring the image appears sharp and crisp. If that is the case, then it begs the question, why does Photoshop open images at 72 DPI?

The default Photoshop image settings for print are 300 DPI and 72 PPI for viewing on screen. DPI refers to dots per inch which is the number of inked dots per inch when printing your image. PPI refers to pixels per inch which correlates to the number of pixels per inch on your monitor.

Regardless of the terminology, though the terms aren’t interchangeable, the default Photoshop image settings for print are 300 DPI and 72 PPI for screen. If your images are opening at a different resolution, it could be due to another factor. Keep reading for more information and how to change the image resolution in Photoshop.

4 Reasons Your Image is Opening at 72 PPI

If your image is opening at a 72 PPI, first check and see which resolution the PPI is referring to, screen or print. If it’s the screen resolution, then 72 PPI is the standard for the web with monitor displays. If it’s the print resolution, another culprit may be in play.

Here are some reasons your image could appear as 72 PPI when opened in Photoshop:

  1. Using the Crop Tool
  2. Resampling the Image
  3. The Image Was Previously Saved as a GIF
  4. Opening the Image Size Dialogue Box

1. Using the Crop Tool

Anytime you change the dimensions of an image, it affects the resolution. Cropping an image using the crop tool will cause the resolution and pixel dimensions to add more pixels per inch based on the size of the crop region of the image.

2. Resampling the Image

Resampling can be found in the Image Size dialogue box and is on by default. You can uncheck the resampling option in the dialogue box. Resampling allows you to change any values in the Image Size dialogue box, including physical size, resolution, and pixel dimensions.

Resampling will change the number of pixels in an image, displayed as height and width. Increasing the amount of pixels adds data to the image and vice versa; decreasing the number of pixels removes data from the image. Adding or removing data to an image will degrade the overall quality of the image.

3. The Image Was Previously Saved as a GIF

GIFs are normally used on the internet and rarely ever printed. Since GIFs support animation, most images saved in this file format use the animation, which gets lost once printed. GIF format doesn’t save a resolution setting; it uses the default 72 PPI, the standard for screen resolution.

4. Opening the Image Size Dialogue Box

Adobe Photoshop users have noted that after opening an image in the application, simply opening the Image Size dialogue box will change the image resolution, regardless of whether you made the change. You avoid this by steering clear of Image Size or by unchecking the resampling option within the dialogue box.

Regardless of how images open in Photoshop, you have the tools to change the resolution to what you want within the application.

How to Change the Resolution of an Image in Photoshop

If you have an image, you would like to change, or if your resolution has been altered and you would like to put it back to its previous setting, there are five easy steps to accomplishing this in Photoshop. If you don’t want to worry about image resolution, you can use websites like placeit.net to find images and templates for your designs.

Here are the five easy steps to changing the resolution of your image in Photoshop:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop
  2. Navigate to Choose Image > Image Size
  3. Under Dimensions, set the values for width and height
  4. Select Resampling and choose an interpolation method
  5. Click Ok to resample your resized image

If you want to maintain the original image’s height and width ratio before making alterations, be sure the chain icon linking these proportions is activated. In addition, if your image has multiple layers with styles attached, navigate to the gear icon and select Scale Styles to scale the effects.


Now you know Photoshop’s default resolution settings, why an image might open in 72 PPI, and how to change the resolution in the application at your will. Always check the image size specs before saving your image. If you continue to have issues with Photoshop changing the resolution of your images, reach out to Adobe support for further assistance.