Keeping track of versions of PSDs, PDFs/JPGS

Hi! I’m not a pro designer, I’m just an amateur. When I do flyers for someone - say real estate brochures, I do them in PSD. Then I keep one PSD file and save the iterations in JPGS or PDFs. I have a really hard time keeping track of them! Does anyone have any tips on how to do this? The only thing I found that kind of works for me - and it takes discipline - is to put the exact time and date in the file name of each JPG/PDF. That way I know which has the latest changes.

Also, my PSD is a template. I don’t keep a different template for every brochure, I just make different layers for each property’s graphics on the template. It sucks! Perhaps I will try keeping separate PSDs for every brochure. Anyone have any tips?

Thank you!

Photoshop is not the best tool for this.

It would take me an age to explain the best way in Photoshop.

In terms of keeping track… Version numbers


Never name a file _final

It’s just general file management.

Have you considered using InDesign or illustrator?

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This isn’t what you were asking about, but Photoshop is not a layout program — its primary use is in working with photos.

I’m not feeling up to writing all the reasons why that’s the case, but there are literally dozens of reasons not to use Photoshop that way.

I agree with Smurf2, use InDesign or Illustrator or, for that matter, almost anything other than a photo editing program.

As for filing things away, I have separate job folders for each of my clients. There are subfolders in each for the various jobs. In those are subfolders that break the jobs down further, such as original art, photos, emails, odds and ends, various versions, final version, and sent to client. I give everything consistent names that enable me to use my Mac’s search feature to find things. I also back everything up to a separate network drive.

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I’ll spare you further lecture on the correct tools and workflow for the job; just know you’re currently doing it wrong.

But every file carries its own OS-applied time stamp (and you can sort files by ‘Modified’ in Finder or Explorer, and all shell-driven dialogs), so you can have that without the effort or discipline.

One of the things I do when “work product” is generating more than 2 interim iterations is simply add ‘_0’(s) representing the succession each time, using Save As. So a folder might look like:

The one without _0 is always the current working draft, and it’s always easy to visually distinguish the experimental iterations’ chronology by the number of 0’s added. There are other nuances to it as well. If, for some reason, I want to break one of those iterations out of the (sorted by name) succession, but still keep it’s original reference to the succession, I add an underscore to the beginning of the name. For instance:

Anyway, it’s all just my internalized way of organizing ongoing work. There’s nothing stopping you from devising your own, tailored to your tendencies. Unless they are of future value, which is rare, the successive iterations are deleted or at least segregated from the final deliverables.

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Hello everyone! Ohhhkay! I’m using a program that makes this lightyears more difficult - gotcha. It seems it’s worth it for me to learn inDesign - because I can’t take this struggle anymore - it took me an entire day to make 3 flyers that all have basically (but not exactly) the same layout.

Thank you for all your tips on programs and file naming conventions - and storage of assets. I really appreciate it. I’m even going to print this out and start my stuff from scratch. Bc I can’t take these headaches (or waste this much time!) anymore.

Slightly beating a dead horse here, but I just mentioned this in another thread. Photoshop is probably the software I use the least with my job.

As far as versioning, I keep it simple like above. I usually add “_v01” then “v02”, etc. to the end of files, including any PDF proof I might send.

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So do I. InDesign was always my favorite, however, since you are an Amateur (with no aspirations of becoming a Professional) and if you can’t afford to add InDesign or Illustrator, you might want to check into Affinity apps. Their Affinity Publisher, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Photo apps do virtually the same thing at a very reasonable one-time (no annual fees) price. — One word of warning, however—the apps come from England and use different terminology and have a very steep learning curve. Adobe apps are still the best, but if you can’t afford them, then Affinity is (I think) the best of the second options.

Alternatively you could get scribus, it’s free.

Yes! You’re right. I forgot about that one. Scribus is simple, but effective, best of all FREE. But for my taste, I find Affinity apps a bit stronger with more options.

I was involved in the beta testing for it before it hit the market. It has some nice features but missing key features for me compared to InDesign.

I’ve since not really gone back to affinity but may some day.

I agree. All three Affinity apps (Designer, Publisher, and Photo) are competent and comparable to Adobe’s offerings at a much lower price.

For about a six- or seven-month period a year and a half ago, I was doing work for a publishing company that insisted I use Affinity products because that’s what they were using internally. I got used to the applications soon enough and liked them all.

That said, there are deficiencies compared to the Adobe equivalents, such as their failure to support variable fonts. There are also things the Affinity apps do better, such as integration between their three apps.

When I finally bite the bullet and retire, I suspect I’ll give up my $60 per month Creative Cloud subscription, then use the Affinity apps as needed.

Absolutely nowhere near Adobe.

Yes, the Affinity apps are competent and comparable, but I didn’t say how well they compare. I’d still give Adobe an edge in most areas that I consider essential to my workflow. Sometimes, things take two or three extra steps in the Affinity software, but I didn’t find that to be a significant issue. And as I mentioned, there are a few things about Affinity’s software that I liked better and are more straightforward.

When I consider all the extra features Adobe has added over the years, yes, Adobe is way ahead. However, in my opinion, most of these features amount to bloat that’s accumulated due to Adobe’s need to keep touting new so-called improvements that justify the ongoing expense. I use very few of those features. Some others use them more, but they mostly amount to extra panels, menus, submenus, and complexity that slow me down.

The biggest shortcoming, in my opinion, to the Affinity suite doesn’t have anything to do with the three big graphics applications; it’s the absence of anything comparable to Acrobat.

An edge??

I normally name my files like so:


…I save new versions regularly and just increment the number, always good to be able to switch back to an earlier version if needs be (I know this can be done with Dropbox etc, but I prefer not to rely solely on that).

Don’t bother putting ‘final’ at the end of the filename unless it’s that one that is getting sent to the printers.

I never put final in any filename.

It’s whatever version they sign off.

The emails are sent out with the version number in the email title.
They reply back to that email with the version number in the title that it’s good to go.

That’s all I need - that version number goes to print.

Some people are pretty sloppy and reply to older emails.
So sometimes I’ll get a reply to _V02 -when it should be _V06

So I’ll cross reference the email sign off with my latest version.
I can then clarify with them - hey you sent V02 as signed off, we’re on V06
Do you mean that V06 is signed off - or do you want to proceed with V02

They just say - yes proceed with V06.

That also opens up error routes.
Sometimes they just say ‘yes proceed’ without clarifying.

It can be pretty annoying to get the right sign off - but it happens very rarely.

I usually just send an email and remind them that they need to clarify which version they want to send to print.

I hold fire unitl then.

I made that decision when I retired, too. I still have two project clients that pay well and just won’t let me quit, plus a handful of pro-bonos (not enough to justify the monthly CC charges.) Adobe apps are easier to learn, but like you said, they are “bloated” with seldom-used items. It’s Affinity for me.

It’s only a matter of time until Affinity will be bloated too.

I remember when InDesign was first released. It was incredible. They’ve improved so much but left things fall to the wayside a lot.

They need to appease stakeholders and implement features to sell to the mass orders.

It will probably happen to Affinity too.