Sep 262012

Sometimes when trying to open JPEGs submitted by clients, you may receive the following error message in Photoshop: Could not complete your request because and unknown or invalid JPEG marker type is found. This is the result of the file originally being saved incorrectly or corruption of the file during transfer. While this may require the client verifying the original file and resubmitting it, before a request is made, there is something you can try doing to repair it. This post will detail the process for that on a Mac. Similar steps should be possible on a Windows system, as well.

How to Open Image Files that Photoshop Won’t Accept

Before beginning, it’s important to note that in this process, you’re dealing with a corrupt file. This means that while you may sometimes be able to recover the working file with minimal effort, you may not alwaysbe able to. This means that even after following the instructions below, it’s possible that the client may need to be contacted to resend the file. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. When trying to open a JPEG, you may receive this message.

If the file doesn’t open, the next step is to try opening it in Preview (a default utility application for viewing files on the Mac).

If the file opens successfully and appears in tact, choose File>Save As from Preview and re-save the file as a JPEG. You should now be able to open the file in Photoshop and complete your work on it.  

  Because the file is corrupt, it may still open in Preview but may exhibit errors. The following two examples are something you may encounter.

  • If the problem appears bad like this example, the client will need to be contacted, asking for them to verify that the file looks correct for them and to be resubmitted.


  • If the problem appears like this example, it may be possible to crop out the damaged area after opening the newly saved file in Photoshop and still use the image if nothing important is missing.

That’s it! This is a pretty simple process that allows you to sometimes save files and if not, it only takes a moment to try.

Why can Preview sometimes open these files when Photoshop can’t?

Photoshop is an image editor. As such, it relies on complete information from within a file when opening it. that includes the full image information as well as metadata that may have been stored in the file by the camera that took the picture which Photoshop uses when making some kinds of edits to improve the quality of the end results. If Photoshop sees corruption in a file that may may affect the stability of the program while working on the file (aka – might make it crash) it won’t open it. Preview on the other hand, doesn’t access nearly as much data in the files it opens and since it is first and foremost a viewer, it isn’t as concerned about corrupt data. It will still try to display whatever it can see. When you save out of Preview, you are making a brand new file with the corrupt data baked into it in such a way that it now appears like part of the correct image, almost like an abstract filter had been run on it before it was saved and re-opened.

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