Backing up our digital files is important, and Procreate is no different. We don’t want all of our hard work to disappear if something were to happen to our iPads. How is work saved in Procreate? Where do the files go? How can we save our files in case we need to restore them later?
It’s important to back up and save your Procreate files in multiple locations. Set up automatic iCloud backups on your iPad, and manually export your Procreate file library to a second cloud library or external hard drive to ensure all of your Procreate files are properly saved and backed up.
To be honest, saving a library full of Procreate designs isn’t super easy or intuitive. In the Procreate forums, this is a topic that users get fairly frustrated and confused about. There isn’t an easy, automatic way of saving your designs beyond the app.
But, with some planning and time, there are some steps you can take to save your Procreate designs and back them up.
Firstly, we’ll talk about what happens in Procreate to save your artwork as you’re creating it. Next, we’ll talk about what doesn’t happen and what you need to do to back up and save your Procreate files to be prepared for that.
How to Save in the Procreate App
Procreate autosaves your work as you go within the app. Every time you lift your stylus or finger, the Procreate app registers the change and saves it. If you click back to your gallery and back to your design, you’ll see that your work is current and up to date.
Most of the time, you don’t need to worry about Procreate autosaving your designs while you’re working. It works really well. I say most of the time because glitches happen. I’ve personally never had a problem in all of my time using Procreate though.
Making sure that Procreate saves your designs while you’re working isn’t usually a problem. Saving your entire design library in case you have an issue with your iPad is. Let’s talk about that next.
Where Does Procreate Save Files?
Procreate saves your files within the gallery of the Procreate app with the file extension .procreate. These are Procreate specific files that only work within the Procreate ecosystem. There isn’t an external folder in your iPad or iPhone where your designs get automatically sent.
This is why it’s important to make the effort to save your Procreate files in other locations. I’m a huge Procreate fan, but I don’t like keeping all of my eggs in one basket. If something happens to my iPad, or I can’t restore a backup properly, I’m in trouble.
How to Backup Your Procreate Files
An iCloud backup is a good start for backing up your Procreate files. iCloud backups aren’t perfect though, so it’s important to back up your designs on another cloud service or on an external hard drive as well.
Setting up automatic iCloud backups is the bare minimum for protecting your Procreate files. This is the bare minimum for protecting anything on your Apple devices.
If you’ve ever relied upon an iCloud backup though, you know it isn’t always perfect. These backups are large and slow. I’ve had the backups crash and leave me with a hodgepodge of apps and files. Other times, it has worked perfectly.
This is especially true if you have a lot of files and data in your Procreate gallery and app.
Even if it’s not always perfect an iCloud backup is where you want to start.
Important note: when restoring an iCloud backup, be extremely patient. You may need to wait days, if not weeks, for the restoration process to finish.
Make sure that you have automatic iCloud backups setup and that Procreate is included in that. Remember that your files are stored within the Procreate app. If you restore the Procreate app from a backup though, it should restore your Procreate designs. Again, this isn’t always guaranteed.
Go to your iCloud settings in your iPad.
And make sure you have iCloud Backup turned on! Again, double check that Procreate is included in your backup.
Personally, I don’t want to rely solely on iCloud backups. My Procreate artwork means too much to me. This is why I also manually backup all of my Procreate files as well.
Firstly, let’s talk about the type of files to save. Then, we’ll talk about how to save them.
The Types of Procreate Files to Backup
Backup your .procreate files so that you can have editable Procreate files to work with should you need to make changes to your designs. These are the only files that you can open within Procreate as a regular Procreate file. You can import a .jpg or .png, but it will function like an imported picture, not an editable Procreate file.
Save a copy of all of your artwork in .procreate file form. These .procreate files can be reimported back into Procreate and used as normal Procreate files.
It’s also good to store your files in an image format that you commonly use, like .jpg or .png. This gives you a quick image you can use for your print on demand store, social media, web portfolio, and more.
Backing Up Your Procreate Files
In addition to iCloud backups, back up your Procreate files with another cloud system like Google Drive, as well as on an external hard drive. Having your files backed up in multiple places is the best way to make sure that your designs are safe should something happen to your app or devices.
It’s a great idea to get in the habit of backing up your designs as you’re working on them and after you finish them.
Make it a natural part of your process. If you accidentally delete a piece of work, or your iPad crashes, you’ll be glad to have backups.
Personally, I have a folder on my iPad for my Procreate work. Within that folder, I have two more folders – one for “In Progress” work and another for “Completed” work.
As I’m creating my art, I will periodically export a .procreate file to the “In Progress” folder. That way, if my iPad randomly combusts, I don’t have to start over with the piece of art I was working on.
Once I’ve finished my piece of art, before closing out the Procreate app, I export the .procreate file again. This time though, I export it to the “Completed” folder. I also export a .png file to this folder as well. That way, I have a workable Procreate file and an image file of my piece of art backed up to my Google Drive account.
Check out the video below for a step-by-step guide on exporting your files from your iPad to your Google Drive account.
Another option is to export your Procreate files to your desktop using AirDrop.
Create a folder on your computer for your Procreate files and designs. Now they are stored on your computer should something happen to your iPad or iPhone.
As another precaution, export your Procreate files to your desktop, and then drop them on an external hard drive. This gives you a physical, non-cloud option that you can rely upon.
If Google, Procreate, Apple, and the entire internet implode in a single instant, at least you can pull out your external hard drive to enjoy your Procreate designs during the apocalypse.
It might sound excessive, but external hard drives are a great idea. They’re safe from the whims of software developers and they also come with one flat price, not an ongoing subscription fee.
Having 3 hard drives might be excessive, but I’m not taking any chances. All 3 of them are going strong and give my the extra security of knowing that my files are safe.
Do your research to decide what type of hard drive is best for you and your lifestyle.
Having a great external hard drive and using it frequently to back up your files is not only a good Procreate practice, it’s also a great digital life practice. In this digital age, with so much of our lives existing on technical platforms, you need to use an external hard drive and ensure that everything is safe.
Saving your Procreate designs isn’t automatic but, once you get a system down, it’s easy. Make sure that your iCloud backup is set up properly and get in the habit of airdropping your designs to your desktop, Google Drive, and external hard drive storage. That way, if something should happen, you’ll know that your designs are safe in multiple locations.
You never know when your technology will fail you and you’ll need to restore copies of your Procreate designs. You don’t want to lose the art you’ve worked so hard on. Put a few habits and systems in place to make sure you’re protected.
Go forth and create great art!
Diana has been an artist for over 26 years and has training in drawing, painting, digital drawing and graphic design. Diana’s latest obsession is digitally drawing with Procreate and creating t-shirt designs with Canva. Diana has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.