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Save vs Save As

Why does saving documents cause so much frustration? Create a name for your document and tell the computer where you wish to save it. Seems simple. I believe that frustration is fueled by the all-too-confusing “Save As” option.

If you understand the difference between “Save” and “Save As,” you will not only work more efficiently, but also be more organized.


The “Save” command is for saving one document that you are working on and wish to keep. Soon after you open a new document, you should save it. When you click the “Save” command for the first time you are asked what you wish to call the document and where you wish to save it. Be thoughtful here; these choices will help you find your document later.

When you click the “Save” command after the first time — presumably after you update the file’s content — you will not be asked anything. The computer will understand that you mean to commit your recent changes to the existing document and will do it for you. Thus far, you have only one document in only one location.

Save As

The “Save As” command is exclusively for making a copy of an existing document. When you click “Save As,” you will be asked to name the new document (a different name from the original name) and to choose where to store it.

When might you use the “Save As” option?

  • If you are considering making some substantial changes to your document and wish to keep a copy of the original in case you don’t like the changes. (Of course, if you prefer the changes, you can always delete the original document and use the new one).
  • If you are sending the same document to more than one recipient and only a few items — perhaps the name and salutation — will change. Make a copy of the original document and modify only what needs to be changed. (See example below).
  • If you are designing a card, poster, invitation, etc. and you are not sure which variation (color, font, wording, layout) you or your committee might prefer. Save one, make a copy, make some changes, save it as a copy, make some other changes, etc. Present all the variations and spark some conversation.


You are in charge of your Thursday tennis game for the next few months and you create a schedule that lists the dates, players, phone numbers, and who brings the balls. You click “Save,” name the document “Thursday Tennis Schedule Fall 2011,” and store it in your “Tennis” folder. Anytime you update the schedule, you click “Save” to retain the changes.

If, halfway through the season, your friends ask you to organize the next season as well, you can open your “Thursday Tennis Schedule” document, click “Save As,” and name the new document “Thursday Tennis Schedule Spring 2012.” The format, names, and phone numbers are already in place. Just change the dates and move the players as needed. Don’t start from scratch if you don’t have to.

Use the “Save” command on a regular basis to be sure your most recent work is preserved. Use the “Save As” command on an occasional basis to make a copy of your document for a specific purpose.

And, no matter how many documents or copies you have, please remember what you named them and where you stored them!

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