The Save Dialog

The Save Dialog
Mac Tip #172/10-Nov-2004

Small save dialog box.

Small save dialog box.

Some of my clients are very confused about where they are saving their documents. This is not helped by the default setting which shows minimal information in the Save Dialog.

In general, in Mac OS X you should save all of your files within the User’s Documents Folder. In my case, that means I need to go to my Home folder and then open the Documents folder I find inside there.

Let’s say I write a letter using AppleWorks or Microsoft word or TextEdit and then go to the File menu and choose either Save or Save As. The next thing I see is a small dialog box with only three items: a text area to enter the name, a line showing Where the file will be saved, and some information about the type of file.

Large save dialog - list view.

Large save dialog - list view.

At the right-hand end of the filename line is a small arrow in a blue box. If I click that once then the Where section will be expanded and I can now find my way around my file system. On Panther the left-hand side shows a list of folders. I can click on one of them as a shortcut.

Then in the large area on the right I can choose a sub-folder if I want to. If I need to roam around my computer to find exactly the right place to file my document I can do it here.

Large save dialog - column view.

Large save dialog - column view.

Always expand the Save dialog box and you’ll always know exactly where you’re saving your work.

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One Comment;

  1. Miraz Jordan said:

    Helen wrote:

    *why* should we save all of our files in the user’s documents folder? i’ve always (& still do) had a top level folder called helen’s stuff, into which i save all my documents in folders according to my own systems. i have a bad reaction to being told by the operating system that i should put my files in a certain place — it’s like that stupid “my computer” in windows. to my way of working, it’s easier to access my files if they’re in a folder on the top level. i guess it’s just what i’m used to.

    is there any actual reason why they should be in the user’s folder?

    Hi Helen,

    While OS 9 had a fundamental assumption that only one person would use the computer (meaning you “owned” the computer), OS X has the fundamental assumption that more than one person will use it. That means that you, Helen, don’t “own” the computer. You “own” the Home folder called Helen (or whatever). You’ve kind of gone from owning a house on a section to owning an apartment in a block.

    When you own a house you can spread your stuff from one corner of the section to another, but when you own an apartment you can spread your stuff around inside the apartment but the hallways, driveway, stairs etc are common areas and your stuff isn’t welcome.

    Even if you’re the only user on your Mac, you are one of potentially many. The Operating System has certain “common” areas, such as the Applications folder. The Users folder contains the Home folder for each user and that’s where your stuff belongs.

    Because there are many users (potentially) the OS has to maintain a set of permissions for every single file and folder: Helen can read and write to this file but Miraz can’t. Anything inside your Home folder will have permissions which allow you to do normal stuff.

    Things you file outside that folder may “belong” to the OS and you may suddenly find you can’t delete the file or edit it or whatever. (I’m getting to the borders of my knowledge here.)

    If you want to access your files via a top-level folder then put them all in (folders in) the Documents Folder inside your Home folder and make an alias of that folder at the top level.

    Of course, with Panther, you can add the folders you most often use to the Sidebar where they’re easy to access from any Finder window and any Save or Open dialog.

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