OS X Mountain Lion’s ‘Save As…’ still a disaster

“Many sites reported the ‘happy’ news that OS X Mountain Lion restores the Save As command, which was removed in OS X Lion,” David Morgenstern opines for ZDNet. “However, these cheers are undeserved.”

Morgenstern writes, “The problem is that Mountain Lion’s Save As isn’t the Save As that we knew and loved. Lloyd Chambers at the Mac Performance Guide tested and described the problem in a recent post. ‘If one edits a document, then chooses Save As, then BOTH the edited original document and the copy are saved, thus not only saving a new copy, but silently saving the original with the same changes, thus overwriting the original. If you notice this auto-whack, you can “Revert To” the older version*** (manually), but if you don’t notice, then at some later date you’ll be in for a confusing surprise. And maybe an OMG-what-happened (consider a customer invoice that was overwritten).'”

“It doesn’t surprise me that ‘Save As’ doesn’t work ‘as advertised.’ After all ‘Save’ doesn’t work ‘as advertised.’ In Apple’s brave new world, there is no ‘Save’ or ‘Save As.’ Everything you do is recorded, and you can always go back to previous versions of your work. There is no real destruction. It’s just not working the way we want it to work.
The way forward is to forget about Save As, and go back to ‘Duplicate’ which works with Apple’s new waveless paradigm,” Morgenstern writes. “He suggested that we just forget about Save As. If you want to modify a document, duplicate it from the very beginning of editing. And if you aren’t sure that you don’t want to keep changes, then quit the document without saving or save-as-ing.”

Morgenstern opines, “Apple is at fault here. As I’ve written before, the company is rejiggering the interface for its new user base and ignoring the longtime Mac user. This change is another influenced by the iOS paradigm. Perhaps Apple could offer us a Mac OS setting — as opposed to OS X, the new Lionized name — that would return the good ol’ Save As functionality to Lion and Mountain Lion.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

Related articles:
How to bring back ‘Save As…’ to OS X Mountain Lion – July 31, 2012
‘Save As…’ silently resurrected in OS X Mountain Lion – June 12, 2012


  1. This could become a real issue with students who buy Macs for simplicity and ease of use. As a student, I often worked on multiple files of the same document to save changes that I wasn’t sure about finalizing. This implementation would really piss me off.

    There is nothing intuitive or easy about it, and that is very Windows-like. Disappointing.

      1. Get real, this is the new better way.
        Save as … Is the old wrong way
        Of course the result is the same just fewer steps
        Time to get rid of the buggy whips people

        1. What buggy whips are you nattering about? Nothing whatsoever to do with buggy whips. It’s like replacing a steering wheel in a car with a motorcycle handle bar. Yes, it works in an M1 Abrams tank, but you wouldn’t want it in your failed on the road Ford.

        2. Unfortunately, your reply does nothing to address the issue of what it is that actually makes this new way of saving actually “better”. I won’t deny it’s “new” alright, but saying it’s “better” is like defining beauty.

          Considering the points raised in the article, I take that back. It’s not like defining beauty. Defining beauty is a matter of opinion. This isn’t opinion. It is worse.

          What was Apple thinking?

    1. Apple needs to figure out an intuitive way for people to separate templates (fill-in-the-blank documents that shouldn’t change) from other autosave documents with snapshots.

      1. For templates, they SHOULD be write protected ate the OS level, even on systems with proper “Save As …”.

        Of course, SHOULD and ARE are two different things.


    2. I used to do the same. But why?

      I saved many copies of documents because I didn’t want lose anything and I wanted to be able to get back to previous stages of the same document. I didn’t really want multiple slightly different copies of the same document though – that was byproduct of getting to what a I really wanted – a backup history of the document.

      In hindsight, my many copies of documents with slightly different names looks like a crude, error-prone, knockoff of OS X versions. Why would I choose to go back to this? It was “yak shaving” (Please look it up if you don’t get what that means).

    3. @Bongo

      As much as i hate to defend Windows, it’s not even Windows-like. Windows and OS X were essentially alike in this until OS X Lion screwed the pooch.

      The worst i can say about Windows was the first time I used Word with that damn ribbon. I was updating a document on a client’s machine, and when it came time to “Save As …” I couldn’t find the command. After several minutes of searching, I finally found it, and it worked as we all expect it to.

      At least Windows didn’t over write the old original with the new version while doing “Save As …”.

      This is one of the reasons why I’m sticking with Snow Leopard.

      1. Agreed. I’m staying put too, entirely because of this needless idiocy. I restore precious old photographs for a living and habitually ‘save as’ copies as the task progresses. It’s easy, efficient and just works. Like our beloved Mac is supposed to. And, most importantly, it’s how I choose to work. Me, not some kid in what passes for Apple’s design department these days.

        So ‘duplicate’ can kiss my ring.

        What’s Tim Cook’s email address? I feel like he needs his inbox filling with a serious piece of all our minds. Will he listen? Who knows, but a great OS needs defending when fools who think they know best dare to impose it upon those who actually do.

        1. @knowhowe,
          So, how is frequently hitting “save as” superior to the system keeping a history of versions? Or, if you really make use of the additional versions, hitting “duplicate” when you need another one? I’m not trying to argue, just understand. Thanks!

          1. Hitting ‘Save As’ means two things. One, you want to save, as opposed to discard, the document. Two, you want to rename the document or otherwise save it in a different file format. There were visual cues (black dot on the red stop light) to tell you whether your document was in a saved state or not and you knew when you retrieved the document, the state it is in will be the state you last saved it.

            Scrolling through a historical record (versions) of the document to find the right document to retrieve is plain silly. This isn’t how we want to save because saving a document should require input from the user.

            Now, if you feel like you suffer from Alzheimer’s and need the system to autosave for you, you should be able to check that option. You shouldn’t need to have autosave shoved down your throat.

      1. If Apple team try to prove how bad they can be without Steve Jobs, OS X Lion has done it. It’s not just the ‘save as’ there are tons of what has stupidity changed. Unbeivable ignorance of common sense!! Hire a guy with common sense will ya, it saves apple a lot of time and bad decisions.

          1. You would need to do what I now have to do.

            Maintain a log with a description of the changes you made to each file, and the time you duplicated it. Before, by making a small change to the file name you could accomplish the same function. With Duplicate, you have to choose a file name at the time you duplicate, not the time you do a Save As. With Save As, you had control of when you made that call, after you did the work, and at that point you say yes or no, I want to keep it.
            With Duplicate and autosave, you dont really know for sure what is happening and with the new emphasis on filing by Application as opposed to Folders, you can easily accidentally lose track of where your work went. Ask those of us who work every day creating content., not the entertainment consumers. We dont care what the 7th graders want.

            And I am going to have to start invoicing for the time it takes to do all this.. It wont be pretty for me and for my customers.

            Here is the real problem. Most of you arguing that Apples new way is the inevitable wave of the future are casual users, entertainment oriented users to whom it does not matter as long as they can listen to Justin Bieber. And know about not much else.

            Mac and iOS are two completely different tools with different ways of working. Apple saying it can merge the two will not make it so.

  2. It appears that Snow Leopard was the apex of the Macintosh OS X. Lion was an abortion and Mountain Lion is crap- just less a beta.

    Apple needs to decide what it wants to be- a consumer electronics company or a computer company. Don’t be fooled- the flavor of the moment status will not last forever and effing over longtime professional customers will come back to bite them in the azz.

    1. I like Mountain Lion overall. Things like this though are stupid and I don’t see the reason for it. Who does it help and what does it make better? As far as I can tell, nobody.

    2. Agreed. I came to Mac two years ago (from Win XP) and Snow Leopard was the OS on my MacBook Pro. It seemed nearly perfect. So good that I could think of no reason to ever release another version.

      Then came Lion, a big step down. No really big problems with it, but a boatload of “fit-and-finish” deficiencies–things that were perfect in Snow Leopard had deteriorated slightly, like someone made a poor decision. I continue to use Lion because I have already done the upgrade, but having started my Mac life with Snow Leopard, I feel there is nowhere to go but down.

  3. Why is it so hard to duplicate your work before you start editing it instead of after? That’s all Save-as was. A duplicate that didn’t touch your original.

    The new way makes WAY more sense to me. “I don’t want to edit my original, so i better make a copy of it before I start screwing with it.”

    Again, what is SO DIFFICULT to understand about that concept?

    1. @ h2a:

      You’ve never had someone send you a “finished” document that you needed to return for further correction? Save as enables us to manage multiple file versions so that we don’t have to remember exactly what time it was when my edits were sent back.

      More to the point: why would Apple be so boneheaded as to REMOVE features that Mac users like? If there’s a new method, fine, add it. but don’t tear down what used to work great.

      1. Mac users liked floppies. Mac users liked SCSI. Mac users liked ADB. Mac users liked scrolling “the other way”. They got over it.

        It really takes just a few times with “Duplicate” to get it straight. And a couple of “d’oh!” moments and fiddling with the “Revert to” command — which is pretty darn cool, actually.

        1. It’s not ‘cool’ when it interferes with your workflow. In fact it’s way uncool. This is not a better way of saving where your analogy of replacing flash drives for floppies once the per MB cost came down to an affordable level might apply. Here, you’re abrogating one workflow schematic for another different schematic with no obvious benefits.

          1. The benefits are the continuous saving, and continuous incremental versioning. I’m going to guess that this is impossible while still maintaining the “Save As…” command, which creates a copy long after changes have been made. Me, I’ll take this new way over the old any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

            1. Continuous saving can be made as a user selectable option without removing ‘Save As’, by for example forcing autosave every 5 minutes on the document you are working on. There should be a sliding scale, again user selectable, that determines the length of time the document is open before instituting autosave.

              Here, Apple is taking away the option and the ability to think for yourself, reducing you to no more than a brainless zombie.

            2. You know, there is probably some command line thing you can do to turn it off if you really want to.

              That said, and again I’m just making an educated guess here, this is probably buried deep into the OS as part of iCloud syncing. You can actually have the same Pages document open on two Macs, or an iPad and a Mac, and make changes on one machine and they appear a moment later on the other machine. I think “Save As…” added into that would play all sorts of Hell with iCloud syncing. This has nothing to do with anyone dumbing down the OS or the user options. It’s smartening them up, if anything.

              But seriously, just bite the bullet and try it for awhile. It’s not hard to train yourself to it. I have a running To Do list I’ve made in OmniOutliner that I “Duplicate” every day and have since Lion came out since last September. I don’t even close it; OS X restores it every time I re-open OmniOutliner, or restart my Mac, and every morning the first thing I do is choose “Duplicate” and change the file name to today’s date. If I forget and make changes and at noon I realize I’m still working on yesterday’s To Do file, I just click “Revert to” and in 30 seconds all is well. Yes, it’s backwards to how things used to run with “Save As…” (and still does in MS Word, which I’ve used for 25 years), but so is scrolling, and that took a day to adjust myself to.

            3. The concept of documents on the cloud syncing across all devices is well and good, but it should be at the user’s option. What this means is every time you save a new document, by new I mean either a blank or a document from the file library that you wish to work on and save to a different location or give it a different file name, the user should be prompted to save to the cloud or to my Mac. Once you save to the cloud then you know that autosave must apply to sync across all devices. However, this can be incorporated as a drop down menu item on the ‘Save As’ function.

      2. Again, I reiterate… Duplicate creates a copy of the file. Unchanged. Then you edit it. Voila, you have the original, and the copy that you changed.

        I still don’t understand why that is confusing for anyone.

        1. What’a confusing is deleting a simple and straight forward command used by millions of persons for decades. Imagine waking up one day and having to drive on the left side of the road.

      1. Thanks BLN, your comments continue to be well-thought out and enjoyable to read, with such compelling points. You truly are a reassurance that there is hope for humankind.

  4. The problem is “auto save” not the “save as” Feature.

    If you make changes to a document Auto Save will save those changes to the original. When you select “Save as” you a creating another document including the changes.

    What people are expecting is that the save as will create a document with the changes and will revert the original back to the previous saved version.

    Disable auto save(if possible) and the problem should go away.

  5. I wouldn’t mind the new file system so much if Spotlight would search the archives. It’s a pain in the ass to revert the document and “go back, go back, go back, etc” until you find your old document. Duplicating documents works OK but sometimes you’re in a hurry and forget. They need to fix this.

  6. This is waaaay stupid and typical of the drivel I expect from ZD, if you don’t accept the way the file system works (versioning) you are going to have to swim upstream constantly.
    So why is he surprised that when you do (save as, rather than use a file copy or template strategy) you need to remember that the system ALWAYS want to try to keep the latest version of the document as the current one?

    Idiot MS think: “I can’t possibly learn anything new or different even if it is much better, simpler and safer than what I am doing now”, that is the best that ZD writers have I guess…

  7. Wow, all this whining and kvetching seems so familiar. When did I hear it before…?

    Oh, yeah, it was in 2001, when OS X came out!

    OS X changed many things from the Mac OS 9 paradigm, and got rid of a lot stuff that crying Mac users claimed they couldn’t do without. Remember window shades? Remember folder tabs? How about the process menu? And of course the dock that replaced it was an “abomination”, with users finding ways to get rid of it.

    Maybe Apple is making a huge mistake here. I don’t think so. “Save As…” has always struck me as a kluge, an non-intuitive, ass-backwards way of duplicating a file. Seems so much more sensible just to use a “Duplicate” command.

    And all these users who claim there’s no way they can live without “Save As…” strike me as exactly the same types who had be dragged kicking and screaming from Mac OS 9 to OS X, because they couldn’t live without their precious window shades, folder tabs, and process menu.


    1. Another clueless comment. When working on an open document, which by the way you might not have wanted to duplicate in the first place, you want to retain the option of saving the file to a folder location of your choice. Because the document is open, you want to invoke ‘Save As’ to enable you to save the file where you want it and in the format that you want it in (e.g, Pages -> Word).

        1. There is but versioning is a roundabout and unintuitive way of saving a file. People don’t think in terms of duplicates or versions, they want to open a file and get on with their work, saving it at a location of their choice along the way. You shouldn’t have to think about workflows, it should just occur naturally.

          You could use a pitchfork to dig a hole but a shovel is much easier.

            1. Or: DUDE, it could be that he or she has always done it that way because it is easier and more intuitive.

              I vote for that argument based upon nearly 20 years of experience. And when people finally grow up, they start trusting the people with experience. But, don’t trust me, I don’t care what you do.

            2. Once you’ve “always” done something a certain way, “easier” and “intuitive” become meaningless concepts. Only when you’re doing something for the first time, initially learning it, can you really understand if a method is “intuitive” or not. If you’ve done something a certain way for decades, that way will seem easier, regardless of whether it really is or not.

              Hell, we all use QWERTY keyboards, and they don’t make any sense at all. But can you imagine the howling if Apple decided to switch them out with Dvorak? People don’t want to relearn something they already know how to do, even if the way they do it isn’t the best.

              And that’s completely understandable. Just don’t delude yourself that your way of doing things is “easier” and “more intuitive” just because it’s what you’re more comfortable with.

              And if you’ve only been using a computer for 20 years, I’ve got a few years on you, son.


            3. If I believe its the best for me, then thats the end of the story.
              It is NOT a meaningless concept.

              The computer is supposed to work for me, I am not supposed to work for it.

              There is no reason why you cant have it your way and I cant have it mind. I think Apple is capable of writing the OS software either way. But somebody in side of Apple has decided that re-inventing the wheel is a way of putting their personal signature on their time in office.

              Worked for two major auto manufacturers in Southern California and have seen that situation many times, and had it cause many bad ideas to seem wonderful.

              Change for the sake of change, stupidity on steroids.

            4. My point proven. This is the same bellyaching that occurred during the Mac OS 9 to X transition. “Why should I have to learn something new?!”

              If Apple is right, and they’re right far more often then they’re wrong, in a few years time we’ll look back at “Save As…” and wonder why anyone ever used such a clumsy system.


    2. The Dock still sucks. The Dock could have been good, but Apple decided that simpler was better than good, and ten years later it’s still a dog that’s always in the way even when it’s hidden.

  8. Apple’s idiotic insistence on changing the save as procedure is the answer to a question that no on asked. If they want to dumb down the operating system for newbies with all this autosave nonsense, that’s fine. Just don’t mess up the workflows for all the rest of us.

    1. Apple’s insistence on changing the cell phone is the answer to a question that no one asked either. Made them the biggest company on the planet. Their insistence on answering the questions no one asked is what makes them Apple, and makes them Insanely Great.

      1. Except that cell phones have ruined society and turned people into device-dependent drones who are a drag to hang out with. What did Apple do exactly? Apple made cell phones more like toys so they would appeal to a broader range of people. They didn’t improve them per se. They dumbed them down.

    1. While I disagree that this is noise about nothing (far from it), I am very appreciative of your link.

      After reading the article I understand better how the new system works. My opinion is that the new system is quite good for most.

      For those it doesn’t work that well for I can nearly understand removing it to get people into the new way…but CHANGING it is absurd. Such a vital command to change and a change that won’t be found to later? Probably when you have a customer on the phone…it’s a bad move by Apple

  9. The issue isn’t the Save As.. command itself but the editing work flow. If you know upfront that you want to keep your original work right where it is and go off in a new direction than duplicate works great. However, the creative process isn’t always so premeditated and people don’t know they want two version upfront. The typical behavior is people start editing their work and somewhere along the line decide they’ve created something new and want two version. It sounds like Save As.. does not support this behavior.

    I haven’t played with versioning enough to know whether it adequately supports the above scenario or not. But with regards to Save As, Mango is correct, if Save As reverted the original while creating a duplicate the expected behavior would be met.

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