Hidden Techniques for Saving Files on the Mac

by Sarah Dobson on December 23, 2019

One of the core aspects of the Mac experience is saving files—when you create something in Pages or iMovie, you almost always want to save it for additional work or future reference. Because saving is so important, it’s easy, but you can get more out of the Save dialog by knowing a handful of tricks. These techniques are fun to use and can save you a lot of clicking around.

Saving without Opening the Save Dialog

In a hurry? Don’t even bother to open the Save dialog. Instead, click the title bar at the top of your document window. A small popover appears, in which you can name (or rename) the file, add tags, and choose a location from any favorite or recent folder (more on favorites later). To save to any available location, choose Other from the bottom of the Where menu.

Accessing the Save Dialog

To open the Save dialog from an untitled document, choose File > Save. To save a copy of an already named file with a new name or to a different location, choose File > Save As. If you don’t see Save As on the File menu, hold down the Option key while you view the File menu.

Handling the Compressed Save Dialog

Most apps display the compressed Save dialog by default. This dialog offers the same options as those available from the title bar. To expand the Save dialog for more options (look at the next screenshot down), click the Expand button as shown below. If you prefer to work in the compressed dialog, click the button again.

Saving to a Favorite

The left-hand sidebar in the expanded Save dialog shows your favorite folders—the same folders that appear in both the title bar’s save options and the sidebar of your Finder windows. To save into a favorite folder, click it to make it the Save As location—you can see this with the Documents folder in the image below.

A quick way to add a folder to the sidebar so it’s always available there is to drag it from the main portion of the Save dialog into the sidebar, as you can see with the Cards and Letters folder in the image below, which is being placed on the sidebar above the Desktop folder. For more about favorites, refer to our article Why (and How) Using Finder Favorites Will Boost Your Productivity.

Saving to the Desktop Quickly

To switch the Save location to the Desktop instantly, press Command-D. This trick works everywhere: in the title bar, in the compressed Save dialog, and in the expanded Save dialog. You can also press Command-Shift-O (that’s the letter O, not a zero) to switch to the Documents folder in either the compressed or the expanded Save dialog.

Naming Repeating Files Accurately

Do you save nearly the same file time and time again? Perhaps you download and save a monthly credit card statement, or you create a quarterly report for your boss. In each case, it makes sense to a use a filename that varies only slightly to indicate the date, but it can be difficult to remember the exact name so you can type it accurately. To solve this problem, click an older file—it will be dimmed—within the expanded Save dialog. The file’s name autofills into the Save As field. You can now edit it to indicate the new date, and you’re all set.

Dragging and Dropping the Destination Folder

Say the folder you want to save into is visible in the Finder, but your Save dialog is focused elsewhere. To switch the Save dialog to the folder that’s visible in the Finder, drag that folder’s icon from the Finder and drop it on the main portion of the Save dialog. The Save As location switches to that folder. If you instead drag a file from the Finder to the Save dialog, the Save As location changes to match the file’s location, and the file’s name is pre-filled in the Save As field.

Moving up in the Folder Hierarchy

If you have navigated too deep within the Save dialog, a quick way to go up one level is to press Command-Up arrow. Or, click the pop-up menu from near the top center of the Save dialog to choose any folder location higher up in the folder hierarchy.

Saving files on your Mac in the ideal location doesn’t have to be a chore, and we hope these tips will save you from excessive clicking around as you navigate within the Save dialog!

Need a hand? Your Apple Premier Partner has got you covered!

Don’t feel like you have to manage it all on your own! At Simply Mac, we are all Apple, all the time. Our passion is to bring the Apple experience right to your neighborhood. As an Apple Premier Partner, we can offer you the same products, same prices, same warranties, and same expertise. We house a professionally trained staff who can give our customers expert advice and personalized service. With 45 locations nationwide, each with their own Apple Certified Specialists, we’re only a click or call away. Schedule an appointment at your local Simply Mac today!