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How To Save A File On A PC

Saving a file on your computer is one of the most basic tasks that you can do. After all, storing and sorting data is pretty much what computers were invented for.

On the previous page, we looked at creating and naming folders, so now it’s time to save some files into them.

How To Save A File On A Computer.

Whenever you open a program or application, it will create a new blank file for you. When you’ve finished working on the file you’ll need to save it. If you don’t you’ll lose it.

Saving files is pretty much the same regardless of what type of file it is, it could be a document, image, video or whatever.

In this example I’ll be using a program called Notepad because it’s quick, easy to use and is installed on everyone’s computer.

So if you’d like to follow along with this guide, click the Start button and then type “notepad“. Left click Notepad (App), which will appear at the top of the search results.

To save a file in most programs on your computer, click the FILE button in the top left corner and then click SAVE on the menu.

Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut CTRL (Control key) and the letter S.

The File button and Save option are highlighted
To save a file, click the File button, then click Save.

A Note About The File Button.

Although most programs provide you with a FILE button, some don’t, or at least it probably is there, but it’s obscured. We’ll look at how to deal with that a little later in the guide.

But again the keyboard shortcut CTRL + S usually works.

The Save As Window Opens.

After clicking Save (or pressing CTRL + S on your keyboard), the Save As window will open.

The Save As window is basically File Explorer which we covered a few pages earlier. If you missed it then click How To Use Windows File Explorer

  1. The Address Bar tells you which folder you’re currently in
  2. The Navigation Pane gives access to all your folders
  3. The main pane shows the contents of the current folder
  4. The File Name box. This box is the only real change from the standard File Explorer window.
The Save As window. Numbers indicate various sections. 1-the address bar, 2-the navigation panel, 3-main panel, 4-file name box.
The Save As window in Windows 11.

Give Your File A Name & Location.

To save your new file you’ll need to give it a name (filename) and then choose which folder to save the file into.

  1. Name the file by typing it into the File Name box.
  2. Then you’ll need to select which folder you want to save the file into. You’ll do that using the Navigation pane on the left-hand side of the window. If it’s going to your desktop, click Desktop, if it’s going into your Documents folder, click Documents etc.
  3. Once you’ve added the file name and selected the folder, click the SAVE button.
How to save a file. File has been named and is being given a location.
In this example the file will be called “A really important file” and will be saved into the Documents folder.

Default Folders For Programs & Apps.

Generally speaking most programs and apps will automatically open to the folder where you’re most likely to want to use.
For instance, an image editing program would normally open up your Pictures folder. Whereas a video editing program would open up your Videos folder.

In this example we’re using Notepad, which is a text editing program. So normally it would open to your Documents folder.

How To Save A File Into A Subfolder.

Sometimes you’ll want to put your file into a folder that’s inside one of your main folders, a subfolder. In this example I’m going to save an image file into a folder called Doodles that’s inside your main Pictures folder.

This time, instead of using Notepad I’m going to use a program called Paint, which again is already installed on your computer.

To begin with, it’s exactly the same as above.

Click the FILE button and then click SAVE.

Or press CTRL + S on your keyboard.

File button has been clicked and menu is open. The Save option is indicated.
Click the FILE button and then click Save.

That will open the Save As window just as it did earlier.

  1. Name The File
  2. Use the navigation pane to open the parent folder
  3. In the centre pane, select the target folder by left clicking on it once.
  4. Click the Save button.
Saving a file into a sub folder.
Saving a file into a subfolder.

When You Close A Program.

Sometimes you’ll try to close a program/app without saving the file that you’ve been working on. If you do that, then the program will give you a pop up window asking what you want to do.

You’ll usually have 3 options.

  1. Save – Clicking the SAVE button will open the Save As window allowing you to give the file a name and a location. After saving the file the program will close.
  2. Don’t Save – Clicking the DON’T SAVE button will discard the file. It won’t be saved and the program will close.
  3. Cancel – Clicking the CANCEL button will cancel closing the program. You’d use this button if you clicked the Close button by accident. The program won’t close and you’ll be returned to the file you’re working on.
"Do you want to save the file" pop up message
Save, Don’t Save or Cancel buttons

The Words May Be Different.

Depending on the actual program that you’re using, the wording may change, but the the meaning will be the same. For example some programs will use the words Keep, Discard and Return.

What To Do When You Can’t See A File Button.

In some programs (particularly apps rather than fully-fledged programs), you won’t immediately be able to see a FILE button to click on.

The first thing you can do is to use the keyboard shortcut CTRL and the letter S. This way of saving a file always works.

Windows 10 photos app is open. Callout points out there isn't a File button to click on.
In the Photos app, for example, there isn’t a File button visible to click on.

Some programs/apps hide the Save function underneath an options button. The options button is usually denoted with 3 dots arranged either horizontally or vertically, depending on which program/app you’re using.

Finally In some programs/apps, if you right-click on the file you’re working on, that’ll open an options menu, where you can click on Save As.

Arrow points to options button (3 dots). The Save As option is marked.
Options button (3 dots) in Windows 10 Photos app.
Windows 11 photos app right click options menu is open. Save As is indicated.
Sometimes you can right-click directly onto the file to open the options menu.

It Can Be A Bit Hit & Miss.

Every program/app allows you save the files that you create, but sometimes it’s a bit hit and miss trying to find out how to do it. Program designers do like to move things around. But there will be a way to do it.


There is much more to discover about saving files on your computer, we’re just touching the tip of the iceberg here, but the rest will begin to fall into place as you use your computer and of course, as you work through this course.

The main thing to take from this guide is how to name and then locate your files into the folders where they need to go.

At Home Computer Course.

How to open files in Windows
Next Page

How To Open Files

Opening files, sounds easy right? Just double left click and you’re done.
But what about those times when you need the file to open in a different program?

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