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What’s The Difference Between Save And Save As

The difference between SAVE and SAVE AS is when you’re editing or changing a file that you’ve saved previously, i.e. it already has a name and location.

  • Clicking Save will simply update the existing file with the changes that you’ve made.
  • Clicking Save As always opens the Save As window. Allowing you to rename and/or relocate the file.

But what does that actually mean? How and why would you use either. That’s what we’re going to look at in this guide. If you haven’t already done so, please read the previous page of the Home Computer Course How to Save a File on a PC because this guide is building upon that one.

Save & Save As.

When you’re saving a brand new file. A file you’ve just created, imported or downloaded onto your computer, the Save and Save As commands actually work exactly the same.

Wordpad is open. Text reads "This is a file that I'll save using the SAVE command".
Wordpad is open. Text reads "This is a file that I'll save using the SAVE AS command".

That’s because the files you’re saving are new files.

New files need a name and a location.

You give a file a name and location by using the Save As navigation window.

So saving a new file using either the Save or Save As command simply opens the Save As navigation window. It doesn’t really matter which option you choose.

So why do we have two options for saving files? The answer is that you need the two options when you’re saving a file that already exists. That is to say, a file that already has a filename and location.

The real difference between Save & Save As.

The real difference between Save and Save As is when you’re editing a file that you’ve already got saved on your computer. When you’ve finished editing the file and you want to save the changes that you’ve made, you have two choices.

You can either update your saved file to reflect the alterations that you’ve made. Or you could create a second file that contains the edits, whilst keeping the original file intact and unedited.

To help me explain that, let’s suppose you’re working on a text document.

You’ve already got it saved on your Desktop.

PS it doesn’t have to be on the Desktop, it could be in any folder.

A file indicated on the desktop.

When you open the document to work on it, what happens is that Windows creates a second version of your saved document.

This second version is the “live” version.

It’s the “live” version that you see on your screen.

When you first open the file, both the “saved” and the “live” versions are exactly the same. In our example, both have a single line of text.

As you edit the file, it’s the “live” version that you’re editing.

So in our example, if I add a second line of text to the file, the “live” version changes. Which is what you’d expect.

You can see what you’re typing, it appears on the screen.

But the “saved” version of the file doesn’t actually change at all. It stays exactly the same as it was before you started working. And the more you edit the file, the more changes you make to the “live” file, the further apart the two versions become.

It’s quite possible to make so many changes that the “saved” version of your file no longer resembles the “live” version that you’re working on.

Saving your work.

When you’ve finished working, when you’ve finished editing the document and you’re going to save your work, you’ve got two choices.

If you click Save, then the “saved” version of the file on your Desktop will be updated to reflect the changes that you’ve made in the “live” version.

So in our simple example, both the “saved” and the “live” versions of the document now have two lines of text.

They’re exactly the same again.

Which is normally what you’d want.

But that raises an issue, you see, you can’t now go back to the original version of the file. You can’t start over if you change your mind about the alterations that you’ve made to the file.

The original version of the document (the one with just a single line of text) now just doesn’t exist. It’s been completely overwritten by the edited version.

If you use Save As to save the document, then the Save As window will open.

Now you can change the name of the document. And if you change the name of the document, then in effect, you create a brand new file.

You don’t have to name it something completely different (although you could), just add “draft” or “edit 1” to the end of the filename.

Anything will do, as long as you can recognise it for what it is.

Text reads "File name changed to Document Draft 1"

In doing that, you preserve the original version of the file.

So the original version of the file is still unedited, it hasn’t been changed in any way.

In our example, the original file still only has one line of text.

While the edited version (Draft 1) has both lines.

That then allows you to easily backtrack. You can begin again, from the original file. Starting from scratch.

And if you need to make several edits to the file, it’s really not a problem.

Summing up.

Most of the time, when editing your files, you won’t need to keep several versions because you’ll never need to go back. And even if you do, most of the edits are going to be simple things, like changing someone’s phone number in your contacts list. It can easily be changed again. No big deal.

Occasionally though, you’ll load up something that’s important to you. This is especially true with your photos, videos etc.

Let me relate a quick true story, after a friend of mine split with her boyfriend, she brought me a photo of the two of them.

She wanted “the rat” editing out of the picture. Can I do it? Yes, I can, and yes I did. Now you can guess what’s going to happen, that’s right, they got back together, but she’d deleted the original pic of both of them, only keeping the edited version showing just her.

And this kind of thing happens all the time. Not often, but it will happen. So when you’re working on your important stuff, whatever that may be, use Save As to save your edited files and keep the originals intact.

Next Page

How to Open Files

A Folder being prised open with a crowbar

How to open 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 or app.

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