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When saving emails, documents, spreadsheets, or other types of files like pictures, there are two functions available - Save and Save As. These appear as selections under the File menu, which can be found in the top left-hand corner of all applications. When you save a file, you record (or save) a copy of it to the hard drive (or other drive you select) so that you can open it to read and edit again and again.

Save is used for files that have already been named and saved at least once before. Save takes changes that have been made to the file and updates the existing saved file with these changes. When you select Save, you may not even notice that anything has happened, but the changes you have made to the file are now permanently saved. In addition to the Save selection under the File menu, there is often a Save button on the Standard Toolbar that serves the same function. It looks like a floppy disk (which will no doubt confuse future generations now that the floppy disk is obsolete). Save As serves two purposes. It is used the first time a new file is saved, and it is used to change the name of a file being saved.

The first time a file is saved, you tell the computer what the name of the file will be and where the file is to be stored. When you select Save As, a dialog box appears to help you make the appropriate choices. In fact, if you are working with a new file that has never been saved before, the Save As dialog box appears even if you select Save.

The Save As dialog box is common to most software applications. Across the top of the box is a field with the words Save In to the left. This shows you where the file will be saved. The location that appears in the Save In field depends on the setting of the application when you install it where you last decided to save a file.

A folder like My Documents may have other folders within it. These are called subfolders. When selecting a location to save your file, you can double-click on a folder to see if it contains subfolders into which you might want to save the file. Double-click on the subfolder to open it. When you have chosen the location you wish to save the file, move on to naming the file. In the example shown here the file is being saved to the Desktop - because Desktop is in the Save In box. When you click on the arrow, the list appears. You can click any location to change the destination of the saved file - My Documents, or other location like a USB drive.

Naming Your File

Type your chosen file name in the box labelled File name. In the example shown we are saving a picture which is why the Save As type box is displaying "JPEG File Interchange Format (*.jpg)". When you select Save As the File name might display something like "untitled1.jpg". This is not a good file name. and you should change it to something unique and specific that describes the picture.

You should name your file before saving it. By default, some applications name the file by the first few words typed into it. For example, a Word document with the first few words as "On the day I first saw the lake" would suggest that as a file name. You should change it something more specific so you can identify it in the future.

You do not have to type in the extension (the three letter ending after the period). The application will do that automatically.

In the past, there was a limit on the number of characters that could be entered in the File Name field. Today you may type in as many as 256 characters and only a very few exceptions apply. Some of these are:
+ = / [ ] ( ): ; ? * , . |

With 256 characters, you have every opportunity to give the file a complete and descriptive name. Think of the use of a file name like this. You name a file "budget." Six months from now you come back to find the file - is it easy to understand what the file is for, or do you look at the name "budget" and ask yourself "budget for what?" The file name "Final budget for the AGM 2006" is much more descriptive and useful.

More Advanced Features
Some common buttons in the Save As dialog boxes are the Back Arrow and the Up One Level icons which appear to the right of the Save In field. These allow you to take a step back, or move up one level at a time if you have chosen the wrong subfolder.
Advanced features in some applications allow you to Save As Type, which is to say, change the type of file from its default type. Microsoft Word, for instance, allows you to save files in various formats.

Why Use Save As
You may also Save As if you simply want to save the file you are working with under a different name, or in a different location. Perhaps the changes you made need to be approved before becoming permanent. Save the file under a name such as "Report 2" instead of its usual name. Or perhaps you are sending out letters to several people, and although most of the information is the same, each one has certain changes that need to be made separately. Use Save As to save each version out under a different name.
Remember, using Save As and the drop down list at the top of the Save As dialog box, you can decide where you want to save the file. When you wish to find the file again, select Open from the File menu. This time the field at the top of the dialog box is labelled Look In, but it allows you to navigate through the various locations and subfolders on your computer, just as when you were finding a place to save your file. Return to the folder or location where the file was saved, left-click on the file name to select it, and click on the Open button in the lower right-hand corner of the dialog box to open the file.