Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard): Option-clicking on names in Save As dialogs no longer copies file extension

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 8th, 2009 • 11:14 am

It is one of those small yet far from insignificant improvements that Apple’s engineers have made in Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6).

For several years now, Mac OS X has had this built-in feature that used to be available only through third-party system utilities, where, when you are in a “Save As…” dialog box, instead of having to type out the desired file name, if that file name happens to be very similar to an existing one listed in the file list underneath the file name field, you can option-click on that existing file in the list and Mac OS X automatically inserts the corresponding file name in the file name field, and then lets you edit it.

The problem was that, prior to Mac OS X 10.6, option-clicking on an existing file name would also copy the file name’s extension if it were visible. This was a problem if, say, you were in Apple’s Pages application, trying to save a Pages document (with a “.pages” extension), and you option-clicked on an existing PDF file, with a name ending in “.pdf.”

Mac OS X would insert the entire file name in the file name field, including the “.pdf” file extension. This would be a problem, because of course you cannot save a Pages document with a “.pdf” extension. So the “Save As…” dialog box in Pages would automatically make the “.pages” extension invisible, like it does when you try to type out a different file extension manually in the file name field, and if you tried to save the Pages file with a name with “.pdf,” Mac OS X would complain that you cannot have a file name with two file extensions, blah blah blah.

It was all a bit clumsy, and required that the user manually edit out the file extension copied by the option-clicking.

Things have changed in Snow Leopard. Now, when you option-click on a file in the file list, Mac OS X only copies the file name without the extension, and preserves the file name’s existing “.pages” extension.

It will save me a few steps each time I save a file with a new name and try to copy an existing name, which happens several times a day. So it’s not a minor, inconsequential improvement. (I am not sure how users who keep their file extensions invisible were affected. I always keep my file extensions visible at all times.)

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