Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion): Why ditch the ‘Save As…’ command?

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
September 1st, 2011 • 4:11 pm

TidBITS has recently published a column entitled “Subtle Irritations in Lion” and I am in full agreement with its contents — although in my book some of the irritations described are far from “subtle.”

There is one thing in Lion that I find particularly irksome:

Auto Save can’t be turned off in applications that support it, and its mere presence eliminates a common File menu option: Save As.

The elimination of the “Save As…” command in applications such as Pages ’09 and TextEdit is, in my view, a downright stupid move. It completely breaks a very common workflow for creating a new file, which consists of opening an existing file and saving it under a new name.

Believe it or not, in Lion, with applications that have embraced the Auto Save feature, this is no longer possible. Now you have to resort to workarounds that are all clumsier and far more time-consuming. Either you have to switch to the Finder, locate the file, use the “Duplicate” command in the Finder to create a copy, rename the copy and then open it in the application, or you have to use the “Duplicate” command in the “File” menu within the application, then save the duplicate file under a new name, and then manually close the original file.


Of course, to make matters worse, the “Duplicate” command in the “File” menu in Auto Save-ready applications such as Pages ’09 and TextEdit does not have a built-in keyboard shortcut. And the file duplicate opens in a new window, so it is not in the exact same location on the screen and you have to manually adjust its position.

It drives me mad because my typical use of Pages ’09, when I want to create a new document, consists of opening an existing blank document that already contains all the paragraph and character styles that I desire, already has the right zoom setting, and is already in the right position on the screen, and then saving that blank document under a new name in my location of choice using the “Save As…” command. I have several such “templates” for various types of documents, and Lion has totally broken this workflow for me.

Of course, Apple probably wants me to use the built-in template feature in Pages ’09. But there is a major problem with that feature: it fails to preserve window settings. Even if I create a template in Pages ’09 with a zoom setting of “One Up” (one full page) and a window size and position that is to my liking, when I create a new document based on that template, Pages ’09 puts the new document right in the middle of my screen, with a zoom setting of 100%. In addition, the horizontal bars separating the three types of styles in the styles drawer are back to their default locations, instead of my preferred location, which makes a greater number of paragraph styles visible by default.

Do you think I want to readjust all these settings (zoom, window size, window position, styles drawer sections) manually each and every time I create a new document? It’s ridiculous. So the built-in template feature in Pages ’09 is not a solution for me.

Using the old “Stationary Pad” flag in the File Info window for the Pages ’09 document in the Finder is not a solution either. If I use that, whenever I try to open the stationary pad document, Mac OS X automatically creates a duplicate file with the same name with “copy” appended to it right in the same location, which I then have to manually rename and move in the Finder.

So there is no easy solution. For now, I am forcing myself to try and get used to the “Duplicate” command in Pages ’09, but it is a constant source of irritation, and a constant reminder of how much better a simple “Save As…” command would be.

The real question here, of course, is: Why ditch the “Save As…” command in the first place? What is it that makes such a command incompatible with the Auto Save feature in Lion? You can have all the features associated with the Auto Save feature and keep a “Save As…” command just the same, can’t you? BBEdit has had a feature similar to Lion’s Auto Save for a while now, and it still has a “Save As…” command as well. (Please, Bare Bones Software, do not follow Apple’s lead and eliminate it in BBEdit 11!)

I don’t mind Apple’s engineers trying to make things easier and simpler for people who are not disciplined about naming and saving their file versions properly. But does it really have to come at the expense of the familiar workflows that experienced users have developed over the years while Apple was doing nothing about this? Doesn’t Apple realize that there must be millions of existing Mac users out there who are used to having access to a “Save As…” command as a simple tool for creating a new file based on an existing file?

It simply makes me mad when Apple makes assumptions about the way people work and use their machines and basically act as if they know better than you how you should go about your business and use their products.

Like the TidBITS article says, though, I don’t expect Apple to revert to a more sensible approach here. They have obviously made up their minds, and it would take a proper revolt by numerous Mac users to make them track back and compromise.

4 Responses to “Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion): Why ditch the ‘Save As…’ command?”

  1. Betalogue » Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion): Always used compact ‘Save As’ dialog when closing documents with unsaved changes says:

    […] revamped the file saving architecture, with things such as the new Auto Save feature and the elimination of the “Save As” menu command in Auto Save-ready […]

  2. Betalogue » Pages ’09 in Lion: ‘Save As’ macro with Keyboard Maestro says:

    […] couple of weeks ago, I asked in a blog post why Apple had decided to ditch the “Save As…” command in its Lion-optimized applications, […]

  3. Betalogue » Lion’s Auto Save: If it ain’t broke, fix it says:

    […] do have problems, however, with its implementation in Lion (Mac OS X 10.7). I have already talked about the totally unnecessary (in my view) elimination of the “Save As…” command in Apple […]

  4. Betalogue » ‘Save As…’ in Mountain Lion says:

    […] have discovered, while the new system brings back the “Save As…” command that was eliminated in Lion with the introduction of the Auto Save feature, it actually does so in a way that is completely […]