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Virginia DeBolt (bio) writes the bi-weekly Elder Geek column for Time Goes By in which she takes the mystery out of techie things all bloggers and internet users need to know to simplify computer use. She has written several books on technology and keeps two blogs herself, Web Teacher and First 50 Words. You will find links to Virginia's previous Time Goes By Elder Geek columns here.
In You and Your Files, Part 1, I talked about ways to find files on your computer. Part 2 will explain more about smart strategies for saving and naming files.
Save vs. Save As
When do you use Save? When do you use Save As? Some people think they must always use Save As, which is not the case.
Use Save when you create a new document and want to save it. Use Save when you receive an email attachment that you want to save on your computer. Use Save when you open an existing document on your computer, work on it a while and then want to save your work.
Use Save As when you open a file that has already been saved on your computer and you want to save it with a different name. If you save it with a different name, you will have the original version and a different version.
Suppose you are writing an essay about the way the light hits the leaves of the cottonwood tree across the street at different seasons of the year. You save it as cottonwood_light.doc. You work on it for a few days, each time making additions and changes to improve it. Each time you work on it you save it again using Save. You have one copy of the document that reflects only the latest version.
On the other hand, supposed you make some changes to cottonwood_light.doc and you are not sure you like the new version better than the original. Maybe you want both versions saved until you decide. Use Save As. Give the document a new name, perhaps cottonwood_light_v2.doc. Now you have the first version, and the second version for comparison.
Organize Files in Folders
Files tend to add up. It helps to stick them into appropriately named folders. (On Windows, these are often called directories.) If you have several files about different topics, each topic should have a folder.
Folders are easy to create. When you are in the My Documents folder on Windows, or in the Finder on Mac, look for a menu command that says New Folder. On a Mac, New Folder is in the File menu. Find it and select it.
A new folder will appear in your My Documents window or Finder window. The new folder will be unnamed and will look something like this.
Notice that the words "untitled folder" are highlighted in blue. (It may not be blue on your computer, but the words should be highlighted.) When a folder name is highlighted, it means you can type something new. Type a name for the folder, one that will tell you instantly what the folder contains.
You can use more than one word and you can use spaces. So, "Letters to the Insurance Company" might be a good name for a folder.
Saving a File For the First Time
Think carefully when you save a file for the first time. You need to pay attention during this part of the process or you'll lose track of the file. Think about where to put it and what to name it. This will save you a lot of wasted time later on. Here's a demo.
Rename a File
There are a number of ways to rename a file. It depends on whether or not you want to keep the original and create a new one with a different name, or simply change the name of the file without keeping any other copies.
If you still want to keep the original file, plus a new file with a new name, then use the Save As technique I described above. I do this with invoices. Each month, I open an old invoice, choose Save As, give the file a new name, and use the invoice form over with new information for the new month. That way I have a copy of all the old invoices, and make a new one each month with a minimum of work.
If you don't want a previous version, but want to change the filename to something better, you can rename a file in a number of ways. I like to do it right in the Finder or My Documents window because it's fast. Here's a demo.
If the two clicks are a little hard for you to control, you can open the file and use Save As to rename the file. If you no longer want the version with the old filename, then delete it.
I hope I didn't overlook any of your questions about files and file systems. I think this addressed all the points that were raised when I asked about what you'd like to know. Next time I'll move on to another topic.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Nancy Leitz: Penn Packing and The Joe Jones Affair