Difference Between Save and Save As When Saving a File?

In most programs you will see a file drop down menu that has both a save and save as option on it. Most new computer users do not clearly see the difference between Save and Save as. They look very similar, sound like they do the same thing, but are not alike at all. They both are relating to saving files onto your computer but can both have very different outcomes.

What happens when I press “Save”?

When you are saving a file for the first time and press save you will see options on choosing a file name, file location, and file type. Here is a screenshot of when I saved a document in Word 2007 for the first time. See my three options are available to change.


When you save a file that already has a previous version saved, with the exact filename, pressing save will overwrite that file. You will not see the same options as you did when you first pressed save on a new file. In fact you will most likely see absolutely nothing. It will just silently overwrite the original file.

Most programs presume that if you open a file from your computer, edit it, and then press save, you simply want to update the original file.

When pressing “Save As”, what does it do?

Pressing save as will again give you the options to change the file location, file type, and most importantly, the file name. This will allow you to save your file under a new name and avoid overwriting the original file.

When should I use the “Save As” option?

The best example for using the save as option is when you simply want to make another copy of the original file. If you choose “save as” and then save the file to another location (folder) you will have made another exact copy of the file but stopred it somewhere else. If you want to store the exact copy of a file in the same location or folder as the original, then you must rename the new file. The original file might be SAVEAS.DOCX and the copy might be SAVEAS2.DOCX. Then you know its the same file, but the second version.

Why do we need both options, “Save” and “Save As”?

The reason we need both the Save and Save As options is that Windows will not allow you to save two files with the exact file name in the same folder or location. So for example if you have a file named SAVEAS.doc already saved in the documents folder, any other files with the same filename will overwrite the original file. This is why we need the save as option, to save the edited file under a new name.You can however save the same filename in different folders. This is why we end up with multiple copies of the same file.

When don’t you need to use Save AS?

When you are saving a new file that you have never previously saved before you do not need to use the Save As option. If you just choose save, and there is no previous version, then you will see the option to choose the filename, location , and file type.

How to accidentally overwrite files when using Save and Save As option?

Don’t be too quick to save your files. When people rush they make mistakes. I will give you a few examples of how you can accidentally overwrite files when using the save and save as option.

  1. The first and most obvious mistake is that people simple press save, thinking they will see options on where to save the file and what to name it. You only get these options if this is the first time you have saved the file. If you press Save from then on, you are overwriting the previous version.
  2. You open a document from your computer, edit this document considerably, and decide to use the save as option. But Oh No, you forgot to change the file name. Even when a message came up saying that you were overwriting the existing file, you just didn’t think and pressed ok.

Questions to ask yourself when saving a file?

Saving a file for the first time:

Where do you want to save this file on your computer?

This is the location that the file will be saved to. What folder are you going to save the file in?

What are you going to name the file?

Each file needs a name in order to be saved.

What file type are you going to save the file in?

This is usually decided for you and depends on what program you are using. For example a Word 2007 file will be saved as a .docx file, a notepad file will be saved as a .txt file, and so on. Some programs require you to choose the file type, however most have a default file type to use.

Saving an already previously saved file:

Will you be overwriting a previous copy of the file?

If you have opened a file, edited it, and now want to update the original with this edited version then just press save. This is overwriting the original version of the file.

Do you need to keep the original copy unchanged?

If you have open a file, edited it, and now want to keep both the original and the new edited version, you need to press save as. When you do press save as you also need to rename the file so there are two different files saved.See more information VIDEO – What is the difference between “Save” and “Save as” when saving a file?