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July 23, 2014

The Save Icon (Again)

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

gmail-save I’ve written about it before: The Save icon. That toolbar button that features an old 3½-inch floppy disk, something today’s kids have never used. Yet the icon persists as the universal “Save” button — even on smartphones.

My original idea was to replace the Save icon with something more current, such as the life presever, shown in Figure 1. Now I’m beginning to think even that’s a stupid idea.

Figure 1. My idea for a Save icon.

Figure 1. My idea for a Save icon.

Here’s the point: Why even save at all?

Back in the old days, many computer programs wouldn’t let you start a new document until you named it. That explains why I had to routinely clean up all the KILLME and DELETE documents on my computer. I had to name the document before I started working on it.

That idea needs to come back: You start a new document, and you’re prompted for a name. Then after that, the document is automatically saved.

Let me repeat: The document is automatically saved.

The Save command can go away.

In fact, this automatic save operation is how Google Docs works. If you’ve used Google Docs, you’ve probably noticed the absence of a Save command. In fact, I was unnerved by its absense when I left an online document recently. But then, at the top of the screen, it says, “All changes saved on Google Drive.” The document is saved as I work on it.

How novel.

Not only does the always-saved document solve the problem of losing something you didn’t save, it removes the necessity of a Save icon. Ta-da!

The Save As command is still necessary, of course. You may need to save the document under a different name or in a different format. But Save As doesn’t need to be a toolbar button. And if so, well then, the developers are welcome to use some variation of my life preserver icon. It makes far more sense than that silly 3½-inch floppy disk.

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