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This chapter is from the book

Opening, Saving, and Closing Documents

Having covered launching applications pretty thoroughly, now let’s get into the method that you’ll probably use even more often, at least with certain types of applications—launching documents.

Launching Documents

With most documents, the Mac OS has an idea of what application created the document (if it was created on your Mac) or there’s a default application that’s designed to open it. In the latter case, you can usually double-click the application’s icon in the Finder and the document will launch in the application with which it is associated.

If you don’t want the document to launch in the application with which it’s associated—for instance, you’d prefer an RTF document to launch in Microsoft Word instead of TextEdit—then you can launch it by dragging that document to the application’s icon or tile in the Dock. If the icon becomes highlighted when you hover over the application’s icon, that means it can accept the document and attempt to launch it. Drop the document icon on the application icon and it’ll do just that.

Another way to launch a document is to Control+click the documents icon in the Finder. In the contextual menu that appears, you can then choose either the Open command or the Open With command, which, in turn, opens a submenu. In that submenu you can choose the application that you’d like to use to open the document—Mac OS X will start you off with some helpful options.

If you don’t see the application you want to use, you can choose Other in the contextual menu. That brings up a special dialog box that can be used to locate the application that you want to use to open this particular document; choose it in the Choose Application window and then click Open to attempt to open the document with the selected application.

Saving Documents

Once you’ve gotten an application launched and you’ve made some changes, the next step is to save that document frequently. (This is also true if you’ve recently created a new document.)

As with most any modern operating system, the Mac has standardized the way you save a document—you’ll do it by choosing File, Save from the application’s menu bar or by pressing Command+S. If this document already has a name, then invoking the Save command will save any changes that you’ve made to that document.

If the document doesn’t already have a name then you’ll be asked to give it one and to choose a location for it. You’ll do that via the Save dialog box (or dialog sheet) that appears when you invoke the Save command.

In the Save dialog, you can enter a name for the file. Then, in the Where menu, you can choose a location on your hard disk (or connected volumes) where you’d like the file to be stored. If a suitable location doesn’t appear in the menu, you can click the triangle icon to reveal the rest of the Save dialog, which includes an interface that’s a little like the Finder’s Columns view, in that it lets you maneuver to any folder on your hard disk (see Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 The full Save dialog sheet includes a Columns-like interface.

With the location chosen, you can choose the file format (in some cases) or make other application-specific choices toward the bottom of the dialog box. Finally, click the Save button to save the document, or the Cancel button if you’ve decided to change your mind.

Most applications have another Save command, called Save As, which is used to take an existing document and save it (and any changes you’ve made to it) using another name. So, you could open the file Sales_Report_Draft, make some changes and save it as Sales_Report_Final, for instance. To do that, just choose the File, Save As command. The Save dialog box will appear and you can choose a new name and location for the document that you’ll be saving.

Closing Documents

When you’re done with a document, you may want to close it to get it out of the way or simply for safekeeping. That’s easily done. With the mouse pointer, you can click the Close button on a document window to close its window. If all goes well, it’ll disappear.

The Close button is cool, because it visually shows you when there are unsaved changes in a document—you’ll see a small black dot if there are unsaved changes. Even if there are unsaved changes, you can still click it—you’ll be prompted to save the changes and, if the document is unnamed, you’ll see a Save dialog box that enables you to name it and choose a location.

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