Mountain Lion arrives

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Up close with Mountain Lion: Auto Save

Auto Save—a feature introduced with Lion that allowed you to browse back through previously saved versions of a document much like you retrieve files from a Time Machine backup—gains new, improved capabilities in Mountain Lion. In the Lion version of Auto Save, you could click on the title of a document and choose to lock, duplicate, revert to last saved version, or browse all versions of the file. In Mountain Lion this Auto Save menu becomes more useful.

In addition to those Duplicate, Lock, and Browse All Versions options, you'll now find commands for renaming and moving files as well as for retrieving the last saved version of your file. Which of those commands you see depends on whether you’ve already saved the file and where you’ve saved it to.

Saving to iCloud

For example, if you were to create a TextEdit document and type a single character, the file’s title would have the words Untitled — Edited appended to it. Edited means that your file has been automatically saved to iCloud—without you having to go through the motions of invoking a Save command. This is useful, should TextEdit inexplicably quit without you having saved changes.

When you save the file you have the option to save it on iCloud (provided you have an iCloud account and have granted your Mac access to it) or to your Mac. (Interesting tidbit: TextEdit will claim that it has saved your document to iCloud even if you don’t have an active Internet connection. Obviously, the file is stored locally as it can’t be put online. However, once you do establish an Internet connection, the file is automatically moved to iCloud.)

The title drop-down menu also allows you to easily move files in the cloud to your Mac and vice versa: Just choose Move To iCloud if the file’s on your Mac or Move To if the file’s in the cloud and then select a destination on your Mac. Note that when you do this, the file disappears from its current location (which is why the command is Move rather than Copy.) If you’ve chosen to move it from iCloud, for example, it’s now available only on your Mac.

If you save a file and then edit it without saving, you can choose to revert back to the last saved version by choosing the Last Opened command from this menu. If you’ve saved the file more than once and want to find a version older than the last save, invoke the Browse All Versions command, which brings up the familiar-to-every-Lion-user’s Time Machine interface. (Though, to be clear, the file’s previous versions aren’t actually stored in Time Machine, but rather on your Mac.)

Auto Save menu
The Auto Save menu changes, depending on if you've already saved the document and where you saved it.

The Rename command is one final convenience offered by this menu. Select it, and the name in the title bar will be highlighted. Type in a new name, hit the Return key, and your document will bear a new name.

Attractive those these features may be, the one that’s likely to be welcomed by the greatest number of people is the return of the Save As command. Under Lion, those wanting to save a copy of a file under a different name had to duplicate the file and rename it. Now, in Mountain Lion, you can hold down the Option key and choose Save As from the File menu (or press Shift-Command-Option-S). Regrettably, the familiar Shift-Command-S shortcut that once invoked Save As is stubbornly reserved for Duplicate.

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