Saving Documents in Mac OS X


When you use applications, you will also be saving documents frequently. Fortunately, Save sheets under Mac OS X version 10.3, like Open dialog boxes, have been redesigned to be more consistent with Finder windows.

The specific Save sheet or dialog box you see depends on the application you are using. Cocoa and some carbonized applications use the Save sheet that is described in this section. Some carbonized and all Classic applications use the older Save dialog boxes from Mac OS 9.

A typical Mac OS X Save sheet is shown in Figure 6.21.

Figure 6.21. Under Mac OS X, the Save sheet sticks to the current document's window; it looks and works similarly to the Open dialog box.


Mac OS X Save sheets are a good example of the dialog type called sheets. A sheet drops down from the top of the document window you are saving. Unlike the Open dialog box, the Save dialog box is attached to the top of the window and therefore moves when you move the document window.


The size of a sheet is fixed, but you can still resize the document to which it is attached. In fact, you can make the document so small that it is completely hidden behind the sheet, but I wouldn't recommend it.

The sheet contains the Save As text box in which you enter the filename. If you click the Expand/Collapse button, the sheet expands so you see a window that is very similar to the Open dialog box you learned about in the previous section. If you click this button again, you see the collapsed version of the sheet.


One of the benefits of a sheet is that an open sheet will not prevent you from working with other documents, even within the same application. The sheet stays with the document to which it is attached. You can open, work with, and save other documents without closing the sheet.

Save sheets and Open dialog boxes look and work very similarly, but a couple of items on Save sheets aren't on Open dialog boxes so you need to pay attention to them.

One is the Format pop-up menu, which is sometimes called File Format depending on the application in which you are working. You use this pop-up menu to choose the format of the file you are saving.

The other is the Hide Extension check box. If you check this box, the filename extension is hidden. If you uncheck this box, which I recommend that you do, the filename extension is shown in the Save As box. Because filename extensions are important clues about how a document will open, you should generally choose to display them.

Some applications (such as Microsoft Office X) work in an opposite way: Instead of the Hide Extension check box, their Save sheets include the "Append file extension" check box. When this box is checked, the filename extension is added to the file's name.


Creating a new folder in the Save As sheet can be a bit confusing. The new folder is created in the currently selected directory, which is shown in the Location pop-up menu. Because viewing multiple levels of the hierarchy using the Columns view controls is easy, you might be creating a new folder in a location you didn't realize you had selected. Before using that command, double-check the Location pop-up menu to ensure that you have selected the correct location in which to create the new folder.

In some applications' Save As sheet, you will see additional controls, such as an Options button that enables you to configure options for the file format you have selected.

Understanding Filenames and Filename Extensions

An important aspect of saving documents under Mac OS X is that it uses filename extensions. Filename extensions consist of a period and three or more characters that are added to the end of the filename. When you save a document, most Cocoa and carbonized applications automatically append the correct filename extension for the type of file you are saving. Mac OS X uses the filename extension to associate the file with a particular application.

The addition of filename extensions to Mac filenames can be confusing because one of the Mac's strengths has traditionally been the lack of such extensions. However, because most applications tack the appropriate filename extension onto the filename you enter automatically, you generally don't have to worry about them.


In fact, if an extension is left off a filename, the Mac still uses the file creator and type information to open the file in a compatible application. However, you should include filename extensions for all documents you save.

Most Mac OS X files have a filename extension, including documents, system resources, and so on. In fact, a bewildering number of filename extensions exist under Mac OS X, and because it is based on the Unix operating system, Mac filename extensions are not limited to a certain number of characters. However, most document filename extensions consist of three or four characters. Some examples are shown in Table 6.2.

Table 6.2. Examples of Mac Document Filename Extensions

Filename Extension

What It Stands For

Default ApplicationAssociated with It



QuickTime Player


Tagged Interchange File Format



Rich Text Formatted Document



Rich Text Format


.jpg or .jpeg

Joint Photographic Experts Group



Portable Document Format



Hypertext Markup Language

Default Web browser (such as Safari)


Microsoft Word Document



Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet



Motion Picture Experts Group, Audio Layer 3


System Filename Extensions

Although dealing with document filename extensions is fairly straightforward, dealing with system filename extensions can get really ugly. Some are straightforward, such as .app for applications and .dock for docklings, but many seem to be gibberish. Usually, you can just take system filename extensions as they are (because you can't change them), and sometimes you can even figure out what they stand for. For example, the .kext filename extension stands for kernel extension, which is an extension to the operating system software.

One system filename extension that is useful to know is .plist. It indicates a preference file, as in loginwindow.plist, which is the preferences for the Login window.

At the top of the Save sheet, you enter the filename you want to use. Under Mac OS X, you can use long filenames?up to 255 characters, including the filename extension and the period between the filename extension and the filename itself (so be sure to allow room for the filename extension when you enter a filename). When you save a document in many applications, the appropriate filename extension is added to the filename automatically (you won't see it if the Hide Extension check box is checked). As mentioned previously, in some applications, you have to check a box to add the filename extension to the filename.

If you intend to share your files with people who use Mac OS 9.1 or earlier, you need to keep the name under 31 characters, including the filename extension the application will add to the name you enter.

If you want to share your files with Windows computer users, you need to ensure that the filename extension used is comprehensible to Windows PCs.


Some applications provide a File Format pop-up menu in the Save As sheet that you can use to choose the file format in which you want to save the document. Sometimes, the options on it are disabled. In such cases, look for the Save To command. This command enables you to save one file type to another type. The Save To dialog box looks and works exactly as the Save As sheet does, except that the options on the File Format pop-up menu are enabled.

Viewing or Hiding Filename Extensions

Under Mac OS X, you have the option to view or hide filename extensions. However, filename extensions are usually used whether you can see them or not. Generally, I recommend that you always view them because they provide valuable information.

You can choose to hide filename extensions for specific files, or you can set the Finder to always display filename extensions for all files (regardless of the filename extension setting for a specific file).

You can show or hide the filename extensions for specific files by using the following steps:

  1. In a Finder window, select the file for which you want to hide the filename extension.

  2. Open the Info window.

  3. Expand the Name & Extension section.

  4. Check the "Hide extension" check box. (To show the extension for a file, uncheck this box.)

  5. Close the Info window.


You can edit a file's name and filename extension in the box in the Name & Extension pane of the Info window.

To override the filename extension display setting for every file, use the following steps:

  1. Open the Finder Preferences window.

  2. Click the Advanced button to make the Advanced pane appear.

  3. Check the "Show all file extensions" check box.

  4. Close the Finder Preferences window.

Filename extensions will always be shown, regardless of the "Hide extension" check box in the Info window.

Under most applications, the filename extension status (hidden or not) for specific files is saved, even when you use the Finder preferences to always display filename extensions. If you turn off "Show all file extensions" again, the filename extensions for any files you have hidden become hidden again.

Some applications, especially carbonized applications such as Office X, don't automatically add filename extensions unless the appropriate check box is checked in the Save sheet.

Saving Documents As PDFs

One of the many benefits of Mac OS X is that the Portable Document Format (PDF) is a native format. This means you can create a PDF from any application without using Adobe's Acrobat or Distiller (although those tools offer some special features that are not available to Mac OS X natively).

PDF documents are useful for two primary reasons. First, they retain their appearance regardless of the fonts and applications installed on the viewing computer. Second, PDF documents can be viewed natively in Mac OS X (using the Preview application) or by Adobe's free Acrobat Reader application (which is available for all platforms). These reasons make PDF the ideal format for distributing and viewing documents electronically.

PDFs also retain their formatting when they are printed. This makes PDF a good way to distribute documents that you know the recipient will want in hard copy. You can email a PDF and the receiver can print it. Unlike faxing, in which the document format degrades significantly, when the recipient prints the PDF, it will look as good as it does when you send it.

An additional benefit to PDFs is that they can't be easily modified. When you send a PDF to someone, he will have a difficult time changing it (it can't be changed at all without special tools). So, PDFs are also a good way to secure documents you provide to others.

To learn more about working with PDFs, see "Working with PDFs," p. 774.

To create a PDF version of a document, you use the Print command to "print" the document to a PDF file:

  1. Create your document using the appropriate application.

  2. Save the document.

  3. Select File, Print to open the Print sheet.


    You probably noticed that the Print dialog box is also a sheet. This means you can leave it open and work with other documents in the same or different applications.

  4. Click Save As PDF.

  5. Use the Save to File sheet to name the file and choose a location.

  6. Click Print.

A PDF file is created in the location you specify. This document can be viewed using the Preview application or with Adobe's free Acrobat Reader.

To learn more about printing documents, see "Finding, Installing, and Using Printers," p. 759.


You can also choose to print documents in the PostScript file format. To do this, open the Print sheet and select Output Options on the Options pop-up menu. Click the Save as File check box and choose the format in which you want to save the file on the Format pop-up menu. The other option on this menu is PDF, which does the same thing as the Save As PDF button.

Faxing Documents


Under Mac OS X version 10.3, you can fax documents from within the application you use to edit those documents:

  1. Prepare the document you want to fax.

  2. Select File, Print to open the Print sheet.

  3. Click Fax, and the Fax sheet appears (see Figure 6.22).

    Figure 6.22. Using the Fax sheet, you can fax any document you can open.


  4. Enter the fax number in the To box or click the Address Book button to choose a fax number from your Address Book.

    To learn how to use the Address Book, see "Setting Up and Using an Address Book," p. 330.

  5. Type the subject in the Subject box.

  6. If you need to dial a prefix to connect to the fax number you entered in step 2, enter it in the Dialing Prefix box.

  7. Choose the modem by which you want to send the fax on the Modem pop-up menu. In most cases, you will use the Internal Modem option, but you can use any fax device that is configured on your Mac.

  8. With Fax Cover Page selected on the Options pop-up menu, check the Cover page check box if you want to include a cover page on the fax.

  9. If you elected to use a cover page, enter its text in the box.

  10. Use the other choices on the Options pop-up menu as needed. For example, to configure the modem, select Modem.

  11. To preview your fax, click the Preview button. The fax opens in the Preview application.

  12. Click Fax to fax the document to the recipients you selected.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Life