How to save a document

Updated: 06/22/2018 by Computer Hope

While working on a document, spreadsheet, or any other file, you should be saving the file in case something happens while working on it. This page helps explain the process of saving a file and how to save a file to an alternate location, if needed.


With some programs and most online services, the program or website saves your work automatically. If none of the steps below apply to the program you are using, it is likely automatically saving as you work.

Save using the keyboard shortcut

All programs support the keyboard shortcut to save a document. To save a file using a shortcut, press either Ctrl+S on a PC or Command+S on an Apple computer. If supported, the program will either save the file as its existing name or open a save window for a new file.

Saving using the File menu

Most programs also support the option to saving the file through the File Menu. Clicking File either at the top of the program window or the top of the screen should give you a menu that allows you to Save the document.

How to save from a toolbar

All programs with toolbars have a Save icon that may resemble any of the below icons, which are of a floppy diskette. Clicking the save icon in the toolbar opens the save window for new files or saves changes to the existing file if it already exists.

Save icons

Understanding how Save works

When you are working on a new file and use either of the above options to save the file, a save window will open. You can name the file and select where to save the file on your computer using that save window. After this information is entered and you click the Save button, the file is saved. If you make changes to the file and save it again later, the file name and location of the file on the computer remains the same.

If you have opened an existing file or want to change the file name or file location, you need to choose the Save As option. The Save As option provides the save window and allows you to change the file name and file location. If any of this information is changed and you continue to work on the file, any subsequent saves are saved to the new file name and location.


If you use the Save As option and change the file name or location, you'll have two copies of the file. Unless you are doing this as a method of backup, you can save yourself confusion by deleting the old file from the computer. Otherwise, realize that you have two files on the computer that resemble each other, but they are not the same.

Changing the type of file

The type of file can also be changed when using the Save As option. For example, in Microsoft Word you can save a file as a .docx, .odt, .rtf, .txt, or .xml file, as well as multiple other file types.


When changing the type of file to another format, you may lose formatting. For example, changing a .docx to a plain text .txt file causes all formatting to be lost, including bold, underline, and italics formatting.


You can only change the type of file to a format supported by the program. For example, you cannot change a .txt file into a .jpg file because they are two completely different types of files. If you want to change the type of file, the program must support the file's current format and the new format.

What to name the file

Today, almost all programs support long file names, and the file name can contain any alphanumeric character and many special characters, except those shown below. It is a good idea to name the file as something that relates to the file. For example, if the file is your résumé, it would be a good idea to mention it in the file name with the year it was created.


If your file has multiple revisions, it is also a good idea to include the month and date of the file in the file name. For example, if you named the file "2006-03-resume" and you had multiple résumés from different years and months, you can sort the files and find the version you wanted.

Invalid file name characters

/ \ : * ? " < > |

Change where to save the file

When saving a file for the first time or choosing the Save As option, you can specify where you want to save the file. When saving the file, you can browse to a different location in the save window that appears. For example, you could select another folder or drive on the computer if you want to save to a different destination.


You may also save a file to the Windows desktop by selecting the Desktop option on the left side of the Save As window.


After a file is saved, you can also copy the file or move the file to a different folder or drive on the computer.