MacMost Now 754: Moving and Renaming Files in Mountain Lion

Lion and now Mountain Lion have changed the way commands in the File menu work. While many people are having difficulty adjusting, the new commands actually offer more functionality and make it easier to rename, move and duplicate files while working with the document inside an app.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 754: Moving and Renaming Files in Mountain Lion.

Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let's look at different ways that you can move, rename, and duplicate files in Mountain Lion.

Now for long time, up until Lion, the basic functions of handling files like renaming them, moving them, remained about the same. Now with Lion things changed, especially in the File Menu and with Mountain Lion they changed again. Now a lot of people feel that some functionality has been removed or things have changed and they are not the way they like them. But in fact, in Mountain Lion you have more options than ever before. It is just a matter of learning how to use them and seeing which functions you want to use to be able to manipulate your files. Let's take a look at all the different ways you can do things.

So in the Finder things are about the same as they have been for a long time. If you want to move a file from one folder to another you simply drag it there. And if you want to copy it to another folder you Option/Drag, hold the option key down and drag and it leaves the original in place and puts a copy there. If the other folder is on a separate hard drive, this one down here is on a different hard drive than this folder, then doing the move will do a copy. It assumes that you don't want to remove the file from this hard drive but instead want to put a copy there. Now you actually can reverse this today with Mountain Lion using the Command key. If I drag and hold the Command key down it will actually basically do the same thing but it will delete the original and in effect it actually moves the file to another hard drive.

Now to rename a file there are many ways to do it. The way I like is to select a file hit return and then you can start typing a new file name. You can also, after the file is selected and you waited long enough so it is not a double click, you can click again on the name itself and change the file name. So that is how you change the file name.

You can duplicate the file in the same folder by using Command D or its File Duplicate right there. And you get another one with a slightly different file name as they both can't exist with the same file name. You can change this one to what you want.

When you are editing a file you have several different options. It used to be that all you could really do was select Save which would just save the current version over the previous version or you could do Save As which would allow you to choose a new location and a new name if you wish for the same file. Now you can do a lot more.

Go to the File menu and you've got all sorts of things in here. For instance, you can still do Save. Save actually saves a version using a modern Mountain Lion app. So for instance if you use TextEdit or Pages or one of the other iWork apps it would actually save a version which means you would have a history there. That's a whole different subject but you don't have to use Save to actually save something.

For instance, here without using save I can type another line and quit. And then if I were to run TextEdit again it would resume and you can see it actually remembered I typed that even though I did not actually save it. It is not actually saving it when you quit it is actually saving it as you work. So even if somebody trips over your power cord it's going to remember all but maybe the last second of what you have been working on.

You also have some other options. For instance, say you want to rename a file. In Mountain Lion you can actually do it while the file is open, something you couldn't do before. So you can hit Rename and see how it selects the file name here at the top. So I can actually change it now, and it basically equivalent to doing a Save As in the same location but with a different file name. I didn't have to mess with a new save file dialog box I just changed the name.

Another thing you could do, is that you could do Move To. So again this is with the file actually open. I can go and choose a different location for the file. So in my Documents folder I can say put it right at the top of the Documents folder. Now that's actually where it is located. So if I were to go back into the Finder you can see here it is no longer at Home Docs. I go to the top level of the Documents folder and it has now moved there. I never had to go into the Finder, I never had to do a Save As and put it in a new location and delete the original. I actually did the move with just that simple command.

So, what about Duplicate. You can actually duplicate the file with it open. It will create a second version of it here. So you still have the original and now you have another document open there and when I first go to save this one it is going to ask me where I want to save it to. So I don't actually have to go into the Finder, duplicate the file, and open the file up. I can do that all with just File Duplicate.

So far what we have seen is with Mountain Lion you can duplicate a file which previously you would have had to actually go into the Finder and duplicate it and then open it up. You can also change the name of a file. Previously you would have had to Save As and then go back and delete the original and you can Move To where you would have had to use Save As before and then go back and delete the original.

But what happens if you want to duplicate the file with a new name and possibly a new location. That is exactly what Save As did before and you can do it now under Mountain Lion as well. The key here is the Save As function is hidden under File. You hold down the option key and you can see the Duplicate changes to Save As. This works just like Save As did in Snow Leopard and before.

So in the past, if we wanted to duplicate a file, rename a file, move a file or any combination of those from within the document editing window we had to use Save As and then basically use the Finder to clean up whichever functions we did not want. Now with Mountain Lion, you can actually do all of those individually without having any clean up at all. And if you want to do all those at once you can still access the Save As function.

So with Mountain Lion you've got more options than ever before. It is just a matter of figuring out how they work and which of those functions work the best with the things that you want to do.

Now you can also do a lot of this in the title bar of a document. So for instance here we have the title bar and I click on it and I get Rename, Move To, and Duplicate right here at the top. Choose rename for instance and it is very easy to focus right in on renaming the file. It works the same way as the options in File menu, just a little easier to access. In many cases you may not want to do any of that while working with the document and you simple close the document and do it in the Finder as you may have done it before.

Also keep in mind, of course, that all of these new functions are dependent on the app itself being updated for Mountain Lion. So if you are using an older app, say like Microsoft Office, that was last updated for Snow Leopard well you only have the old Save and Save As functions. But if you are using something updated say like Pages, Numbers, Sketchbook Pro, things like that you've got all of the new functions that I have just demonstrated.

So I hope you found this useful. This is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 27 Responses to “MacMost Now 754: Moving and Renaming Files in Mountain Lion”

    7 years ago

    Why does Apple have to %$*! with everything that users already know? This makes no sense. Is there any way to change Duplicate to Save As permanently without having to know the secret?

    And who on Earth would EVER think, hmmmmm, how do I save this document? I know… Duplicate! The word Duplicate should not even be involved.

    And how about if you’ve made a bunch of changes to a document and you realize after an hour of working that you messed something up, say in a spreadsheet, and your only option is to close without saving and reopen the original. No can do, buddy, all your changes are saved for you!

    How can you turn off the autosave by default feature? or have it save both the original and the current versions?

    File management is one area where Windows excels and Apple has a LOT to learn!

      7 years ago

      Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc are always looking to improve. Otherwise, we’d all still be using Apple OS and DOS.
      Duplicate will duplicate the file. So why do you suggest using it to “save” the file?
      If you “messed up” then you now have Versions that you can use to recover. You didn’t have that before. You wouldn’t have that if Apple didn’t try to improve. So you see, change can be useful.
      You ARE saving the original and current versions. That’s what “versions’ does. Check out to learn more about it. I think you are missing the power of this great feature — and it seems that it is exactly what you are looking for.

      Marilyn Norton
      7 years ago

      Matt, are you nuts? I just listened the video describing the use and intent of the new File functions in Mountain Lion. They are so cool. I will use absolutely everyone of them and with a smile knowing that Apple again and still is ahead of Windows in functionality and ease of use. Perhaps you need to re-listen to this video of Macmost 574 and try using it, I know I will day to day!

      frans van schie
      7 years ago

      I agree totally

    Stephen Magladry
    7 years ago

    WARNING: There is currently a bug with Save as… or at least a change in behavior from before.

    Under Snow Leopard, a Save as… would leave the original untouched. Currently with Mountain Lion Save as… also saves the changes to the original file. This is a change in behavior from before were the original file remained untouched.

    Apple is supposedly working on a fix for this. There were some rumor at this would come out in 10.8.1 but it did not arrive.

      7 years ago

      Not sure this is a bug. Think about how this works. You work on file A (previously saved). You close file A. Changes are saved.
      Then: You work on file A. You do a Save As. This creates a new file B, closing file A. The changes to file A are saved just as if you closed it normally.
      If you want to revert to an earlier version of file A, just open it and revert to an earlier version. The Versions feature is great for this.
      Or, adjust your process. Use duplicate instead of Save As. Then use versions to revert file A back to whatever state you wanted. Then save B as the alternate version.

    7 years ago

    This introduces needless complexity to the process as evidenced by this discussion and your need to create new videos to teach people how to use systems that they already knew how to use. The terminology makes no sense, and no I’m even MORE confused about how I would revert back to the original “Version” of a file if, after having edited it for a while, I realized I wanted to scrap everything and go back. Not to mention the needless, albeit probably small, amount of space on the hard drive that is taken up by all these incremental saves along the way. How many Versions are there? How do I know which one was the one I started with when I opened the file? I should be able to work on a file and commit the changes upon hitting the save button. It can be autosaving the whole time, just in case I forget to save, but if I choose NOT to save the changes and close the file, then the next time I open the file, I should not see any of the changes that were made. It certainly is not intuitive.

    7 years ago

    More specifically to address the word Duplicate. This is my understanding of the concept.
    Save: Save the current changes to the original file
    Save As: Save the current changes to a new file name, preserving the original.
    Duplicate: Duplicate the current (edited) version of the file.

    Why would anyone want to duplicate something they already have a copy of so that they can have two identical copies? I suppose, if the very first thing you do before you begin editing is to Duplicate and THEN start editing, you are working on a once removed file. If, however, you make all your edits and they are being saved the whole time and THEN you Duplicate, now you have two of the same file with different names, which makes no sense to me.

      7 years ago

      That’s just how you are using it. People use things differently.
      I would use Duplicate to create an invoice. I open the last invoice I created, Duplicate, then put the new invoice info into the new document and save.
      Sounds like you want to make changes first, then create the duplicate. Others want to duplicate first, then make changes. What makes one better than the other? One example: With the old method, you could make your changes, and then power goes out before you save. You just lost your changes. With the new method, that could not happen.

        7 years ago

        That’s how I use it, even with save as.
        Thanks Gary!

    7 years ago

    Matt, has any one mentioned before that watching your videos adds to the Mac’s experience, you are an essential piece of our knowledge. Thank you so much sir for the time and efforts you are putting, to make our Mac experience better, keep up the good work.

    7 years ago

    I guess it is the innate difference between a Windows and Mac user. Coming from a Windows world where I learned all the ins and outs of file management that made sense to me, just as with real documents in real life, with file cabinets, I think of the computer as a tool on which I can use applications. I sort of think of the file management and the application separately.

    I have seen non-techie users who started with Macs as their first machines treat their machine as a collection of applications through which they access everything. I find this to be a limiting and backwards way of thinking, but I can see how a person who is a beginner would find this approach easier. I know a co-worker who has to know what type of document they are opening beforehand so they can open the correct application and then click File-Open, whereas I would navigate to the location of the file and double click it to open into whatever application created it.

    Gary, I do greatly appreciate your videos. I knew of you from Leo Laporte’s shows and when I made the switch to Mac you were one of my first visits. I’ve watched a lot of your videos and they are great. I knew I was getting on an ever-changing train when I bought my first Mac. I just find it troubling when I need to perform what should be the simplest of tasks on my machine and run into problems of basic comprehension of how a function should work based my previous understanding.

      7 years ago

      Thanks. (Never on any of Leo Laporte’s shows, though. Well, once I was on for 10 minutes when he was broadcasting live from a conference).

    7 years ago

    What great tips. It will make my upgrade to Mountain Lion more useful!

    Frank Grimaldi
    7 years ago

    In Lion you use to be able to mail the page or link that you were looking at directly from the file menu. It seems to have move to the Share menu but only to email the page not the link. I like mailing the link only, how do we send just mail the link in Mountain Lion. It seems like Apple deleted a very useful selection.

      7 years ago

      It is still there. There are just many more options. Use the Share, Email function. Then, when the message opens in Mail, look for the pop-up menu “Send Web Content As” on the right side of the mail window. Change it to “link only” and there you go. It even remembers this setting so it will default to it next time. You can also choose “PDF” as a handy option.

    7 years ago

    I’m seeing nearly no difference between the current “Save As” and “Duplicate” functionalities.

    Using “Save As” after making changes, it automatically closes the original, edited document and saves those changes to the original. This is immediate and requires you to immediately choose where to save the duplicate and what to name it.

    Using “Duplicate” after making changes leaves the original open and copies it into a new window, which you can save to any location with any name upon closing.

    The only difference between these two seems to be that for “Save As” you have to choose the specifics of the new file immediately and for “Duplicate” you may wait until you close the new document. Also, for “Duplicate” you have a more immediate chance to revert to the previous version, before closing rather than opening it up after the fact.

    I am very happy with most of what Apple has done with file management in Mountain Lion, but I do wish the “Save As” functionality would immediately revert the original document because as it is now there is little use for “Save As” in the presence of “Duplicate”. If they fix this in an update to Mountain Lion I will be very pleased, but I do not feel as jarred as others by this change.

    For anyone interested in exploring more, MacWorld has a piece on this in more detail, featuring a couple solutions including enabling the “Ask To Keep Changes When Closing Documents” option in System Preferences and one a bit more extreme. Here’s the link:

    P.S. Gary, you have great videos on just about everything, keep it up! Also, don’t think of the link as an alternative to your site as much as an example of the great collaboration the people of the internet can provide.

    S Keene
    7 years ago

    I think the new interface is a lot more complex. “Save as” additionally allowed you to save as a different file type – thank goodness it’s back – so it included a whole lot of functions under one menu item. For some that might be bad, for me it was useful. A lot of the learning curve is finding out and remembering where commands are in menu systems. For me, the new system only does what was possible before using one command but now uses many more. I’d love to see the user test results if comparisons were run.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    I thought this was the video about when you save files in a hard drive,and when you move them out it used to leave the original document still in the hard drive.
    You did something to show how you moved a file from the hard drive without leaving the one still in the hard drive. I did not know this so i just kept on emptying them to the trash. The other thing that confuses me is the Option key,and Alt key are the same. I have tried to get sticky labels with the name on. Can you tell me which video it was Gary.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    I think thats the video i was looking for,and i will just check it out Gary.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    Yes thats the video i was looking for. How do you download it,and how much is it.Gary.

      7 years ago

      Not sure what you mean. Video for what, precisely?

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    MacMost now 754: Moving and Naming Files in Mountain Lion.
    Thats the name of the video i was talking about, because i can understand what you are talking about, you have made it easy for me to understand Gary.

    Mr Anthony Cotton
    7 years ago

    Yes i found this very useful thanks a lot Gary.

    6 years ago

    Did Apple change clicking in the name of the file twice to get just the name to hilight, so overtyping will rename it?

    With MtLion, that function quit working for me, now I have to go via Get Info.

    I thought it might be the double click speed, but changing that to anything in the allowed range doesn’t help.

    I thought it might be USB Overdrive (which I’ve long found invaluable) but taking that out doesn’t help.

    What else haven’t I thought of?

      6 years ago

      Clicking once, waiting, and then clicking again works fine for me in Mountain Lion. Of course that isn’t the primary way people edit file names. Usually, they click once to select the file, then press Return to edit it. Try that.

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