Difference between Save and Save As

Published on July 23, 2016

Most of us have probably come across both these terms in our everyday computer lives. And judging by their names and intent, it leads us to the question ‘why do we need the two?’ While some people may already know the answer to this one, not all are so tech-savvy.


Save vs Save As
Diskette: The universal icon for the ‘save’ function for programs.


When writing an essay on MS Word, designing images on Photoshop, or even having fun with your games, you’ll almost always come across the ‘save’ function on your menu. So what does it do?

The quick answer would be preserving changes on your work. However, if you don’t have a previous ‘save file’, then it will prompt you to saving your work on a new file and you’ll get to name that file.

The more detailed answer on the other hand would be replacing your ‘existent’ save file with a new one with changes you might have applied to your save file. Meaning if you opened up a save file, then made changes on it, then those changes would now be applied to your previous ‘save file’, but if and only if you performed the ‘save’ function. Otherwise, those changes would not take effect and your ‘save file’ would still remain unchanged.

Save As

Same as ‘Save’, but it does things a little differently.

The quick answer would be saving your new or existing ‘save file’ to a new ‘save file’. It will always prompt you for the name of the file when doing the function ‘save as’. It simply means saving your work in a new file.

The more detailed answer is that this function is used for ‘new’ documents or files. It will prompt you to save and name your file. Take note however, it may be the proper function in saving new documents, but it can also be efficient in saving changes for an ‘existent save file’ to a new file. Meaning if you want to make changes on your existing save file, but want to keep the original document, then the function ‘save as’ would be the appropriate action to preserve those changes to a new save file. That way, you’ll get to keep both save files, one with the changes you’ve made and one that is the original.

Save vs Save As

What’s the difference between save and save as? While both basically have the same function in any possible program, they do have these subtle differences that make them both necessary functions for users.

For starters, ‘save’ and ‘save as’ save changes to your ‘file’ differently. With the ‘save’ function, you’ll get to apply changes to your ‘opened file’. This means the original file would take on whatever changes you’ve made with the file. The ‘save as’ function on the other hand, would save your changes done, but to a new ‘save file’ and not the original. This means you’ll get to keep the original file.

Let us say you opened up a file named ‘Joe’. Now clicking on the function ‘save’, it would save any changes made with the filename ‘Joe’. Clicking on ‘Save as’ however will take you to a new window and will let you enter a new filename, let’s say ‘Jill’. With the ‘save’ function, in the end you’ll only have one single file named ‘Joe’, while with the ‘save as’ function, you’ll get to have two files named ‘Joe’ (unchanged) and ‘Jill’ (changed).

Another difference would be their existence in programs. While the function ‘save’ may appear on some programs, the ‘save as’ does not, and vice versa. Take ‘Snipping Tool’ in MS Windows for example, it only contains the function ‘save as’ in the menu. It does however have an icon for ‘save snip’ but let’s face it, it’s just a shortened ‘save as’ function.

So in conclusion, the function ‘save’ will make changes to your current file, while the ‘save as’ function will prompt you to name a new file with the original file and its changes. That being said, take care in using the ‘save’ function because you might not be able to recover the original content that’s been changed. There is an‘UNDO’ function however, but it can only undo a number of the changes made.

Note: On programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Photoshop, ‘save’ and ‘save as’ serve as the same function when saving a new document. It will always prompt you to name the saved file.

Comparison Chart

SaveSave As
Frequently used to prevent losing changesUsed to create a new file and/or preserve original file (Backup file)
Used to apply changes to your current fileUsed to apply changes on a new file
Loss of content from original filePreserving original file (If file is saved with a new file name)


Here is a video explaining the differences between save and save as.