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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Date: 7th August 2011

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OS X Lion: Where's Auto Save put my file?

Auto Save is one of the new features in OS X Lion and it is meant to make life simpler and easier by doing away with the need to manually save files. In applications written to take advantage of the feature (it doesn't work unless they are), you never need to save. Just quit the application when you are done and that's it.

Although it makes some things easier, it also adds unnecessary complications too. Try this: Start TextEdit and type in a sentence or two, then quit. Start TextEdit again and there's your document, but where did Lion save it? How do you copy it to another Mac, email it. How do you even delete it if you don't know where it is?

In the example with TextEdit we can discover where the file is using Spotlight. Click the magnifying glas in the top right corner to display the search box. We don't know what the file is called so we can't search on the filename, but since Spotlight indexes the contents of TextEdit files, we can enter a few words that are in the document.

I entered This is a TextEdit document and entering this into Spotlight produced a list of files (some of the words appear in other files). Mousing over Unsaved TextEdit Document showed that it was the right one. Clicking it will open it of course, which doen't help to locate it, but Command+clicking it opens a Finder window to show its location: /Users /YourName /LibraryContainers /com.apple.TextEdit /Data /Library /Autosave Information

Now you know where TextEdit saves its files. It might be worth checking the /Users/YourName/LibraryContainers folder next time you lose a document.

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