Saving files in Word X for Mac
April 9, 2005 3:00 PM   Subscribe

Is there some way to change Word's default file save location?

When I save changes to an existing file, I expect Word to save it in the same folder where I opened it. Instead, it saves it in the folder where I last saved some other file. This means that unless I remember to Save As, I inadvertantly save copies of files in the wrong folders. ALL DAY LONG. Is there some way to change this behavior? I looked under Preferences, but no luck.
posted by ottereroticist to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
I should add that I'm using Word X for Mac.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:02 PM on April 9, 2005

Well in Windows you choose Tools --> Options --> File Locations, and change the Documents setting.
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:10 PM on April 9, 2005

Right. I can do that to select a specific location, but then all files will be saved in the same folder.

I want to keep files for different projects in different folders, and save files in the same folders where I opened them.

That is how it works on the PC. Why is it different on the Mac? Is this normal behavior for Mac apps? (I'm new to Macs.) It seems broken to me.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:28 PM on April 9, 2005

I've seen all kinds of applications exhibiting this behavior on Windows too. Highly irritating. I feel your pain.
posted by grouse at 3:31 PM on April 9, 2005

My copy of Word for Mac doesn't do this, unless I'm misunderstsnding you, and I have many folders with different documents saved to them and one main save location in a folder called "writing". If I do a "save as," the file I'm working on will be saved to the "writing" folder. When I have a document open and choose command-S [for save file], or choose Save from the File menu, it just saves the changes right then, no dialog box to say "where do you want to save this?" nothing. So, I'm not sure why your situation is different, but I am confident that it can be made more like my situation where this problem doesn't happen. Can you explain more in-depth how you go about opening and saving your documents?
posted by jessamyn at 3:49 PM on April 9, 2005

jessamyn, do you save all your files in the Writing folder, then move them to the different folders?

I don't want to do this. I want to store files for different projects in different folders, and to have Word save them in the folder where I opened them.

I don't see the Save As dialog box when I go to save -- which is actually part of the problem. I have to remember to use Save As, otherwise Word silently saves my file to the folder where I last saved (which may well not be where that file belongs).

1. I work on File A and save it in the Project A folder.
2. I work on File B, which is located in the Project B folder.
3. When hit Ctrl-S, Word saves File B in the Project A folder, rather than in the Project B folder where it belongs.

I appreciate your confidence. I wish I shared it, but I don't have a high degree of optimism where the usability of Microsoft applications is concerned. But it does seem odd that this behavior is different for Word 2000 on the PC.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:27 PM on April 9, 2005

While it doesn't specifically solve the Word problem, keep in mind that the OS tries to make it easy to jump back to the last few folders you've used. In any Open/Save dialog, check the pulldown menu at the top and skim the set names appearing there under "Recent Places". With luck, one click can get you back to the folder that Word should have opened in the first place.

(yeah, it's a drag to have to remember to check locations each time, and for some bizarro reason Recent Places doesn't seem to think that the current location of the open file counts as a "recent place", but if you've been working on other files in that directory it at least saves you from having to retrace your steps yet again...)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:58 PM on April 9, 2005

The old way to do this used to be the "Start In:" box in the shortcut's Properties window. Go to the icon you use to start Word, then right-click it and choose Properties. You'll see a Target box, which should lead to something like Progam Files\Microsoft Office\bin\winword.exe (I don't know the exact spot, but you get the idea)

Then right below that, you have the Start In: box. Here's where you want to put the path to the directory that you'd like Word to show in the file dialogs. Type in something new, or paste it from another Explorer window, and hit OK.

Note, though, that there's really no gurantee that programs pay attention to this option any more. Some new microsoft programs refuse to go anywhere besides My Documents, despite what you put in this box. If that's the case, I found the easiest workaround was to put a shortcut to your desired location in the My Documents folder. At least this way you can double-click it once Word shows you your My Documents folder, and it'll redirect you to the right spot with a minimum of fuss.
posted by odinsdream at 5:08 PM on April 9, 2005

This doesn't make any sense, ottereroticist. You must be leaving a step out of your workflow.

If you open File B from the folder Project B, when you hit save it will save in exactly the same spot, no matter how many other files you have opened from other folders. Neither Word nor OS X "moves" files in the way you're describing.
posted by bcwinters at 5:09 PM on April 9, 2005

Oh dear, my apologies... this is not a question about Windows. Sorry!
posted by odinsdream at 5:09 PM on April 9, 2005

1. I work on File A and save it in the Project A folder.
2. I work on File B, which is located in the Project B folder.
3. When hit Ctrl-S, Word saves File B in the Project A folder, rather than in the Project B folder where it belongs.

If this is true, this is a extremely bad bug in Word itself. I can't imagine how this would get past their QA. I certainly can't reproduce it (in Office 2004 in 10.3.8). Are you sure there isn't something else going on?

It's possible some other software or settings are causing this problem. If you create a new user on your machine, log in as that user, and then use Word, does it do the same thing? Does the same thing happen on a different machine?

(Also, you mean command-S or apple-S, right? Mac apps don't use control keys for operations like this, and it doesn't look to me that Word uses control-S to save either.)
posted by xil at 5:11 PM on April 9, 2005

nakedcodemoney: That's helpful, thanks.

odinsdream: Your suggestion pertains to Windows; I'm using Word on a Mac. Thanks anyway.

bcwinters: I *know* it doesn't make any sense! Nevertheless, that is exactly what happens. I just tried it again to be sure.
posted by ottereroticist at 5:14 PM on April 9, 2005

So you're saying that if you open a file that's on the desktop, add a sentence, and hit save, the file *moves to an entirely different, arbitrary folder and is no longer on your desktop*?

This is not the behavior of any copy of Word I have ever used on any Mac. Or, really, of any application. I'm stumped.
posted by bcwinters at 5:32 PM on April 9, 2005

The "Save As..." behavior is consistent with what I get with Word X. But that "Save" behavior is, as bcwinters noted, not remotely standard. I've used Word for Mac since the version 4.* days, and "Save" has always overwritten my open files, not created new copies elsewhere.

You may have a corrupted preference. Try this: create a new user (System Preferences > Accounts), login as that user, and then test Word's behavior. If "Save" behaves properly there, then time to trash your Word prefs. Log back in to your account, quit Word, and delete this: ~/Library/Preferences/

Possibly also:
~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Word Settings
~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Microsoft Office Settings (10)

posted by nakedcodemonkey at 5:39 PM on April 9, 2005

Aha! I created a new account, and lo, the offending behavior did not occur.

Strangely, I also noticed that the Save As dialog looked different on the new account than it does on the old. The new one doesn't show the three-panel Finder-style folder hierarchy, nor does it offer the New Folder button. (I have screen shots if anyone is interested -- email me at ottereroticist at

I deleted my Word preferences as nakedcodemonkey suggested (all three of them), and Word appears to be behaving properly. However, I'm back to the old (short, lame) Save As dialog box.

I don't remember doing anything to change the Save As dialog box. And yet the long version was much more useful. The short one won't let me create a folder, or navigate to any folder that isn't in the drop-down list.

It's all very puzzling. In general, I've found that Macs are not quite as simple and intuitive as everybody says they are.

posted by ottereroticist at 6:08 PM on April 9, 2005

OK, I figured out the dialog box thing. By clicking the down arrow next to the file name, you get the larger version of the db.

Thanks Mefites!
posted by ottereroticist at 6:27 PM on April 9, 2005

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