Do You Use It? Versions

Agreed, adding complexity to make life simple isn’t logical. Life was so much easier when Apple trusted people to manage their own files and systems. I’ve never understood the reasoning behind the removal of Save As (which I’ve re-instated) and the entire Duplicate process has never made sense to me - I hate to think what new users would think.

My elderly mother (may she RIP) could barely manage a save; the duplicate process would have been enough to have her giving up altogether.


I only use it in Preview because it has no “Save As” function. I prefer “Save As” and use it in any program that still supports it, because the concept is so much clearer. I have a doc, I want a variation of the doc, I make some changes, “Save As…” and the doc is untouched, while the file I “Saved As…” becomes something new. Without the “Save As” I make changes, export the result, then revert to the last version before the changes. I find this Apple improvement to be be insane. I repeat, I only need versions because they took away “Save As”.


Or you could just make a copy of the original at the start and make your changes to the new copy.

‘Save As…’ has not disappeared as a possible menu command, but ‘Duplicate’ took its place in the File Menu. If you option-tap Duplicate, it will change to ‘Save As…’.

By the way, I made the change back when Apple introduced the menu change back in OSX Lion, and Iit has survived through Sonoma.

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You’re in luck! I wrote about how to bring back Save As many years ago. :-)

Howard Oakley has a nice piece on versions this morning.

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I have one device where “optimize disk storage” is off, and that’s the one hooked up to Time Machine. The others, I turn it on and try not to save anything that isn’t backed up to the cloud.

Hm. If “Revert to Last Saved” counts, then I use it a lot more than I thought.

I can understand how it is useful for Howard, who does extensive coding, even considering the time he has spent understanding how it works and dealing with its vagaries and bugs (like the one in 14.4). For many of us, though, good old Save As… is much simpler to understand and control. Apple should have made the new document model an option, as it is when we put Save As… back on the menu and Duplicate remains there as well.

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I didn’t know that versioning existed. When I checked my Microsoft Word documents it is not available—apparently with Microsoft 365 you must be using OneDrive which I’m not. I really wish that I had known about this when using Preview to edit images!

I can’t speak for Howard’s workflow, but for my own extensive software development, I’d never rely on something like Versions, which acts automatically on a per-file basis.

When I’m developing software, I may save a file dozens or hundreds of times while I’m working on it, to protect against my editor crashing or a power outage or something similar. But I don’t want the system to retain all of those saves (or auto-saves) as versions of the file, because none of those changes are useful until the work has progressed to a functional milestone. And even then, they usually only make sense in conjunction with many other files that are all being modified in order to implement a feature or fix a bug.

Instead, I use a version control system (today I’m using Git, but I’ve used many different packages in the past). This lets me track my changes over time, but in a way that works for software development:

  • When I “commit” files to a new revision, I name all the files that must go together for the logical revision. They are all associated together, so when I try to roll-back changes, I will either get them all or none of them.

  • There is a system of “branching”. For instance, maybe I’m working on version 3 of my app. But I’m still supporting version 2. So I can make a branch of the code, starting with the version I released as version 2. I can make changes to the version 2 branch without those changes affecting version 3.

    I can switch between the version 2 branch and the version 3 branch at will, and the revision control system will automatically add/remove/change all the files needed to change my development environment between the most recent files on each branch.

  • There is a robust system of “merging”. So if I make a change to version 3, I can use tools to automatically apply that change (which may involve changes to dozens of files) to the version 2 branch without forcing everything to be copied over. Along with a system of conflict resolution so I can jump in and tell the system what to do when it can’t figure out how to automatically apply one or more of the changes.

Apple’s version system may be useful for working on single documents, especially in the presence of an auto-save mechanism, but I can’t imagine it being particularly useful in a professional software development environment or in a publishing environment (where changes to multiple files may need to be tracked and managed as a group).


Yes. Microsoft Office doesn’t use Apple’s versions. Instead it relies on a cloud storage system that has version-tracking capability (e.g. OneDrive and SharePoint). If your document isn’t stored on such a cloud-based file system (or a local folder configured to sync with it), then you don’t get version control.

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YES, recently this function saved my bacon on several files that accidentally had things changed on both a laptop (MBP16 M1Max) and a desktop (Studio), for which the main Time Machine backups hadn’t had time to notice in between their backups.

This is a VERY good feature Apple have implemented here, is can quite literally cover you between main backups, when edits have been made in files.

EDIT: Separately I use the Save As option-FILE menu as well, to quickly save off a copy, BTW. So both are not mutually exclusive features.


Yes, I’m using Git because I’m preparing lecture notes with some other academics. We are using quarto with R and Stata code included and it produces the output. The only trouble I’ve had is getting it to ignore certain files. At some stage I will probably setup the programs that I’ve written to be on Git.

You can specify filenames and wildcard patterns for files that Git is supposed to ignore.

The simplest way to use this is to add one or more .gitignore files to your repository. You can place it in any directory managed by Git and it will affect all files in that directory and its subdirectories.

See also Git - gitignore Documentation

I have loved Versions since the day it was released. For me it’s not how much or how often I use it. It’s the security of having it there to use when I need it.

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I use it once or twice a year for Pages and Keynote files.

First said NO, but here learned I have used it without knowing — reverting a Preview image.

I don’t use Time Machine for save-your-day’s-work, so that limits its practicality.

Yeah, there are LOTS of things I liked about VMS. I was system administrator for our lab system, it was the easiest system to manage.

But when I was using VMS, it was for software development or for editing documents, etc. Versions were quite useful there. These days, I’m not doing any software and not much document editing. And if I am doing serious text construction, I’ll use EMACS (Aquamacs) because of 40 years of muscle memory :slight_smile: EMACS does its own versioning.

Of course, simple file versioning is no replacement for source code control. If I were doing serious software, I’d want a LOCAL version control system that can manage collections of file versions together. (I don’t trust cloud-anything, including cloud software repositories like GitHub, for critical data.)

(And a true story about VMS: Another guy was the original sysadmin for our R&D lab system. The Vax was brand new, and he was still learning VMS when he queued up a batch job to run overnight. His account had EXQUOTA enabled, and there was an error/loop in his batch job. When we came in the next day, the entire disk was filled up by the logfile from that batch job. Cleaning that up was an experience. And then I told him, “Lesson learned: Always run a job with least privilege.” He was very embarrassed. But fortunately that was just an R&D lab resource so no real time was lost on anything important.)

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