Disable Auto-Save and Versions in Mac OS X

Jul 11, 2012 - 19 Comments

Diable Auto Save and Versions in Mac OS X

Tired of Auto-Save continuously saving files in the background? Does Versions annoy you with it’s saved states of your work in each apps? For the vast majority of users, Auto-Save and Versions are excellent features in Mac OS X, but some advanced users are annoyed with the features that came in Lion (and are here to stay in Mountain Lion). If you fall into that crowd here is how to disable the automatic file saving and the entire Versioning system on a per-application basis.

Note: Most users should not disable these features, they are genuinely useful and can prevent loss of data.

Disabling Auto-Save and Versions Per App

If you know the name of the app you want to disable auto-save and Versions for, you can usually just plug the name into the defaults write command. Not all apps use the format of “com.developer.AppName” though so you will probably want to double-check how the app appears by using the following command first:

defaults domains

Find the plist name of the app from the exported list, and plug that into the following command. For example, this disables auto-save and file versioning for Preview:

defaults write com.apple.Preview ApplePersistence -bool no

Note that TextEdit and some other sandboxed apps require a different command:

defaults write com.apple.TextEdit AutosavingDelay -int 0

Now if you enter the Versions window, your auto-save list will be empty and there are no versions to restore to. You’ll probably want to use this in combination with disabling File Locking otherwise you’ll still end up with the Duplicate file hassle.

This tip comes from an answer thread on StackExchange and it has been confirmed to work with many default and third party apps in OS X.

Thanks for the tip Hans!

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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

19 Comments

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  1. Alberto I says:

    I never understood what app has autosave…

  2. stefano says:

    the problem I have is that disabling the autosave/versions junk makes the save as menu item disappear (in ML GM)

    • Jumping the Apple ship... says:

      I have tested the command in Mtn. Lion, and Save As was still present in most apps there too. The only apps I tried where it was missing, was Preview and iWork. A workaround is to use the “Export…” menu item in these apps (which is very similar to Save As) and assign cmd+shift+s to that instead (cf. http://osxdaily.com/2011/11/30/how-to-save-as-mac-os-x-lion/).

      • stefano says:

        Right. I was referring to iWorks.
        I will check the Export (but I believe it exports in PDF, jpg etc, not in the original Pages-Numbers-Keynote format). I am not sure though, since I moved back to MS Office already. But I’ll check.

  3. Bob says:

    This is a good effort, but it is still too much of a pain, as it needs to be done for each applications. I want a global solution to disable versions and autosave.

    In my opinion this should be done by selecting a file system when formatting the hard drive. I know this is not necessarily tied to the format of the hard drive (or maybe it is), but it seems like a good out of the way place to make the decision.

    In any event all these hacks to make OS X as useful as it once was are analogous to polishing the brass on the titanic. If you don’t want iOS as your laptop OS, then you need to start looking for alternatives.

    • Hans says:

      Have fun with Snow Leopard.

      • Bob says:

        Like I said in the other thread I just want to get one more year out of this laptop on OS X. My desktop work flow switched to linux after I realized the direction apple was heading. The only problem is that apple’s bastardized version of UEFI does not play well with linux. If this were not the case, I would have linux on my laptop as well.

    • Jumping the Apple ship... says:

      I agree that this isn’t a viable solution (especially for the average user).

      Apple has really turned into a nasty, totalitarian corporation the last few years.

      R.I.P. Good old Apple

  4. Jumping the Apple ship... says:

    Your article contains incorrect information:

    The last command is needed in *addition* to the first command, and is *only* needed for TextEdit (it was the only Apple app that used ‘old-style’ autosaving and this causes issues with the sandbox in Lion/Mtn. Lion).

    Also, a better way to find the plist name for an app, is by running the following command:

    osascript -e ‘id of application “NAME OF APP”‘

    • Jumping the Apple ship... says:

      sorry should be:

      osascript -e 'id of application "NAME OF APP"'

      (without auto-corrected quotation marks)

    • donewithapple says:

      Or in other words:

      For TextEdit you need to run BOTH commands.

      Please correct you factual ERRORS, OSXDaily!

  5. Argelius says:

    I just want an option “Save As….” So when I’m working on an existing document and I want to save a new version and keep the old one.

    Now you have to do “duplicate file”, then rename it. then close the original file without saving the changes.

    I generally love everything Apple does, but they really should give us the ability to opt-out of this one…

  6. Jim says:

    And here I thought ML was going to have a System Preference to disable this stuff. I still don’t want the computer to tell me what to do. I’ve sent feedback to Apple, but I guess they don’t really care. I was all ready to go from SL to ML, but now I am having second thoughts. Why can’t Apple just let this be a Global Option for those of us who don’t like Auto-Save/Versions? For those who like Auto-Save and Versions, that’s fine, but I’m not one of them. I don’t want my Mac to be a giant iPod/iPad, but that seems to be the Apple direction. If Windows 8 didn’t look so awful with those “tiles”, maybe I’d consider returning to Windows (did I actually type that?).

  7. Mike says:

    Thanks for this. Versions gets in the way as I often don’t want to save intermediate versions of my work.

  8. bz says:

    chflags 1600017 /Users/bz/Library/Saved\ Application\ State

  9. Joseph says:

    HELP!

    does NOT work for TextEdit (I enetred BOTH lines in Terminal) in ML 10.8.5

    Textedit is ruining my work, WTF is up with apple these days? Snow Leoprad never did this.

    Example: as soon as I convert a doc into plain text (without saving), the ORIGINAL file is overwritten without my asking, ruining everything.

    This is serious workflow issue, a bug not in the software, but in their mentality & approach that Apple needs to address.

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