The Window Titlebar in Mac OS X Tells You When You Have Unsaved File Changes

May 25, 2011 - 3 Comments

Look for unsaved changes in the Mac window titlebar

Not sure if you have unsaved changes when editing a file in Mac OS X? Just look at the window titlebars close button, if the red close button has a darker red dot inside of it then you have unsaved changes.

I use this frequently as an indicator for when I should quickly hit Command+S but I don’t think it’s widespread knowledge and I was reminded of this by TheMacObserver, who also points out that the little mini-icon (called the Proxy Icon) next to a filename in the titlebar is an indicator of when a document needs to be saved. In that example, the icon gets slightly dimmed to indicate a change has been made but the file has not been saved.

Here’s what that dimmed icon looks like, it’s very subtle.

Mini icon displays unsaved changes to a file

These just a few of the many subtle things in Mac OS that make the operating system so great.

Note that modern versions of OS X now simply display the text “Edited” in the titlebar next to the file name to demonstrate if a file has changed. Why the little red icon thing was removed from OS X Mavericks and Yosemite isn’t clear, so just look for “Edited” instead.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. lol says:

    You do realize that Linux and Windows has this for more than 10 years, do you?

  2. Joel Bruner says:

    The “mini-icon” is also known as a “proxy icon” for those wanting to do further research on it’s many tricks. In addition to Mathias’ you can also Command click a proxy icon to reveal its folder nesting. BTW nice site!

  3. Mathias says:

    And most conveniently: The mini-icon can be used to drag the file into dialogues, terminals etc…
    No need to find the file in Finder again. :)

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