How long does the "save" icon have left?

Nearly every software application I use follows the convention of having a “floppy disk” as their Save icon.

However, there’s a whole generation of kids growing up now who will never use a floppy disk to save their work - meaning the icon becomes meaningless.

How long do you reckon it’ll take for it to change, and what do you think we’ll use instead? Perhaps a memory stick, or a HDD icon?

Even if you don’t know what a floppy disk is, you know that it’s what a save button looks like. It’ll last a while.

Yep. It just happens to have had its meaning separated from what it represents, but even if you’ve never saved to floppy, you know that means “Save.” There are other familiar “icons” in real life like that, but I can’t think of any. I could rattle off turns of phrase like that, but I’d risk sounding like a broken record.


I’m probably going to feel really stoopid in a moment or two, but what is this “save icon” of which you speak?

The icon that looks like a weeny floppy disk in an application’s icon bar, it’s third from the left in Word after new blank document and open.
I work on an application where you ‘save’ to a database and the icon is still a floppy. Elsewhere I’ve seen an icon that looks like an arrow pointing to a stack of disks, which I suppose is more accurate but is only intuitive if you have a mental image of how (current) hard-drives work.

Do you know what it means to ‘dial’ a phone? Sometimes technology moves on, but our words and symbols remain.

The UK road sign for an unguarded level crossing still shows a steam engine.


Icon bar??

Is this a Microsoft Office thing?

::goes off to check the one & only MSOffice app I own, Excel::
Well I’ll be damned.

You use that to save your documents instead of ⌘-S / Ctrl-S?

In addition to. Unlike Apple, Microsoft lets you choose the method the works best for you. There are times when using an icon is more convenient (if your hand is on the mouse, you don’t have to remove it) and other times when the CTRL/S is easier to use (when your hands are on the keyboard).

I found that quite interesting when I was in England, because Canadian signs warning of a railway crossing show the track. Furthermore, the angle of the track on the sign reflects the actual angle of the real track with the road. Two pieces of info instead of one. :slight_smile:

(If there’s more than one track, they attach a little sign saying how many tracks.)

On further though, I think the official description is actually ‘standard toolbar’ which is common to pretty much all Windows application GUIs. Poking around I can’t find an application on my desktop that doesn’t have it (some let you hide it, if you’re a clever Dick and you’ve memorised all the short cuts). It’s been a while since I used a Mac but don’t they have pretty much the same thing?

Bwuh? I have similar choices; I can use the pointer and menus, or Command-S to Save. And Shift-Command-S to Save As.

The sign for a guarded one, depicting a wooden gate, is hardly accurate in most cases nowadays, either.

Or even to use an inkjet ‘printer’?

CC e-mail?

There’s actually loads of icons which are nonsensical if one follows the OP’s logic. Looking at Word, the clipboard icons were always intended to depict a real-world scenario which has little relevance to most people. The printer looks suspiciously like a dot-matrix. As for the bucket of paint for ‘shading colour’…

Uh, what’s with the drive-by? The Mac lets you save via key shortcut, menu option, or (in some applications) toolbar icon. That’s exactly the same set as Windows.

Before we start fucking with obsolete tool bar icons, let’s put a thought to keyboard layout design. When we get a ‘@’ key that doesn’t need the shift key, we’ll talk about your floppy.

The reason railroad crossings have flashing red lights was to simulate the guy who stopped highway traffic by waving a red lantern like a pendulum. That connection has long since been severed but we all know what flashing lights at a crossing means. We have letters associated with numbers on the telephone dial because long ago the first two characters of your phone number were letters. Old symbolism dies hard.

I don’t think it’s a Windows-versus-Mac thing. Perhaps a toolbar-versus-“get that damned floating piece of crap off my screen” thing. I tend to turn toolbars off. I do have the main one (which also contains the rather important formula field) enabled in Excel, though, and the little Save Icon was right there, I just never noticed it, I guess.

How funny…I was just thinking about this, myself. Like “isn’t it cute that the save icon is a floppy? There are probably kids who don’t know what that is!” It reminds me of the “roll down” gesture you use to ask someone to open their car window. I’ll bet there are plenty of people driving around today who have never actually rolled down a window!