Quick Save Your Documents

“You begin saving the world by saving one man at a time; all else is grandiose romanticism or politics.” Charles Bukowski

Following on in the same vein as my attempt to organise my writing files… After I’ve made the obligatory coffee, how do I first start to write? I open up my writing folder on the computer, and

  1. Copy-and-paste the document, to create a copy.
    datestamped file
  2. As I like to date stamp my writing (in the event of something cataclysmic happening), I then have to rename the file, changing the date at the start (to today’s date) and trim off the “- Copy” at the end.
  3. I then drag the previous (older) version of the file into an archive location, so my directory isn’t full of dozens of duplicates.

It might only take a few seconds, but it is tedious, and time better spent actually writing. No More.

I have created a fairly intelligent macro to do all this boring stuff for me, and now share it with you.

What it Does

Using the macro to save your document will:

  • Default the “Save As” dialog to your preferred writing location.
  • Automatically add today’s date (YYYY-MM-DD) to your file, either at the beginning or the end of the filename.
    I recommend doing it at the beginning of the file, because then it sorts nicely by name. (Later, I changed my mind in some circumstances).
  • If you have already saved the document today, it will add an alphabetic string e.g.
    • First save = 2015-05-30 A New Document.docx
    • Second save = 2015-05-30a A New Document.docx
    • Third save = 2015-05-30b A New Document.docx
    • Twenty eighth save = 2015-05-30za A New Document.docx, etc.
  • Move the “old” document to an archive location (with a directory structure that is mirrored to your writing folder structure, and created on-the-fly).

For example if I have the following settings on the macro:

macro settings

If I create a new document, run the macro and select the folder P:\Writing\1 – Incomplete\Science Fiction\Short Stories\The Galactic Mirror\ and type in the filename: Galacting Mirror – Story 1.docx, a document will be saved P:\Writing\1 – Incomplete\Science Fiction\Short Stories\The Galactic Mirror\2015-05-30 Galacting Mirror – Story 1.docx.

If I then run the macro again, P:\Writing\1 – Incomplete\Science Fiction\Short Stories\The Galactic Mirror\2015-05-30a Galacting Mirror – Story 1.docx will be saved, and the original file (2015-05-30 Galacting Mirror – Story 1.docx) will be moved to A:\Writing Archive\1 – Incomplete\Science Fiction\Short Stories\The Galactic Mirror\

How to Install

  1. Open Microsoft Word to a new (blank) document.
  2. Press Alt+F11 (the Alt key and F11 key) to open the Visual Basic coding windows.
  3. Select “Normal” (highlighted in image below in blue). This will make the macro part of Normal.dot which means it will be accessible in every document. Click on the down arrow on the second icon from the left and select “Module” (highlighted by red line in image below).
  4. Double click on the module, which will open up a blank window in the Visual Basic.
  5. Copy in the macro code.
  6. Change the values in the setting section to be how you want them (as described in the table above).
  7. Save with Ctrl+S and close the Visual Basic window (using the x in the top right corner of the window).

Now the macro is there, and can be accessed in any Word document by using Alt+F8 and running DateStampFile. It works, but there is an even easier way by adding it to the Quick Access Toolbar.

  1. In Microsoft Word go to File > Options.
  2. Select Quick Access Toolbar on the left.
  3. Select the top left drop-down list and choose “Macros”
  4. Select Normal.Module1.DateStampFile and “Add >>”
  5. If you want, you can use “Modify…” to assign it a more user-friendly name and icon.
    This icon will now appear in the top left of your Microsoft Word, so a single click can save, datestamp and move your old file!

That’s it! There’s already a few basic improvements I can see that could be made, but I’m not sure I’ll bother. I have to keep reminding myself that the purpose of this blog isn’t to program, but to write. If you need a little more help setting it up, or come across any big problems/fixes just comment below.

Got thoughts?

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