Rant: Why don’t desktop applications have a “rename document” option?

Posted on Sunday 7 October 2007

One of the things that annoys me about most software applications is how the File>>Save As... dialog doesn't have a "rename" check box (or some other easy way to rename and/or move a file on disk).

When renaming a document, you usually have to do it one of two ways:

1) Close the document, rename it on disk, reopen the document

2) Select File>>Save As..., rename the document, and then go into the folder where the old file exists and delete it.

Each of these two methods significantly breaks the user's work flow, which is a terrible thing to do. It can cause you to loose the context of what you were doing and it increases the likelihood of making a mistake (like deleting the wrong file, etc.)

Google Docs has a rename document feature and it is really nice. I guess that this was more obvious to web app developers (especially the smart folks at Google), since the user doesn't really interact with files on a PC and the fact that switching between web pages to rename a file is even more tedious than doing it on a desktop computer. But, desktop apps are going to be around for a while, so it would be nice we could standardize a document renaming feature.

Also, LabVIEW (starting in version 8.5) has a nice way to rename files from the File>>Save As... dialog.  And, I think I can take a little credit for inspiring this, since I created a LabVIEW extension that adds a File>>Move/Rename As... menu-option back in 2003.  Now that I think about it, that was before Google Docs, too ;)

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