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I have read several questions (here and elsewhere) that look for applications that can save in a format instead of export in a format. What is the difference between saving in a format, and exporting in a format? Is it just that there is an additional dialog box, or does an exported file in some way behave differently? Is this a style over substance issue?

I have no problem with people wanting things the WAY they want them, I just want to understand if there is a fundamental difference in the function of an exported over the function of a saved file.

Examples: Pages exports in formats that Open Office saves in. Pixelmator exports in formats that PhotoShop saves in (so I've been told).

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Export may imply some loss. For instance, exporting a Word document as PDF loses the ability to edit it. – lhf Dec 6 '12 at 17:23
@lhf - That's a function of it being a PDF. If you import the PDF into a PDF editor (say Acrobat) then you can edit the PDF. I can "export" a Tiff from Pixelmator, and turn around and edit it. – Everett Dec 6 '12 at 17:26

AS @lhf comments export/import implies that there is some information lost during one of the processes so that you can't export and then import and get exactly the same document back.

Save usually writes the file in the format that is native to the application or in the same format as the file was opened in.

Some applications e.g. Microsoft Office will not use export as much as this but use save as to allow conversion of the format of the document and possibly lose some information e.g. Excel can save as .csv. (I don't have MS Office here and can't remember if they have an export on the file menu). The do have an import that adds the selected document to the current one so another meaning.

The examples you give are both that the file file format is native to an application ( Open Office and PhotoShop) and the other applications' export converts their own format to these on export.

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I have taken a file created in Pages and printed it. I took that file and "exported" it to a PDF, then printed it from Acrobat. I laid the two printed docs on top of each other. They were exactly the same, I could not tell which was which in ANY way. I could edit the Pages file in Pages. I could edit the PDF in Acrobat. If I had "saved" the file as a PDF, instead of "exporting" it, I would have the exact same result. So I find it difficult to accept that exporting "looses" information. What information am I loosing exactly? Saving a file as a PDF would remove Pages formatting too... – Everett Dec 7 '12 at 21:13
@Everett - the loss is that you can't import it back into Pages so export then import does not work. Note that in these terms we have to talk about one app at a time as that is what the menu options apply to – Mark Dec 8 '12 at 0:06
This would be true wether I saved as a PDF, or exported as a PDF. The fact is the exporting or saving isn't the determining factor. – Everett Dec 8 '12 at 19:19
Apart from Adobe Reader whose native file is .pdf what else saves to .pdf? – Mark Dec 8 '12 at 20:49
LibreOffice can. – Everett Dec 8 '12 at 23:34

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