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I want to set up a free solution in OS X for a universal ‘autosave’ function (given Apple’s own solution is limited to only a few apps - at least for now), and let Dropbox do my file versioning and backup for me.

I've tried out the (paid) app ForeverSave, (formerly known as freeware ‘EverSave’), and it doesn't actually do a straight 'perform Cmd+S' so much as saving a COPY of the file into its own ‘Library’ in a folder somewhere on the mac (clogging up the hard drive unnecessarily), and as aforementioned, Dropbox already does my versioning for me.

I’m sure there’s a free way to do it via scripting + scheduling.

So I need to set a simple script - to just perform ‘Cmd + S’, to run (from startup onwards) once per minute, and within the script code (or just somehow), to set app exceptions (like browser apps where Cmd+S would not be welcome and get in the way), so that it only triggers in apps you actually to autosave in.

How would this be done?

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Dealing with the same problem myself (especially needing effective autosave for excel for mac, which is most definitely broken in Mavericks) - I just started the "ForeverSave 2 (version 2.1.2)" trial on my Mavericks-running 2011 15" mbp and it seems to both force a cmd+s save of the excel document I'm working on and also save a copy to its library. This does lead to some excess clutter but it has options to 1) keep the total number of backups for a certain file less than X amount (you specify amount), or 2) to automatically delete backups older than X number of days. It does actually force a cmd+s, which is great - I tested several times by typing something, letting the document sit slightly longer than the ForeverSave auto-save time window, force-quitting excel or turning off my computer, and upon re-opening the file my new data was still there, without me having ever manually saved. It only does this when the document is the active window, however so if you type something and then go start working on another document, it will not auto-save that first one (unless the autosave timer just happened to go off in the split second between you finishing typing and going to another window). Only really seems like a problem if you make the autosave window very long (i.e. I could image if it was set to 3 hours I might work for two hours, navigate to another window, and then have a problem that quits excel, with no autosave ever happening) - to compensate I just set the autosave window to 2 minutes, and am having Foreversave delete any backups that it has after they're a week old, so it's library stays small.

Silly that we have to pay $20 for software to do something so simple, but at least it seems to work.

  • In the end, I deem this as an acceptable solution - my only (massive!) gripe with FS, is that its design is 'opt in', not 'opt out' - you have to manually add (and customise the individual version limiting settings for), EVERY single app you want it to automatically save in the background for. You can MAKE it 'universal' like I ask in my question but it's a huge amount of work and, you have to always remember to add a new app to its 'Library' whenever you install one that works as a file editor. That's kinda stressful and cumbersome; but still, as you say it does the job that it promises! Thx! – user46942 May 19 '14 at 6:12
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From my own experience I'd be wary of trusting Dropbox's versioning. I'm not sure what schedule they use, but the one time I tried relying on it, the last saved older version it had of one of my files was from a backup months before.

As to your question, I'm not sure you can do it the way you want to do it, but why not simply use Time Machine but change the save interval to 120 secs (by default its at 3600 secs). You do that by editing the plist here:

/System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.backupd-auto.plist

(Tip: don't edit the original. Copy and move or rename the original for safekeeping).

Altering the backup interval for Time Machine

  • Thanks for your info, the problem is, can time machine do it to a PSD file in Photoshop, or an xlsx file in Excel 2011? (Its own autosaving seems broken, that's where I lost data so I'd like to set up a system-wide universal one to override such shortcomings itsef). As for dropbox I've used Packrat Unlimited Undo for years and it's never seemed to miss a beat (and saved me on numerous occasions), truly saving every single version that manages to upload from my dropbox client. – user46942 Mar 2 '14 at 6:59
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    Yes, it should do. TM doesn't distinguish between files types, and its not really a versioning mechanism. It just restores files as they were when saved. If your saves are frequent enough it'll effectively do the same thing. The problem is the solution I gave you for changing the save time interval doesn't actually work in Mavericks (it did in earlier versions of OS X). Something's overriding that interval setting in the plist. I'm still trying to figure out what. – applehelpwriter Mar 3 '14 at 3:37

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