It’s happened to all of us. You’re working on a document in Pages, a spreadsheet in Excel, or a masterpiece in Photoshop, and you completely forget to save. Suddenly the power cuts out, the application crashes, or someone closes your document without saving, and all of your hard work has vanished without a trace.
Just as I finished typing the paragraph above, Pages automatically saved itself. This is not a feature included with iWork, but the wonder of a new application from Tool Force Software called ForeverSave. This work of genius automatically saves and backs up all documents in applications you ask it to. This review will take a look at what this app lets you do, along with a few limitations.
Setting It All Up
When you first open ForeverSave you will need to tell it which applications you would like to have saved automatically and backed up. Unfortunately, the setup process is a little tedious, but once completed, you should be able to forget about it.
To add an application to the list, you just click on the plus sign, choose the application, and follow the steps to customise it’s settings.
You can tell ForeverSave to save your document after a set duration, from every 10 seconds, to every few hours. ForeverSave will also save your document every time you switch application back to it, or after a certain number of switches if you prefer.
Another save feature I quite like is the ability to not have ForeverSave autosave your ‘Untitled-1′ documents, but instead animate the mouse cursor to give you a friendly reminder.
What really makes ForeverSave awesome is the fact that not only does it save your documents regularly, it also backs them up each time. This allows you to flip back through previous versions of your document and restore from an old one if your ‘undo’ runs out, or you close the app realizing it just saved over something you didn’t mean it to.
When you open up the backup window for each application, the various documents are displayed down the left column, and all of the versions are on the right. ForeverSave supports Quick Look, which is great for quickly checking out which version you are after.
When setting up each application, there are some useful options for backups. To prevent the hard drive space from being consumed by backups, you can set ForeverSave to delete them after a number of versions or after a period of time.
You can also opt for it not to backup files larger than so many megabytes, which is useful to save space, but also to stop yourself waiting forever each time it tries to back up a huge file when you really didn’t need it to.
A common misconception on ForeverSave’s backup system is that “Don’t we already have Time Machine?” In fact, the two perform completely different actions. Time Machine backs up your entire hard disk every hour, but only backs up what you’ve already saved. ForeverSave backs up open documents that haven’t been saved.
ForeverSave is packed with plenty of customization. You can alter the appearance, ditch the Dock icon, change the location of the backup database, and set up hotkeys and shortcuts for various actions.
The Save All command you’ll see below lets you quickly save every open document. You can even get ForeverSave to automatically shut down, restart, or sleep after processing the ‘Save All’.
ForeverSave isn’t quite perfect yet. Being a very new application, it can still be a little buggy. I have had instances where it has stopped saving Adobe Illustrator files. I spoke with the developer though and he is working hard to try to get the bugs sorted out as soon as possible.
A slight limitation in how the application works is that rather than magically saving documents from anywhere, it simply performs a standard ‘File > Save’ command. This means that the application must be in front for it to work. This is a problem if say, you’ve been working on a document and have the save time set to a large number, and then just before the timer runs out, you switch to another application. Until you actually manually switch back to your document, your changes remain vulnerable to loss.
There are also a few features which would be great to see come out in a future version, such as the ability to save documents after a character count has been reached, so that the backups include significant changes rather than just a small adjustment that has been saved every couple of minutes.
Another great feature would be a way to improve the speed at which applications can be added to the Control Center. At the moment you have to manually enter the settings for each one individually so perhaps if you could create multiple ‘template’ settings, and just apply those to the various applications as many use the same settings as another.
I’ve been more than impressed by ForeverSave. It fixes a problem that we’ve all faced, and something that should really have been built into Mac OS X in the first place. But it’s finally here and I would definitely recommend this app to anyone.
ForeverSave is priced at a very reasonable $14.95, and also comes in a free version, ForeverSave Lite which gives all the functionality of autosaving your documents, but misses out on all of the backup features.
Whilst it has the rare bug, I’ve been thrilled to discover this life saver of an application which resides quietly in the menu bar. Give the 30 day trial a spin and let us know what you think of it.