The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

Summary: It's time to drop this ridiculously outdated paradigm.

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Do you want to see something that makes my blood boil every time I see it? Here, take a look:

This is the icon that's on the Save button in Microsoft Word 2010. A floppy disk. Seriously? Did it fall through a time vortex from last century?

Here it is again, this time on Microsoft's Xbox Live app for iOS (I don't remember Apple offering an external floppy drive as an option for the iPhone and iPad):

I can feel my blood pressure on the rise again!

Let's be clear, I might have singled out Microsoft in the above examples, but it's not the only company still clinging on to the ridiculously outdated paradigm. The truth is that most companies use it. But it's silly and outdated. It's like using a biplane to represent a Boeing 787 or a Ford Model T to represent a BMW M5. Every day there are more and more people clicking on buttons featuring this graphic who probably don't even know what it's meant to represent.

Note: If you're one of those people who are mystified and you're curious as to what you've been clicking on, here's what it is - a 3.5-inch floppy disk.

Any suggestions as to what we could replace the floppy disk graphic with?

Topics: Microsoft, Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Mobile OS

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48 comments
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  • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

    It is just a symbol. Symbols are language agnostic. If we start looking at them literally then even the battery symbol on cell phones has to be changed because no battery in a cell or laptop looks like a AA/AAA battery.
    1773
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @1773 Some do, actually.
      rufusthorne
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @1773
      Great example, love it. Its just a symbol is all it is. And its a symbol that people have come to recognize over the years as a save icon. Is he suggesting we change it to a hard drive looking icon? Just make it a rectangle box and call it a day?
      OhTheHumanity
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @1773

      We could always use a picture of the 5 1/4 inch disk... *coolface*
      Problem AKH?
      ZazieLavender
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      I still have a case with a 5.25 drive running.
      Perhaps a .gif of a disk revolving to move up to this century.
      deadguy69
  • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

    Yes, and you could argue folders and paper in general are obsolete, and that envelopes (or postage stamps in the case of Thunderbird) are a thing of the past. Tell me Adrian, what exactly would you change it to? The floppy is iconic. Everyone knows to associate the image with save. What would you change it to, a harddrive? I've seen that one before. Save was the very last thing that came to mind.
    Aerowind
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @Aerowind Don't forget that we "dial" a phone even though rotary dial phones haven't been made in many years, and that we have "ring" tones even though phones with mechanical ringers also haven't been made in many years.
      jgm2
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      +1

      Exactly, Adrian, what would you change it to??? Some devices still use floppies. (OOOOHHHHHHH did I say that?) Some use hard drives, some SSD, some sticks. Let's see your artist's representation of a HDD, and SSD, and USB memory stick. Also, lets see something universal that will tie them all together so anyone and everyone will know what your icon means. You've got me curious.

      What's the old addage? "Put up, or shut up"???
      WayneC369
    • I was about to say the same thing.

      @Aerowind : It's what represents the "save" action, just like a double-A battery represents all battery power, even though as said, few batteries look like that anymore.
      I can't think of a better icon at the moment as a hard drive icon would be either unrecognizable (outside view) or too complicated (inside view). Shall we use the "+1" for a save option then? As my mother used to say, "If you're going to complain, at least have a possible solution to offer."

      Really Adrian, some of your recent vitriolic rants are beginning to make me think you're either looking for clicks or having rage issues, the latter you should be seeing someone for help for. This is coming from someone that rants vociferously, so you know it's a concern.
      Zorched
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @Aerowind - I totally agree with you. There are some things that manage to span generations of time like Coke & Kleenex, Ford, etc. The save symbol of the floppy disk speaks a unique language to multi-generations and multi-cultures. It also serves as a nice reminder of where we came from and the collective technical advancements of the world. It truly is iconic. We have so much change already, why an unnecessary change that causes global re-learning churn? Some traditions are no good and need to be changed, but this is not one of them.
      SLYSRR
  • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

    It makes me chuckle, Why So Serious? ;)
    Jayton
  • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

    The icon is [i]not[/i] like using a biplane to represent a Boeing 787.
    It represents an action, not a particular storage system.
    It is more like using a biplane to represent the act of flying, which makes perfect sense.

    Only if people don't recognize it anymore, there is something of a problem.
    pj.de.bruin
  • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

    I dislike skeuomorphism more; an outline of a well-known icon is less annoying than a game center that looks like it's a felt surface for playing cards (iOS 5, I'm looking at you). The bigger question is why save at all; apps should store state and history automatically and I should have to explicitly discard them ;-)
    mary.branscombe
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @mary.branscombe

      I learned a new word today thanks to you. BTW, in my quest to understand the meaning of "skeuomorphism", I came across a Daring Fireball article by John Gruber on this topic.

      Well, I happen to like computer images which are not monochromatic in design all the time. Just my opinion.
      kenosha77a
  • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

    My dear Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: you have OCD, go see a head doctor :)
    zubascuion
  • Resolution?

    And what do you propose to change it with?

    Its an icon. I think at this day it doesnt symbolise a floppy disk anymore. It just means save.

    I really cant think of replacing it with anything.

    PS. Whats with ZDnet once in a while writing these stupid articles? I though that ZDnet most of the time wrote fact based articles. Not just something that shoots in the head and add lots of animated gifs
    evolutionqy7
    • Yeah this is really bad.

      @evolutionqy7 Like the 24hr news networks that have to find something, anything, to report on, bloggers have to find something, anything, to complain about.
      otaddy
  • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

    Why not replace it with the USB stick? :-)
    kartiksehgal
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @kartiksehgal@...

      As soon as you do, they'll all come in the same size as those flat keyboard/mice receivers, and the USB stick will be antiquated.
      Michael Kelly
    • RE: The floppy disk save icon - Kill it with fire!

      @kartiksehgal@... usb stick like devices are used for many more things then saving. Even a usb bluetooth device will look like one. Kinda like saving a file to your mouse ;)
      x21x