Import vs. Open and Save As vs. Export

Hi, all!

I have a rather elementary question about the File menu. I occasionally see several menu items for getting information from an extant file: Open… and Import… I also occasionally see several menu items for storing information in a new file: Save As… and Export…

In any event, what’s the difference between Open… and Import…? And what’s the difference between Save As… and Export…?

I say “occasionally” because the Import… and Export… items, I don’t see them nowadays as much as I did 15-20 years ago. When I first began using computers thirty five years ago, I didn’t see Import… and Export…; Open… and Save As… seemed to handle importing and exporting then.

Many thanks.

IMHO, it boils down to this.

  1. Opening a document, implies you may edit it and the save it.
  2. Importing, implies bringing that data into either an existing or new document.
  3. Saving, because you may want to edit it later.
  4. Exporting to a different format that would lose it’s edit-ability.

For my example, I would use our HDR Photo editor.

  • You import different exposures to create a single HDR image.
  • You save this data as a HDR image, which our app can edit, but not others.
  • You open this data to make changes to the HDR photo.
  • You Export the HDR as a regular JPEG which can then be opened or imported into other applications.

I have experimented with many various ways to create an HDR document that could be read directly with regular apps, the closest I ever got was using a TIFF image, the downside was many programs which can edit TIFF files, do not respect all the TIFF data when saving, so all that HDR goodness is lost.


You can Export a class to a file and then Import that class into another project. Open/Save applies to the entire project. Import/Export can apply to a portion of the project.

Please excuse the late reply.

Thank you for the explanation. I now understand.

Please excuse the late reply.

Thank you for your explanation. Between your explanation and Sam Rowland’s, I understand.

Thanks again.

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