I have an application where users can save a document manually (Click the save button, add a description and save it) while working or if they forget, the app automatically saves the document every 15 minutes while they're working on it.

The users can go through these saves and revert back the document to one of their previous saves.

Instead of using the word "Auto Save" I want to use an icon to represent it. But I can't figure out what. A few icons I found had a sync icon on the standard diskette icon. Any other suggestions?


The "Auto Save" icon is used to differentiate between manual saves and auto saves on the list of saves I mentioned. Ex:

updated by Jack, 13.04 p.m on July 23rd [AUTO]

updated by Jack, 13.30 p.m on July 23rd [MANUAL]

So instead of [AUTO] I want to use an icon.

  • Why does it matter to the user whether it was a manual save vs. an auto-save?
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 19:19

5 Answers 5


I think I didn't explain enough so I edited my question. The icon is actually used in the list of saves to point out which saves are auto saves.

If that's the case, you don't need a "save" icon, per se, but 2 icons that differentiate between user-initiated and automatic.

So for "Manual save," you can use a person icon

enter image description here

for "Auto save" you can use a clock icon

enter image description here

Their shapes are different enough to differentiate very rapidly and the user can easily remember which is which.

(you can also have different sets/types of icons and do A/B testing with some people, too, to see what works best)

  • Marking as answer because users associated the clock with "Auto Save".
    – nuwa
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 6:29

I think that using all those icons damage the UX. I would suggest you to use an active and not active status to indicate when the user can manually save his/her work, and to add a text that says how long is it from the last save, something like 'automatically/manually saved X minutes ago'.

  • Hi. I'm assuming what you're suggesting is that on the work space itself that I should show "Last save was this many hours ago"? Actually, my case is different. The user can open up a list of saves that happened since the creation of that document. Like a revision history tab. On that you would have saves the user did and saves the app did on behalf of the user (auto saves). On this list the user can select an older save to revert the document back to that state. So instead of adding a label (manual/auto) on each item, I want to just add an icon to make the auto saves stand out.
    – nuwa
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 5:03
  • I understood that, but the more icons you use the harder would be for the user to memorize them and understand what it is happening. If what you want is differentiating the autosaves from the manual saves, why don't you use an icon in the list? I think that in the main interface what the user wants to know is if its work has been saved or not (I don't think that he/she cares how the work has been saved - correct me if I am wrong). When he/she cares about that is when he/she wants to get back to a previous status - so it's more logic to have this distinction when he/she opens the list of saves.
    – Marie
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 6:33
  • I don't know exactly what you are doing, this is just my opinion, correct me if I am wrong.
    – Marie
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 6:33

For AUTO saved items, personally I would use a normal floppy disk save icon with a small egg timer overlaid, to make it obvious it is a timed event, not a manual event.

  • 2
    I don't know if I'd recognise an egg timer. Maybe a clock is more recognasible?
    – PieBie
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 14:41

My first hunch would be a regular save icon, i.e. a diskette, in combination with a regular OK icon, i.e. a checkmark.

Below you can find some quick examples:

  • not saved
  • saving
  • saved

I think these three icons convey the process of (auto)saving really well. Especially if they're animated, for example SVG.

icon not saved icon saving icon saved

EDIT after question specification:

Maybe you could convey the computer vs human save with a computer and a hand?

save human save computer

  • Hi. Thank you for the reply. I'm sorry, I think I didn't explain enough so I edited my question. The icon is actually used in the list of saves to point out which saves are auto saves.
    – nuwa
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 13:04
  • Ah, ok, that's a different use case indeed!
    – PieBie
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 13:41

I would use the same base icon, then vary an identifier. That way at a glance the user still sees "Save" but can tell there's a difference between the two save types. I'm not a fan of the old floppy icons. But, they may be more intuitive for anyone over the age of 20 maybe.

Off the top of my head... without any real refinement....

For cloud storage items:

![![enter image description here

Or for local hard drive saving....

![![enter image description here

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