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How to preserve your tutorials in webarchive file format

For PainScience.com customers who want to save their tutorials in the handy webarchive file format

Most of my customers read my e-books “live” on a device like an iPad or a Kindle, just like a webpage (because that’s what they are). But a few customers may appreciate a slightly geekier option …

If you are even a little bit technically capable, it’s easy to save the web version of a tutorial as a web archive [Wikipedia] file on any computer, Mac or PC. It’s a snapshot of a webpage, retaining all of its features but stored on your computer instead of on my website. You are welcome to do this.

Why bother? Web archive pros and cons

My books are basically huge web pages, which can be read directly in a web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, etc) on any internet-enabled device. No e-book reading software is required — or desired. Although “traditional” e-book formats have many advantages, simple web pages have even more.

But the main disadvantage is that it doesn’t feel like “your” book. You haven’t bought a file that you can save. If my business were to die, the books would disappear.

But you can save the books! You can make a file out of any webpage, and save it however you like.

It’s not just about offline reading, which is possible using Safari Reading List or platform-independent read-later services like Instapaper): it’s about “having” the book, and storing it on your own terms, rather than relying on my website or a cloud service to make it available.

The worst thing about web archives files is that they are pretty much useless without a computer. You can’t read a web archive file on an iPad or a Kindle, for instance (it is technically achievable, but it’s a hassle and the results may be suboptimal).

However, it is truly a perfect duplicate of the original.

How does a webarchive file work?

When you open any web page, you are downloading not only the content, but a lot of other information about how the content should look and work. All of that stuff can be saved into a single file that can be opened and used later without an internet connection. A web archive file is basically just like any webpage, except that it is stored on your computer instead of the Internet.

Note that “Web archive” is not a standard term, but more of a generic concept. The idea of a web archive has been called several different things on different computers and operating systems over the years. For instance, in Windows you don’t save a “web archive” file, you just “save a complete webpage.”

Here are specific saving instructions for the most popular web browsers. In all cases, opening the file again is as simple as double-clicking its icon.

Instructions for making a webarchive file with Internet Explorer (on Windows)

  1. While viewing the full version of the tutorial on your computer while using any version of Internet Explorer, select “Save as” from the File menu (or the “Page” menu in IE 8 SHOW ).
  2. From the pull-down menu to the right of “Save as type:” choose “Web Page, complete (*.htm, *.html)” SHOW
  3. Save it wherever you like.

Instructions for Firefox (Windows or Mac)

For the slightly more technically inclined, Firefox needs a “plugin” to save webpages as a webarchive. Once installed, the option will be available, plus more advanced archiving options). Get it here, and follow the instructions to install it (pretty easy). Once you’ve got it, it works just like the others:

  1. While viewing the full version of the tutorial in Firefox, select “Save as” from the File menu.
  2. From the pull-down menu to the right of “Format:” choose “Web archive” SHOW MAC SHOW WINDOWS
  3. Save it wherever you like.

Instructions for making a webarchive file with Safari (Windows or Mac)

  1. While viewing the full version of the tutorial in Safari, select “Save as” from the File menu.
  2. From the pull-down menu to the right of “Format:” choose “Web archive” SHOW
  3. Save it wherever you like.