If you have a scene with hundreds of materials and want to save them to a file, this can seem like quite a task. This has been an area of grief for a lot of Max users who are use to the old Material/Map Browser (MMB), and have upgraded to Max 2011. There are nice features like the Slate Material Editor. Even with all of its cool new tools, there isn’t a simple one step method for saving all of your scene materials to file. But before you go selecting all of your materials and one-by-one adding them to a library, there is a simpler method. I have to tip my hat off to Jennifer O’Connor for showing me this workaround, but I thought I would post the process since it is not in the Max documentation anywhere….or if it is, please show me where!
Your intuition wants to collect all of the materials from your file and find a way to export it. The solution is actually the opposite, and is found in opening your existing max file as a library… “huh never thought of doing that!”
In the MMB select the top left eject icon, and choose Open Material Library.
Switch the file extension from .mat to .max. Now locate your max file (that you already have open), highlight it and hit open.
Now your scene files are all copied to a temporary library with the name of your max file. Now to save that library to a .mat file. Right-click on the library rollout bar. Choose the path name, then Save As…
Now you can save those materials into a .mat file. So when you open a new Max file, you can always open this .mat file as a material library that has all of your original scene materials