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Quick Tip: Creating And Using Stationery Pad Templates in OS X

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If you're anything like me you like to keep your computer organized, almost to an obsessive compulsive level. Everything from my desktop to my downloads folder is usually spick and span. Let's look at a neat and maybe overlooked trick built into Finder inside of OS X that can help you stay on top of digital cutter, and streamline your workflow.


Quick Tip: Creating And Using Stationery Pad Templates in OS X

What is Stationery Pad?

Stationery Pad is a way to label almost any file as a template, right inside of Finder. Finder will automatically make a copy of the file for you, leaving the original template file unedited. Most users who have files they use as templates may be familiar with the following workflow situations:

"Save As" Workflow

You may use your template files like any other file, then just do a "Save As" command to save it as another file. But, if you're not careful you can accidentally save over the original template file doing it this way. I've done this many times and had to go back and rebuild the original template file.

Option+drag Workflow

What you could also do is Option+drag out a copy the file before opening it, but that's adding steps to the workflow, and templates should ideally be removing steps.


Marking a File As a Stationery Pad Template

If you right click on any file and select "Get Info", or hit the keyboard shortcut Command+I, you'll get a Finder window with information about the file. Right at the bottom the general section, you'll see a check box for something called "Stationery Pad".

Almost Any File Can Be Used As A Stationery Pad Template By Checking The Box In That Files Info Window.
Almost Any File Can Be Used As A Stationery Pad Template By Checking The Box In That Files Info Window.

Think of the master file as a Stationery Pad, and every time you click to access it, you are ripping off a sheet of the stationery paper.

Checking this box will tell Finder that you want to use the file as a Stationery Pad template file, and will make a copy of the file every time you click to access it. This saves you from having to remember to Option+drag out a copy of the file or doing a "Save As" command, or saves you the work of rebuilding your template if you forget to.


Using Stationery Pad Templates

The copies of the file that Finder makes for you are not labeled as Stationery Pad Files. Think of the master file as a Stationery Pad, and every time you click to access it, you are ripping off a sheet of the stationery paper.

Keep in mind that Finder is making an exact copy of the file, so you want to use files that you have set up with being a template in mind. For example, if you make a text file with text already in it into a Stationery Pad file, it's going to copy all the text each time.

This is good if you set the file up as a template from the beginning with useful text, like the HTML structure for a blog post with generic content. The point is that a template should be as generic as possible while still being useful.

The Best Files To Use As Stationery Are Files You Created With Being A Template In Mind.
The Best Files To Use As Stationery Are Files You Created With Being A Template In Mind.

A template should be as generic as possible while still being useful.

Conclusion

Stationery Pad is a great tool, but there are two features I'd personally like to see added. I wish Finder would ask you to rename the file from the outset, and also ask where you would like to save it.

Even lacking these two features, Stationery Pad is a great way to truly make your template files, be they Photoshop files, text files, HTML files or any other file type, behave like a real template file at the system level.

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