How to Create File Templates on Your Mac With Finder's Stationery Pad Feature

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Stationery Pad is a handy way to nix a step in your workflow if you regularly use document templates on your Mac. The long-standing Finder feature essentially tells a file's parent application to open a copy of it by default, ensuring that the original file remains unedited.

Stationery Pad doesn't get much attention these days, but it's a neat alternative to repeatedly editing templates and using the "Save As..." command, which can lead to overwriting the original file if you're not too careful.

Almost any file type can be defined as a template with Stationery Pad – it could be used to streamline common Photoshop jobs, create skeleton HTML/CSS files, or help with Word document invoicing. To make use of Stationery Pad, create the file you want to use as a template, then follow the steps below.

How to Define a File as a Template Using Stationery Pad

  1. Find the file in Finder that you want to use as a template.

  2. Right-click (or Ctrl-click) the file and select Get Info in the contextual dropdown menu. Alternatively, click the file to select it and use the Command+I keyboard shortcut to launch Get Info.

  3. Tick the Stationery Pad checkbox under the General section.

  4. Click the red traffic light button to close the Get Info window.

Next time you double-click the template file, Finder will create and open a copy of it, leaving the original untouched. To reverse the behavior, simply untick the Stationery Pad checkbox in the template file's Get Info window.

Top Rated Comments

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31 months ago
Whoa!!

I've been a programming-enthusiast Mac user since well before the dawn of OS X and I never truly noticed that check box. That was one truly rare high-value meeting of article and reader.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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31 months ago

Definitely before OS X.

Possibly before System 7, but definitely added in some 7.x version. One of the interesting long-standing Mac features.

The original concept is actually a relic of the Lisa. The original idea behind the Lisa was that users would create files by tearing off the appropriate type of Stationery (Word processing, spreadsheet, drawing) and then start editing it. None of this "launching apps" business like today.

The ability to designate any file as a Stationery Pad, though, was a System 7 feature, I'm pretty sure.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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31 months ago
Cool tip, thanks. Mac is such a beast. I can’t even imagine how it would be by now if they kept developing the power-user side of it, instead of making it more and more like an iPad.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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31 months ago

It's a something that's been there for ages (even before OS X if I remember correctly) but I guess it's a feature most aren't aware of – I don't ever use it myself, even tough it might be a good idea sometimes. :)

Definitely before OS X.

Possibly before System 7, but definitely added in some 7.x version. One of the interesting long-standing Mac features.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago


4. Click the red traffic light button to close the Get Info window.

Is "red traffic light button" really what we're calling the close window button now?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
31 months ago
I can honestly say I would’ve never known about this. I spent nearly my entire life with Windows and it’s fun to discover little things this OS can do.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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