Mac tip: What is Stationery Pad and when should you use it?

Can you remember the office stationery cupboard? Image c/o Cas/Flickr

With so much focus on AI, AR and next generation technologies even The Jetsons would wonder at, it’s easy to forget about veteran Mac features designed to help you be more productive with your time, such as Stationery Pad.

What is Stationery Pad?

This is a useful little tool that has been tucked away inside OS X for years. It’s a way of creating a template document.

What’s the use of this?

Well, imagine you have a form you regularly need to fill in – rather than recreating it each time you can save the form as a template by using this feature.

The Finder will then open a copy of the document, rather than the original. That means you can use the template again and again in future.

This is useful for invoices, letters, company letterheads, newsletter templates, document layouts and more. You can save any file type as a stationery pad, though I don’t see why you’d save most things, such as image or movie files in this way.

Where can I find Stationery Pad?

If you’ve ever selected a file and chosen Get Infofrom the Menu, Control-Clickedthe item to choose Get Info in the contextual menu that then appears, or tapped Command-I, you will have seen something like this.

Look closely and you’ll see a check box called “Stationery pad”.

How do I use Stationery pad?

To make any item into a Stationery Pad just tick the checkbox as indicated in this image:

In future the Finder will open a copy of that item, which you can then work on as much as you want. When you save you won’t change the original item, it’s left untouched to be used as a template in future.

How do I edit one of these things?

To edit the template you must select it, summon Get Info (see above), uncheck the Stationery pad checkbox, make your edits and then check the Stationery pad checkbox once again. Got that? I’ll put it another way: uncheck, edit, check again. Simples.

Why is it called Stationery pad?

I don’t know. I think it might be an anachronistic reference to office stationery, such as letter-headed paper traditionally stored in the office stationery cupboard. Calling it something like ‘Make item a template’ would make more sense today.

Want more Mac tips?

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Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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