Linux offers a lot of different ways to speed up your everyday jobs. One of these ways is with the Templates directory. Don’t know what I’m talking about? If you’re using Ubuntu (I couldn’t speak for other Linux distributions), that’s not surprising, since in all the years I’ve been using Ubuntu, not once has the Templates directory ever been given any “love” or attention. But here’s what I mean, and how you can customize it to suit your needs.
Go to the Desktop, or any Nautilus window. Right-click with your mouse and look at the pop-up menu that appears. Select the “Create Document” option and mouse to the submenu. In Ubuntu, you should see a single option, to create a Empty File. Above that you’ll see “No templates installed” in gray text. If you choose the Empty File option, you’ll create just that, a blank document with no name and no contents. Now, a lot of times that’s exactly what I want (in fact, it’s what I use to create blank documents for new articles). This is a useful tool, because some word processors don’t automatically create a document when you launch them, instead giving you a document wizard, which is overkill if all you want is a blank document. Create a blank document with this option, double-click and you’re ready to type.
But some documents require formatting, such as HTML documents. There are strict guidelines for how HTML documents should be formatted, and this changes according to what type of page is being created. The same is true for spreadsheets. Sure, sometimes you just want a blank spreadsheet, but other times you’re creating a report, and if you create this same report on a regular basis, there are probably some formulas and headers that you use in every one. We can add that Template to the “Create Document” menu, so all you need to do is choose that option, and a document will be created, except instead of being blank, it will have all that formatting ready for you, without you having to type it in each time.
Adding items to the “Create Document” menu is simple. First create the Template you want. Now give it a name that will help you recognize what it is. This is necessary because the “Create Document” menu doesn’t show file extensions. So if you’re creating two different types of text documents (for different formats), don’t rely on the extension (.doc or .txt or .rtf), to help you recognize which is which. Give them names like:
“Microsoft Word Document.doc”
“Plain Text Document.txt”
“Rich Text Document.rtf”
Once we’re done, those will all appear as options, minus the quotes and the extension, so you’ll just see:
Microsoft Word Document
Plain Text Document
Rich Text Document
Once you’ve modified a document, save it with your descriptive name. Now all we do is take that document and move it to your home directory. There should be a folder already there named “Templates” but if there isn’t, create it. Now just place your templates in that folder.
You don’t need to restart or reboot. Just go to the Desktop or a Nautilus folder, right-click and in that “Create Document” menu, your new templates should appear. Select the one you want, and a new document will be created in whatever folder you’re in. The only thing you’ll want to ensure is that your documents will be opened with the correct program. Since many documents can be read by multiple applications (I currently have Firefox and Chrome installed, as well as the Gedit text editor and Bluefish HTML editor, all of which can open HTML documents), it’s important to make sure this is set correctly. This setting can be accessed by right-clicking on a document type you want to change, accessing the Properties window (this should be the last entry in the menu), then adjusting the settings in the “Open With” tab.