Mac hints and tips
Create and use stationery files
OS X has a feature called Stationery Pad. It's a bit strange and it doesn't always work as you might expect, but in some circumstances it can be very useful, so it is well worth exploring and getting to know. It enables you to turn an ordinary file into a template that can be used to create other files.
To see how this works you need a file that is associated with an application. For example, a text file is associated with TextEdit, and PDFs and JPEGs are associated with Preview. Click one of these file types in a Finder window to select it and then select File, Get Info or just press Command+I to display the Info window.
In the General section (expand it if it is not visible), you will see a tick box labelled Stationery Pad. Tick the box and close the Info window.
This file is now a template and it can be used to create other files. To see this in action, double click it and it will open in TextEdit. If you look in the Finder window (or the desktop if the file is on the desktop), you will see that it isn't the file that has opened, but a copy of it. Finder automatically creates a copy and then the application opens the copy. You can modify this new file and save it without affecting the original. It is useful for writing letters and documents that are based on the same template, or for PDFs that you want to edit, but also want to keep the original for reference. There are lots of ways to use stationery.
You need to remember that this is a Finder function though. If you start an application, open the file from within it, change it, and then save it, you will change the original. The application does not create a copy and when the file is saved the Stationery Pad attribute is removed. You need to set it again if you want to keep it after updating a file this way.
Lock files to prevent changes or deletion
Some files on the Mac's hard disk drive will be valuable and you wouldn't want to lose them, for example, by accidentally deleting them. You might not even want to change them and they should be kept in their original condition. Fortunately, there is a way to protect files for deletion or being changed.
Click a file in a Finder window or on the desktop to select it and then choose File, Get Info or just press Command+I to display the Info window. In the General section (expand it if it is not visible), you will see a tick box labelled Locked. Tick the box and close the Info window.
This file is now locked. If you try to delete it you will see a warning message and you must confirm that you really do want to delete it. If you open the file, make changes and then try to save it you will see a warning that the file is locked and you must confirm that you really do want to overwrite it. So locking a file doesn't stop you changing or deleting a file if you really want to, but it does display warning messages and you must confirm your actions. This makes yu think twice about your action and it gives you the opportunity to cancel. Your important files are therefore safer when they are locked.