Quickly Creating Documents Using Templates in GNOME

28 September, 2020

If you write the same type of document regularly — whether it’s an article, book, paper, or blog post — using a template can save you a bit of time when you’re getting started. Instead of going through the whole process of firing up an application and setting up a document from scratch, using a template offers you a preset format that you can dive into.

In GNOME, the templates for the types of documents that you regularly create can be just a right click away. Literally. Here’s how to set that up.

I’ve also used this feature with various flavours of Ubuntu. It might also work with other desktop environments — just don’t quote me on that.)

Right click in a folder in the file manager. In the menu that displays, you’ll see an item labelled New Document.

The New Document item under the right-click menu

Hold your mouse cursor over that item. A second menu flies out. If you haven’t created templates, that menu will contain one or two items — for example, Empty Desktop File and/or Empty File. Those might not be incredibly useful to you.

To make that menu useful, create a template or three for the types of documents that you regularly work with. That could be, for example:

Make sure that your templates have placeholders for titles and sections and (in the case of word processor documents, spreadsheets, and slide decks) page layouts and styles set up. Here’s an example:

Example of a template that I use

Once you have some templates, put them in the Templates folder in your /home directory. When you need to create a new document, right click on your desktop or in your file manager and choose New Document. From there, select the template to use.

Here’s what my template list looks like:

My templates. Yes, here are too many of them ...

I really should clean some of those out …

You’ll need to change the name of the file. GNOME gives the new document the name of your template followed by an extensions — for example, Blog Post.md. Once you do that, you’re ready to get writing.

Scott Nesbitt