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Keep a Templates folder handy

If you download a lot of apps, books, music or movies you probably appreciate the need to include accompanying information, the classical example of this being the ubiquitous Readme.txt file. You might also include copies of the home page (supplying a description), the FAQ, product reviews, your own notes, hints and settings, images of book or CD covers, etc. Naturally it makes sense to group these in separate folders. If the download comes in a compressed zip file, you will want to keep this in its own folder away from the rest of the material you've collected.

This is compounded by the fact that the folder tree display shows only folders (and zip files converted to folders). So if the main folder for your app contains a subfolder named Setup and a Readme file sitting outside it, you won't know whether you've created a Readme file just by looking at the folder tree in the left hand pane; you will have to look at the folder contents in the right hand pane too. So your choices in Windows Explorer come down to either using no subfolders at all when there are very few files, or compartmentalizing your info by putting your Readme file and other notes into a Readme folder, your installer in a Setup folder, etc. (Of course, Directory Opus gets around this to some extent by offering you a Flat View (recursive folder view) where the contents as well as the folders are displayed.)

In Windows Explorer, the usual means of achieving this separation is to create a New Folder or New > Text Document as you require it, with its name field open for editing. How many times have you typed "Readme" to create a new Readme.txt file? Strangely enough, there is no easy way to right-click in Explorer's context menu and select New > Readme.txt file or any other folder or file with a "boilerplate" name. Of course, you can create templates of these somewhere and make copies of them in the folder where you need a new one. But this usually involves several clicks and becomes very tedious after a while.

There are some workarounds, the best one to date being a Windows shell extension for XP named Fast Explorer, but alas it does not play well with Windows 7 and it is no longer supported.

My current solution is to create the templates I need and store them in a folder on a drive other than the one in which I am working. Happily, most laptops store their Windows and recovery files on a separate partition, usually a (logical) D: drive. If you have access to it, this would be ideal as you only require a tiny amount of room. Failing that, use a partition manager to create a tiny partition for this purpose, or keep your templates on an attached USB stick, etc. Why? So you can simply drag them across to where you're working. Dragging from a different drive only ever requires a single click and always copies, never moves, the files so you need never worry about losing your precious templates in the process!

Let's begin by creating the folder D:\TEMPLATES. Into this you can load empty but pre-titled files such as Readme.txt, Notes.txt, Links.txt (for when you just want to store the URL of a page or pages), Settings.txt and maybe even Caution.txt. The beauty of this approach is that you can also store empty folder templates, each containing a whole hierarchy of empty subfolders and files. For example, a folder named !NEWAPP (NEW APPlication - the preceding exclamation mark sending it to the top of its containing folder contents) might contain a subfolder named !Readme (containing description.txt, hints.txt, etc.), along with other subfolders named Info and Setup. You will be surprised at how many "off the shelf" folders and files you actually use. Using template folders and files also makes your filing more consistent.

Now, using a three-panel file manager such as Directory Opus, we can have our working folder (e.g., C:\DOWNLOADS) open in the left panel and D:\TEMPLATES open in the right one.

Need to add a Setup folder to your working directory? Just drag-and-drop it from your TEMPLATES directory on the right to your work directory on the left. One click does it all, no context menus to worry about.

All that remains is to be able to open (or reopen) your TEMPLATES folder with as few clicks as possible. Thanks to Directory Opus, we can add a button to do this all with one click without having to double-click a shortcut, run a batch file, click a launching app, take our hand off the mouse to type a hotkey, etc.

Click Settings > Customize Toolbars, then while in Customize mode, display the root folder of Drive D in Directory Opus's folder tree so that the folder icon for D:\TEMPLATES is showing in one of its panes. All you have to do is to drag the D:\TEMPLATES folder icon up and drop it on one of the Toolbars (I chose the Menu toolbar), and Directory Opus will create a rather drab grey button for it named TEMPLATES. Right-click on this button, select Edit... and its Function: field should read Go "D:\TEMPLATES".

That will get you by, but let's make it a bit more interesting. First uncheck Show Label, then find a nice icon - I chose a .PNG file of a rubber stamp and converted it to an .ICO file online at www.convertico.com. Then I clicked the Advanced... button at the bottom of the editor window and drilled down to the View section, selecting List, so that VIEW=List became tagged on, finally appearing as:

The reason for choosing List view rather than Details (my default) is that over time, you are likely to accumulate more templates than can be easily viewed in a single list, particularly if you reduce the size of your Directory Opus window. Now, when I hit the Templates (rubber stamp) icon, that pane opens in List view, no matter what the other panes are displaying.

Done!

Use your TEMPLATES folder for any kind of template file, such as Web page templates, Office .DOC templates, batch file and other programming file extensions (saves having to create a .TXT file and then rename it to .BAT), etc. Have fun.

If you want to create empty files in the current directory, you can do that via a command without the need for template files.

For example, this will create Readme.txt and Caution.txt:

FileType NEW=.txt NEWNAME="norename:Readme" FileType NEW=.txt NEWNAME="norename:Caution"

For more info, see the FAQ, How to Create New/Empty Files (1st reply in the thread).

Thanks Leo for the useful hint.

What field should this command "FileType NEW=.txt NEWNAME="norename:Readme"be entered?

It's nice to know one can do this, however I would still need a template when I require a folder containing pre-titled subfolders.

Also, creating a new instance of a template file or folder in my work area using my method requires only one swipe (drag-'n'-drop) of the mouse, whereas any other way would seem to require clicking a separate button for each template (if the button has such an embedded text command), or alternatively typing a text command somewhere.

I can see one great advantage of your method is that there is no need to go to the trouble of creating a separate partition. However, as you also say, some files (e.g., Microsoft .DOC) require a specific header in order to be recognized for what they are.