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Creating a new document in Mac OS X has traditionally entailed switching to the appropriate application, creating a new document, choosing the Save command, and then navigating—via the Save dialog—to the folder in which you want the new document to reside.

But the thing is, when I create a new document, I usually have a pretty good idea where I’m going to save it. In fact, that folder is often open in the Finder. So I’ve always wanted the ability to say, for example, “Create a new Word document right here.”

My wishes have been granted with Vertical Eye’s $8 Document Palette (   ). Once Document Palette is installed—it runs as a background application, with a separate foreground application that you launch to set preferences—you can create new documents, on the fly, in the current folder. With a folder active in the Finder, you simply press Control+Option+Command+N, and a translucent palette appears onscreen showing possible document types—by default, a plain text document, a rich text document, and an HTML document. Choose one of the document types—by clicking on one of the icons, using the arrow and return keys, or pressing the letter shortcut listed next to that document type—and a new document of that type is created in the current folder.

In other words, if you want to create a new RTF document in the current folder in the Finder, you simply press the Document Palette keyboard shortcut and then click on the RTF icon; a new RTF document will automagically appear before your eyes. Double-click it to start working.

Document Pallete’s palette

This functionality alone is cool enough, especially if you tend to work with text, RTF, and HTML files, but Document Palette’s real power is that you decide what documents appear in the palette. To add your own document template, first create a blank document in the desired application and save it to your hard drive. Then launch the Document Palette application and open its preferences dialog. Drag your document template into the Documents window, and you’ll be asked what to name the document icon in the palette, what keyboard shortcut to assign to that icon, and whether or not you want to delete the original file after adding it to Document Palette. Voila! Your template is now available as a choice in Document Palette’s palette. (You can also use the preferences dialog to edit the order in which icons appear in the palette and to change keyboard shortcuts for existing palette items.)

Because new documents created by Document Palette are clones of the version you created, they don’t have to be blank—you can add templates of documents you frequently create, making Document Palette the most efficient way I’ve seen to create new documents based on a template. Since I’ve started using it, it’s become a must-have in my own Mac OS X tool chest.

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