In this episode, you’ll discover how templates can help you reduce repetitive typing on your Mac.
To measure the number of keystrokes you’re typing on your Mac, I suggest installing the free app called Mouse Miles: https://www.pointworks.de/software/mouse-miles/
Links to the third-party tools mentioned in this episode:
- Post Haste: https://www.digitalrebellion.com/posthaste/
Want personalised tips on how to tame the 3 killers of Mac productivity? Take a free quiz at https://macpreneur.com/score
This topic discusses the use of templates in email and document creation to improve productivity.
In email, templates can be created using the signatures feature in applications like Mail and Gmail, allowing users to quickly insert pre-written email content.
For document templates, Google Workspace, Microsoft Office Suite, and Apple’s Pages and Numbers offer options to create and save templates for future use.
Additionally, the use of third-party applications like Post Haste can streamline the process of creating and managing project templates.
Templates eliminate the need to start from scratch and save time by providing a pre-defined structure for emails and documents.
- Templates can be used in email to save time when writing common replies or outreach messages.
- In Mail applications, signatures can be used as templates by enabling the “Place signature above quoted text” option.
- Gmail has a built-in template feature that can be activated in the Settings.
- Outlook allows the creation of templates, including snippets and full-fledged emails.
- Using templates within the native application provides integration but may not be easily shareable across platforms.
- Google Workspace allows the creation of document templates in Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets.
- Microsoft Office Suite offers template creation and management options in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
- Apple’s Pages and Numbers allow users to save documents as templates for future use.
- Keynote does not support template creation, but themes can be saved for slide layouts.
- Post Haste is a third-party application that simplifies the creation and management of project templates, particularly for complex folder structures.
- Post Haste allows for auto-incrementing numbers, saving history, and defining fixed folder locations for convenience.
- Using templates in document creation saves time by eliminating the need to start from scratch and manually set up the document structure.
Hello, hello! Ever find yourself typing the same thing over and over again on your Mac. Today we are diving deep into a strategy that will save you hours of repetitive typing.
I’ll unpack all of this after the intro.
If this is the first episode that you’re listening to, welcome to the Macpreneur tribe.
Before diving into today’s topic, I want to quickly mention that this episode is part of a short series focusing on the three killers of Mac productivity, namely unnecessary clicks, repetitive typing and file clutter.
I introduced the three killers in episode 58, then provided built-in and third-party solutions to reduce unnecessary clicks in episode 59 and 60 respectively.
Back in episode 61, I started tackling repetitive typing using text replacement.
And now in this episode, I will cover another powerful strategy: templates.
So as seen in episode 61, text replacement is great, but it only helps for short to medium length of text, and it requires us to remember a bunch of snippets.
Now, even though Text Expander offers the ability to quickly search the snippets database, in some cases there’s a better solution and it’s called templates.
I will cover those when dealing with email and when dealing with documents.
So let’s start with email.
As solopreneur, we often need to reply to clients or service providers, and you may realize that you have some common replies.
We also need to do some outreach, or we check in with our clients or with our partners. And so again, it’s oftentimes the same text, the same email, or similar emails.
And so, how can we use templates rather than each time recreate and rewrite a new email?
Simple: with the built-in Mail application, we can leverage the signatures.
So yes, obviously we can create multiple signatures, maybe one when we create a new email and another one when we reply.
But we can also use those signature as a way to have templates.
The trick is in the Settings or the Preferences pane of Mail, you tick the box “Place signature above quoted text”.
And so you will have your real signatures, but then you will have other signatures that will contain more than your signature.
So meaning the email content plus your signature.
And then you can name them however you want, like “outreach”, “check in”, “customer service”, “reply”, and so on.
And then, When you will be in Mail, you will click on reply and you will choose the signature that contains the body of the email reply that you want.
So that’s for the Mail app.
With Gmail, same thing, except that you don’t need to use signatures for that.
Gmail has a built-in template feature.
So it may not be activated for you by default.
So for that, you would click on the Settings button in top right, then you will click on all Settings. You will go to the “Advanced” tab, and there you will see templates, you just need to activate the feature.
Once it is activated, whenever you create a new email or you reply to an existing email, at the bottom right, you will see three dots on top of each other.
You click on that and then you will see a Templates option with a small triangle. And there you have the ability to save the content of the current email, so email subject and body. You can save that as a new template.
You can reuse a template or you can delete templates.
Very useful. I’m using that for some of the things that I need to do for which I, I don’t need and I don’t want to use text replacement capability.
And so using that in Gmail for some of the things makes perfect sense to me.
If you use Outlook, same thing. You can define multiple signatures and you can also create templates.
Now you can create two types of templates: snippets, templated text that you can insert wherever you want within the body of an email, but you can also create a full fledged email and then save it as a template.
It’s a little bit more cumbersome to reuse a template with Outlook, but it’s feasible.
Now, the big advantage of creating a template inside the application that you use is that it’s integrated and it’ll be available wherever whenever you need it.
The disadvantage is: it’s integrated, so it’s not very easy to share it or to reuse it with something else, right?
So if you use multiple tools, if you use both Gmail on the web and the native Mail app from Apple and you access your Gmail account from the Mail app, whatever template you have defined in the web version won’t be accessible in the Mail app.
And the signatures that you have defined in the Mail app will not be available in the web version of Gmail.
So in those cases, it’s better than to use Text Expander or Text Replacement, or, my advice is to stick with the native platform, which means, if you do Gmail, my recommendation is to actually use the web portal, the web version of Gmail.
So that’s email.
Now let’s go and talk about documents.
The best way to kill your productivity is to reinvent the wheel and always start from scratch whenever have to do a report for a client or something like that.
My hunch is that most solopreneurs quickly figured that out, and then make a copy of a previous document, then they delete what needs to be changed and then they start working.
A real template removes even the need to delete anything, and with a real template, you will start fresh every single time.
If you use Google Docs or Google Slides on Google Sheets, you can only create templates if you have a Google Workspace account.
it doesn’t work for personal Google account.
Now to save a template, what you need to do is get out of the document and you need to go to the homepage, so which would be slides.google.com. Same thing for sheets, and same thing for docs.
And there in the homepage, in the top right corner, you will see “Template gallery”.
You click on that and then you will see two tabs: the name of your organization and then all templates.
And so you click on the name of the organization and there you’ll see in the middle of the screen a button that says “Submit template”.
To use a template, you have two options.
But you can also do that directly from Google Drive.
So in the top right corner, you have a “New” button. So click on that. Then you will have a dropdown list.
Let’s say you want to create a new Google Doc based on a template.
So you will hover the mouse over Google Doc. You will see there’s a small triangle on the right. You click on the triangle, and then you have two options, “New” or “From a template”.
So you will select from a template I. The list of templates and so on.
And if you use the Microsoft Office Suite, so Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, that is a matter of File > Save as. And you change the document type.
So instead of being a Word document, you select the “Word template” document option.
And then when you will be in “File” > “New”, you will see all the templates from Microsoft, but you also have a tab that allows you to select your own templates.
If you use Pages or Numbers, you have a “File” > “Save as Template…”
So you can prepare your document, save it as a template. And then the next time you want to reuse the template, you do “New document” > “From template” and you will see your template. At the very bottom, you have your own templates that are available.
Now if you use Keynote, you will have probably noticed that you cannot create templates. You can only save themes.
A theme is a way to save the slide layout, so meaning the background of the slides, text elements and picture placeholders and so on.
But when you save a theme, it’ll not save the slide content.
So the solution is to create a Keynote file with all the slides that you need, with the structure that you need, ready for you to update the text.
And then you can use a third-party application called Post Haste: P O S T H A S T E was originally created for videographers who need to manage video editing projects.
But in fact, you can use Post Haste for any type of documents and any type of project.
The philosophy is very simple.
When you launch Post Haste for the very first time, you define a standard naming convention, which can include a static number or auto incrementing number. It can contain some text, today’s date, and pick lists, so that whenever you create a new project, you choose, for instance, Client 1, Client 2, Client 3, and so on.
That name will be then the name of the parent folder for the templates that you define in step two.
And so a project template can be as simple as containing a single file.
But it could also contain a very complex folder structure with sub folders, sub sub folders, files in some folders, some folders being empty, and so on.
Now let’s take the example of using Post Haste for a single Keynote file.
So you have prepared the file, it’s ready to be updated.
In Post Haste, you will access the templates window. You will create a new project template, and you name it as you want. This is something that you will define only once, and then you drag and drop the Keynote template file into the Post Haste application window.
And a small tip: if that Keynote document name contains the word template in it, that word template will be replaced by the project name automatically.
So you define that once.
Every time you need to reuse that Keynote document. You click on a button that says New project. You select the project template that you just created, if needed, you update the different fields that you have defined in the naming convention.
So could be a client name, it could be the topic of your presentation.
On that window, it’ll show you a preview of the folder name for the project.
There is a button “Create project”: you just click on it and then you will select where you want that project folder to be created.
And that’s it.
There are ways to actually speed up that process.
When you define the naming convention there is a possibility to tick an option called “Save history”.
So for instance, if there are part of the document that you don’t want to change, you will type it once. Because “Save story” will be ticked, the next time you need to create a new project, that name will be there.
If you have project numbers that you want to auto increment, there is also a possibility to define that a number is auto incrementing. Again, no need to do anything afterwards.
And there is also a possibility to define in the Preferences of Post Haste a fixed folder location. So whenever you hit the new project button afterwards, it’ll be always saved in the same place.
So personally I use Post Haste for new Macpreneur episodes.
And so each new episode is a new project folder, and in that project folder I have a Keynote template that I use for recording the episode.
Then there is a sub folder for the teaser and that sub folder contains also another Keynote file that I use for recording the teaser.
And then I have two empty sub folders that will contain the videos that I will prepare and post on social media.
And so Post Haste can be used for different kinds of projects, especially if you have projects that always follow the same project structure.
You define that template once in Post Haste and then you can reuse it and it’ll save you a lot of time because you don’t need to drag and drop and copy paste, and you don’t need to manually type the names of the subfolders and so on.
So it’ll save you both repetitive typing but also unnecessary clicks.
To recap the goal of this episode was to explore different contexts where templates can help you drastically reduce repetitive typing on your Mac.
I’ve started with email and covered the native Mail application as well as Gmail and Outlook, then I explore different ways to turn documents into templates, whether you use Keynote, Pages, Numbers, Google Workspace, or the Office suite.
In the next episode, episode 63, I will cover the third and last strategy for reducing repetitive typing, which is automation thanks to a built-in feature of macOS, so totally free: it’s called the Shortcuts app.
So that’s it for today.
If you’d like to know how well you are currently coping with the Three Killers of Mac productivity, I’ve prepared a free quiz available at macpreneur.com/score.
So visit macpreneur.com/score to discover your Mac productivity score today.
And until next time, I’m Damien Schreurs, wishing you a great day.