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    In fact, in the Xerox Star (the precursor to our modern GUI interfaces), creating a new document is done by copying an existing one.

    In Amiga OS versions prior to…I think it was 2.04 but it might’ve been 1.3…there was no way to create a “new” drawer (what the Amiga called directories in the GUI).

    Instead, the Workbench disk had a drawer on it called “Empty”. If you needed a new drawer, you selected the Empty drawer and copied it to where it needed to go, and then renamed it.

    The Empty drawer was not magic. It could be deleted like any other drawer, meaning you could be left without a way of creating new drawers, theoretically.

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      Recently, I’ve been thinking: there should exist a “save to drag-and-drop” option - basically, instead of:

      1. selecting “save as”, and saving the file at location X
      2. opening up the file manager and navigating to the location X
      3. then dragging and dropping the file where you want it…

      You should just be able to hit a shortcut which gives you an icon of the current file to drag+drop wherever you want it.

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        Risc OS might be interesting in this regard; save is done through drag and drop.

        I wrote a WIndows shell extension that might be interesting; it displays all the open file manager windows from file picker dialogs.

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        I was about to rant about how painful the save dialog is, but then I read the last line:

        As other people noted in the comments, having a New menu is handy because it lets you create the file directly where you want it, saving you the trouble of having to navigate through the Save As dialog just to get back to where you started.

        I have to wonder why save dialogs have to be so painful. Saving something on Windows could open one of about 4 or 5 different save dialogs, most of which are just kept around for backwards compatibility, without even counting the custom ones (e.g. GIMP). I think there’s only one that lets you paste in the path to a directory so you don’t have to navigate all the way back to a folder you have open in another window.

        Only one of the file pickers supports thumbnails (on Linux only the KDE one does, unless something changed recently) and I think not a single one lets you drag and drop a file from another window into the picker to select it: some ignore it and some move it into the directory that’s currently open on the picker.

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          The standard WPF dialog isn’t too bad. The trouble is Microsoft has started hiding even that - in the current version of Word, if you start a new document and hit Ctrl+S it shows a custom UWP dialog offering only some frequently used locations. You have to click a small “More Options…” link (not even a button), and then “Browse”, and finally you are rewarded with a full-featured save dialog. This change drove me to using the New menu only recently.

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            I have to wonder why save dialogs have to be so painful. […] navigate all the way back to a folder you have open in another window.

            On RISC OS the save dialog is just a filename entry and an icon that you drag to the folder where you want to save the file. I only know this because I installed RISC OS on a Raspberry Pi 400 yesterday, and it’s pretty neat. This particular aspect is just drag-and-drop, but I can’t remember seeing another system where you drag-and-drop from programs to folders, it’s usually in the other direction. It’s surprisingly nice to use and the system doesn’t need to invent a second (or fifth) way for the user to browse the file system.

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            Macintosh System 7 (1991) introduced “stationery pads” — template documents. When you double-clicked one, the Finder copied the file and opened the copy. You could easily turn any document into stationery by checking a box in the Info window. I believe this was directly inspired by the Star.

            It never really caught on, though, for some reason, and at some point the feature was removed. Nowadays document-based apps tend to have a template chooser built in.

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              I’m on Mac OS Big Sur, and the “Stationery pad” check box is still there under Get Info in the Finder. I don’t think ported it to the iOS Files app though. :-)

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                That’s how OS/2 2.0 (1992) worked too. From a usability point of view it kind of sucked, because you have to navigate to the folder you want a new file in, then navigate back to your desktop to the Templates folder, and drag between the two (on a 640x480 display.) Win95’s New menu was far more efficient.

                The advantage of this approach is there’s an unlimited number of templates for any file type, and they can be in any location. Win95 provided exactly one template file for each type.

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                  I believe that was the only way to create new documents on the Lisa, to the point that you didn’t start programs, instead you created documents.

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                  I miss this Windows feature so much, it has always made loads of sense to me and having to like… open an application and renavigate to the path I want has always been a pain on other OSes.

                  Honestly I have a lot of respect for Windows’ breadth of usability. Clunkiness is fine when you at least have the option to do a thing.