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I saved a iWork Numbers document as a template (and if I look at the file's file information in Finder, the template checkbox is checked). I later opened this template document on computer A and filled in some values. I didn't even actively save it (but Numbers automatically saves document continuously). Next I opened the same template from computer B - and lo and behold, the values I had entered at A appeared on B!?!?

I thought templates worked by forcing the application to create a new "untitled" document based on the template that you by default saved under another name than the template. In other words, if you double click a template in Finder ten times you will have ten identical documents in Numbers named Untitled 1 to 10 based on the template (e.g. with some values and formulas prefilled), but that doesn't seem to be the case.

How are template documents supposed to work? How do I achieve what I describe above - i.e., create untitled documents based on an existing document without altering the original file?

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Once you have a template document you only ever open it to edit that template.

To create a new document based on the template you do File->New in the Apple app (Pages, Numbers, etc.)

This opens a dialog headed "Choose a template"

Then choose the template you created.

Apple's Pages documentation

I think this is the normal way all applications (e.g. MS Excel, Word) I have seen use templates - you choose the template as part of creating a document in the app. It has to be this way as the templates you create and those supplied by the package or third parties are stored in different places.

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You might be conflating two separate, but similar, features here.

Templates are a feature of many applications, including Numbers. The exact implementation is up to the developer; often "template" documents have a different file type/extension -- Microsoft Word templates, for example, are ".dotx" instead of ".docx"

Stationery is a feature of the Macintosh system software, where you can designate any file on the system as a Stationery Pad that can be used as a basis for other files, even if the associated application has no support for templates on its own. (Apple confusingly refers to this in documentation as "templates" although only "Stationery Pad" is used in the interface.)

if I look at the file's file information in Finder, the template checkbox is checked)

Stationery Pads have a checkbox in the Finder. A Numbers template will appear as a file with a ".nmbtemplate" file extension when viewed in the Get Info box, and the icon should have the word TEMPLATE overlaid.

I thought templates worked by forcing the application to create a new "untitled" document based on the template that you by default saved under another name than the template. In other words, if you double click a template in Finder ten times you will have ten identical documents in Numbers named Untitled 1 to 10 based on the template

That sounds like the behavior of a Stationery Pad.

In this case, the key is that you have to double-click the document in the Finder to tear off a piece of Stationery. Any changes you make will be saved to a new file. If you open the Stationery Pad document from the File-Open dialog in the application, you will open the Stationery document itself for modification, and changes will be saved to the original Stationery.

When you open a Numbers template, Numbers will present you with a dialog box informing you that you've opened a template file and asking you whether you want to add it to the Templates gallery, or create a new spreadsheet from the template. There doesn't seem to be a way to edit a Numbers template after creation, ever; you have to overwrite it.

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