Trying to think of the inagural app spotlight is difficult. But after thinking about it for awhile I couldn’t think of any better selection that TextExpander. In short, TextExpander does exactly what its name says, it expands text. I’m not really sure what I would do without this app. It has become part of my everyday life on the Mac that it has become second nature to use it.
I thought about doing a comprehensive guide to TextExpander but there are already some really good ones out there, such as Asian Efficiency’s. So here, I just offer some of the ways that I use the app. The examples I give lend its hand for “academics” but I use it all areas of my life from blogging, work, school, journaling, and much more. It’s worth the investment.
Common Use Cases
- Words with accents, umlauts, and other annoying features to type: If I am writing a paper or taking notes where I come across certain words and names that have these features I will go ahead and create a short snippet. Also, currently I am going through part of a book and updating the transliteration of all the words. It would be pretty annoying to try to type ʾašrê everytime so I created a short snippet that expands when I type ashre;. Now if I was writing the paper I would create these snippets before hand so I don’t have to type them everytime. This ensures both consistency and efficiency
- Pasting: Have you ever tried copying text from one app to another and the formatting is all jarbled? Yeah, me too. With TextExpander’s clipboard feature I just type ppaste and it will paste it in plain text. You’d be surprised at how handy this comes in.
- Emails: Do you find yourself typing the same emails over and over? Yes, TextExpander works great for this too. Another handy feature they have is “Options”. This allows you to create a snippet that has several different options that you can choose from.
- Templates: I use all kinds of templates for class notes, reading notes, personal notes, meetings, conference notes, and more. TextExpander allows me to keep these templates consistent so I am not going back to the previous file, copy/pasting in a new one while removing the previous text. Whenever I am reading a book or a paper I like to try to have a consistent format for them. The key information that I want to have in everyone is the author, title, date started, summary, and notes. TextExpander can create a “fill-in field”, which allows me to tab through different fields as I type.
Let’s break this down:
The title and author are considered fill-in fields. The date uses the .ds snippet mentioned above. And finally, the %I makes sure my cursor goes there after the snippet.
That is just a small taste of what this app can do. Just think about anything that you type often and that can be changed with a snippet. One feature that was recently added is the ability for it to notify you if you are typing a certain word or phrase all the time and suggest a snippet for it. Can’t remember your snippet? No problem, they have a keyboard shortcut that brings up a little search box that allows you to search any part of your snippet and paste it right in.
TextExpander has become part of my everyday life that often times I forget that I am using it. When I get on a machine that does not have it I often times feel lost.
And just in case you’re wondering I’ve saved around 92 hours of writing with this powerful app.
- If your looking for the complete guide to TextExpander check out Asian Efficiency’s great work. (Link)
- A helpful list of TextExpander snippets from MacSparky. (Link)
- Another guide to TextExpander from LifeHacker. (Link)
- Brett Terpstra is always posting helpful snippets. (Link)
I use these functionalities but don’t really create them on my own but from others have shared on the web. ↩
Go here: http://brettterpstra.com/share/te-snippets/ and then from the dropdown menu choose Next X ↩
Note: the astericks around the headings are for Markdown syntax, which will be covered in a later post. ↩