Win a copy of an awesome Mac productivity tool


textexpander logo

I type a lot every day. Over time, I began to notice that I type a lot of the same things over and over again. I discovered Smile’s utility TextExpander about two years ago and it has changed the way that I write text. TextExpander has eliminated much of the repetitive typing that I do each day. I’ll explain further with an example.

In general, I always use the same signature when I am typing an email. I don’t always use a standard signature so I don’t have Mail.app insert it automatically. With TextExpander, I can set it up so that ever time I type

Regards,

TextExpander would replace it with

Regards,

Joe C
XXX-XXX-XXXX

http://www.linkedin.com/in/joecotellese

Intrigued? Read on …

The Basics

TextExpander is built around snippets and abbreviations Snippets are the chunks of text that TextExpander expands when you type an abbreviation. You can create your own snippets like the example above or you can use some of the built-in snippets provided by TextExpander.

Out of the box, TextExpander includes snippets that will

  • expand accented words
  • auto-correct common spelling typos
  • expand HTML and CSS markup
  • shorten URLs
  • inserts common symbols saving you the trouble of opening the Special Characters palette.

but these snippets only scratch the surface of what TextExpander can do. I’ve created snippets to

  • expand common OS X directories – I type ~lib and it expands to ~/Library/
  • expand common email replies to frequently asked questions
  • convert text messaging snippets – I type brb and it expands to “be right back”
  • add lorem ipsum boiler plate text to files

There are loads of ways you can use just simple text expansion. It gets even more powerful with advanced snippets.

Advanced Snippets

TextExpander can do more than just expand simple text. TextExpander supports prompts, runs scripts and can insert rich snippets that include images.

TextExpander-advanced-snippet

I have embraced the paperless office. Part of the system I use involves me naming my files in a consistent fashion. For example, if I scan a medical bill I want to be sure that certain information is included in the file name. With TextExpander prompts, I can type in an abbreviation, get prompted for extra information and a filename is generated that conforms to my naming conventions.

Cross platform

If you use an iOS device you can reap the benefits of TextExpander there too. TextExpander snippets can sync across all of your OS X and iOS devices using Dropbox.

Due to limitations in iOS TextExpander isn’t as tightly integrated into the system but there are loads of awesome productivity apps with built-in support.

Jump right in

Try TextExpander out, you’ll be blown away at how simple it is to use. With each passing day you’ll find more and more ways to cut down on the amount of typing you do.

Win a Free Copy

For the next 30 days I’ll be taking entries to win a free copy of TextExpander courtesy of the awesome folks at Smile Software. To enter, leave a comment below telling me how you think you can use TextExpander to make your life easier. The best entry will be receive a coupon code good for a free download of the application.

Be sure to include your email address when you fill in the comment form so I know how to reach you if you win.

About Joe Cotellese

Joe is the founder of Learning OS X. He's often spending way too much time playing with new Mac software in order to improve his ability at "Getting Things Done."

Comments

  1. Patrick Serrano says:

    Text Expander would make writing the same messages for work every day a hell of a lot faster and give me more time to get back designing stuff. It might also keep me from breaking my mbp after writing a variation of the same message for the 100th time that day.

  2. I’m a teacher so I have a lot of repetitive tasks that make text expansion ideal. I conference with students and it would be awesome to have that template appear instantly in Evernote without having to copy it each time. I serve on various committees that require me to reply to email in a similar fashion each time. Lesson planning means that I often have to type the same thing each time. Text expander would save me time while I plan. Not to mention the time bought when I have to solve tech problems that require the same reply “Have you restarted your computer?” “Is it on?” “Are you sure it’s plugged in?”

    All of these precious moments can take me away from what I really want to be doing: spending time with my students at school and my own children!

  3. Sam Weinberg says:

    I use Mou for most of my shoolwork. I have certain markdown templates that I use nearly everyday for my assignments, and TextExpander could help me create new documents much quicker. Right now, I have .md files for each of these templates I made (with specific headings and titles for my different classes). When I need to use one I have to open it up up, copy and paste all the text into a new window, then manually replace the date and assignment number (which can be really tedious, believe me). TextExpander could help autofill the correct headings, titles and dates into all my papers, saving me a lot of time in the process.

  4. One thing I’d use it for is entering dates and times. Currently have a number of scripts to do this, but everything I’ve tried involves a significant delay. I’d have plenty of other uses for this too!

  5. I’m a civil engineer who’s trying to get a new consulting business going. I have to repeatedly type proposals, which at times, are slight variations from each other.

    In addition, as part of my design work, I’d have to write out technical specifications for the project execution. Text Expander would help me by pre-setting these 109s verbose specifications so that I can quickly create specification documents by picking & choosing from the pre-set specifications.

  6. Cris Bennett says:

    OK, I’ve drawn a blank trying to come up with a witty entry, so I’ll just tell you the use I have in mind for TextExpander. I use a number of applications that don’t have any kind of template functionality built-in, and, for repetitive tasks, I’d like to use TE to create and use templates of my own. Notably I do a fair bit of project journalling using the terrific Day One (http://dayoneapp.com), and I’d like templates for different types of log entries (eg. quick in-progress logs, end-of-day and week reviews, etc). TE’s flexible expansion of dates and other placeholders would obviously be great for this.

  7. Could definitely use it for citations while writing papers and for work email signatures because right now I have many stored in outlook and being able to type something quick would help save time which definitely adds up each day.

  8. I deal with a lot of repetitive emails for hotels: general confirmation emails for reservations, instructions for hotel staff, quick email reports, etc. TextExpander would likely save me a tonne of time through a year. Would love to win this contest!

  9. text Expander would allow me to finally ditch inerfective clipboard managers for more robust solution. I would use it to summon various code snippets for my web dev and python work. I also consult hardware issues online and it would greatly cut down my time when I’m explaining something over and over again.

  10. I’m a Civil Engineer by profession & who’s trying to get a consulting business started. A lot of my time is spent on preparing proposals to clients which involved repeated text blocks, but with slight variations. Also, my work requires me to create specification data sheets (100s of them). Text Expander would be of great help to me wherein I could pre-set these 1000s of verbose material specifications & call them into the Data Sheet as and when required.

    So, in the interest of my poor wrist, Text Expander would be great to have!

  11. I am a student in advertising field who also does web design on the side. I would love to use Text Expander to make writing ad copy extremely quick. Sometimes in advertising we say the same thing on five different ads, but they all have different formatting on them so having Text Expander would make it simple to match formatting in my work.

  12. Mindaugas says:

    TextExpander would save me a lot of time by reducing repetitive typing, such as responses to client e-mails, various snippets of html/css code, some typical hello’s on IM’s even :). My keyboard would enjoy not being pressed as often and I could focus more on other important tasks at hand.

  13. Keith Poirier says:

    I would love to get a copy of TextExpander for emails alone – being able to setup snippets for greetings etc… would be a great time saver.

  14. I’m a .NET developer working on a Mac (Parallels FTW!). My coworkers think I’m crazy, and that I should be “getting a dell” like everyone else here. Storing code snippets, common message templates and simple text shortcuts will help cut down my development time and the administrative work I have to do. Plus, any cool tool or feature I can use to make my coworkers jealous is huge! I’d love to get a chance to make them drool.

  15. I already use TextExpander Touch on iOS. It’s great but having it on Mac would be a lot better. As much as I love my iDevices, I can’t do everything on them, and from what I’ve seen, TE is more powerful on a Mac than the Touch version, which would make sense given the sandboxed nature of iOS. TE would be great for my use in University. I frequently have to email professors and fellow students. Certain aspects of these are more or less formulaic, and would be better not having to be typed out. Especially with things like my required specific subject lines for each course. TE Touch isn’t quite as capable as if like, as I’ve found. A lot of written assignments also have formulaic requirements such as headings, and TE would even help with things like footnotes and other aspects, via markdown snippets, since I’m doing much of this semester’s work in markdown.

    Equally important, to me, is writing for my blog, which I recently revamped and am trying to build up. I’ve seen some awesome examples of code snippets and the like, which would be great for my purposes. It’s definitely some nice software to have on iOS but seeing what others do with it on the Mac, it’s pretty cool.

  16. Jamie Fang says:

    Not sure if I am too late. Procrastination, eh?

    But I decide to write about how I feel about TextExpander at last.

    I heard about TextExpander when I bought my Mac. It certainly looked interesting at that time. It was not something that can be done on Windows as I remembered. However, after I downloaded the trial, I was somehow intimidated by its interface. And I was not sure if I really wanted that. What if I cannot type normally after a long time using this software.

    The temptation to use some shortcuts for typing was enkindled again when the iOS introduced text expansion (http://lifehacker.com/5849229/how-to-configure-ios-5s-awesome-built-in-text-expansion). I added some shortcuts for my email addresses immediately.(They are quite a pain, aren’t they?) And the truth is that I love these expansions. They are fast to type, easy to use, and can be synced on every devices. By that time, TextExpander had already implemented sync feature as I read from MacStories.

    However, I am still not sure if I really need TextExpander. I am not convinced yet.

    I think 1Password is better than iCloud Keychain when it comes to organization. So I am quite happy with 1Password because I had a lot of logins. And Keychain can never meet my need even if it has better integration with mobile Safari.

    But I can never imagine having that much text expansions, snippets and etc. What if I can make do with whatever that’s offered by Apple? Am I really willing to go through the trouble dealing a new software to change my workflow significantly? What if it becomes broken some day?

    That being said, the ability to expand the date is one feature of TextExpander that interests me a lot. I am using Pear Note for my lecture notes this semester. And Pear Note has this feature built in. I would not have known how necessary this feature can be had I not used it. Now, after I quickly name the document (I only need to put the acronym of the class in the filename) the document can be filed automatically with the aid of Hazel. It is a snap.

    Maybe I should give TextExpander another chance. On one hand I got this inertia that I don’t want to change anything. On the other hand, there is a possibility that TextExpander will totally change my workflow and make a really good impact on me.

    Thanks! I am waiting for a sign here. :D

  17. Jamie Fang says:

    Do we have a winner?

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