Tame Email With These TextExpander Snippets

Anyone who has heard me talk about OS X knows how much I love Text Expander. With Text Expander I can create short text snippets that, when typed, expand out to larger chunks of text. It saves me tons of time typing.

I use it everywhere but today, I’m going to share with you some things that I do to make managing email easier.

Expand common email responses

If you find yourself frequently sending the same email responses to your readers build a snippet library of canned responses.

This is especially helpful if you are running a help desk.

You can personalize the message by using either fill-ins or just moving the cursor to a spot that you want to personalize.

Dear %filltext:name=Name%,
Thanks for contacting support. I'm happy to help you with your question.


Your Friendly Support Team

This snippet will prompt you for a name, type some pre-canned text and then drop the cursor at the bottom of the message so you can customize it.

Expand my signature

In general, I always use the same signature. So I setup a snippet that will expand out my signature after I type the closing like so:


Text Expander would just expand the snippet to this:


Joe C

You might wonder why I use the beginning of the closing rather than a unique abbreviation? It’s because then, I don’t actually even have to remember to type the abbreviation. It just works for me as I’m typing. This realization has saved me countless hours of time.

Expand my email address

Like the snippet above, I create Text Expander snippets that use the name part of my email to expand my entire email address. So, if your email address is foo@somedomain.com create the foo@somedomain.com snippet and set the abbreviation to foo@

Search GMail

I often want to go back and search my GMail account by time but I never remember the syntax. I created these snippets to make things easier for me to remember.


This snippet returns everything in the last year.



This snippet returns everything in the last 30 days.





I use this snippet to show all of the unread messages in my inbox.

label:unread in:inbox


Use this snippet to find large attachments over a certain size. I chose 10 megabytes

has:attachment larger:10M

So there you have some of my tips for getting email under control with Text Expander. I’d love to hear how you use Text Expander to make your life easier.

Favorite Mac Tools Open Thread

Hi everyone, I’m interested in hearing what your favorite Mac applications are. You know, the ones that you use everyday and can’t live without.

I’m looking for some new cool applications to learn and write about so let me know in the comments.


Get 50% off TextExpander this weekend

Happy Black Friday! For my readers outside the US Black Friday is the biggest retail shopping day in the US.

I just noticed in my inbox a great deal from Smile Software on their killer application Text Expander. From now until the December 2nd, you can get TextExpander for 50% off.

What is Text Expander? It’s one of the most essential Mac productivity tools you can own. Wow, that’s a pretty big claim but what does it really do?

Simply put, it allows you to create keyboard shortcuts for things that you type everyday. Type the short cut and it *expands* to replace the shortcut with the text.

What can you use it for?

I’ve written a couple of articles on Learning OS X that talk about Text Expander. Check them out


If you want to pickup a copy of Text Expander before the sale ends, click the link below.


Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Restrict Google Searches by Date Range using TextExpander

When I search for things with Google I often need to limit the date on the query to within the last week, month or year. If you have ever done this you know it’s a bit of a pain because you need to click through to the “Search Tools” menu and use the drop down list to restrict your search.

I found out that it is possible to set the date range using the daterange operator directly in a search. The problem is the date format must be in Julian not Gregorian. I don’t know about you but I can’t convert Gregorian to Julian in my head.

Enter TextExpander.

One of the cool things about TextExpander is the ability to use shell scripts in your snippets. So I created a TextExpander snippet that will convert a Gregorian date range to a Julian date range. It then prints that date range to the console. TextExpander will expand whatever text is returned by a shell script.

You can see my script below. Note that the first line of this script should point to your python instance. For most people it is /usr/bin/python. Also note that this script depends on jdcal. You can install jdcal by following the instructions here.

from jdcal import gcal2jd
from datetime import date
from datetime import timedelta

SPAN = 30
#get today's date
today = date.today()

span_days = today-timedelta(days=SPAN)

#convert those two dates to julian
j_today = gcal2jd(today.year,today.month,today.day)
j_span = gcal2jd(span_days.year,span_days.month,span_days.day)

#return the results as a string
print "daterange:%s-%s" %(j_span[0]+j_span[1],j_today[0]+j_today[1])

Create a new TextExpander snippet and paste in this block of code. Change the snippet “Content” from plain text to Shell Script. Give your snippet a name, I call mine glast30 and you’re good to go.

I then duplicated the shell script changed SPAN = 30 to cover additional date ranges. I created snippets for 7, 30, 90, and 365 days.

It’s your turn!
TextExpander is a really powerful way to get things done more efficiently on your Mac. Every day I come up with new ways to use it. Do you have any interesting ways that you use TextExpander? If so please added to the comments.

Never Forget Another Mac Keyboard Shortcut Again!

No sooner does the electronic ink dry on an article about Mac keyboard shortcuts do I come across a killer app that eliminates the need to ever post another Keyboard shortcut list.

The app I’m talking about is called Cheatsheet. With Cheatsheet you no longer have to hunt around for a list of keyboard shortcuts. All you need to do is hold down the Cmd key for two seconds. After two seconds you will see a window similar to the image below.

Cheatsheet for Mac application window

See the keyboard shortcuts for your currently running app.

Cheatsheet uses a little software wizardry to peek inside the running application to extract all of the keyboard shortcuts. It works like magic.

Not only is Cheatsheet great, it’s free!

Learning the keyboard shortcuts is a great way to boost your productivity on your Mac. This app makes it simple. Enjoy!

Do you know about any cool Mac productivity applications? Tell me about them in the comments.