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TextExpander Review

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TextExpander and Asian Efficiency

One of my essential Mac apps is TextExpander. It’s one of the first apps I install on my Mac because I use it so much day-to-day to get stuff done. I want to give you a quick overview of TextExpander and how I use it to be more Asian Efficient.

TextExpander is one of many text expansion apps available on the market. If you’re unaware of what a text expansion app is – it’s an app that runs in the background that allows you to use certain keyboard shortcuts or keystrokes to type faster.

For example, instead of typing “talk to you later” I can configure it so that whenever I type “ttyl” it will automatically replace it with “talk to you later”. If I type “;let” it will automatically replace it with “Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. I’ll be here to help.” which is how I often end my customer support emails.

You can think of it as a more sophisticated¬†version of “autocorrect” that you can customize to your particular needs. As you might imagine, text expansion can be extremely powerful if you set it up the right way and TextExpander in my opinion is the go-to app for that.

There are other apps in the market such as Typinator, aText and TypeIt4Me. I honestly haven’t used any other app for comparison because TextExpander has been recommended to me by other Mac nerds that I respect.

When I did my due diligence, I found out that Smile, the company behind TextExpander, has been around for years. That’s one of the key things I look for when I invest in software. In the past I’ve been burned too many times by apps whose companies either got shutdown or gone out of business. Then you end up with non-supported software that doesn’t get updated and you have to switch again to something else which comes with a lot of problems and challenges.

Using TextExpander

When you first launch TextExpander it will look something like this:

This is what TextExpander looks like on my Mac.

This is what TextExpander looks like on my Mac.

On the left you see a group of folders that will contain your snippets (your “programmed” keystrokes) and on the right you can see what each snippet does.

Since TextExpander runs in the background, you will never notice it’s there. As you type and learn a couple keystrokes, it feels like it’s part of the operating system. There’s no lost in Mac performance – it doesn’t slow down your system at all.

It’s actually the opposite effect that you will get – increased efficiency. It’s simple: the faster you can type, the more efficient you will be and the great thing is that TextExpander works in every app. Whether that’s Pages, TextEdit, Safari or whatever app you’re using – you can use TextExpander to make your life easier and more Asian Efficient.

To give you an idea how much time I’ve saved with TextExpander, check this screenshot:

My TextExpander stats. Almost saved 2 full days of typing!

My TextExpander stats. Almost saved 2 full days of typing!

That’s over 46 hours of typing saved thus far. That’s almost 2 days of non-stop typing. It’s of course an accumulation of my years of using TextExpander but hopefully that shows you how much time you can save.

How I Use TextExpander

I’ve written before how I use TextExpander but I want to give you a quick idea of how I currently use it on a daily basis.

I contribute a lot to our customer support where our clients and customers can reach out to us for personalized help. I use TextExpander a lot for answers to commonly asked questions, URLs of blog posts I often reference and links to products that I recommend.

Another way I use this app is for daily standardized things that I have to write. For example, every morning I write in our internal wiki my Daily Update. The DU is where we share what each team member will be working on that day so the whole team can see and help each other out when necessary. The format of the Daily Update title is always “DU – YYYY-MM-DD: DAY”. Instead of typing that every morning (which is prone to mistakes), I have a snippet “;du” that expands to something like “DU – 2014-06-16: Monday”.

TextExpander is great for standardizing things. In this example I used our Daily Update, but imagine how you can apply it to names of documents, reports, email subject lines, folder/file names, and so on.

I also use it a lot for forms. Instead of typing my full email address I have a snippet for that (especially since I have multiple email addresses). Same thing for phone numbers. I’m terrible at memorizing them but I have a couple snippets for different phone numbers.

Again, checkout my other post on TextExpander snippets to see how I use it with examples of snippets that you can literally copy and paste.

How You Can Use TextExpander

Now that you have an idea of how I use TextExpander, think of the ways you can use it. How can you replace those repetitive keystrokes, sentences and naming conventions with text expansions?

I’ll give you some pointers to start with:

  • Developer. Re-use snippets of code, lorem ipsum, special syntax.
  • Customer Support.¬†Common stock responses, standardizes messages.
  • Sales People. Stock quotes, naming of files, semi-personalized letters.
  • Medical Doctors.¬†Standardized messages, layouts of reports, naming of folders, files and reports.

In the future we have more advanced posts and screencasts coming up on TextExpander. It’s one of our favorite apps on the Mac and one that we can recommend to every Mac user. Stay tuned for more!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy June 18, 2014 at 8:19AM

Great article. I have an interesting relationship with TextExpander. I have a lot of snippets but tend to forget what the snippet is for a certain string of words. Any tips and tricks to remember what they are?

Reply

Thanh Pham June 18, 2014 at 8:27AM

Absolutely! Make sure you go to TextExpander Preferences > Hotkeys. Then set a shortcut for “suggest matching abbreviations”. I have OPTION+1.

Now when you press that hotkey, it will open a Spotlight-alike search field and then you can search for your snippets, and pick one to use. Over time you’ll get better at remembering them.

Reply

WJ June 18, 2014 at 3:24PM

Text expander is an amazing app that has saved me oodles of time as well. Do you plan on sharing any of your personal snippet groups?

Reply

Thanh Pham June 19, 2014 at 6:00AM

You can find a couple here: http://www.asianefficiency.com/technology/textexpander-guide/

But I’ll share more in the future.

Reply

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