We type many things over and over. We put similar greetings atop every email and the same contact info into countless online forms.
Email signatures or cutting and pasting boilerplate text saves time, but don't constitute a system that teaches one how to type faster.
TextExpander is a Mac-based application that enables users to reduce keystrokes by abbreviating frequently typed content into units called "snippets."
These snippets can replace words, phrases, and large blocks of text. They can include alignments and rich text attributes such as special fonts, symbols, and images.
Though not designed as assistive technology, the keystrokes TextExpander saves can make computer use easier for persons with limited mobility, visual impairments, and learning disabilities by reducing the stress and eye strain writing often demands.
TextExpander 3 Makes Writing Faster in No Time
I received a review license from Smile (formerly SmileOnMyMac) and downloaded TextExpander 3 on my iMac.
Using the application couldn't be simpler. Once installed, TextExpander remains a menu item atop the screen and can be used with many programs. I used it with TextEdit and Yahoo Mail.
To create a snippet, write and select the text you wish to abbreviate, click the TextExpander menu icon, and choose "Create Snippet from Selection."
When the TextExpander window opens, the selected text appears in a box at the right.
The cursor is automatically positioned in the box beneath. It is here you type an abbreviation for your selected text.
I created a snippet immediately for my home address, which I include in many emails, but do not want as part of my signature.
I found TextExpander especially helpful during the daily task of filling out forms. Entering my street and email addresses, phone numbers, and URLs with just a few keys made comments and queries far easier to write and made me more productive.
Although easy to use, maximizing TextExpander efficiency takes time and may be tedious for some writers.
A skill one must develop to get the most from TextExpander is creating snippet names that are short enough to be save time and unique enough to avoid accidental insertion.
Top TextExpander 3 Uses
Selecting snippets from a TextExpander library enables users to:
- Insert standard greetings and email signatures
- Insert corporate boilerplate text and logos
- Enter frequently used text in online form fields
- Add special characters such as accent marks to words without opening additional palettes
- Auto-correct common typos
- Create HTML and CSS code templates to simplify web page editing.
TextExpander also offers a number of predefined snippets, including, "ddate" and "ttime" to automatically insert the current date and time.
TextExpander's AutoCorrect Dictionary, supplied by the Apple online community TidBITS, contains over 2,400 commonly misspelled words.
If you accidentally type "recieve" for "receive," TextExpander inserts the correctly spelled word automatically.
TextExpander touch Mobile App
TextExpander touch (versions 1.2.2) is a free app that works on any iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch running iOS 4.0 or later. The small keyboards on mobile devices may be where TextExpander's value is fully realized.
When composing email or SMS messages, for example, you can insert a snippet just by tapping on it.
You can also copy and paste snippets into over 100 popular iOS apps, including Twittelator, TwitBird Pro, Elements, Simplenote, and WriteRoom.
The app also enables Mac users to share snippet groups with iOS devices over one's local network and to sync snippets with Dropbox and MobileMe.
The company provides a software development kit for integrating TextExpander compatibility into iOS apps.
Greg Scown and Philip Goward founded SmileOnMyMac -- a portmanteau of their company names, Smile Software and On My Mac - in 2003. Early products included the CD/DVD packaging application DiscLabel and the PDFPen editing tool. The company acquired TextExpander in 2006. After releasing TextExpander touch in 2009, the company changed its name to Smile, rebranding itself beyond Mac OS X development to include iOS products.