Regardless of what type of work you do on a computer or mobile device, there are tons of repetitive tasks that simply go unnoticed. Whether you are writing emails, writing code, or even entering login information, there is a way to cut down on these tedious inputs. Ultimately, this simple method can save tons of time for more important tasks.
The solution to cutting down on repetitive typing is automation. One possible solution is using a text snippet expander. Simply put, by typing in a shortcut or abbreviation, your device will generate a pre-made snippet of text that you’ve created previously. Having a library of snippets can unlock great potential for productivity at your desk.
The one we will focus on in this post is called, simply enough, TextExpander, by Smile Software. It is available for OS X as freeware, with optional paid subscription features.
TextExpander is a text snippet application that will expand any length of predefined text, simply by the input of a pre-selected key command. This can save an enormous amount of time with a variety of tasks, from writing professional emails or documents to even web design and programming. Additionally, TextExpander can function as a “auto-correct” tool across various languages to ensure that you are not only increasing productivity but maintaining accuracy. The implementation of this technology is relatively simple, but the ramifications can have an exponential impact on your productivity.
TextExpander allows you to save a selected amount of text as a “snippet”, and any time you input the pre-defined command, it will “expand” the saved snippet in place of the command. Whether you want to create a snippet of a line of text or an entire essay, TextExpander can cater to your needs. In addition, you can even create more complex snippets by enhancing them with image files and links.
As a simple example, take for instance typing out the basic syntax for an HTML document:
<title>Title of the document</title>
Content of the document......
In TextExpander, you could save this template as a snippet under a predefined command, such as “HTML:5”. Now, any time you type “HTML:5”, this will expand the snippet into the full text, without you having to worry about remembering all the exact text. To take this example a step further, you can share this snippet within an Organization or through a Public Group so others can access this code template (see below).
This is useful for coding, email templates, or any situation you find yourself writing a lot of the same text over and over again.
TextExpander Across Devices
Depending on what device or browser you’re using, certain functions of TextExpander can vary. On Mac, this software is available in eight different languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. On the other hand, the iOS version only offers English. Meanwhile, Windows users can access exclusive features such as using Ctrl-/ to toggle between snippets and expanding snippets with images. Also, if you use Chrome as your main browser, you can even download TextExpander as a plug-in for your Internet-related purposes.
If you use OS X, TextExpander can be installed as freeware; to access more features, you must pay for one of two subscription packages (see below).
Who can use TextExpander?
Whenever you’re navigating, communicating, or writing on a mobile device, you can use TextExpander to create a snippet for practically anything. The impact of such a tool is obvious in the workplace, where emails, documents, and data are produced everyday. However, anyone can really use this tool. You can also create snippets for common texts or phrases that you send during text messages or on social media. As a student, you can even use it to save time on typing math equations or chemical formulas. Bloggers or writers can utilize the tool for common text shortcuts. The possibilities are endless.
TextExpander’s blog features countless stories of TextExpander improving the productivity of all types of individuals and groups in the professional world. Whether you’re a professor grading papers, a sales associate promoting a product, or a programmer writing lines of code, this software can save you precious time towards accomplishing your workload.
Using TextExpander for email templates
One of the most powerful uses of TextExpander is to efficiently draft error-free emails.
A small instance can be from the perspective of a college student. Depending on whether you’re emailing a colleague, a boss from an internship, or a professor, your introductory lines and signatures will obviously differ. This is where TextExpander comes in as a useful tool to save time when communicating with others and allowing you to write emails and respond more effectively.
Now imagine you are a typical employee at any type of company. You probably address your department head, your coworkers, and your social circle differently and end conversations with different signatures. TextExpander can allow you to efficiently exchange conversations based on who you’re addressing and speed up the process of writing generic text.
If you find yourself writing essentially the same emails over and over, you can create an email template as a snippet, which will expand whenever you need to recall it. Similarly, you can create custom snippets for any type of application. For example, this could be a common customer service response or answer to a frequently asked question you receive. Similarly, you can even create a fill-in-the-blank snippet that can be used by or to address different individuals. By filling in the fields with the appropriate information, you can save a great amount of time. Snippets are additionally a perfect opportunity to create a personalized signature for every type of email you send out.
One of the great things about the latest version of TextExpander is that it will give suggestions based on the text that you frequently type. Once you have the application installed and running, it will “listen” for text that you often use. Once you type a phrase enough times, it will suggest you making a snippet for this frequently used phrase. This is a great way of finding areas in which you type a lot of the same text repetitively.
Introducing Public Groups
One of the new features that Smile Software Inc. launched in 2016 is called Public Groups. This is a community platform that allows TextExpander users to share their snippets online for free. You can share any group of snippets by accessing the “Public Sharing” option in your settings to share a URL of your snippets. Another option for sharing is publishing them online to Public Groups. As an administrator, only you can revise or add snippets. These changes will be made on your subscribers’ devices. As an automatic member of the Public Groups community, you can subscribe to a group of snippets posted by any user on this platform.
Cost of Using TextExpander
Technically, TextExpander is a paid app/software; however, curious users can take advantage of a 30-day free trial that Smile Inc. offers. Following the trial, users must select a subscription to continue using TextExpander. During this trial period, you can fully experience the benefits of both subscription plans that Smile Inc. offers.
Life Hacker vs. Team
Life Hacker ($3.33 per month) is geared mostly towards individuals or freelancers. It includes convenient features such as accessing snippets across all devices and no cap on snippets.
On the other hand, the Team ($7.96 per month and $9.95 per user) subscription is highly efficient for organizations on any scale. Not only does it include the benefits of Life Hacker, but it comes with additional features such as sharing a collection of snippets between coworkers and allowing administrators to grant permission over snippets. This subscription involves creating an “Organization” or a group with an administrator and other members who can share snippets between each other. Additionally, you can even integrate snippets together. In the customer feedback example, you can use a customer feedback email template and include your personal signature snippet. Subscribing to TextExpander as a go-to tool will undoubtedly speed up your everyday work load.
Anyone who uses a mobile device can reap the benefits of a productivity software like TextExpander. Maintaining professionalism by writing error-free emails while communicating with various individuals in an effective manner can be difficult. However, with your personal library of snippets, this cost-friendly tool can make your job significantly easier. If you’re in need of more snippets, the cost-free Public Groups community offers an entire archive of them. In most cases, teams rely on documents, data, presentations, and emails everyday. However, having a collaborative tool like TextExpander can increase productivity and lead to successful outcomes.
Sign up for TextExpander. Recall your best words. Instantly, repeatedly and save 20%.
Please Note: Sunlight Media, LLC, in accordance with the FTC Affiliate Disclosure Policy, has opted into a commission-based sales, affiliate marketing role with Smile (Makers of PDFpen & TextExpander). Through affiliate text links, any purchases made from using the links within the website earns monetization for Sunlight Media from Smile.
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Crystal is a senior at a public high school in Santa Clarita, CA. She has been invested in technology since her sophomore year, when she took her first Web Development course and used Dreamweaver to design her first websites.
Crystal hopes to continue her studies in computing and technology in her post-secondary education.