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
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.
TextExpander for Recruiter Productivity
Recruiters are often busy since they work long hours and spend plenty of time on repetitive administrative tasks. However, using TextExpander can save them plenty of time and boost their productivity. Often, recruiters have to type plenty of repetitive things such as “thanks for showing an interest in our job opening” and other common aspects, such as URLs and job titles.
One way that a TextExpander is useful is that recruiters can write more with less effort. This is possible with TextExpander’s shorthand typing feature. It frees you from having to type the same content over and over, which ultimately boosts communication.
Now, instead of typing all the characters manually, recruiters can store them in TextExpander all at once. They can assign a short abbreviation of only three characters, such as “ko;” The text would automatically appear on the email once they type this abbreviation.
Apart from that, recruiters can also use this tool to memorize hard-to-learn information—for instance, job titles and their descriptions. Whenever a recruiter needs to share this information, all they need to do is memorize the abbreviation. TextExpander makes it significantly easy for the recruiters to communicate with the candidates and related stakeholders.
Benefits of Using a TextExpander Tool
There are plenty of advantages that a TextExpander can offer a business. Let’s take a look at some notable advantages below:
1. Saving Time
Once you implement shortcuts on your keyboard, you’ll observe significant savings in terms of time. No longer will you have to type long paragraphs over and over. You can also create templates and save them to TextExpander.
2. Improved Accuracy
After the double user checks their snippets, they won’t have to worry about spelling ever again. For instance, you can store accurate information such as an address or telephone number in TextExpander as shortcuts. This way, you won’t have to worry about it typing in the whole thing later. Moreover, more than one user can access the TextExpander at a time and access the information available in there.
3. Quick Messaging
Another way people can benefit from TextExpander is through quick messaging. It can be useful for people who like to have quick chats and rely on instant messaging. For instance, they can make a shortcut for “Hi, how are you doing today” without typing in all these characters.
Moreover, if you are a student, you can easily create entries for research papers with the help of a TextExpander application.
4. Write Web Page Automatically
One of the notable things about TextExpander is that it makes it easier for web designers to insert lines of HTML with fewer keystrokes. Usually, a web writer has to write numerous codes repeatedly, but with TextExpander, they can save plenty of time.
How TextExpander Saves Time
TextExpaner helps users save plenty of time by eliminating the need for repetitive tasks. It uses technology that lets a user summon information by tapping a few buttons. It uses the help of abbreviations and content to form snippets, which can be used across different platforms.
Not only does it help save time, but it also enables users to keep track of the time they save with TextExpander. All you need to do is click on the statistics button, and you’ll see how much time you save with the tool.
Is Using TextExpander Safe?
TextExpander is not an application that you can trust with sensitive data. If anyone gets access to your device, they can easily track and read all your snippets. But as far as Keystrokes and Keylogging are concerned, your data in the snippet is safe. The tool does not send or store your data anywhere.
The way it works is by logging in a small number of keystrokes to volatile memory. This aspect helps TextExpander to do its filtering. The tool ensures to clear the log after you quit the application, making your data private and secure.
How do you use TextExpander Cross-Platform?
TextExpander is now available across different platforms, including IOS. Users can easily download the application’s keyboard from an application store. Moreover, it is also compatible across different platforms such as Windows and Mac. Users can easily purchase the tool from their website and download it on their devices.
TextExpander is also available as Google chrome’s extension. To use the extension, simply head to Chrome’s extension store and search for your desired TextExpander. After clicking on it, make sure to add it on Chrome. Once done, set up your snippets and enjoy the perks of TextExpander on Chrome.
TextExpander Examples and Ideas for Your Snippet
With the help of a TextExpander, you type in short snippets that automatically convert to a longer bit when you type these abbreviations. For example, you can make “w,b” an abbreviation for your website. This means that whenever you type these characters, your website will show up! How cool is that?
Ideas for your Snippets
- Website and URLs
- Business Information
- Email and Automated Responses
- Branding Information
- Link Building
Best TextExpander Alternatives
As we identified before, a TextExpander tool can significantly boost productivity and efficiency. There are several applications out there that people can use to automate workflow and adopt a better-streamlined approach.
Although TextExpander is a decent app, it may not be a good fit for everyone. Below are a few alternative tools to consider:
- Phrase Express
With rising repetitive tasks in daily routine, it is important to have a TextExpander tool. The application can automate the workflow and boost efficiency.
Snippets and Text Expansion Troubleshooting in TextExpander
Whenever you are facing a snippet and text expansion error, it is advisable to follow the steps below.
- Ensure that the Expand Abbreviation option is marked checked in expansion preferences
- Enable Expansion with the help of the menu bar
- Contact tech support if you notice anything about secure input
- If the issue persists, you can reset TextExpander.
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.
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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.
Angelo has been involved in the creative IT world for over 20 years. He built his first website back in 1998 using Dreamweaver, Flash and Photoshop. He expanded his knowledge and expertise by learning a wider range of programming skills, such as HTML/CSS, Flash ActionScript and XML.
Angelo completed formal training with the CIW (Certified Internet Webmasters) program in Sydney Australia, learning the core fundamentals of computer networking and how it relates to the infrastructure of the world wide web.
Apart from running Sunlight Media, Angelo enjoys writing informative content related to web & app development, digital marketing and other tech related topics.