Save Time With TextExpander 2.2 for Mac OS X

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It’s often the little things that can add up to make one’s computing experience a little more pleasant, and TextExpander 2.2 from SmileOnMyMac is one of those little time-saving gems that once you use, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

The 2.2 version of TextExpander was just released and it adds even more functionality to what was already a very useful tool. So what exactly does TextExpander do? Just what the name implies, it expands text for you, based on your own custom short cuts, and it works in any application. At $29.95, TextExpander isn’t cheap, but if you type a lot or have to manage a lot of correspondence, you’ll find it to be a real time-saver.

When you install TextExpander you also have to go into your Universal Access system preference and allow access for assistive devices, which is how TextExpander is able to apply it’s short cut magic to every program on your Mac.

Once you define a short cut and the associated text (or images) that should replace it whenever you type that short cut, TextExpander will do the rest. So for any text that you type over and over again (and I guarantee if you pay close attention to what you type for a few days, you’ll find plenty of instances of text you type repeatedly) you can use TextExpander to store the text and associate it with a user-defined keyboard short cut.

TextExpander can fill the roles of both a universal keyboard short cut application and the stationary templates that come with most email programs now. Whenever I find myself in the situation of having to send a similar email out over and over, I just write a TextExpander version and give it a short cut I can remember - I find it easier to use than email templates.

TextExpander comes with a couple of handy built-in commands, including time and date short cuts that will query the system and enter the actual time and date when you type the appropriate short cuts (“ttime” for the time, and “ddate” for the date).

To demonstrate, let me show you a couple of my favorite TextExpander short cuts. For email and letter sign offs, I use “Sin” as a short cut for “Sincerely yours, Bruce Stewart”. For some boilerplate text I routinely type to new authors, “newauthor” calls up three paragraphs of canned text that I’ll never have to type again. The key is to create short cuts that you wouldn’t normally type, or else you’ll find TextExpander making unwanted replacements for you. This is why I used “Sin” with a capital “S” for my sign-off, it’s conceivable I could use the word “sin” in regular typing, but I’ve never had the need to start a sentence with that word, so I’ve never had a mistaken replacement for it.

There’s quite a few configurable options, you can assign hot keys to TextExpander, select which applications it works with if you don’t want it working universally on your system, and change the default sound that TextExpander plays when it makes a replacement.

Once you get used to typing your custom short cuts, I predict you’ll come to love the utility of this little helper program. TextExpander really does save me time every day. This is one case where I completely agree with a company’s marketing slogan: “If you’re not using it, you’re wasting time.” Check out TextExpander and let me know how you like it in the comments section.