E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Mac Tip #3: TextExpander – Mac Typing Shortcut Utility Saves You Time!

Continuing further with the blog post series of Mac Tips I have been putting together over here on the good number of (social software) tools I get to use on a regular basis to help me be more productive, I thought I would cover today what, to me, is perhaps the biggest productivity tool I have bumped into on the Mac for the nearly two years I have been using my MacBook Pro as my main work machine.

It’s one of those tools that I would not classify per se as a social software tool, yet, it surely is helping me engage further in the social networking space much easier, and faster (As well as healthier!) than whatever I could have imagined so far. Yes, indeed, I am talking about the superb TextExpander, your next best friend on the Mac!

TextExpander "saves you countless keystrokes with customized abbreviations for your frequently-used text strings and images" and although initially it may not say much more about it, once you start watching your behaviour of how you interact with your computer you immediately get hit by the numerous ways you could make use this application itself. And from there onwards, there is no way back! However, I thought I would expand further on the topic and perhaps share with you five different reasons as to why you would want to consider this tool to, at least, give it a try at some point. Thus here we go:

  1. Saving keystrokes: If you are one of those people that gets to type quite a lot of text all over the place, and if that text string happens to be rather repetitive sometimes, why should you type it again, right? Well, with TextExpander, a couple of keystrokes and off you go, it will add that text for you automatically, whether just plain text or rich text! Even images!! Amazingly easy!
  2. Spell check: With TextExpander you will no longer need to use a spell check; the application itself will become your default spell checker for everything! And all of that thanks to the AutoCorrect group of snippets. A huge database of strings that will correct on the fly almost every single spelling mistake you make. Try it! I know you will thank me later! Yes, it is *that* good!
  3. Filling out forms: How many times have you had to fill in an Internet form or a specific document, presentation, spreadsheet, regular text file, whatever, with the same information details over and over again? Far too many, right? Well, with TextExpander, a couple of characters and voilรก! Your forms instantly filled in and ready to go! Priceless!
  4. Wealth of macros: One of favourite reasons. While you get to educate TextExpander to include the regular (rich) text strings you will want to avoid typing again, there is already a wealth of group snippets that you can import right away and start seeing the benefits of using this tool. Right from the Snippets user preference you can rather go ahead and create your own or import those already existing ones! That way you don’t have to start from scratch! Nice, don’t you think?
  5. Watching over your health: Repetitive Strain Injury anyone? In the past I have talked about RSI a couple of times and have shared a number of tips on how to help prevent it. Well, perhaps one of the most compelling reasons I can mention for TextExpander is how it helps you save time by not having to constantly be typing away the same text strings, which means that with a couple of keystrokes you are off to insert the text you need without having to type it and therefore freeing up your hands from your keyboard. To that extent one of the nifty features is providing you some statistics on how many characters you have saved, but most importantly how many hours you have saved in the end as well!

    And I can only say that in my case it has been plenty of them, so you can imagine how grateful both of my wrists are about the extended breaks I am enjoying from that all of that typing away! W00t!

I am sure there would be plenty of other reasons why you would want to make extensive use of the fantastic TextExpander application, so I encourage you all to perhaps share through comments what your favourite ones are. Yes, I do realise that there is a price tag for this tool, and, to be honest, considering the amount of time I have been saving already; considering as well how much less I get to type on a daily basis, I can certainly state that $30 is not that expensive. Quite the contrary! I consider it quite an investment not only for my time saved, but, most importantly, for my own health! And that’s what really matters, don’t you think?

Oh, to wrap this Mac Tip #3 blog post, I thought I would give a special thanks as well to Euan Semple, who first introduced me to TextExpander through Twitter and encouraged me to give it a try and from there onwards I haven’t been back and more and more by the day it’s becoming that essential tool for my Mac I cannot longer live without! So, thanks much, Euan! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  1. Luis – TextExpander is a utility I keep wanting to like, but really hate having to pre-define the clips/expansions.

    Nearly 20 years ago, I was using a similar utility that learned as you typed, and was a HUGE productivity bonus. Of course that was on Mac OS 7 or 8 – if anyone knows of a similar solution, hit me!

    To a productive 2009, in mutually new digs! (formed a new company in December – and away we go!)


    1. Hi Dan! Thanks a lot for the feedback comments and for dropping by! You bring in a very good point with regards to TextExpander perhaps learning as you type, but I have found over time that the good number of group snippets available cover for most of the typing I do. In fact, I have got a good solid list of text strings, but the addition of the various groups has been tremendous!

      But, like you said, it would have been nice if it would learn on the fly and I do hope it would support that functionality at some point!

      Oh, and CONGRATS on the new company! Have been following you guys from the start and you surely have been doing some really good piece of work! Well done and keep it up! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Hi Luis,

        If you ever need to use Windows and still want to be able to use your TextExpander snippets, you might like Breevy (click my name for more info), which can actually import TextExpander snippets for you so you can use them even when you’re away from your Mac.


        1. Hi Patrick! Wonderful! Many many thanks for dropping by and for the excellent suggestion! Not that I will be going back to Windows any time soon, but I do have a T400 that I use every so often, so it’s great that I can also use these scripts on that Windows box! Great stuff!

          Thanks ever so much for the heads up! Greatly appreciated! ๐Ÿ™‚

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