One way to become more productive is to take as many shortcuts as you can, lets face it typing the same thing over and over again can get boring fast. TextExpander from Smile Software ($34.99) manages repeated typing for you. TextExpander lets you create extended text entries (which it calls snippets) that are automatically entered for you in your App or Browser when you type a predefined short code.
For example, you could type Hhome and TextExpander will automatically replace those letters with your home address. In the same way you could create snippets for your mobile (cell) phone, home phone and your email address.
Creating a new snippet is very easy. Click the New Snippet button. The Content field contains the text that you want TextExpander to type for you. The Label lets you identify the snippet. The Abbreviation defines the short code that you type to activate the snippet. It is possible to create plain text snippets that when inserted will follow the format of text that you are using in your application. You can also create snippets with specific text formatting.
The snippets can be arranged in groups, which helps the organisation of them once you start to build up a collection. Think of groups as folders for your collections of snippets.
Improving your email workflow
One of my pet hates is getting internal emails from people at work that contain a signature with the unwanted bulk of the corporate logo, company address, the persons title, and the legal disclaimers. With TextExpander you can create multiple signatures using short codes. Just use the one snippet that you need. Now all your internal emails can be more personal with just your name and internal telephone number. You could have a separate one for external emails with all the additional legal disclaimers. TextExpander also supports images, so you could scan in a copy of your handwritten signature and include this in a snippet.
Even more powerful is the form support built into TextExpander that lets you create snippets with blank fields. When the snippet is activated, it will prompt you to fill in the blank spaces before entering the text into your document. This can be particularly powerful for creating ‘canned’ email responses. For example you could create a snippet so that you can quickly respond to an email, so the sender knows that you have got it and you are working on a response.
Predefined Snippet Groups
TextExpander also offers predefined snippet groups such as AutoCorrect to correct common spelling mistakes such as ‘taht’ when you meant ‘that’. Other predefined groups include Accented Words, and Symbols. If you are a Web programmer then there are snippet groups that will help you create CSS and HTML markup for the Web.
TextExpander also has the capability to automatically enter dates and times in a format that you choose. This is very handy for meeting minutes and notes when you need to capture the current date or time. Brett Terpstra has created a great natural language date snippet for TextExpander that allows you to type ‘next Wednesday 2 PM’ (it was the 21st of January when I wrote this article) and it will return ‘Wednesday, Jan 25th, 2012 at 2:00pm’.
Syncing your Snippets
Finally you can sync the snippets library through Dropbox to other computers running TextExpander. Smile Software also has a iPhone/iPad App, TextExpander Touch, which you can sync your snippets library to as well. However unlike OS X where TextExpander works on all applications, iOS Apps need specific TextExpander Touch support. A list of supported applications are on the Smile Website.
TextExpander is a great application, and once you start using it, you will never want to be without it. It will improve you e-mail workflow and save you time. Happily there is a iOS version as well.
TextExpander is available on the Mac App Store TextExpander Touch on the iOS App Store