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TextExpander: Looking for a Great Shorthand Typing Tool?

Published June 1st, 2006

TextExpander: Customizable Typing Utility Saves Time!

TextExpander SoftwareShorthand may be a lost art, but Peter Maurer had another great idea when he came up with Textpander. So great it’s now been bought by the software company SmileOnMyMac, renamed TextExpander, and priced at a hefty $29.95. (Fortunately, I got my license by contributing to Maurer’s PayPal account!)

Textpander has become one of my absolute favorite utilities… one that I couldn’t last a day without. I’ve got a couple dozen shorthand items set up that save me a huge amount of time and brainpower. The most recent example is one I did for this blog… I now have a shorthand for the HTML image tag that goes in each of these short reviews. It’s always the same, always needs to be typed, and differs only in the filename. So now, with one little typing of this phrase: softimg
I get all of this entered for me: <img src="/images/software.png" align="right" alt="Sample Software" width="96" height="96"/>

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. Once you begin to think of the ways TextExpander can save you time, you’ll really start saving time and being more productive. I’m a pretty damn fast typist, but who needs to type repetitively? TextExpander is much more than a copy/paste tool, though. Before using it, I had used iClip for this sort of thing. But Textpander has a number of additional tricks to offer.

For example, another shorthand I thought of recently was this one, which goes at the beginning of each review update: supdate
gives me:

Update 6/1/06

That’s right… TextExpander can use variables as placeholders for certain dynamic content.

TextExpander lives behind a neat icon in your system menubar, and you manage the snippets in a System Preference Pane. You can assign keyboard shortcuts to individual snippets as well as shorthand, and you can set up an external file that TextExpander can “subscribe” to for adding new snippets. A brilliant piece of software engineering from the fellow who gave us Butler (still free!), Service Scrubber, and many other software nuggets.

TextExpander Preference Pane

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