50 Mac Essentials #18: TextExpander

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TextExpander turns short text snippets into longer ones, saving you a great deal of time if you spend a lot of time in front of a keyboard.

You define your own snippets, and the shortcuts you’ll use to trigger them. Every time you type the trigger, the snippet takes its place instantly.

You can use it for basic things: I have the shortcut “ssig” set up to insert my email signature, because I only add it to end of emails when I deem it appropriate (mainly when I’m emailing someone for the first time, someone who won’t know who I am and might find it useful to have my contact details).

But you can also use it for more complicated things. I have another shortcut that inserts today’s date in yyyymmdd format, something I use every single day for renaming image files. And you can create still more complicated snippets that auto-insert all manner of things for you, including the contents of your clipboard, pictures, or other snippets – that’s right, you can tell TextExpander to embed snippets within snippets.

It’s one of those tools that, once you’ve got used to having it around, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

It’s also not the only one of its kind: honourable mention must go to TypeItForMe and Typinator, both of them great products. But I’ve been using TextExpander for years now, and I happy to stick with it.

(You’re reading the 18th post in our series, 50 Essential Mac Applications: a list of the great Mac apps the team at Cult of Mac value most. Read more.)

  • MassiveTurboLag

    I love this series.

About the author

Giles TurnbullGiles Turnbull is a freelance writer in England. He also writes for the Press Association and The Morning News. You can find out more at his website, and follow him on Twitter @gilest.

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