TextExpander: My Favorite Mac App

TextExpander (formerly Textpander) is the best of the best Text Macro Apps. In this post I hope to explain to you why you must get TextExpander.

If you were to ask almost any Mac Power User what they have installed on their computer in the way of must have utilities, a sure answer is TextExpander. What exactly is TextExpander? Well it and automated typist for your computer. Ok let me clarify that a bit, it can take the very tedious task of typing the same bits of text over and over again and make them simple abbreviations. Ok that may not sound that important at first; however, after you install TextExpander you can see how easy and effective it really is.

TextExpander can do a whole lot more once you understand the basics of what it can do. It is very easy to take large blocks of boilerplate text and make them expandable in a few keystrokes, but the real power comes from using TextExpander with the many collections of snippets shared on the Web. Smile Software (formerly Smile on My Mac) has made a great list of “Predefined Snippet Groups” available on their site for you to download, install and maybe be inspired to create more of your own.

Examples

HTML: leading character is a comma

Example: ,img expands to:

<img src="%fill:url%" alt="%fill:image description%" width="%fill:width%" height="%fill:height%" border="%fill:border%" align="%fill:alignment%" />

When you trigger this snippet, TextExpander will prompt you to fill in the attribute specs. You can leave any of the specs blank, if not needed.

ACCENTED WORDS

Fixes words that are spelled with diacritical marks, aka accents. If you are used t typing these words like an American TE will autocorrect them so as you won’t offend anyone, like your third grade French teacher.

Example: creme brulee => crème brûlée.

TidBITS AUTOCORRECT DICTIONARY

This list contain 2400+ of the most common misspellings compiled by TidBITS, the newsletter and Web site for Mac users. I find this one very useful as it doesn’t just point out the mistake like spell check, It autocorrects them and makes a ping sound so you know you just misspelled a word.

Some Heavy Lifting

TextExpander can do some every heavy lifting for hardcore scriveners or code monkeys. I use these tools a lot but rather than messing up the explanation I’ll send you to read Brett Terpstra’s post on TE tools and how he uses them. Thanks to Brett, I’m becoming a Markdown Maven using TextExpander tools to get my writing done light years faster.

Another great plus to TextExpander is the integration with it’s mobil app offspring TextExpander Touch which brings many of the snippets and auto completion features to you handheld devices. I have found this to be a lifesaver when needing to get a fast response out via my iPhone or iPad. This also make the mobile platform perfect to blogging or just free-writing. It does have some limitations on iOS but Smile offers this note as a work around:

Given the current feature set of the iPhone OS, TextExpander touch cannot work in the background (as it does in Mac OS X), expanding text snippets while you work in other apps, except for apps with TextExpander-integration built-in. You must first compose your text in the TextExpander touch Compose screen, and then transfer it to another app.

TextExpander is available in the iTunes AppStore

How to Get TextExpander

TextExpander normally sells for $34.95, Mac Update Promo is running a special for $17.95 for a limited time and then $26.21 for the duration of the sale.

Check out the Tutorials on the Smile Software site for a great quick start to this wonderful application

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