Text amplification apps are a abundant way to save time back you acquisition yourself accounting the aforementioned advice repeatedly, but they can do abundant added than that. One our favorites is TextExpander on Mac, and it’s a able apparatus already you apprentice how to use it.
Thanh afresh wrote on our armpit about the basal appearance of TextExpander and how he uses it on a circadian basis, and in this column I appetite to dive in a little added by assuming you how you can use the altered macro types that are attainable in TextExpander to actualize your own (and added complex) “snippets.”
This column originally appeared on Asian Efficiency.
In TextExpander terms, a “snippet” is what is displayed back you blazon the assigned TextExpander abbreviation. For example, an abridgement like “tyvm” ability aggrandize to the the atom “thank you absolute much.” I use this a lot for quotes. For example, I accept an abridgement “xplan” that expands to the atom of one of my admired quotes, “those who abort to plan, plan to fail.” So at its core, TextExpander is absolutely what it sounds like—a affairs that expands text. And if this was the abandoned way you anytime acclimated TextExpander, the app would still be able-bodied annual the $35 annual bulk because it would still save you a ton of time.
However, abounding times the argument you end up accounting afresh has capricious or alternative content. This is breadth the macros we’re activity to altercate in this column can absolutely arise in handy.
There are several altered types of macros in TextExpander. Accumulate in apperception that you don’t charge to absolutely acquire these macros as they can all be amid appliance the Admit card in TextExpander:
These are the altered types of macros that are attainable in TextExpander:
I’m activity to breach these macros bottomward abandoned and allocution about them in accompanying videos.
One of the best applied applications of TextExpander’s macros is for date and time stamping. You can use TextExpander to put in times and dates appliance altered macros for altered formatting options. Actuality are all the altered macro options for announcement date and time information:
For example, a atom that would aggrandize to Friday, August 8 2014 – 2:05:03 PM would be written:
%A, %B %e %Y – %1I:%M:%S %p
You don’t charge to acquire these macros, however—you can absolutely baddest these from central the admit menu.
Here are a brace added examples of accepted date and time architecture snippets that you can add to TextExpander:
Adding date and time stamps like this to your addendum and advice is extremely helpful. We afresh wrote a column on the accent of dating aggregate on Asian Efficiency. Actuality are a brace examples of things that could annual from date/time stamps:
You can additionally do date/time algebraic to add or decrease units of time in Argument Expander. To do this, artlessly put the date/time algebraic prefix BEFORE the assemblage of time you appetite to adapt (you can do this through the admit card as well—please see the video example). Date/time algebraic macros actuate with “%@” and are followed by a ” ” or “-” and afresh the assemblage of time you appetite to add or decrease (i.e. “D” for days). For example, “Make abiding you book your bulk letters from the arrangement by %@ 14D%B %e, %Y” would add 14 canicule from the accepted date.
Did you apperceive that you can absolutely put snippets inside of snippets? This is alleged a Nested Atom and allows you to use a atom in added than one abode afterwards accepting to blazon it out afresh (or alike the abbreviation). To add a atom central a snippet, aloof baddest it from one of your atom folders appliance the “Insert” drop-down in TextExpander and selecting “Snippet”, or by appliance the macro %snippet:(snippet_abbrev) breadth (snippet_abbrev) is the abridgement of the atom you appetite to use.
This is advantageous back you appetite to use a adduce aural a accepted email message. For example, ahead I told you about a atom I created for one of my admired quotes blue-blooded “Fail to Plan” that says “those who abort to plan, plan to fail,” which is broadcast by appliance the abridgement “xplan”. I could backup this atom central a admonition email for my aggregation associates at assignment to abide their contributions on a accurate project, which would attending commodity like this:
Just a admonition that the accepted dart is wrapping up this anniversary and we still haven’t accustomed all aggregation contributions. Afterwards all the acclimatized pieces it is absurd to roadmap this activity and I’m anxious about falling abaft on our ambition dates. Remember, %snippet:xplan.
This macro simulate a key press. There are four options to accept from: Enter, Escape, Return, or Tab. This can be advantageous back bushing out forms to about-face from one acreage to accession afterwards absolutely accepting to blow your keyboard—just let TextExpander do it for you! You can do this by selecting “Key” from the Admit card in TextExpander or by appliance the macro %key:(key name) breadth (key name) is the name of the key.
For example, you could actualize a atom which abounding out your buzz cardinal and automatically jumped to the abutting acreage for bushing out web forms by creating a atom like this:
However, we awful acclaim you do not use this admission for your online passwords. For one thing, TextExpander doesn’t assignment with defended ascribe fields, but added chiefly it exposes your passwords and annual accreditation to anyone who ability accretion admission to your atom collection. For example, if you accompany your snippets appliance Dropbox and your Dropbox accreditation are compromised, all of your snippets (which are stored in apparent text) are accessible. Instead, use commodity like 1Password to abundance your passwords deeply instead!
This macro puts the capacity of your clipboard into the appointed breadth of the snippet. You ability use this back sending an email to assorted recipients (like a affair invitation) back you appetite their name to arise several times throughout the email message. You could archetype their name from an allure annual and afresh accept it arise wherever %clipboard appears. You can additionally bung in this macro from from the Admit menu.
Here’s an example:
Hi %clipboard! I’m throwing a altogether affair for our acquaintance Thanh abutting Saturday at Whole Foods (he absolutely loves that place), and I absolutely achievement you can come. I apperceive it would beggarly a lot to him if you were able to achieve it. Amuse RSVP to me so we apperceive how abounding to expect. Achievement to see you soon, %clipboard!
Assuming we affected the name “Zachary” to our clipboard afore accounting the snippet, here’s what it would attending like:
I’m throwing a altogether affair for our acquaintance Thanh abutting Saturday at Whole Foods (he absolutely loves that place), and I absolutely achievement you can achieve it. I apperceive it would beggarly a lot to Thanh if you were able to come. Amuse to me so we apperceive how abounding to expect.
Hope to see you soon, Zachary!
Here’s a brace added things that could be acclimated with the %clipboard snippet:
Did you apperceive that TextExpander isn’t aloof for text? You can absolutely use it to abode images as well. This could be advantageous for a aggregation logo—for example, back I blazon “aelogo” it expands into our armpit logo.
This could additionally be advantageous for storing:
You can use this macro to move your cursor to a assertive area aural your atom (called the “insertion point”). You can add this macro by selecting “Cursor –> Position Cursor Here” from the Admit card or by accounting ⌘| (Command vertical band character).
This could be advantageous back sending an email to assorted bodies about a accepted affair but you still charge to adapt anniversary message, like cogent bodies what to accompany back planning a party. For example:
Thanks for accordant to advice me bandy a abruptness affair for Thanh. Aloof a admonition that the affair is this Saturday at 4 pm and I’ll charge you to accompany ⌘| for the party. I absolutely acknowledge all your help!
This is additionally absolute advantageous for cipher snippets. For example, I could achieve a atom that looks like this:
By putting the macro for affective the cursor (⌘|) amid the citation marks, the cursor will be automatically confused to that position afterwards the atom is broadcast and I can artlessly blazon in the value:
You can additionally move the cursor up, down, larboard or acclimatized of the admittance point. These are represented by ←, →, ↑, or ↓ (⌘<, ⌘>, ⌘^, or ⌘v). For example, if you capital to move the cursor bottomward two curve at the end of the snippet, you could achieve this by accounting ⌘v⌘v.
Fill-Ins are absolute able macros that acquiesce you to do some crazy things with TextExpander. There are 4 types of backup macros you can accept from:
This macro has one specific acreage breadth you can blazon in the argument that you appetite to appear. For example, you could accept a single-line acreage called “First Name” which would aggrandize with the acclaim and a acreage breadth you could blazon in the recipient’s aboriginal name. This is a abundant way to personalize anatomy email templates. You can add a single-line acreage backup by selecting “Fill-Ins –> Single-Line Field” from the Admit card in TextExpander.
The macro for a single-line acreage is %filltext% with added options for acreage name, absence value, and width. So if you capital to use a single-line acreage backup for customizing the top of an email template, it would attending commodity like this:
Hi %filltext:name=First Name%,
This macro would aggrandize to attending like this:
Here are a brace added examples breadth single-line acreage fill-ins ability be useful:
This macro is aloof like the single-line acreage except you get a argument box that you can ample in, affectionate of like the “Messages” or “Additional Comments” acreage in abounding web forms. This is acutely advantageous for abbreviate lists, and the advantage of this over the single-line acreage is that the multi-line acreage allows for abundant added text.
The macro for a multi-line acreage is %fillarea% with added options for acreage name, absence value, and width, and height. So if you capital to use this macro central a atom for creating branch tag argument for web development, it would attending like this:
To set this up, abode the cursor amid the branch tags and baddest “Fill-Ins > Multi-Line Field” from the Admit card in TextExpander. Achieve abiding it’s placed between the branch tags, put “Paragraph text” for “Area Name” and leave absence value, width, and acme abandoned for now.
In the video example, I’ve called this atom “p tag” and accustomed it an abridgement of “xptag”. Now back I about-face to my argument editor I can blazon “xptag” and the atom fires acceptance me to blazon my branch argument in a architecture that is attainable for the web.
Here are a brace added examples breadth multi-line acreage fill-ins ability be useful:
This macro opens a popup card with a brace pre-populated options for you to accept from. You could use this back sending out arrangement reminders to baddest the adumbrative the arrangement is with or selecting from a bound cardinal of variables, like selecting a artefact back afterward up with a customer’s contempo purchase.
The macro for a popup card is %fillpopup% with added options for popup name, popup card items and absence setting. So if I capital to actualize a accepted atom to use back afterward up with a customer, I could actualize a atom that says:
%fillpopup:name=Product:OmniFocus Exceptional Posts:default=Productivity Blueprint:Asian Efficiency Primer:Premium Newsletters:Better Sleep
To set this up, I’ll baddest “Fill-Ins > Popup Menu” from the Admit menu, name the popup “AE Product”, and afresh ample out the artefact options as my popup card items – “AE Primer, Exceptional Newsletters, Better Sleep, OmniFocus Exceptional Posts, and Abundance Blueprint”. You can additionally change which advantage is called by absence (I’ll baddest OmniFocus Exceptional Posts).
In the video example, I’ve called this atom “AE Products” and accept accustomed it an abridgement of “xprod”. Now back I about-face to my Mail app and I appetite to accelerate a chase up bulletin to a customer, I can blazon “xprod”, baddest the acclimatized artefact from the popup menu, hit “OK” and the acclimatized argument is pasted into the anatomy of my email message.
Here are a brace added examples breadth popup airheaded could be useful:
This macro includes a area of argument that you can accommodate by selecting a checkbox. You ability use if there’s a commodity you sometimes accommodate in a acknowledged acceding or if you sometimes accommodate assertive advice at the end of a accepted email response.
The macro for an alternative alternative is %fillpart%(optional text)%fillpartend% breadth (optional text) is the argument you appetite to accommodate in the alternative selection. There are added options for Alternative Allotment Name and whether or not to accommodate it by default.
So if I capital to actualize a atom to chase up with accession who commented on a contempo blog post, I could actualize a atom that looks like this:
Thanks for account the Asian Efficiency blog. %fillpart%Since you assume to like Omnifocus, you ability appetite to analysis out this amend to Omnifocus exceptional Posts.%fillpartend%
Now not anybody who reads the Asian Efficiency blog is absorbed in OmniFocus (hard to believe, I know), so we may not appetite to accommodate that aftermost allotment all the time but it occurs generally abundant that we still don’t appetite to blazon it manually either. Appliance an alternative alternative aural our TextExpander atom allows us to break Asian Efficient afterwards anoying our non-OmniFocus appliance customers.
Here are a brace added examples breadth alternative selections could be useful:
The best allotment about TextExpander snippets is that you’re not bound to aloof one of these macros per snippet. You can absolutely articulation them calm and amalgamate them to do some appealing crazy things from accretion your email abundance by autumn all your email templates in TextExpander to dispatch up your development time by reusing cipher snippets for developers.
Here’s an archetype of a adequately circuitous email snippet:
Hi %filltext:name=First Name:default=First Name%,
Thanks for demography the time to allege with me %fillpopup:name=Webinar:yesterday:default=today:a few canicule ago%. As we discussed, I’ve able a angle for you. To appearance the proposal, use this URL: %clipboard
%fillpart:name=Trial%If you’d like to booty advantage of our chargeless balloon offer, aloof go to our website – www.notarealsite.com/trial.
%fillpartend%%fillpart:name=Portfolio%If you’d like to appearance or download a sample report, you can do so appliance this link: www.notareallink.com/portfolio
%fillpartend%%fillpart:name=Purchase%If you’d like to pilot the affairs and acquirement a few credits to start, use this URL: www.notarealsite.com/buystuff
%fillpartend%%fillpart:name=Reference%If you’d like to allege to accession who is currently appliance our products, actuality are some references you may contact:
Thanh Pham Asian Efficiency 123 Not a Real Street Somewhereville, CA 12345 (555)555–5555 x 1
Mike Schmitz Asian Efficiency 123 Main Street Somewhere Else, FL (555)555–5555 x 2
%fillpartend%I will chase up with you %fillpopup:name=Follow Up:in a few days:default=next week:in a brace weeks% to achieve abiding you got aggregate and see if you accept any questions. If you charge annihilation afore then, amuse feel chargeless to acquaintance me.
Here’s what it looks like back I blazon the abbreviation:
You’ll apprehension there are several Fill-Ins that I can customize. There’s one for aboriginal name, there’s a popup for back the webinar absolutely happened, there are alternative selections for advice I accommodate generally but not every time, and a pop for back I’m activity to achieve acquaintance next. There’s additionally a clipboard advertence breadth I cull in the articulation for the angle off of my clipboard.
Using this snippet, already I’ve called and abounding out all the advice I appetite to include, I can aloof hit “OK” and my absolute email has been accounting for me.
Did you apperceive that you can alike run Applescript via TextExpander? For example, you could accept Applescript atom that opens the accepted URL in Chrome instead of Safari. Chrome has congenital Flash support, so this would be one way to get about installing the Flash plugin on your computer if you capital to abstain that.
Full disclosure: I do not apperceive Applescript, and this archetype comes from the Smile Software blog. All acclaim for this goes to them. Here’s how to set it up:
property theURL : “” tell appliance “Safari” set theURL to URL of accepted tab of window 1 end acquaint if appIsRunning(“Google Chrome”) afresh acquaint appliance “Google Chrome” achieve new window set URL of alive tab of window 0 to theURL actuate end acquaint else acquaint appliance “Google Chrome” do carapace calligraphy “open -a “Google Chrome”” set URL of alive tab of window 0 to theURL actuate end acquaint end if on appIsRunning(appName) acquaint appliance “System Events” to (name of processes) contains appName end appIsRunning
Now aloof go to the currently attainable Safari tab or window and blazon “cchrome”. Chrome will attainable and the accepted tab will be displayed.
This could be absolutely advantageous for active Applescripts with OmniFocus, which has abundant Applescript support.
As you can (hopefully) see from this post, there are a ton of attainable uses for TextExpander. It’s an abundantly advantageous account that will save you a lot of time, but like any apparatus it’s abandoned able if you use it correctly. In accession to the examples we’ve covered in this post, actuality are a brace accepted best practices for you to accumulate in apperception as you apparatus TextExpander into your claimed workflow:
You can accompany your snippets via Dropbox which allows you to admission them via TextExpander blow and added accurate apps on your iOS device. To do this, you accept to go into “Settings”, bang on “Sync” and baddest “Dropbox”.
There are absolutely a few apps that abutment the TextExpander blow API. Here’s a full annual in case you’re apprehensive whether your admired app is supported.
Thanh talked in this commodity about the altered prefixes he uses for altered types of snippets (which is a absolute analytic way to adapt your TextExpander atom collection), but I tend to use a prefix of “x” for everything. There are a brace affidavit for this:
Note: There absolutely isn’t a “right way” to adapt your snippets in TextExpander. The important affair is consistency. You aloof charge to acquisition commodity that makes faculty to you and is accessible to remember.
Before abacus any apparatus to your workflow, you should ask your cocky the questions “what botheration will this apparatus advice me solve?” Aggregate needs to accept a role and a purpose. In the case of TextExpander, the botheration it’s analytic is the bulk of time spent afresh accounting words and phrases you frequently use. But if you don’t pay absorption and bolt yourself repeating things all the time, you can get ashore aloof blindly activity through the motions and continuing to do the aforementioned affair over and over.
Instead, you should be self-aware: every time you acquisition yourself accomplishing commodity added than once, ask yourself “how can I automate this?” With TextExpander, it’s easy—just put in the argument you acquisition yourself accounting generally and it will booty affliction of the rest. But afterwards your own acquaintance atom library, the ability of TextExpander won’t do you absolute abundant good.
Hopefully this adviser to TextExpander has acicular you in the acclimatized administration on how to use this abundantly able Mac utility, but it’s absolutely abandoned abrading the surface. We’d adulation to apprehend how you’re appliance TextExpander!
A Comprehensive Video Adviser to TextExpander | Asian Efficiency
Asian Efficiency was started by two friends, who (unsurprisingly) are both Asian. We saw that there are too abounding bodies in the apple who are black as a aftereffect of active bootless lives. By starting this website, we (both Aaron Lynn and Thanh Pham), appetite to appearance you how to alive your activity to the best by actuality added productive, so you can go afterwards the things you appetite in life.
Image acclimatized from OpenIcons (Pixabay), PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay), and Wikicommons.
Want to see your assignment on Lifehacker? Email Andy.
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