Nowadays, most people spend their work days in front of a screen of some sort. You begin your day logging into all your various accounts and apps, and then over the course of the next 8 hours, you type the same ten phrases about 50 times each—your email address, the company’s name, “circle back,” and company-specific jargon like “cloud-based computing.”
Imagine being able to save time and sanity by keying in a one- or two-stroke shortcut to get there instead.
Welcome to text expansion software. It runs in the background of your Mac, and launches at login, so you have your own secret code to get work done, faster.
aText: The cheapest of the options, aText is a great starter. It can expand short phrases into long, so “adr” becomes “1345 State St, Adelaide, SA 5000.” It can also insert images like your company’s logo or product. It even has the ability to create fillable forms, so your standard emails become that much faster. At $4.99US, it’s also the cheapest option.
Typinator: Like aText, this snippet expanding app helps you expand text into longer strands. It lives on your menu bar, so you can quickly add new snippets to your library. Typinator is great for longer phrases, like creating templates for code or a weekly update email.
TextExpander: TextExpander was the first to make it big with snippet expansion. It shares a lot of common features with Typinator, with some more powerful tools. You can create smart fillable forms for common tasks, like sending out follow-up emails. A few keystrokes will insert the form, which will let you fill in the fields with the appropriate name and relevant context. It's more expensive than the other options, but TextExpander offers an office pack for multiple users.
QuicKeys: A snippet expander and so, so much more. QuicKeys is not just text expansion, it's also automation software. QuicKeys can act as an app launcher or can even create a shortcut for your actions. Imagine sitting down at your desk in the morning, entering two keystrokes, and automatically launching your email, calendar, Spotify, Slack, Skype and web browser, opening your unread emails, and checking the temperature. This is automation for the common man, and it's dead easy to use.
So stave off Carpal Tunnel for a few weeks more. Stop that annoying “Incorrect email or password” error. Keep your sanity when drafting your tenth exploratory email to a prospective client. Text expansion software is here to save the day.
P.s. For those of you on the go (or those of us who are never off), you’ll want to know that text expansion is native to iOS. On your iPhone and iPad, go to Settings→ General→ Keyboard→ Text Replacement, and create shortcuts for your phone number, email addresses, and your coworker’s obscenely long, Germanic, and hyphenated surname.