Super-Fast WordPress Blog Posts via E-Mail with TextExpander 4

I was looking for a way to post quick blog posts to WordPress similar to how easy it is to post a Tweet. I love the global “new tweet” in the official Mac app. There’s a lot of stuff I’d probably post on the blog if I didn’t have to go through the process of going to the website and performing the New Post Ritual.

I’ve actually been wanting to post a lot more to the blog as opposed to ephemeral social media outlets as of late—tweets aren’t Google-able, and get lost in the never-ending Timeline. Facebook is even worse. I like the idea of fleshing out a thought, and having it accessible to the search engines. I feel like I’ve thrown away a lot of good ideas in a tweet that really should have been blog posts. But setting up a blog post can sometimes be a pain, even as easy as WordPress makes it.

At first, I thought I might be able to link it to Evernote or by emailing an Evernote note and using WordPress’ “post by email” function. But Evernote adds weird formatting to the text and extra HTML borders—it’s a big mess. I was poking around on the post by email page on the WordPress help and discovered all the shortcode options you can add to the email body to control things like the Category and the Published/Draft status of the emailed post, when it hit me: TextExpander 4.

TextExpander 4 introduced some super-cool new features, my fave being the fill-in snippets with multi-line fields and pop-up menus. Turns out these are perfect for posting via email. Let me show you how I did it…

The first thing you need to do is head over to the WordPress post by Email page and follow the instructions to set up an email address to post from. Also take a look at the Shortcodes section, as we will want to use these in the TextExpander snippets. I’ve only included the ones I use the most, so you’ll want to customize for your needs. Notice that all shortcodes are contained within left and right brackets. In our snippet, we’ll just include those, and then within the brackets where there are items we want to either type some manual text (like the body of the post or the Tags), or choose from a Pop-up Menu (for items like the Category or the Published/Draft Status), we’ll add some Fill-In Snippets.

Here’s a screenshot of the final TextExpander Fill-In snippet so you can see what we are going to create:

And here is how the actual snippet is built:

It’s relatively simple from here on out. First, we’ll add an optional Title area. Click on the “Macros” button and choose Fill-ins -> Optional section as in the screen shot:

This will pop up an entry window where you will set up the specifics for the Title shortcode. I made this optional because you can use the Subject line of the email for your title. I’ve chosen “include by default” for now.

In the contents area, you’ll see if you look closely that the WordPress post-by-email shortcode {title YOUR TITLE GOES HERE} is in the Contents area. What I’ve done is set up the “YOUR TITLE GOES HERE” text to be a text box snippet, so that you can enter whatever title text you choose. Anything outside the percentage signs will just be added as-is once the snippet is inserted.

Next, we need the main body text. This time we again choose a Macro, but with a Multi-line field:

Now we want to add another Macro, this time using the Pop-up Menu option which you will fill in with the Categories from your blog as I have done here:

Then add a Single-line Macro for the Tags:

And finally, another Pop-up Menu for the Status:

I’ve only included the two options I need, Draft and Published, and I’ve chosen Draft to be the default option.

Just to be safe, I end the snippet with the “end” shortcode to make sure the posts ends here in case some extra stuff like an email signature sneaks its way in to the email.

Now just choose an abbreviation for your snippet, fire up a new email, address it to your super-secret WordPress post-by-email address, then hit the tab key to jump down to the Body of the email and type in your TextExpander abbreviation for the new snippet. It should pop up the Fill-in Snippet window (like the first image in this post). You can hit the Tab key to jump between fields and pop-up menus in the Fill-in Snippet, enter your text, choose your options, then hit OK when you are done.

I’ve created this entire post using this method. And I am sure you are wondering how I got images and hyperlinks in the post. For those, you’ll need to go back and do that once you’ve hit OK in the Fill-in snippet and then just add images and hyperlinks like you would for any regular email message.

It should be noted that any of these snippets could be broken out into their own shortcut in TextExpander. It might even be more feasible to skip the large Body section altogether, and just have TextExpander assist with adding the shortcodes for the other metadata like Tags, Categories and Post Status. Especially considering if you want to add images or links, you are going to need to edit the content in the regular Mail body text anyways. Consider this method a working proof of concept for now.

I’ve only just hit upon this method, so I am sure readers (and myself) will find ways to optimize this even further. But hopefully this gets the discussions started, and helps all of us blog more often!

Update: here’s a link to download the TextExpander WordPress post by email snippet group. After using this snippet a few times, I’ve decided that I prefer to just add the post metadata (Category, Tags, etc.) using TextExpander rather than the entire post. But I’ve included both versions in the linked snippet group. You’ll need to edit the pop-up menu Categories to those used on your own blog, and note that the Category must already exist to be used with the post by email method.

Update 11/6/2012: Mac productivity guy Merlin Mann mentioned this post on episode #81 of his Back To Work podcast (about 35 minutes in) during the TextExpander promo. Nice!

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