TextExpander: Best Practices

I had a conversation with a fellow Mac geek the other day about TextExpander, and he said he rarely uses it because he’s always forgetting the shortcuts. I thought I’d share some of my formatting practices that I’ve found help one remember their shortcuts. 

The main tip is to be consistent with your shortcuts for related snippets of text. I use the following:

  • Email addresses: @xyz
  • URLs: //xyz (reflecting the http:// in URLs)
  • Long chunks of text: xyz//
  • HTML code: ,xyz

In each case, the xyz is best replaced with something that echoes the text that will be inserted. For email, “@gm” is for my Gmail address. “,a” will expand to the HTML code “<a href=””></a>” with the cursor placed between the (inner) quotes, and so on.

My most-used snippets get very short shortcuts, usually one or two letters with the “group” delimiter (@, // and so on). For example, I have a lengthy, involved snippet for replying to project inquires, and the shortcut is “q//” (the q is for “quote”).

I’ve also found that often I will start typing something and realize I have a shortcut for it, so I’ve set up many of those for short phrases by doubling-up the last letter of the first word. For example, I often type “Looking forward to working with you.”, so I set up the shortcut as “lookingg”. I usually realize I have a shortcut set up for a phrase while typing the first word, so I can “sneak” the last letter in and have the rest type out. An alternate approach is to append the first letter of the next word to the end of the first one, like “lookingf”.

Doubling-up the letters of two-word phrases is handy as well. The shortcut “aapp” is great for “Adobe Photoshop” and so on.

And of course, the final tip is to edit shortcuts often. If you are typing out a keyword that feels natural but it isn’t expanding, change the keyword to that shortcut! TextExpander even has a quick-access item in the menubar for editing the last-expanded snippet.

2 thoughts on “TextExpander: Best Practices

  1. If you set up a hotkey for TextExpander’s Suggest Matching Abbreviation, you never have to remember any abbreviations — just type any word or partial word from the snippet, type the hotkey combo, and pick a snippet from the resulting list of search results. Makes those rarely used snippets easier to get.

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