You know when you suddenly realise that you keep undertaking the same task again, and again, and again?
I’m terrible for this – I do it all of the time. Worse, still, I know I’m doing it, yet it often takes me an awfully long time to do anything about it.
This has long been the case with entering repetitive text. Whether it’s my email sign-off, shipping address, or the consistent elements of my YouTube description template, if I could have £1 for every time I’ve typed the exact same sentence of text, I’d be a very rich man.
Thankfully, I found TextExpander and… yeah, you guessed it – this simple piece of software has changed the game for me, big time.
What is TextExpander?
The premise behind TextExpander is super simple. It’s an omnipresent app on your Mac which enables you to summon pre-written content with a couple of keystrokes.
TextExpander refers to these keystrokes as ‘abbreviations’ and the content to which each one is linked is known as a ‘snippet’. For instance, if I want to add my shipping address to an email, I simply type ‘zadd’, and it appears, instantly.
The idea is that you can save common words, sentences, paragraphs, or even images, for instant recall, rather than adding them by hand. What’s more, you can add date and time macros, math, and special characters. It’s even possible to create snippets that tell the cursor exactly where to land after insertion.
TextExpander is incredibly powerful but in such a satisfyingly simple way. Saving mere seconds when you recall your snippets might not feel like much, but add up those instances across a week, and you’re gaining back serious time.
5 ways I use TextExpander
When I first installed TextExpander, I thought I’d only have a couple of uses for it. My shipping address, email address, and YouTube description template were the most obvious, and immediately saved me some time once turned into snippets.
But the wonderful thing about TextExpander is the way you continually discover reasons to use it. For instance, my list of snippets has grown from the three previously mentioned to 20, and most of them I could never have predicted until their repetitive nature suddenly dawned on me.
Here are my favourites, which might offer some inspiration for any new – or seasoned – TextExpander users out there.
Favourite snippet 1: YouTube video description template
I publish either two or three videos on YouTube every week. That’s a lot of filming and editing, but it’s also a lot of typing. Before TextExpander, I’d head into my pinned Apple Notes to grab my video description template, copy the text and paste it into YouTube. Now, I just type ‘zyoutube’. Bosh.
Favourite snippet 2: brand colours codes
I have two brand colours to which I need to refer regularly. It might be an instruction for a designer, or while editing a video and inserting a graphical overlay, but before TextExpander, I’d have to seek out those hex codes manually. Now, I just type ‘zorange’ or ‘zgreen’, and I’m done.
Favourite snippet 3: Medium blog CTA
If you’re reading this blog post on Medium, you’ll spot my call-to-action (CTA) at the end of the article. This rarely differs, which means I’d always have to manually copy and paste it into each Ulysses document during the writing process. Not anymore; ‘zmedium’ now does it for me.
Favourite snippet 4: common URLs
I’m always sharing my website address, links to the Eight or Sixteen podcast, or my YouTube channel homepage. With individual snippets now set up for each of those URLs in TextExpander, it’s super easy to recall them (this is useful for embedding links in blog posts, too).
Favourite snippet 5: newsletter description
Every week, I send my newsletter audience a behind-the-scenes video. Accompanying that video is a description which rarely changes, but also acts as a point of reference for me during the filming process. I used to keep a template for this in Apple Notes. These days, ‘znewsletter’ is all I need to type to make it appear.
I seem to find new uses for TextExpander every week – it’s an utter delight.
You’ll note that I’ve mentioned Apple Notes a fair bit above, and I’d recommend it – or whatever your notes app of choice is – as a great place to start when considering your first bunch of TextExpander snippets.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been storing often-used text, references, and details as notes. So, take a look through your notes app and try and sniff out what could easily become a TextExpander snippet.
This simple app has made the world of difference to every single working day for me, but I’d love to do more with it. So, hit me in the comments with your favourite TextExpander snippets – let’s make this an awesome resource for users of this brilliant app!
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