Why You Should Use Text Expander: it’s so choice

Recently, I revealed to you the one Mac app I think is so essential that if I had unlimited time and energy I would teach the entire worldwide Apple community to use.

This week, I’m going to talk about an app that is equally as powerful and tremendously useful. (I can’t think you’re all that surprised that I have dueling passions for software.)

In fact, when good ol’ Brooks Duncan gave a presentation on going paperless at an organizing conference, I captured his unbridled feelings for Text Expander:


You might feel the same way once you get this fella installed.

But, wait you say. What does it do? What does it DO?

You create little snippets of text and then those snippets trigger your Mac to expand that little snippet into a larger piece of text, or a symbol, or even a picture.

So for example whenever I type: “ddate” (without the quotes) I’ll get 2014-10-10. (Except it will be whatever today’s date is when I type it.)

Or whenever I type “xa” (without the quotes) I’ll get .

Or if I type “xchoice” I’ll get this:

That’s because for most of these I created snippets to do these exact actions. Creation of snippets is easy — like “building Lego” as David Sparks might say. So “so choice” snippet’s build looks like this:

So Choice Text Expander

Here’s some other snippets that I use daily:

1. Consistent file naming.“;file” gives me 2014-10-10 – so that if I’m naming a file or an Evernote note I can have a slew of consistently dated files. See how nicely they line up in list view? (Yes, my son is a certified Jedi. Stand back.)

Jedi Evernote

It uses some macros to put it that current day’s date. The macros are signified by the “%” Set up it looks like:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.28.06 PM


2. Consistent file names for dates in the past. The above example works great if I want the date to be today’s date, but sometimes I’m scanning something into Evernote that has a date from a month ago or later. In that case I’d fire off “;past” and then I would see something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.35.27 PM

I fill in the month and day hit return for “ok” and bam! instant archival file date. These form fill-ins are macros too and it looks like this under the hood:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.41.05 PM


3. Commonly typed email. Forms can be powerful, because if you’re sending the same email over and over it can give you an editable template.

4. A quicker bookmark. Of course as a digital organizer I have a nice and tidy set of browser bookmarks. But I also find hitting

⌘+L in the browser and then typing “xblog” to give me http://bosorganization.com/blog is quicker.

5. A little visual flashback for your emails and messages. Sometimes pictures do say a thousand words or more. The next time your friend asks you about your iPhone 6 Plus just type “xso” and they’ll receive:


Pasted Graphic 1

I recorded a short (under 3 minutes, huzzah!) showing you this in action:

Now YOU, my friend: what text or picture do you type over and over that you would like to have quick and easy TE access to?

Additional resources:

The Simple Guide to Getting Started With Text Expander at Asian Efficiency

A Comprehensive Video Guide to Text Expander at Asian Efficiency

MacSparky’s Downloadable Collection of Text Expander Snippets (Love the media review ones!)

MacSparky’s Text Expander Touch video (you can share snippets through Dropbox so they’re available both on your Mac as well as your iOS devices.)

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  • awesome..thanks for putting this out there. automation and efficiency revealed…

    • Thanks, Mitchel! Glad it was helpful. Come back and tell us some uses you found for it, brother.