Tuesday Tip: Use text expansion

If you find yourself typing the same things over and over again, there is a way to give your fingers a break. Text expansion is a method of assigning abbreviations for things like often used phrases. For example, you may create an abbreviation like em1, which could fill in your email when typed. Or you may have boilerplate text for a business, like thank yous. You could use the abbreviation tfyo that could expand to “Thanks for your order!”

There are some great utilities available, like TextExpander  (currently available for a few cups of coffee less in our WinterFest). It allows you to create many different and sophisticated abbreviations. You can have styled text, insert images, or run AppleScript scripts. There are many ways you could use this software to have a more efficient and streamlined experience on your Mac.

Apple has also included some text expansion features right inside the operating system. Open System Preferences > Keyboard > Text and you’ll see a list on the left showing some built-in shortcuts. Apple refers to this as the Replace With list. Enter your abbreviation in the lefthand Replace list, and what it expands to in the righthand With list. For example, I have a shortcut for inactive support tickets: wfc expands to Waiting for client response.

While Apple’s Replace With doesn’t allow the more powerful options of an app like TextExpander, it is a nice, free alternative for simpler expansions.


7 Responses to “Tuesday Tip: Use text expansion”

  1. Erwin says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for this tip! As a matter of fact I was looking into TE for DTTG2 just yesterday… It’s not on Smile Software’s list yet. Is Devontechnologies working on this?


  2. Stefanie says:

    Happy New Year 2017 to all DevonThink members and developers!

    I have used TextExpander for years on my MAC and IOS and was always happy until TextExpander decided to switch to a subscription based model only; without having a chance to store the snippets locally. I wrote to the support team of TextExpander and got a really bad answer – and it felt like “bad luck – either you switch to the new modell and get all the new updates or use the old version without any new update.)

    On Mac I have decided to switch to Typinator and I have got a 25% discount as a former TextExpander user. Typinator is a pretty nifty app and I can even do more with TextExpander. The company is headquarted in Austria and the support is just great. They even promissed not to switch to subscription at all and they still have this 25% discount (http://www.ergonis.com/products/typinator/) for people who like to switch. Data can be stored on cloud, WebDav or locally and synced across multiple MACs.
    I like to point out that I am not an affiliate of Typinator but really do like the software.

    The downside is, that they do not offer an IOS version, so I use Apples build in features for text replacement on IOS.

    I wish all of you a prosperous New Year 2017.


  3. @ Erwin: DEVONthink To Go supports TextExpander. It just seems that Smile doesn’t list it yet.

  4. Erwin says:


    Indeed, just found out. Think we just cross posted.

  5. Jim Neumann says:

    Thanks for your input. Ergonis indeed makes some fine products as well!

  6. Zeljko Babic says:

    Subscription model of TE is a deal breaker for me, too. I switched to Typinator without regret. I sincerely hope DT won’t go that way with their products.