The DEVONtechnologies Blog

Use Text Expansion

January 3, 2017 — Jim Neumann

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. 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.