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Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity Using Text Expansion Software

text expansion productivity.jpg

We love apps that can make you more productive, and help you get things done. One type of app that can give a tremendous boost to your productivity is text expansion software, such as Texter and Phrase Express on Windows, and TypeIt4Me and TextExpander on the Mac. With text expansion software, you create snippets of text, and then set up abbreviations to trigger the typing of those snippets. If you’re not sure how you can fit text expansion software into your workflow, read on for some examples of how to use it.

Try before you buy! And see what we have to say tomorrow, when we’ll look at our favorite text expansion app for Windows, and our favorite on the Mac, and how to get them to sync with each other so that you don’t have to manually recreate your snippets in each app.

 

Five Uses For Text Expansion Software

1. Save Time Entering Email Addresses

If you’re using desktop email software or a decent email web app, then your app probably autofills email addresses for you as you start to type. Older versions of Outlook web access, though, don’t have this luxury. When I’m in this situation, I use a few snippets to fill in my frequently used email addresses when I’m connecting remotely. Instead of typing “jAnderson@mycompanyemail.com” into the message, I can just type “.joe”, which is the abbreviation I set up to fill out the full email address. The full email address is then completed for me. I have snippets set up for other email addresses that I use frequently, such as my Evernote address.

 

2. Automatically Type Repetitive Phrases

I also use text expansion to type phrases that I use over and over. For example, I found that in a project tracking app I was constantly typing similar entries for phone calls, over and over. No longer. Now, for example, I can type “.rclvm” and the software will expand it to “I returned the call and left a voicemail message.” It took some time to commit numerous snippets to memory, but now I can fire them off without even thinking about it.

 

3. Send Fast Form Email Replies

Text expansion is also great for form email. Here at 40Tech, we receive many nearly identical inquiries, asking for such information as advertising rates, guest post guidelines, and the like. I now have form messages set up to reply to these kinds of inquiries, and can trigger them with a few keystrokes.

 

4. Quickly Sign Emails

I also use text expansion for email signatures and closing farewells. I found that I was ending most messages with “Thanks, Evan,” so I just set that up as a snippet, along with snippets for more formal signatures.

 

5. Fill Out Web Forms

If you find yourself constantly typing the same information, such as your city name, into web forms, you can save time by having that information set up as a snippet. I have my name, my street name, and my town all set up as snippets, and can now blow through forms rapidly.

 

These are just a few examples of uses for text expansion software. Do you have any to add?

 

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About Evan Kline

Evan started 40Tech to write about tech from his perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. When not writing about tech, you might find him with his beautiful wife and baby girl, out on the ski slopes, at his real-life job as a lawyer, over on Google+, or scrounging for followers on his personal Twitter account after years of focusing on the 40Tech account.

10 Responses to Five Ways to Increase Your Productivity Using Text Expansion Software

  1. Wait, what? I can actually do that?!
    Well, till now whenever i encountered repetitive phrases i would just save to clipboard. But it’s obvious why this fails, most of the time you have more than one phrase, and you can only assign one to clipboard memory.
    However, with this expansion software you wrote about… i might just have struck gold!

  2. @ Martin – you could to use an app such as Breevy for your ‘stock’ phrases (I use AutoHotKey for this) and then for more ‘on the fly’ text snippets you could use a clipboard manager such as Ditto (http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/)

    Cheers,
    Mick

  3. @Mick: Why use two programs if the freeware Phrase Express offers both.

    Phrase Express has a text snippets manager with Autotext feature AND a Clipboard Manager.

    The good thing is, that it all works together: You can move any clipboard item into your phrase/autotext library with drag & drop.

    Josh

    • Hi Josh

      The thing is I don’t just use AHK for text snippets so I’d need it running anyway. You can use AHK as a clipboard manager (http://www.autohotkey.com/forum/topic35722.html) but you need to select the item you want and then press Ctrl + V to paste it.

      Another app that I’ve used and I would be using now if there was a hotkey to paste the selected text (apparently it’s coming) is Clipboard Fusion (http://www.clipboardfusion.com/).

      I’ll certainly give Phrase Express a full test; on first impressions it looks good, However, unlike AHK and Clipboard Fusion it’s not free from commercial use.

      Cheers,
      Mick

  4. That’s a very workable idea. I know a lot of people who are now currently using this technique. Almost all of them referred to me that it is very effective. The existing softwares are very efficient and I would be very glad if I could use one of them soon.

  5. Patricia O'Neill Reply August 6, 2012 at 5:24 am

    The original article was from some time back I see (I’ve just googled about text expanders and this article was one of the results). I always used Autotext in versions of Word (and other Microsoft Office programs up to version 2003, but find it’s less user friendly for a typist in Microsoft Office/Word 2010). The free downloads most recommended on various articles on the web seem to have bugs with regard to working with Windows 7 which is s great shame.

    • I haven’t tried the free versions in a while (I used Texter a while back). Text expansion is such a huge part of my workflow, and such a huge time saver, that it was worth it to me to buy a solution on both Windows and Mac.

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