Three more tips on using TextExpander

Over five years of using TextExpander I’ve saved myself typing whooping 400,000 characters (a medium-size PhD dissertation). Yet, there are always new ways to use this amazing software. Here are three recent examples I’ve introduced into my workflows:

1. Names with accented characters

I work with people whose names contain accented characters (å, ö, č, etc.). I agree with this argument that correct spelling of names is very important, but disagree that Microsoft Word’s Autocorrect is the best solution. Neither do I want to change the Keyboard layout just for one character or to search for that character in Apple’s Character Viewer. Instead, I use TextExpander to automatically change “Hakan” to “Håkan”, “Jorn” to “Jörn” etc. Then I don’t need to lift my fingers from the keyboard to keep my colleagues pleased with seeing their names correctly spelled.

More so, the place I live in is called Bosjökloster and it is in town of Höör. Guess what my snippets [,,bos] and [,,hh] refer to! These two I use at least several times a week filling in various forms.

2. The URL of a publication

I have recently published an Open Access article and I want to spread the word. Unfortunately the URL for that article (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421514004960) is not so easy to remember. But I have a memorable Text Expander snippet generating this URL every time I type [,,4as] (the article is about the four As).

3. A standard OmniFocus task

When I receive an email with a flight booking I always create an OmniFocus task to check-in online the day before the trip. When I check in I need to have the booking number at hand. Here is my workflow for this.

  1. Select the booking number in the email message
  2. Press the OmniFocus’ clipping shortcut (e.g. ⌥⌘X)
  3. Type the TextExpander abbreviation for a checking-in reminder (e.g. ,,chk)

TextExpander the task a title and fills in the necessary OmniFocus information: project (“Travel“), context (“Desk:Mac“) and the relevant dates which it asks me to specify. (It also adds text @simple to the title of the task which I use in my OmniFocus perspectives to filter simple, medium and major tasks.). The check-in open date becomes the OmniFocus’ Defer until date and the flight date becomes the OmniFocus’ Due by date. I do not even need to specify the actual dates because OmniFocus would also understand “mon” (next Monday) or “+1w” (a week from today). Then it just to press  and I have my OmniFocus task with a link to the original email enclosed as the note. Here is the snippet:

check-in online @simple %key:tab%Travel%key:tab%Desk:Mac%key:tab%%
filltext:name=Check-in opens:default=15/1/1%%key:tab%%filltext:nam
e=Flight date:default=15/1/1%

If you don’t use Apple Mail you can slightly modify this workflow. First, copy the booking code to the clipboard. Then press ^Space to start a new OmniFocus task, then fire the slightly different snippet below. It inserts the content of the Clipboard into the title of the task. The rest is the same.

Check-in online for %clipboard @simple %key:tab%Travel%key:tab%Des
k:Mac%key:tab%%filltext:name=Check-in opens:default=15/1/1%%key:ta
b%%filltext:name=Flight date:default=15/1/1%

More on TextExpander

  • the key symbols I use in this blog (e.g. ⌥, ⌘ and  are created with TextExpander); download more of these from Brett Terpstra;
  • more Macademic posts on the use TextExpander are at this link;
  • to obtain 20% discount on TextExpander use this promotion link before the end of November.

About Aleh Cherp

Aleh Cherp is a professor at Central European University and Lund University. He researchers energy and environment and coordinates MESPOM, a Masters course operated by six Universities.
This entry was posted in Automation, Tasks and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Three more tips on using TextExpander

  1. bchaller says:

    I use TextExpander for all kinds of single-character substitutions – Greek symbols, mathematical symbols like a product sign or a true minus sign, true prime marks (not apostrophes), section and paragraph symbols… just awesome. Unfortunately it has a bug that often such symbols get pasted in using the wrong font, even though they are defined as “plain text” symbols and thus ought to use the font of the context they are pasted into. They often end up as some weird Japanese font, and have to be changed. Have you experienced this? Got a fix?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Aleh,

    Great post! I especially like the Omnifocus task snippet. I will definitely use that.
    Btw., I also published today a blog post on “Productive Academia” on TextExpander snippets for emails:
    http://www.helmuthauser.com/blog/2014/my-top-textexpander-snippets-for-emails

    Keep them coming!

    Have a great day.
    – Helmut

    Like

  3. art2science says:

    Apple has a new keyboard capability: hold down any key, and it gives you a choice of all the variants for that letter, including umlauts etc. Here is what I get from holding down the e key: èéêëēėę
    So you no longer need to use edit/special characters.
    This capability was added with either Yosemite, or 10.9 – I can’t even remember!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nea says:

    Dear Aleh,
    Sorry to be dense, but I do not understand how the date portion of the TextExpander snippet for checking-in works. Could you explain more?

    Like

    • Aleh Cherp says:

      Nea, this simply means that you can enter dates in TE fields using OmniFocus format. You can enter formal dates (e.g. 1/1/15) or ‘natural language’ dates (e.g. ‘next Monday’. These dates will be inserted in the relevant OF fields so that your task will have Start (Deferred to) and Due date.

      Like

  5. An alternative might be ‘bosj’ as a snippet for Bosjökloster: hoor for Höör. This wouldn’t break the writing flow, the lovely ‘tink’ would remind us that a snippet had activated (were you not looking at the screen).
    ‘Love the blog Aleh, really useful and thought provoking, RSS always bring me straight back.

    Like

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