For a long time, I’ve resisted the suggestions that I try using tools that offer typing shortcuts, like TextExpander. I’ve mastered the keyboard shortcuts that are built into programs, like ‘copy’ or ‘paste’ — and even some of the more obscure commands, like ‘insert hyperlink.’ They’ve certainly increased my speed at getting a document ready for one of my freelancing clients, but I’ve assumed that it would be harder to create and remember shortcuts of my own. Another question I had a hard time answering was what shortcuts would even be helpful.
Giving TextExpander a Shot
I recently noticed that TextExpander has a free trial and I decided to give it a chance. I started with the shortcuts that the program comes with — like my name and address. As I’ve experimented, I’ve quickly added more: the bio that I include at the end of articles I’m submitting to an editor, the paragraph explaining my experience that I tack on to the end of every query letter and so on. It’s not only saving me time typing, but also the time that I used to spend copying and pasting from the templates I’ve created for myself.
I’m still having some trouble with shortcuts…I do have to look up just what I’ve set for a shortcut every so often. But the program does allow you to set your shortcuts however you like and there are a few tricks to creating memorable keyboard shortcuts. I’ve taken to doubling up the first letter on a word that describes what the short cut does, following the model set by TextExpander’s examples. Such an approach is helpful in avoiding creating shortcuts that you might accidentally trigger as you type different words.
You can do more with TextExpander than just adding text to a document, though. You can use it to speed up filling out forms, adding content to websites and much more. Unless you specifically instruct the program not to apply shortcuts in specific software, it will run across all programs you use, from your word processor to your web browser. You can also do more than add plain text snippets. You can format text, add images, add automatically calculated information, like the current time and more.
Is TextExpander Worth the Price?
TextExpander comes with a price tag of $34.95. It’s a Mac-only tool — there’s a free tool called ‘Texter‘ for the PC, but it doesn’t have as many features as TextExpander. Considering that a lot of tools that many freelance writers rely on are free, spending more than $30 on a piece of software may seem a little pricey.
But TextExpander offers you statistics on your own typing, showing just how much time you may have actually saved: based on my typing speed and the number of words I’ve added to documents with TextExpander, I’ve already saved more than an hour. That means that it isn’t out of the question that a writer could free up more time for actually writing, by using TextExpander, rather than just using that time for typing. I’d recommend TextExpander.