The new version of TextExpander touch is now available for download and it's fabulous. The big new features are rich text and fill in snippet support. Although this is a version 2.0, it is free for people who already purchased the prior version. The fill-in snippet support is huge for me. I use fill-in snippets every day. Federico did a nice extended review at MacStories and I made a short screencast showing off the new version. Enjoy.
Here is another group of my TextExpander snippets.
My date snippets fall in a few categories:
Why type August when "xm8" is faster?
I don't remember when TextExpander added this feature but I really like the relative date function. If I want yesterday's date for instance, I type "d--"
Because I date stamp notes from conversations in nvALT notes and they are always a heading two, I have two different versions of the date stamps, one with and one without markdown headings.
AppleScript Date Snippets
These are magic.
xdnm gets next Monday
xdnw gets the date range next week
xdns gets next Saturday
xdnf gets next Friday
I've written most of these and collected others from the Web. All of the AppleScript based date snippets are courtesy of Ben Waldie. Also honorable mention goes to Tim Stringer, who sent in his list. If you think you've got me licked with something better, send it in and I'll include it with the next update.
In my day job, we use an antiquated old Windows PC system for managing our billing. It takes multiple mouse clicks and butten presses to make a simple entry. It almost feels like I have to walk across the office and turn a wheel somewhere to make a billing entry. Several years ago I decided I was done with it.
Instead, I started making my billing entries in a Byword file called, unsuprisingingly, billings. I keep this file open as I go through my day and make entries with a series of cryptic TextExpander snippets.
## Roadrunner v. Coyote
Place telephone call to opposing counsel concerning
Using these snippets it is really easy to capture billing entries as I move through my day. The Billings file syncs through iCloud to my iPhone and and iPad and I use TextExpander touch on those devices too (syncing through Dropbox) so billing entries are no more difficult there.
Another snippet I use every morning is
Which renders the date and summary information.
At the end of the day, I email the text file off to one of the staff members so she can click buttons, turn dials, and feed coal into our billing system.
About the hundredth time after I copied the text, went and started a new email and then pasted it in, I realized that there must be an easier way to automate this. Of course there is. I use Automator to create and send an email to my assistant every day with my billing text. Here's the Automator service workflow.
The workflow takes the selected text and then prepares an email. It then copies the selected text in the body of the email and uses the recipient and subject line I specify. Then it automatically sends the email. Except for selecting the text and firing off the service, I have no interaction whatsoever. (I should probably attach a keyboard shortcut to make this feel even more magical.)
This is the first automation service I've created that sends off an email without me even looking at it and at first it was a little weird but now I've gotten over it and I love that my Mac does it all for me.
I'm starting a new series where I'm going to feature some of my favorite TextExpander snippets. If you don't know about TextExpander, shame on you. It is a fantastic application that lets you quickly type long (and short) snippets of text with just a few keystrokes. It works on both the Mac and iOS and can make you look both smart and fast. Also, if you've got an interesting TextExpander library you'd like to share, let me know. I'm hoping we can all build a nice library together.
This snippet group is a list of ways to say thanks in foreign languages. When I get nice emails from international readers and listeners, I like to say thanks in their native language instead of mine. So I've been slowly building this snippet library with the name of the country (or language) followed by "thanks". For instance, "filipinothanks" gets me "Salamat". I'm always adding to the library but you can download the current iteration of this library below.
For more TextExpander snippets, clicky here.
The newest version of TextExpander for Mac is out with some nice improvements:
- Supports Cut, Copy and Paste for items in the snippet list
- Adds popover to resolve snippet abbreviation conflicts
- Duplicate snippets are drawn with blue abbreviation (vs. orange for conflicts)
- Adds “expand abbreviation '<abbreviation>'” syntax to AppleScript expand command
- Restores support for %j day-of-year macro
There was, however a bug with the updater that requires you to manually download. You can get it here.
Today's iOS OmniFocus update is a doozy. The headline feature is the addition of iOS TextExpander support. As I've explained before, I aggressively use TextExpander snippets when creating tasks in OmniFocus. I even made a screencast about it. Now they work on the iPhone and iPad as well. I love that.
You can download a few of my OmniFocus related TextExpander snippets right here. In order to get them on your iOS device, install them in TextExpander on your Mac and use the Dropbox sync to transfer them over. If you don't own a Mac, just create them manually in TextExpander Touch on your iOS device. These are really just a sampling. Once you get the idea, customize for whatever works for you.
While Apple added Keyboard Shortcuts with iOS 5, they are inferior to TextExpander shortcuts in several ways. First, they don't synchronize. You have to add them manually to every single iOS device you own. (UPDATE: I'm told iOS 6 remedies this and Keyboard Shortcuts will sync between iOS devices.) TextExpander syncs to Dropbox and takes that tedium away. I find I create very few TextExpander snippets on my iOS devices and instead create them on the Mac and let Dropbox take care of the rest.
Also, there are some strange behaviors using the iOS Keyboard Shortcuts. Specifically, they need to be typed with no trailing characters. If you copy and paste text into a new OmniFocus entry and then move the cursor to the beginning of the pasted text to add a Keyboard Shortcut, it won't work unless you add an additional space and then, using your finger, move the cursor back yet again another space before typing the Keyboard Shortcut. I found this vexing. With TextExpaner snippets in OmniFocus, the snippet fires whether or not there is an additional space. This makes a difference.
Another part of today's iOS OmniFocus update is an improved synchronization with the native iOS Reminders database. This makes it much easier to synchronize these lists. The power tip here is that it gives you the ability to dictate with Siri to Reminders and have that automatically move over into OmniFocus. I use this feature every day and quite often. Again I made videos about this. However, the setup is simpler now than shown in the video. The Siri command I use when adding items to my OmniFocus list is as follows:
"Add [task] to my reminders list."
i.e., "Add fumigate DeathStar garbage room to my reminders list."
OmniFocus watches the Reminders list titled "Reminders" (I appreciate that is confusing) and, once you open OmniFocus on your iPhone, incorporates any items found in the "Reminders" list to your OmniFocus inbox. This does not prevent you from having separate Reminders lists for other things. I, for instance, have Reminders list for Target, Groceries, and other running list type matters.
Overall, the addition of TextExpander support in OmniFocus is huge for me. I've been running the beta for a few weeks and couldn't imagine going back. I'm guessing I'm not alone.
I spent most of yesterday in court. As I fired off my TextExpander expense reporting snippet, it occurred to me, "people may like this." This snippet creates a fill-in form with all the relevant boxes. I can use it in any text application, I usually do it in a blank Byword or Pages documents and staple receipts and the other relevant pieces of paper. Download it here.
Awhile back, I wrote about how nice it would be if we put together a web site to share TextExpander Snippets. Reader Alexander took the idea and ran with it. Opening its doors yesterday te-snippets.com is going to become the promised land for TextExpander nerds everywhere. Brett Terpstra is already in and once I get a moment to catch my breath, I’m going to post a several of my collections. If you have some interesting snippets to share or want to up your game, get to it.
Brett is getting it together. His markdown snippets are more elegant than mine, which feel like the coding equivalent of Soviet-era public housing. Either way, I’m going to start pestering Brett to help out with this project and if you are a TextExpander/Markdown junkie, you should too.
This whole explosion of useful snippets resurrects an idea we kicked around at Macworld 2010. Why don’t we make a centralized depository for snippet bundles? There are a lot of nerds out there making some pretty fantastic snippets. Perhaps it is time we started sharing.
Brett Terpstra has coded some remarkable TextExpander snippets including:
- the ability to auto hyphenate the clipboard
- encode e-mail addresses
- paste markdown referenced
- auto generate markdown references from your clipboard
- create lorum ipsum text using text from word lists from Dune, Foundation, Ringworld, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who.
Today SmileOnMyMac released TextExpander 3. I’ve been using the beta for a few weeks and am sold. The big difference with the new version is user functionality.
There is a new quick entry window that makes creating new snippets a breeze. One of my favorite upgrades is the ability to set a key combination to edit the last expanded snippet. Correcting and updated snippets just got a lot easier.
It also now supports fill-in-the-blank snippets. You can create a snippet. “Dear Mr. _, I can’t help but notice your dog _ is beginning to smell funny. I suggest you give him a bath. Very truly yours, __.” Once you engage the snippet, a window opens with blank fields and you can tab between to fill in the data.
You can now search your snippets from the menubar. This is particularly helpful if you, like me, sometimes forget your abbreviations.
Also, TextExpander was liberated from the System Preferences window. It is now a separate application. This makes getting into TextExpander a lot easier. They also now have baked in support for Dropbox syncing which, while possible with version 2, required a bit of hoop jumping.
If that is not enough for you, the balloon icon also got an orange ribbon. Nifty. The upgrade price is $15, or free to users who purchased on or after November 1, 2009.
Today TextExpander released a particularly tasty update. For Gmail jockeys, there is now support for rich text and image expansion in web-based tools. I’ve already shown how to do this in Apple Mail.
My favorite new feature allows you designate a portion of your snippet to be selected following expansion. So what does this mean exactly? Well if I create the following snippet...
Your %|(Windows 2000)%\ PC has a virus.
... when you expand it, the term (Windows 2000) will be selected. You can then type in something else, i.e. “Windows XP”, to insert a different name.
Take a look at your existing snippet library. This is really useful. My latest text expansion project is building a library of my most frequent OmniFocus entries (more on this later). The new syntax is going to make this even better.