The new TextExpander

Once upon a time, I used a clever Mac utility written by Peter Maurer called Textpander. In 2006, SmileOnMyMac, now just Smile, bought Textpander and changed its name to TextExpander. For reasons lost to the mists of time, I switched over to Ettore’s TypeIt4Me. A couple of years later, when TypeIt4Me wouldn’t run an AppleScript snippet properly on my iBook G4, I flipped back to TextExpander and have used it ever since.

Since 2008, I’ve made and written about many many TextExpander snippets. I updated to new versions pretty much as soon as they were released, and I also bought the iOS version, even though—for reasons dictated by Apple, not Smile—it isn’t and will never be as useful as the Mac version.

I continued to use (and upgrade) TextExpander even after I started using Keyboard Maestro a couple of years ago. Because Keyboard Maestro macros can be launched by a Typed String trigger, it provides a superset of TextExpander’s features. I felt conflicted. On the one hand, I didn’t like the idea of having two utilities running continuously on my computer when only one was necessary. On the other hand, I liked Smile, I was used to creating new snippets in TextExpander, and I wasn’t keen on converting all my snippets to another format. Overall, the balance was in favor of keeping TextExpander.

Until today’s announcement of The New TextExpander: Snippets as a Service™. Now I’m being asked to pay more, and continuously, to subscribe to a utility that does less than another utility I already own. As TJ Luoma said earlier today,

I don’t see anything that I really need in TextExpander version 6. I’m not using it with a “team” and my family members probably have no interest in sharing a group of text snippets with me. Yes, I realize that Smile made their own syncing service, but I have used iCloud, Dropbox, and BitTorrent Sync, and they work fine for TextExpander. Creating their own syncing service was solving a problem that I didn’t have.

If I were one of those unfortunates who have to use Windows at work, I might think the new TextExpander, which will include a Windows component, is worth it. Having the syncing between platforms taken care of automatically could be a boon. But I’m not. Like TJ, I just don’t see what’s in it for me.1 The balance has shifted the other way.

So unless I discover some compelling reason to stick with the new TextExpander, at some point in the near future I’ll start exploring ways to migrate my collection of snippets over to Keyboard Maestro. I understand from Twitter that this makes me a horrible person who doesn’t want software developers to make a decent living. So be it.

  1. And as an aside, the TextExpander for teams thing seems like my idea of Hell. Snippet abbreviations are personal. I’d never want any of my former “team leaders”—we used to call them “bosses”—to choose the abbreviations I use.