Return to TextExpander

I’m back.

Sixteen months after deciding the new, subscription-based TextExpander wasn’t for me—and moving all my snippets over to Keyboard Maestro—I’ve returned to the fold. Last week, I signed up for a year’s subscription to TextExpander 6, restored my old snippets (with some reorganization), and disabled all my snippet-like macros in Keyboard Maestro.1

Disabled Keyboard Maestro snippets

I returned to TextExpander for two reasons. First, I have an iPad and want to do more writing on it. I didn’t realize how much I relied on expansions—even those that don’t run scripts—until I didn’t have them. TextExpander is the only solution that works on both the Mac and iOS. That’s the main reason, and probably the obvious one.

Update Aug 7, 2017 9:06 PM
A few people have mentioned that TypeIt4Me has both Mac and iOS versions, which is true, but I don’t know of any iOS editors that support it. As I have zero interest in using the TypeIt4Me keyboard (the same level of interest I have in using the TextExpander keyboard), I don’t see it as a practical solution.

Less obvious is the second reason: TextExpander is much better at creating new snippets than Keyboard Maestro is.2 I noticed in the past year that I haven’t been making the sort of throwaway snippets I used to make regularly in TextExpander to help me write reports that require the repeated use of technical phrases or product names. This meant more typing and more editing, because misspelled product names and inconsistent terminology kept creeping into my writing. This isn’t a knock on Keyboard Maestro—it’s a more general tool that just doesn’t have streamlined methods for creating new text substitution macros.3

Quick snippet creation from selection

After installing TextExpander, I got a pleasant surprise. There’s now a prefix setting for snippet groups, official support for something many of us TE users had been doing for years. According to the release notes, this was added in the 6.2 release in March, so my timing has worked out well. I’m experimenting with different prefixes for different types of snippet: jj for most; kk for those that enter single keyboard-type symbols, like ⌘ and ⛄️; dd for date and time stamps; and ll for LaTeX constructs. Using different prefixes for different snippet classes was always possible, but now it’s easy to change them and try out new ones.

TextExpander group settings

I’m sure there will be some friction as I readjust myself to TextExpander, but overall it’s good to be back.

  1. I’m still using Keyboard Maestro for lots of other things, just not snippets. 

  2. I’m talking about regular text snippets, here, not AppleScript or shell script snippets. 

  3. Because Keyboard Maestro is itself scriptable, I suppose I could have come up with a way to quickly define substitution macros, but I never did.