We recently came across a post over at Lifehacker, as well as Gina Trapani's Smarterware, which explained the concept of text expansion. Since we hadn't heard much about this before, we read on and were intrigued by the possibilities of making computer-life that much faster and easier. Read on to find out more.
What is text expansion? It's pretty simple. You program a few character strokes, like 'by3', thanks to a text expansion software so that once you type 'by3', the software will replace it by a phrase or sentence. In our case, it could be a simple end of email greeting, like 'Regards, John Doe'. The trick is to choose character strokes that you won't use and that are easy to remember.
It's very powerful and deceptively simple. It can save you hours of typing, especially if you type the same stuff over and over again, like greetings, your freelance policies, etc. The software that I've been using over the last week is PhraseExpress. It's definitely powerful and simple to use. You can highlight anything and then just create a new keyword. Combining characters like '#' and '@' will allow you to ensure that you won't type these keywords by mistake.
There's something quite magical about this. As soon as you press 'enter' after the keyword, text expansion takes over and types in the determined sentences. PhraseExpress is also smart. It will analyze your typing habits and suggest new sentences to turn into keywords.
There's one problem with PhraseExpress that I found easy to correct. PhraseExpress will try to correct common typos. That sounds nice, but if you use Microsoft Word, you know that it already has good ways of correcting those. They run into a conflict. I found it easy to resolve. I just deleted the 'typo' folder in PhraseExpress, as well as the 'websites' folder, which was said to contain affiliate links.
If you are using a Mac, then you can use TextExpander. Unlike PhraseExpress, it's not free and will cost you $35, but it will save you a lot of time. Text expansion can be used with efficiency in greetings, salutations, and addresses as well as commonly typed sentences and phrases.