Text expansion allows you to set a pre-defined list of shortcuts and their corresponding full-length phrases in your phone or other mobile device. When you type the shortcut into your phone, your device will automatically insert the full phrase. It's like autocorrect, but you set the terms.
I can't speak to Blackberry, Android or other smartphone users, but on the iPhone, you can use these text shortcuts in text messages, emails or anywhere online (including login screens, a helpful tip for the eml shortcut below).
Text expansion is totally customizable, but here are a few of the more common examples of text and email shortcuts to get you started:
Shortcuts for information you need to email/text frequently:
• eml: Your email address
• phn: Your phone number
• addr: Your address
• ws: Your website
(Use variations like "beml" for your business email or "cphn" for your cell.)
In case you only want to use it sometimes and not with every email:
• sig: Your email signature
When you can't answer a call and need a quick response:
• ctlk: Can't talk, I'll call you later.
• otp: On the phone.
When you're in transit and you want to let someone know that you've left to meet them, or that you're about to be there:
• jl: Just left.
• omw: On my way. (It's automatically in the iPhone, but you should get rid of that exclamation point. What if you're texting to say you're on your way to a somber event?)
• fmin: I'll be there in five minutes.
Create your own abbreviations for names, places, etc. that you frequently type or text. For example, I use sths for Smith's Olde Bar, a frequent watering hole for my group of friends.
Add any common mistyped words. For example, changing shoukd to "should," etc.
You can also use the text shortcut/text expansion feature to avoid typing mobile slang into texts and emails. Adding shortcuts like thx for "Thanks!" or np for "No problem!" can give your quickest mobile communications a professional polish without adding extra characters.
So how do you get started? Easy. Well, for most of you:
How to do it on iPhone:
1. Open up the Settings app on your iPhone's home screen.
2. Tap the General section.
3. Tap the Keyboard section.
4. Swipe down to the bottom and tap the button labeled "Add New Shortcut..."
5. Under "Phrase" type the phrase you want the shortcut to expand to, and under "Shortcut" type the shortcut you want to type instead.
6. Tap save when you're done.
How to do it on Blackberry:
1. Navigate to Options > AutoText from your application screen. You'll see a long list of already formatted shortcuts that are programmed by default into your Blackberry.
2. To add a new Auto Text instruction, press the BlackBerry key beside your Trackball and choose "new" from the menu.
3. Under "replace:" type the shortcut you want to type into texts. Under "with:" type the phrase you want the shortcut to expand to.
4. Choose save from the menu when you're done.
(Images: Shutterstock, personal screenshot)