One of the reasons I love technology is tinkering with it to make my life easier. I’m constantly automating tasks so I can either do them faster, or not have to worry about them at all. I felt writing a series on automation would be a lot of fun, not only because I love to geek out about stuff like this, but it might also be helpful to you.
For our first exploration into automation, we’ll start with TextExpander. For those of you who don’t know, TextExpander is an app that expands custom keyboard shortcuts into text or images. For example, you could type
;home, and it would expand into your full home address. A simple example, but I’m sure you can see how helpful it would be over time.
What’s greater, I can use TextExpander anywhere: on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. Heck, TextExpander is on Windows too. With that in mind, I’d love to share some of my favorite TextExpander snippets.
Day One is an excellent journaling app. I love to keep a daily journal, as well as movie and restaurant reviews. In fact, together with IFTTT I automatically import Swarm check-ins and Instagram Photos, but that’s for another article.
;foodreview, I get a form that asks me if I’d go back, how pricey the restaurant was, who I went with, what I ordered, and a general summary.
My movie review snippet is similar. By typing
;moviereview, I easily log movies I’ve watched. Some of those movies end up getting their own brief review here on The Bold Report, but for those that don’t, my thoughts are recorded somewhere. This one was originally made by David Sparks, but I modified it and formatted a few things in Markdown.
My last Day One snippet is an end of the day summary. I downloaded this snippet from Chuck Grimmett and modified them for my use. I only do this once a day in the evening and it helps me remember key things that happened that day. A little reflection each day feels healthy to me, and reminds me there is so much to be grateful for.
For all the work that I do with Jekyll, you might be shocked to hear that I only have one snippet in this category. I probably need more, but I haven’t figured them out yet. The one I do have though, is
;jdate. This simple snippet expands into the date format needed in Jekyll posts, which looks like this:
# YEAR-MONTH-DAY HOUR:MINUTE (using the 24 hour clock) date: 2017-02-03 12:39
This one snippet has saved me hours in the now 3 years I’ve been using it! I don’t have to remember the format, think about what the date is, or remember how you write four o’clock in the 24 hour clock.
TextExpander publishes Public Groups which you can subscribe to, and one of them is Accented Words. For example, I can type
cafe' and it’ll expand into café. I write Spanish occasionally, so I’ve added some common used words with accents so I don’t have to worry about them.
Another use for this group is making it easier to type out modifier key symbols. Let’s say you wanted to write out ⌘⇧W. It’s a pain to remember how to type those characters, and I found myself having to Google search, then copy pasting them over and over. With TextExpander, I’ve matched each character with its own shortcut.
;control, all expand to the ⌘, ⇧, ⌥, and ⌃ symbols.
When it comes to writing code, autocompletion has come a long way. I had to whiteboard a week ago, and realized I’m useless without my code editor. Atom autocompletes everything for me. Emmet is a huge help too. However, the one coding snippet I use is to create a comment block in SCSS. By typing
;bcomm, it expands into this:
// ------------------------------- // SECTION NAME HERE // -------------------------------
It helps me keep my comment style consistent, and saves me time.
My general snippets group is usually where I put snippets that don’t belong in any of my other groups. Like
:shrug: which expands into
¯\_(ツ)_/¯. For some reason, I seem to use this one a lot. Mostly to answer questions like “What should we do for dinner?” It drives Kelly nuts.
I also have one for 🖖🏼 (probably my most used emoji), which is just
:spock:. Snippets for my email address and phone number are extremely useful too. You’d be shocked by how much you have to type those last two.
These are just some of my uses for TextExpander. The possibilities are endless, and I hope you see the ways you’d use it.
If you enjoyed this post and would like to talk more about TextExpander, have questions, or share all the cool ways you use it, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.