This post is adapted from my eBook, Working Smarter for Mac Users.

One of the first things I install on any Mac I'm using is TextExpander,  a third-party utility that lets me insert words, sentences, or paragraphs by typing short abbreviations. 

For example, if I type v-t-y and then press the spacebarTextExpander replaces it with, Very Truly Yours in the blink of an eye. If I type blc, TextExpander replaces it with my email address— TextExpander also corrects thousands of common typos on the fly, so if I accidentally type, taht, TextExpander fixes it by replacing taht with that so quickly I rarely even see it.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that TextExpander’s signature feature—replacing short abbreviations with longer text "snippets"—is also built into OS X. While the OS X version isn’t as powerful or flexible as TextExpander, it does work and it is free.

So, here’s how you create abbreviations and replacements on your Mac:

1.    Launch System Preferences.

Click to enlarge... 

2.    Click the Keyboard icon. 

3.    Click the Text Tab.

4.    Click the little +.

5.    Type the abbreviation in the Replace field.

6.    Type the replacement word or phrase in the With field.

7.    There is no step 7. 


As I mentioned, the OS X way works, but text expansion is just the tip of the iceberg for TextExpander, which offers myriad powerful features unavailable anywhere else. I find it worth every penny of the $3.33 per month subscription. There's a free trial available, so if you find you like using snippets for free, you'll probably like TextExpander enough to pay for it.