Type faster by typing less

This Typing App Saves Me Countless Seconds Each Day, and They Really Add Up


March 31, 2020 Tech By
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Working at a computer means you wind up doing a lot of typing. But no matter how blisteringly fast your fingers are, there arduous strings of characters you have to bang out over and over and over. Well, unless you pick up a text-expansion program.

Much like autocomplete on your smartphone, text-expansion programs for your computer let you conjure up your most commonly used chunks of text at will. But instead of algorithmically predicting what you want, they let you settle on specific abbreviations that automatically expand into your full text immediately after you finish typing them.

Among my most frequently used shortcuts are the exceedingly practical “ggp” which expands into “Gear Patrol” and more frivolous “sshrug” which expands into the notoriously untypable “shruggie” text. Of course I also have shortcuts for much lengthier and specific bits of text like email templets, HTML code and shipping addresses. The amount of time you can save yourself really only depends on how much you invest in streamlining your own personal setup.

Your Mac can already do this by default with the text-replacement feature built into macOS, though the functionality is limited to Apple’s apps. I personally use an app called aText on account of its rock-bottom $5 pricetag, cross-platform functionality with Windows and the ability to work in non-Safari web-browsers unlike the built-in macOS capability. Other services, like the best-in-class Textexpander, offer advanced features like cloud syncing, shortcut sharing, advanced enterprise features and statistics about how much time you’ve saved. That, however, comes at the cost of a recurring subscription fee of $3.33/month for a personal account, but also a 30-day free trial.

A text-expansion app is a powerful tool that saves precious seconds that add up to minutes and hours over time. Better yet, it makes many of your most unpleasant cyberchores a little less painful. It does require a little effort to set up to your preferences, but once you acclimate you’ll never look back.

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Eric Limer

Eric Limer is Gear Patrol’s tech editor. A resident of Weehawken, NJ, his current obsessions include mechanical keyboards, mechanical pencils and Formula 1.

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