03/01/2014 by Chris Green
One of the ways I waste time on the computer, is by typing the same stuff over and over. The same email addresses. The same websites. The same information. Know the problem? It was the kind of thing that we were supposed to have left behind with typewriters.
Enter the world of text expanders. These are brilliant programmes that simply translate any sequence of keystrokes you choose to specify into a much longer body of text. I’m a recent convert to these, because I thought they sounded quite techy. But actually they’re really simple and helpful, and I’m persuaded.
So now, if I type ~me (a series of letters I’m unlikely to use in real life), on the screen it appears as firstname.lastname@example.org, my email address. ~mnb appears as http://www.ministrynutsandbolts.com. ~tx is ‘Thank you so much for your email’.
There’s no limit to this: it’s like an infinitely expandable cut-and-paste feature, and it just sits quietly in the background, waiting to be used. Standard templates for letters or emails don’t need to be searched for to be used, because they are always around. And they are always correctly typed.
I’ve even taught it my most common typing blunders that spellcheck doesn’t pick up, and it corrects them, without a tut of disapproval. It does more sophisticated stuff too, like automatically inserting the current date or putting your cursor in the place you specify within a body of text, like after ‘Dear’ and before a comma. If you still use commas.
- Mac users: My favourite is Typinator but there are good alternatives: aText, TypeIt4Me, and TextExpander all have excellent write-ups.
- Windows users: AutoText seems to do the same job, but I haven’t had first-hand experience.
Have you tried them? What do you think? And, yes: I know that this isn’t an overtly ‘spiritual’ blogpost. But it helps me keep my mind clear for more important things. (And yes, computer sophisticates, I’m sure there are ways to use code to achieve the same ends. Enjoy them)