The Best Mac Text Expansion Apps Tested and Reviewed
Utilities • Updated on March 11, 2020
Nowadays, you cannot imagine a world without copy and paste, right? These two functions save a lot of time — no matter who you are. That having said, there are limits to this function.
Haven’t you wished if you could keep certain things in the device memory and paste them as you wish. For instance, when you’d like to paste your entire Signature, you can just type sign. And, boom — you have the full signature with all the credentials.
This is exactly what text expansion software does. Text expansion works like this:
Suppose you want to use an entire paragraph, repetitively. Instead of copying and pasting the content time after time, you develop a shortcut. Through this shortcut, you can paste the entire paragraph by entering a simple keyword. As we said earlier, it may be sign for signature and btw for by the way.
But, how do you bring a text expander to macOS? Well, as it happens, macOS has a built-in text expander.
Built-in text replacement in macOS
Technically speaking, macOS has a built-in text replacement utility. It means you can set up macOS system to replace certain words with their full forms. For instance, as you can see below, you can change btw into a full form like By the way. macOS also lets you make certain customizations here. And, you can as many text-full-form combinations as you want.
Despite all these, the built-in text replacement in macOS is barebones. It’s not a productive solution for most people, especially professionals. For instance, if you are a social media manager who has to have hundreds of combinations, the macOS system won’t be enough. And, it doesn’t help that you have to go to Preferences to make these changes.
This is why most customers leave the built-in option for something more productive and reliable. Thankfully, we have so many text expansion software solutions to choose from.
Here, we are set to find out the best text expansion tool for Mac.
How we chose the best?
We had a few factors in mind while choosing the best text expansion software for macOS.
- Advanced Features: We looked for advanced features that make text expansion more productive. By features, we mean the options for customization, different modes and support for multimedia etc.
- Intuitive UI: As we always do, we are strict about suggesting software that is easy to use. You won’t have to spend your valuable time trying to figure out stuff.
- Compatibility: More importantly, the text expansion software should be able to integrate well with the macOS system. Only this will you be able to make the best of the features.
- Support: In this context, support refers to two things, which are the amount of updates and the level of customer support from the developer. We’ve tried to bring the best of both worlds.
Of course, we had looked at general aspects of security, privacy and popularity before suggesting software solutions to you.
TextExpander is definitely one of the most popular text expansion software solutions in the market. Designed and built as a multi-platform solution, you can enjoy the same experience on almost all your devices. In this article, however, we will be looking primarily at how the macOS version of TextExpander functions. The core idea behind TextExpander is to help you communicate smarter, and it does a very good job in it.
Getting Started with TextExpander
One of the best things we love about TextExpander is that it is easy to use. You do not have to worry about prior experience when trying to get started with this text expansion tool. The installation process is simple, as you can download the setup file from the official website. In seconds, TextExpander and the helper utility would be installed on your Mac.
Apart from the fully-fledged window, TextExpander also offers a mini menu bar on the top. You can use this menu to access, create and manage snippets as you wish. Now, however, we will see some instances where you can use TextExpander to simplify your life.
Now, there are a few things to know:
A TextExpander snippet is a combination of text and abbreviation that is used to enable the expansion. For instance, the code ‘sign’ could be used to paste your entire Signature. Similarly, something like ‘date’ can be used to insert the current date. In the same way, you can create a variety of snippets according to your needs.
While creating a snippet, you can provide two things: the text and the abbreviation. Abbreviation is the short form that you want to type instead of the long text. It could be ‘te’ in case of text expansion or ‘ai’ instead of Artificial Intelligence. You can also set up TextExpander to choose the capitalization accordingly. So, in the end, you have a clean UX.
Using TextExpander in Real Life
Almost every professional has a signature with credentials that they use on a regular basis. However, typing the whole thing every single time can be a tiresome task. Won’t that be awesome if you can just write the word sign and it would be converted to your actual signature. It’s very easy to set that up using TextExpander.
When you click on the New Snippet button, you can see an empty generation box. In the whitespace, you have to enter the full text and you have to place the trigger word against Abbreviation. Now, this is where the fun begins. You have the complete freedom to customize the full text in any way you like. For instance, you can add variables like time, date, calculations and even some extra scripts.
TextExpander also allows you to expand your trigger word into multimedia content like formatted text and images. Long story short, you can expand a bunch of characters into almost anything with the help of this simple tool. Once you have chosen all these options, you can go ahead and give a label to the snippet. These labels are handy when it comes to organizing a lot of stuff.
To take the above example, when you write the word signature, TextExpander will replace it with the actual signature. You can check the image. Just so you know, TextExpander works in almost every text field. Word, Chrome are some of the places you would find it useful.
Features We Loved
As we mentioned earlier, TextExpander is very rich when it comes to features. Since we couldn’t reproduce the entire list, we have sorted out the ones we think need mention.
This could easily be one of the best features in the TextExpander suite. When given the right permissions, TextExpander will analyze your keystrokes and make suggestions. For instance, as I was writing this article, TextExpander has asked me if I want to create a snippet for the word text expansion. If you see a notification from the program, you can enable it for easy access.
Variables are one of the most useful features in the TextExpander package. This feature allows you to insert variable content like dates, time and even system shortcuts as expanded text. Depending on your need, you can customize what appears when you type the trigger word. This is a helpful feature when you have to do things repetitively, but with slight changes.
For instance, if you are a customer service executive, you may have to tell details like shipping dates. Instead of saying 1 to 2 days, you can say something like your package would be arriving on Tuesday. You just have to program TextExpander to insert the date that corresponds to today+2.
Delimiters are certain letters or key combinations that trigger or prevent text expansion. For instance, you’ll be able to set up TextExpander to expand a certain piece of text only after you have entered a specific key, say Tab or Space Bar. Setting up a delimiter would help you have more control over text expansion. You will also have fewer accidental expansions.
In addition to the amount of automation it provides, TextExpander itself can be automated. You will be able to create and use a number of keyboard shortcuts for this purpose. You may not actually need this feature if you make the best use of the menu-bar widget, though. Still, when you are up and running, these keys are of immense help.
A Great Community
TextExpander is also powered by one of the biggest user-base out there. There are two benefits: one, if you come across issues, you can always consult the experienced customers. The second benefit is that you can explore and download a variety of snippet collections. Depending on your usage habits and the professional environment, you may find some awesome snippets out there.
What Could Be Better
Despite being the best expansion software for Mac, TextExpander is not a perfect tool. There are some areas where the program can improve drastically.
One of the problems is that TextExpander does not provide a one-time purchase option. You have to keep paying a monthly subscription fee if you want to use the program. We would have loved to see a one-time purchase option, even if the prices were a bit high. That having said, the subscription plans are inexpensive when compared to others.
Another area is the User Interface itself. We don’t want to confuse you here: the UI is good, and it gets the job done. Nevertheless, there are instances when we found the UI design to be quite old and rudimentary at its core. It would be great if the developers take time to address this issue and redesign the UI with some modern icons and design philosophy.
It is also worth noting that the program can be made simple in general — without compromising the features that matter. If these areas are taken care of, TextExpander can easily be the best option out there.
Availability and Pricing
As mentioned earlier, TextExpander is available for macOS, Windows, iOS and Chrome OS. You will be able to download these apps once you have created an account on the website. Of course, it’s productive to have a software that works seamlessly everywhere.
Cross-platform availability is definitely one of the best things about TextExpander. Once you have signed in using the TextExpander account, every snippet you save will be synced with other devices where you have installed the apps. Considering that TextExpander has applications available for macOS, Windows, iOS and even Chrome OS, this becomes an awesome solution for productivity.
Even better, you don’t have to bother about any of these. All you have to do is signing into TextExpander via the same account. We’d say cross-platform support makes TextExpander one of the best solutions when you need a seamless text expansion experience across platforms.
Coming to pricing, TextExpander offers two major plans and a customizable enterprise plan. The first plan, called Lifehacker, is priced at $3.33 per month and the Team plan would cost you $7.96 per user per month. With the Team plan, you get additional features like SSO support, advanced sharing options and control.
And the latest good news is that software developer is offering 20% Off 1 year of a TextExpander Life Hacker plan. Regularly starting at US $40, now only US $32 for a year of increased productivity.
Considering all these, we think TextExpander deserves the position to be our pick.On top of offering some of the best features and control, it also gives you multi-platform support and save a lots of time. At the end of the day, you can make your macOS experience more productive and less repetitive.
One of the limitations with TextExpander is that you have to pay a subscription fee every month. For some of you, this could be a problem and may be looking for a one-time-purchase alternative. This is exactly where Typinator 8 comes in. This text expansion software is an awesome alternative if you are aiming at a medium-priced software solution for your productivity needs.
More of a direct competitor to TextExpander, Typinator has several features that you all will love. This is why we have chosen the product as the second best option.
UI and Getting Started
Getting started with Typinator is easy, but we found the UI to be a bit complex. As you can see in the given screenshot, all the options are available on the same screen. You might need some more time to figure out where to begin and where to end. You will be able to select abbreviations from the left pane and see their trigger-expansion combinations on the right.
We won’t say the getting started process is easier, but you can do it anyway. In spite of this, you will have a good time managing the collection of combinations once you have figured out the UI. Although not as good as TextExpander, we loved the way Typinator has been arranged and offers its options.
As you may have guessed, Typinator also offers some advanced options for text expansion. Just like we did in the case of TextExpander, you will be able to add a variety of content as the expanded text. This includes a number of variables like date, time, days etc. There are also some built-in functions that you can use with complete ease.
You will notice the lack of some features as well. For instance, Typinator cannot learn from your habits and suggest the potential combinations. However, you have an option to check out some predefined sets. These are basic presets that you can download and include in your collection, without any hassle. This option is not as advanced as the Variables choices, though.
Availability and Pricing
Probably the least impressive thing about Typinator is its availability. This text expansion tool is available for only macOS. So, you don’t get the benefits of multi-platform sharing or collaboration features. This could be an area where the developer can improve a lot. As we saw in the case of TextExpander, the multi-platform support makes all the difference.
Coming to certainly one of the good parts, Typinator offers a one-time purchase option. You will be able to purchase a single license of Typinator 8 for just EUR 24.99 and forget everything else. Considering the list of features and the okay User Interface that the program offers, we think the pricing is pretty okay. And, you don’t have to worry about monthly payments. There is also a Family version if you want to save money.
Other apps we considered
Below, you can find some applications that we had considered while trying to find the best text expansion software for Mac. However, due to certain reasons, they did not make it to the top positions. That said, you can consider the following options if you are looking for an alternative of some sort.
TypeIt4Me is an amazing choice if you need a more affordable, minimal and trustworthy text expansion tool for macOS. Starting with a simple User Interface, TypeIt4Me has almost every feature you would need, such as the support for calculated data and other algorithms. You also get support for variables and scripts such as Applescripts. Despite all these, when compared to other tools, this one looks way simpler.
Of course, you are missing out on some features like multi-device syncing and the huge community. Apart from the Example set that you can get, you have to create all other combinations by yourself. There are no options for suggestions or customizations either. Nevertheless, if you want an effective tool that does not take a lot of space or resources, TypeIt4Me is an awesome choice.
One-time license purchase of TypeIt4Me costs $19.99, but a free trial is available.
If you take almost all the necessary text expansion features and shrink everything into a small package, you will get Rocket Typist. It’s one of the most trusted and popular tools in the domain, offering an amazing set of options. That having said, Rocket Typist is not as advanced as the other tools. For instance, you can easily manage the whole system from a menu-bar widget itself.
Does it get the job done? Yes. Rocket Typist is wonderful in that case. You don’t have to worry about smooth performance when you are using this tool. Everything goes in sync and you can manage all your snippets via the simple interface as well. We also love advanced features like the support for variables, iCloud sync and the overall intuitive UI.
The full version of Rocket Typist is available for €9.99 and you can get it on Setapp as well.
Alfred is not technically a text expansion software, but more of a Spotlight alternative. It creates a singular platform where you can search things across your Mac and do some automation stuff. However, you will be able to use this productivity app for expanding snippets as well. The only problem is that you should have its Powerpack to avail this feature.
Compared to other products we have covered in this list, Alfred does not offer much control over how you’re creating snippets and expansions. That said, you will be able to check out other Collections from the internet or make some on your own. There are also some additional options such as non-text content support as well as some other integration options.
Alfred is basically free to use, but Powerpack costs you £45, and this is required if you want text expansion.
Yet another multipurpose solution, Keyboard Maestro was our top choice when we covered the best macOS automation tools. Because we are dealing with task-based automation here, you can use Keyboard Maestro to expand certain words into phrases or some other content. You just have to create a corresponding system of trigger and action.
Compared to how it is like to use other apps, Keyboard Maestro may turn out to be a difficult. You don’t get a go-to pane where you can create a word and enable the expansion. Instead, you have to choose a trigger and action from a list that’s so huge. Even then, if you like to customize things to the core, Keyboard Maestro is the best choice.
Keyboard Maestro costs $36 for the latest version and is available for macOS only.
PhraseExpander is a worthy mention, just in case you are looking for a text expansion software that works on Windows devices. In comparison to other tools out there, this one is not the richest in terms of features. That having said, you won’t have trouble in creating some snippets and using. The developers have also done some optimizations, making it easier for doctors among others.
So, if you are a doctor looking for a text expansion program for Windows, do check out what PhraseExpander has to offer.
We hope you liked our list of the best text expansion software for macOS. As we mentioned, we have chosen products that are reliable and trustworthy. So, regardless of which program you choose to use, you will not have any trouble in scaling the productivity options. It’s always good to go with something like TextExpander, which offers you control as well as multi-platform experience. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what you expect from text expansion tech.