Type Faster on Mac with These Most Useful Text Expansion Apps

Utilities • Updated on Jan. 17, 2022

Are you tired of typing the same thing over and over again on your Mac? Who isn’t? That’s why we created this list of the best text expansion apps available for Mac.

Text Expansion apps allow you to rapidly create and complete many tasks that you repeat throughout the day. Text expansion apps allow you to type short phrases and sentences in the place of long, complicated strings. Much simpler than memorizing every shortcut for everything you type.

It also saves your time and effort when typing out long emails, document drafts, blog posts, and more. Text expansion, also known as typing shortcuts, is a productivity technique that allows you to type words, phrases, and even entire documents by just using a few keystrokes.

Text Expanders, Snippets, and Shortcuts: what are they?

Text Expanders, snippets, and shortcuts are all names for the same thing: text that appears on your screen after typing a specific abbreviation.

Are you tired of typing out long phrases or entire emails? Text expanders can help solve this problem by allowing you to create a shortcut that will automatically insert into whatever program you happen to be using.

Trying to work with long lines of text can be very distracting and hard to read. For example, writing out a list or describing something might drag on forever. Using a text expander lets you know exactly how many characters you have left in your document so that you can easily keep within the character limit of Twitter or other social media sites.

When editing images or working in Photoshop, it is effortless to mess up the file by pressing the wrong keys on your keyboard or accidentally clicking somewhere else in the program. Using a text expander will let you copy and paste important information to ensure that you are not losing any data during your editing session. Text Expanders are great for creating headings in Word documents or emails. They’re available in most word processing programs and email applications.

For example, if I want to start a title with “Company”, I would type “co”, and my expander would fill it in with the rest of the phrase.

There are a lot of great benefits to using a text expander, and everyone should consider it. Text expanders also work great if you have a certain way that you like to format your documents. If you prefer a specific structure every time you write, then using a text expander will help save time from having to format everything manually.

Text snippets are small codes you create for phrases you often use. For example, if you’re a writer and have a website, you might have text snippets for your bio information, contact details, etc. They don’t require a unique program, and they can speed up your productive time exponentially with just a little bit of setup time.

For instance, if I want to write “thanks so much”, I would type “tsm”, and my shortcut tool would change it. Instead of typing “Prime Minister”, you can create shortcuts “pm”, for it.

Mac’s built-in automatic text replacement

If you have a Mac computer, then you know how frustrating it can be to constantly have to retype your name, or any other standard word, over and over again. You know how some people will use acronyms all the time like they would write their name as “mac” or “macs”.

It might be fine for some people; if you are anything like me, you will find yourself lost in translation, or at least it can be hard to remember what this person is trying to tell you based on their cryptic acronym.

So, to help combat this issue, Apple has created something that they call Automatic Text Replacement. It allows users to type a particular word or phrase once, and they can then choose what that word or phrase should automatically replace with every time they would like to use it.

Text replacement is a tool that will save you time and could prevent you from making mistakes when writing in your native language, although it’s not perfect. For instance, if you often type “sales” into an email or a document and would like to change it to the abbreviation “Sales”, you can use text replacement to do so.

Benefits of Mac text replacement

It is a productive solution for most people. When you type a phrase or abbreviation into your Mac, that text gets automatically replaced with something else.

For example, if you type “fname”, it gets replaced with your first name. You can set up your automatic replacements with System Preferences.

Limitations of Mac text replacement

While macOS’s built-in text replacement is adequate for most casual users, it falls short of the needs of professionals.

For example, social media managers working in fast-paced environments want hundreds of combinations at their fingertips. But macOS’s built-in solution isn’t ideal for those kinds of users; it requires going to Preferences to make changes, which is inefficient.

Top 3rd-party text expansion apps for the Mac

Here are the top 3rd party selections that would help you extend the text and type faster on your Mac:

TextExpander 7: The most popular option with subscription price

TextExpander 7 is a brand-new version of the original TextExpander. It’s not just an update; it’s a total rewrite with many new features. TextExpander is a productivity utility for macOS that enables you to type short abbreviations that expand to long phrases or complete HTML pages, and much more.

It’s the fastest way to enter text on your Mac. For example, use ‘omw’ instead of ‘On my way!’ and TextExpander will automatically expand it into the entire phrase. Use ‘tg’ for ‘Thanks’, and you get a pre-filled email message thanking someone.

Use three dots (…) as a shortcut for ellipses in iWork documents, and so on. You can also set up shortcuts using multiple words, spaces, or punctuation characters; select from suggestions generated by TextExpander. You can create dynamic substitutions that appear when you need them; use dates and times; insert snippets of code or even graphics, or combine any number of expansions in one shortcut.

User interface

With version 7, they have introduced a whole new way to work with TextExpander — an interactive interface that makes working with snippets faster and easier than ever before.

The first thing you’ll notice when you launch TextExpander 7 is that it now has two windows. On the left side is your library, where your snippets are into folders.

The one on the right side is where you will work on your snippets. It’s kind of nice to separate things like this because when you are creating a new snippet, you don’t have every single snippet that you’ve ever created cluttering up my screen.

Features we loved

Smart suggestions. TextExpander will analyze your keystrokes and make suggestions when given the right permissions. This could easily be one of the best features in the TextExpander suite.

Variables. 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.

Comprehensive Formatting Options. It supports all the same formatting options as TextExpander Touch, including inline images and custom typefaces, and includes a powerful search capability.

Easy Update Checks. TextExpander 7 also makes it easy for you to check for updates in other apps that support TextExpander snippets.

Delimiters. 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.

One Tap Interface. With a simple tap of the finger, you can create an abbreviation that expands into much longer text—the perfect way to save time when writing email or text messages.

Awesome Snippet Library. It includes a snippet library, but more importantly, it lets you define your snippets and store them in that library.

Availability and pricing

Of course, it’s productive to have software that works seamlessly everywhere. As mentioned earlier, TextExpander is available for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Chrome OS. You will download these apps once you have created an account on the website.

Cross-platform availability is 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 a great solution for productivity.

You can try TextExpander for free with a trial version or get it for a $3.33 per month subscription for the individual package, and the Business plan would cost you $8.33 per user per month.

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.

Pros
  • TextExpander 7 is a handy utility that saves you time and keystrokes by expanding text abbreviations.
  • TextExpander 7 is a handy tool for any Mac user, but it’s beneficial for those who regularly have to deal with many different email addresses and phone numbers.
  • Help you save time and be more productive in your work.
Cons
  • Knowing how and where to add and modify snippets can be complicated.
  • TextExpander also pops up with suggestions of snippets to create, based on your commonly typed phrases, which some users find annoying.

In Short, Considering all the things, we think TextExpander deserves the position to be our top pick. On top of offering some of the best features and control, it also gives you multi-platform support and saves a lot of time. At the end of the day, you can make your macOS experience more productive and less repetitive.

Typinator 8:  The powerful option with one-time purchase

One of the limitations with TextExpander is that you have to pay a subscription fee every month. This could be a problem for some of you, and you may look for a one-time-purchase alternative. This is exactly where Typinator 8 comes in. This text expansion software is an awesome alternative if you aim 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.

User interface

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 will be able to select abbreviations from the left pane and see their trigger-expansion combinations on the right. You might need more time to figure out where to begin and end.

We won’t say the getting started process is easier, but you can do it anyway. Despite 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 how Typinator has been arranged and offers its options.

Features we love

Magic Keys. Typinator allows you to use the modifier keys such as Shift, Control, Option, and Command in different abbreviations as if they were real characters. 

Date and Time Inclusions. Using various markers, you can also use Typinator to include real-time data such as the current date and time.

Built-in Functions. Typinator includes built-in functions that help you get faster text expansions in HTML and Mail clients.

Advanced Options. Typinator comes with some advanced settings that can help you customize it as you would like. You can also assign some keyboard shortcuts to it for easier access.

Statistics Mode. Typinator 8 comes with a new statistics mode where you will be able to see the usage counts for abbreviations and sets. 

Availability and pricing

Probably the least impressive thing about Typinator is its availability. This text expansion tool is available only for 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.

Pros
  • Awesome statistics mode to figure out your best snippets
  • Advanced date and time integration
  • Typinator allows you to save time by adding custom text expansions
Cons
  • Typinator does not include dedicated settings for capitalizing sentences
  • Typinator does not bundle any options for using delimiters

In Short, we think the pricing is pretty okay with the list of features and the okay User Interface that the program offers. And, you don’t have to worry about monthly payments. There is also a Family version if you want to save money.

Other text replacement shortcut utilities for the Mac

Below, you can find some applications that we had considered while trying to find the best text expansion software for Mac. However, they did not make it to the top positions due to certain reasons. That said, you can consider the following options if you are looking for an alternative of some sort.

1. Espanso

Espanso is a powerful Text Expansion app that works on both Windows and macOS. It supercharges your typing experience with custom snippets and other such integrations and helps you type multiple sentences quickly.

It comes with advanced features such as shell and script support, forms support, date, time, and emoji support, making it a little confusing. However, you can still get it for free, which is awesome.

2. Rocket Typist

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. The full version of Rocket Typist is available for €9.99, and you can get it on Setapp as well.

3. TypeIt4Me

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. One-time license purchase of TypeIt4Me costs $19.99, but a free trial is available.

4. PhraseExpress for Mac

PhraseExpress is worthy of mentioning, just in case you are looking for a text expansion software that is not the richest in terms of features compared to other tools out there.

That having said, you won’t have trouble creating some snippets and using them. The developers have also done some optimizations, making it easier for doctors.

5. aText

aText is another text shortcut tool that uses macros and text expansion to do its job. It works by replacing your custom abbreviations with frequently used phrases that you define. It works on the latest macOS Monterey OS and supports Windows devices.

It doesn’t come with fancy features but is a great pick overall. You can get it for free with a trial period or buy it for $4.99.

6. Text Blaze

Text Blaze is an asy-to-use templates app with endless customizability and powerful automation. It comes with various tools that you can use to add custom snippets and expansions. However, it works only as an extension in the browser.

So, if you want to use it on a Mac, then you would need to use the browser extension. However, it is free to use, making up for a great package.

7. Gmail Snippets

Gmail Snippets is built specifically to work with Gmail and is a Gmail-only text expansion tool. You won’t be able to use it on any other app, and so it is heavily limited to the Gmail platform.

However, if you do use Gmail a lot, then configuring Gmail snippets is a smart thing to do. It will boost your productivity and help you type faster, and it does it all for free.

8. Alfred

Alfred is not technically a text expansion software but a Spotlight alternative. It creates a singular platform where you can search things across your Mac and do some automation. However, you will be able to use this productivity app to expand snippets.

The only problem is that you should have its Powerpack to avail of this feature. Alfred is free to use, but Powerpack costs you £45, which is required if you want text expansion.

9. Keyboard Maestro

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 other content.

You have to create an interconnected system of trigger and action. Keyboard Maestro costs $36 for the latest version and is available for macOS only.

Final thoughts

Text expansion apps are a godsend for individuals who deal with repetitive text in their work. They can save a lot of time and effort from having to type the same things over and over. These apps can also help reduce typos and errors, which saves time.

These days, we rely on our computers and phones for so much more than simply writing. Whether we’re sending a quick text message, composing an email, or writing out a blog post, we’re putting more and more of ourselves out there on the web.

In some cases, it’s essential to keep things professional, which is why you might be considering text expansion apps for your computer or phone. That way, when you need to type out specific phrases a thousand times over — like your address or “I’ll get back to you” — you can tap a few keys and get the job done.

Text expansion apps are a handy tool for quickly entering commonly used text, like your name or address, as you type. Since they don’t require custom keyboards or other fancy input methods, they’re ideal for just about any app or program.

The apps mentioned above all offer simple touch-typing mechanisms for this quick and easy text input method, and we hope you get an awesome experience working with them.