The 2018 Best Mac Text Expansion Apps Tested and Reviewed
Utilities • May 10, 2018
Ever wished that every time you typed BTW, it automatically transformed to By the way?
Ever wished that you could stop copying and pasting stuff and instead use a simple abbreviation?
We’ve got you there. What you need is a text expansion app.
And, we have found out the best ones you can use on a Mac.
The world of text expansion
A text expansion app does exactly what you guess it would do. It expands text as you type them — or, when you have pressed a trigger combination. As we said earlier, it can help you at lot of instances. Let’s see some examples.
You’re a customer service manager who manages different email conversations every day. Of course, there will be a few phrases and sentences that you regularly use. Won’t that be awesome to replace copying and pasting with a simple text?
You’re a social media manager, working for a popular brand. Not all the comments in your posts require the unique replies. So, there are some common sentences you can use every day. Here too, you can give up the copy-paste command with the help of text expansion.
Let’s cut to the chase.
Text Expansion is a savior when you have to type a lot, especially when it’s repetitive. That’s why everyone should use text expansion feature, at least once in a while. Wondering how to do that?
macOS has an in-built text expander
Amazing, right? Not so much.
macOS lets you set up basic text expansion from System Preferences. You can go to Keyboard Preferences, choose a Replace and With combination. You can also set up Mac to add period when you tap double-space. Nothing more, nothing less.
That’s exactly why you need a third-party text expansion app for macOS.
We spent the last week testing the most popular text expansion apps for Mac, and we have some winners.
Down below, you will find of some of the best text expansion apps for Mac.
How we chose the best?
We had a few criteria in mind, but the first one? Advanced features.
The biggest problem of Mac’s in-built text expansion is the lack of advanced features. So, we want our pick to have advanced options for text expansion.
Next, the problem of usability. We weren’t looking for a text expansion app for geeks or programmers. We’d love something that has a simple UI.
What else? Native support. Nothing seems better than the smooth feel, right? So, we also wanted our pick to work seamlessly on almost all the apps, like Microsoft Word.
Shall we start?
TextExpander for Mac is the most popular tool when it comes to text expansion — and for a good reason. It is our go-to choice when we need seamless text expansion across macOS. We also think it deserves the place after testing the program for a week. Wondering why? Let’s go in detail.
Setting up and using TextExpander
Once installed on your Mac, TextExpander is like a piece of cake. The best thing about TextExpander is that it can work for both basic and advanced users. Do you need basic text expansion? Just create some snippets and enable them. Looking for something advanced? TextExpander offers that too.
Basically, you can enter the abbreviation and the expanded text. There are also a few options like the case sensitivity and labels. That’s all the basics you should know about TextExpander.
TextExpander does not have the most modern design, but it’s highly usable. Even the Preferences are easy to master. In other words, even if you are using a text expansion app for the first time, there’s no problem.
In addition to the fully-fledged interface, TextExpander has a menu bar icon. You can use this icon to disable or enable snippets or even search among the snippets. It’s quite useful, guys.
We loved the interface more than anything. The best part? It works seamlessly.
This is where TextExpander rocks the stage, you know. It packs many features that you can’t find in another app for text expansion.
Let’s consider snippet creation. In addition to simple text, you can add variables too. For instance, a snippet may include the variable for Year. It means that, when expanded, the section will show the current year. You can even decide how the year is represented. This is great when you have to create email messages.
TextExpander also lets you set up a delimiter. Delimiter is a key that enables the expansion. For instance, if I don’t want the text expansion to happen every time, I can set a particular key. Afterwards, I have to type the specific key following the abbreviation. Pretty awesome, right?
We also found that TextExpander is smarter than it seems. When enabled, TextExpander studies your typing patterns and suggest snippets. While writing this article, the program suggested to create a snippet for the phrase ‘text expansion’, thus saving a few minutes.
In addition to these, the app comes with customization options too. You can set up hotkeys for a variety of actions, such as enabling/disabling expansion. Altogether, we loved the Preferences section of TextExpander for the control it offers.
Some other notable features of TextExpander include fill-in snippets, which is useful while creating regular messages for customers. Thanks to the TextExpander community, you can access some ready-made snippets from the Public Group. Count in its cross-platform support, and the tool brings heaven for regular typists!
Last but not least, TextExpander offers cloud sync too — you heard that right. You can access the snippets from all the connected devices. You just need to sign into TextExpander using the same account. And, that’s something to make the text expansion tool perfect.
Availability and pricing
This is where things get interesting. TextExpander is available for macOS, Windows and iOS. If you remember what we said, all your snippets will be available in all these devices. The next time you have to type an office email from iPhone, don’t worry. TextExpander has got you covered.
Coming to the pricing sector, TextExpander has two major plans to offer: Life Hacker and Team.
Life Hacker is for individuals, Team, for organizations. In the Team version, you get options like organization control, snippet stats, auto-subscribe snippets etc. Life Hacker and Team are priced at $3.33 and $7.96 per user per month.
In case you are wondering, TextExpander offers a fully-functional free trial for both versions. Awesome, isn’t it?
Considering all these, we think TextExpander deserves the position to be our pick. For the price you pay, it offers some cool features and amazing control. In the one week I have tested this software, it helped me save a lots of time. It’s a great relief from typing repetitive things (again and again).
So, TextExpander is our best pick! But, there were some worthy competitors in the game. And, we wanted to mention them, just in case you needed something specific.
Below, you will find some of the finest (not the best) text expansion apps in the market.
Typinator is another great choice when you are looking for a text expansion app for Mac. However, do not expect many features here, and don’t compare it to TextExpander. Even then, you can use Typinator to boost your personal productivity while typing.
We would not say the UI is the best, but it’s somewhat usable. We found it to be quite clumsy and congested. As far as the UI concerned, you can see the sets and abbreviations at the top section, and the expansion text at the bottom part. But, it really is not intuitive.
Coming to the features, Typinator does not disappoint. You get quick and easy expansion, followed by better organization of your abbreviations. You can create your own set of abbreviations or download some from a library. For instance, you can get an Autocorrect set for different languages.
Just like TextExpander, Typinator lets you create different types of snippet content, also variables. You can add variable options like date, month, etc. but using them is tough. However, when it comes to Preferences, you will find the basics only.
In short, Typinator offers a smooth text expansion experience, but you miss a lot of features. For instance, it does not have Delimiter support. Also, don’t even think about accessing your snippets from other devices. In case you are wondering, Typinator is macOS-only.
Considering all these points, Typinator is a good choice when you don’t need advanced features like multi-device sync or hotkey support. Even then, for a price of 24.99 EUR, the deal doesn’t seem bad. If you prefer one-time payment over subscription, it’s worth the try.
Rocket Typist shows how minimal a text expansion app can become. It’s actually one of the simplest yet one of the effective apps for Mac out there. Despite the simple UI, however, Rocket Typist offers some features that we have not seen elsewhere.
The simple UI takes no time. When you open Rocket Typist, you don’t see a fully-fledged window, but icon on the menu bar. If you want to edit the snippets or create one, you have open that separately. Once in the window, you can create, edit and arrange your snippets in different categories.
But the best feature is this: Rocket Typist lets you create interactive snippets. For instance, you can create a template with the variable for the name. Whenever you enter the abbreviation, Rocket Typist will ask you to enter the name. You can do this for almost everything else. We loved it.
Inside such a simple package, Rocket Typist consists of many features. Also, despite the little learning curve it has, we found it easy to use the program. As you can guess, however, you will miss all the advanced set of features here. Don’t even think of setting up a Delimiter or enabling cloud sync.
Still wondering who needs Rocket Typist? The basic users. If you need a simple tool that expands the bunch of abbreviations, Rocket Typist is the one for you. You need not worry about heavy settings or subscriptions. Just pay for the software and keep calm.
On the bright side, Rocket Typist is pretty inexpensive. You can get its core features for free. If you need an advanced set, free feel to purchase the Pro version. In addition to regular purchase, Rocket Typist comes with Setapp too.
TypeIt4Me was truly a great competitor in the list, as far as features were concerned. It was offering almost all the features we had seen in TextExpander, but something is not perfect. One thing we noted is that the program comes with a set of abbreviations and expansions.
Just after you have installed and given Accessibility permission, TypeIt4Me will start expansion. But, thanks for that, you can set up a Delimiter using a key. TypeIt4Me even lets you print all your abbreviations so that you can paste it on the desk.
In addition to the fully-fledged snippet editor, TypeIt4Me offers a feature-rich menu bar icon too. From the dropdown menu, you can choose the popular snippets and they will be pasted. This makes things easy if you just forgot one abbreviation.
Even in the case of snippet creation, you don’t have any restriction. You can add normal text or variables as per your wish. If you are purchasing TypeIt4Me for an organization, you will have less things to do for getting started. As we said, TypeIt4Me comes with some pre-built combinations.
You can guess where TypeIt4Me fails to impress — syncing. First of all, TypeIt4Me is not available for PCs or other versions, though you can get a version for iOS. Even for iOS syncing, you have to use a third-party sync service like Google Drive or Dropbox. Not that convenient, we think.
As far as the pricing goes, TypeIt4Me for Mac comes at a single-license price of $19.95, and does not involve any subscription. So, as we said, if you are looking for better features and the lack of sync, it’s a good option to go to. As always, there is a free trial.
Is Keyboard Maestro a dedicated text expansion app? Technically, no. Can Keyboard Maestro expand text according to the combo? Yes, it can. Keyboard Maestro is more than the typical text expansion app for Mac, but you should try this one.
Keyboard Maestro is actually a program that lets you create macros across macOS. You can create a macro by choosing a trigger and action. But the best point is that you can choose any of the many actions offered by the program.
And, text expansion is one of the many things Keyboard Maestro can do. You can simply create a macro with the abbreviation as the trigger and expanded text as the action. Unlike the tools we mentioned above, this requires some time, though.
We were actually taken aback by the number of features Keyboard Maestro has. It is even amazing to find the things Keyboard Maestro can do in terms of macros and actions. In other words, Keyboard Maestro lets you automate your macOS experience through judicious selection of tasks.
One problem here is that Keyboard Maestro is over-feature-rich. You will need some time to find the section for enabling text expansion. When you find that, however, the app offers complete control. Considering all these points, we think Keyboard Maestro deserves a try.
It’s actually a commercial program that comes with a standard version and an upgrade. Depending on the level of features you need, you can choose between paid and free. The license is available for $36. By the way, go for Keyboard Maestro only if you can handle the heavy nature.
So, folks, these are the best text expansion apps for Mac. We believe now you have an idea why we chose TextExpander as the best solution for text expansion. If you are ready to pay for productivity, it seems to be the best choice.
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.