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Play it Again Sam

by Kerry Dawson


This line “Play it Again Sam“ is actually a misquote from the famous film Casablanca. Regardless of the misquote, it is often quoted. The line conjures up a romantic feeling and one of nostalgia.

When however we think of typing on our computers the idea of “Play it Again Sam” conjures up a feeling of do I have to. Well, in fact, you don’t. Eventually, we realize there are words, phrases and entire paragraphs and sections we are playing again and again. This is a laborious and time consuming endeavour that we don’t need and one that is very solvable with software tools designed to take care of the problem.

Although there are many tools to do this, I am going to look at two specific tools dedicated for the task at hand. However, you might already have this capability in other tools meant for other functions primarily yet which includes a text expansion capability. Rather than looking at such tools, like Keyboard Maestro or Launchbar in detail I am going to focus on text expansion tools alone that specialize in the function and bring more to the table.


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TextExpander is an excellent text expansion tool. Repetitious typing can be dramatically reduced by the logical deployment of TextExpander. Shortcuts, as they’re called, can be used to expand out into complex words or words that get typed over and over to phrases and a lot more. Not only does this cut down on the strain of repetitious typing but it improves the speed and quality of the product. Typing errors are much less prone to happen. Overall, the process of writing becomes easier and more productive.

Creating a text expansion with Text Expander is easy. It can be done manually where you input all the elements required for the text expansion. It can be done more automatically where text that has been written can be turned into a text expansion element or the expansion can be grabbed from the clipboard.

Text Expander and IOS

Another interesting facet of Text Expander is it’s IOS counterparts to the desktop. Unfortunately in IOS, unlike the desktop where everything supports text expansion, only certain programs that have been designed to support Text Expander work. With the introduction of IOS 7 a lot of software that worked with Text Expander no longer does. Developers are being asked to add Text Expander capability back into their IOS programs and it is slowly but surely happening.

In IOS Text Expansion is very much appreciated as typing on a virtual keypad can be laborious. Even if you use a bluetooth keyboard with your device you can still benefit from text expansion.

What ultimately would be nice in IOS is that all programs are supported by Text Expansion. That day might come.


Typ icon64
Typinator is another text expansion tool for the Mac only. Some people prefer it over Text Expander due to its speed. I would say Typinator is comparable to Text Expander in functionality and ease of use but it is definitely faster. It accomplishes the same result which is the reduction in repetitive typing. However, the program is substantially less expensive. It’s basically $40 for Text Expander and $25 for Typinator. If you don’t need the IOS functionality of Text Expander and you want to save a few dollars Typinator might be the more appropriate system.

Speed should not be the Qualifier

Speed should not be the qualifier as to what text expansion tool you use. Rather, it should be the tool you’re more likely to use. The tool that feels right for you in use. Also, if you do need or want IOS functionality, then Text Expander is the way to go. It synchronizes between products be they other desktop products or IOS products.

Other Text Expansion Tools

As I mentioned, there are the dedicated kinds of text expansion tools such as Text Expander, Typinator, TypeIt4me and DashExpander. There are also text expanders built into your programs such as Keyboard Maestro, Launchbar (snippets) and Alfred (snippets) plus other programs such as Spell Catcher. All Text Expansion tools are useful regardless of where they come from in that they will reduce repetitive typing, save time and reduce errors.

The Key to a Text Expansion tool is Use It

The key to getting effective bang for your buck with a Text Expansion tool is to use it. That is, it’s very easy to get lackadaisical where it comes to the use of this kind of tool. Things that you should be defining for text expansion you don’t. Then you’re repetitively typing not taking advantage of the time-saver right in front of you. Even words that are a little hard to spell or type should be part of your text expansion arsenal. Errors will be reduced and time saved. Look for anything that might qualify for text expansion and define it as such. This way you will really make use of a text expander and its power.

Remembering the shortcuts for the text expansion are important too. Some people like putting a dot before their text expansion whereas others like having the first letter in doubles such as kkm for Keyboard Maestro. Use whatever method works for you best. Remember to use the functionality frequently and you’ll remember the shortcuts quicker and eventually they’ll become automatic when you go to type a word or a phrase.

With a text expander in hand, you’ll be giving yourself a nice break from the tedium that can be involved in typing, generating you text faster and more accurately and employing a truly useful tool effectively.

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