Review : SmileOnMyMac TextExpander

Put often used words in documents with just a keystroke.

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: SmileOnMyMac, LLC

Price: $29.95 US

The Good

  • Easy to use. Helps with repetitive typing. Well documented. Reasonably priced. Demo available to download. Reduces your typing time and increases accuracy. Leopard compatible.

The Bad

  • It is a bit slow to start up and doesn’t mention you must close and reopen System Preferences to see predefined items. Cannot edit predefined groups.
If you type 100 or more words per-minute without any errors, you may not need this tool, but if you're plagued with wrist pain or sore fingers, it may give your digits a much needed rest. If you email or visit chat rooms or do a lot of repetitive typing, wouldn't it be easier if you had to type fewer strokes? If you commonly type certain words incorrectly, like thier instead of their, this program may solve that. It might be handy to type a few letters to have your photo appear in your document. If you use special characters every day in your job, like the Yen symbol (option-Y) or the trademark sign (option-2), locating the keyboard combination can be time consuming and a distraction from the project at hand. TexExpander solves a myriad of keyboard-related frustrations and mishaps.

How TextExpander works

The easy to install TextExpander 2.4.x lives in your System Preferences. To customize you can open the preference pane or click on the provided Apple Menu Bar icon. The TextExpander preference pane includes four tabs, in which you can create new snippets, change your preferences, check for updates, and register the program if you downloaded the demo. The Preferences let you change whether to activate a snippet upon typing the shortcut or to use a key, like Tab or Return, to trigger a snippet. You may choose a sound to play when inserting a snippet also. Other options include the choice to use case sensitive triggers, in which applications the program works, and the default format. The program does not work unless you enable access for assistive devices in the Universal Access preference pane and a message appears to that effect.

A snippet is the shortcut you use to expand your desired text, while a group is a collection of commonly used snippets. For example, you can store all of your email snippets in an Email Group. There seems to be no limit to the length of your snippets, so if your job requires you to type long pieces of boilerplate text into a contract, papers, or insurance policies, TextExpander saves you from a lot of keystrokes. It is handy to create invoices too. You can have a trigger for your company logo and address or you could type in the part number or some other letter combo and the item and description prints in your document, ready for the customer's bill.

TextExpander screen

Preference Pane

To create a new snippet, click on the + sign at the bottom of the Snippets tab and select New Snippet. You can format your snippet as plain or styled text, a picture, or an AppleScript. In the Content Box, type the text you want your snippet to type. In the Abbreviation Box, type in the letters you want to activate your snippet. When you close the preference pane, just open an application, type in your trigger text and BAMO! There it is. The TextExpander triggers text can be case sensitive or not.

TextExpander screen options

Options Under Add Button

There is a library of commonly misspelled words already set up in the Auto Correct Spelling predefined group. You can add words with which you frequently have problems, and it automatically corrects them. If you create two snippets for the same word, the program warns you also.

TextExpander screen

One Auto Correct Spelling Group

TextExpander also works well with html tags that I often use. SmileOnMyMac provides a predefined HTML Code Group. If I type href, it turns into . All I have to do is place my cursor in the spaces and type in the links.

TextExpander can automate almost anything you need to type in any application. Of course, you have to remember what triggers go with which text, or open the preference pane to check. If you have used Textpander, TypeIt4Me, or Typinator, you can import their text and triggers into TexExpander.


This is a very easy utility to use. If you experience problems, the well-done help menu should solve the problem. There are also excellent tutorial videos on the site.

It doesn't work if you copy and paste in your trigger text, it must be typed. You can set your trigger text to be case sensitive, but you have to remember to use the correct case. If memorizing shortcuts worries you, don't fret, because you can click on triggers in the menu bar.

Be careful what you use as a trigger though, because using a real word may cause problems. For example, use AAdress rather than address, otherwise every place you type the word address, you may find your address inserted. Ilene notes that she learned a long time ago, while hosting chats on eWorld, to avoid making triggers that may mimic real words. If you start all your triggers with the letter z or q there is little likelihood of you accidentally typing a real word. For example, use zemail to trigger typing your email address. The bottom line is that TextExpander helps you complete a number of tasks quickly. For those who type slowly, it puts commonly used words and phrases in your documents with only a couple of keystrokes.

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