In this episode, you’ll discover 3 strategies and 2 tools to help you minimise repetitive typing without the need to take typing classes.
To measure the number of keystrokes you’re typing on your Mac, I suggest installing the free app called Mouse Miles: https://www.pointworks.de/software/mouse-miles/
Links to the third-party tools mentioned in this episode:
- TextExpander: https://www.textexpander.com/
Curious to know how well you’re taming the 3 killers of Mac productivity? Take a free quiz at https://macpreneur.com/score
Solopreneurs on Mac often underestimate the amount of time they waste typing repetitive content. This includes small details like email addresses and social security numbers, as well as larger tasks like email replies and report preparation.
To address this issue, the application Mouse Miles can be installed to track keystrokes. My own experience revealed that I had typed approximately 280,000 keystrokes in three and a half months, equivalent to about 70,000 words. With an average typing speed of 48 words per minute, this amounted to 24 hours of typing on my Mac.
To minimize this time, I suggest three main techniques: text replacement, using templates, and leveraging automation.
In this episode, I focus on text replacement, explaining the built-in feature of macOS and recommending the third-party tool TextExpander.
The built-in feature of macOS allows users to create snippets that are replaced by multiple paragraphs of text, while TextExpander offers more advanced features such as using the clipboard content and creating pick lists.
I then share tips for creating text replacements and highlight the benefits of TextExpander, including its cloud-based synchronization and multi-platform compatibility.
The pricing for TextExpander starts at $3.33 per month for the individual plan.
TextExpander helped me save 26 hours and 40 minutes over the past three and a half months.
I finish by acknowledging the challenges of remembering and managing numerous snippets and recommend using the search feature in TextExpander to easily find and use snippets.
- Solopreneurs on Mac often overlook the time wasted on repetitive typing.
- Mouse Miles is an application that can track keystrokes on a Mac.
- Text replacement, templates, and automation are three strategies to minimize repetitive typing.
- The built-in text replacement feature of macOS allows users to create snippets that are replaced by multiple paragraphs of text.
- TextExpander is a powerful third-party tool for text replacement with advanced features like using clipboard content and creating pick lists.
- TextExpander is cloud-based and works on multiple platforms, including Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Windows.
- TextExpander offers affordable pricing starting at $3.33 per month for the individual plan.
- Remembering and managing snippets can be challenging, but TextExpander’s search feature makes it easier to find and use snippets.
How often do you find yourself typing the same information again and again on your Mac?
What if I told you that there was a smarter way to save time and eliminate this repetitive task?
I’ll unpack all of this after the intro.
Before diving into today’s topic, I want to quickly mention that this episode is part of a short series focusing on the three killers of Mac productivity, namely unnecessary clicks, repetitive typing, and file clutter.
I introduced the three killers in episode 58. Then I provided built-in and third party solutions to reduce unnecessary clicks. Respectively in episode 59 and 60.
Now, this episode and the following two ones, so episode 61, 62, 63 will be focusing on techniques that are either free or very inexpensive to minimize repetitive typing.
But before that, let’s recall why repetitive typing is such a problem.
Problem with repetitive typing
Most solopreneurs on Mac are unaware of the sheer amount of time that they lose typing the same content repeatedly.
Could be small details like email addresses or social security numbers to bigger ones, email replies or preparing reports, For instance.
If you are curious, I recommend installing the application Mouse Miles, which can record the number of keystrokes that you do on your Mac.
On my iMac, it has recorded roughly 280,000 keystrokes over the span of three and a half month.
Now, assuming that the most commonly used English words are four characters long, it would mean about 70,000 words.
And my average typing speed being 48 words per minute, it means that I’ve spent 24 hours just typing on my Mac.
One way to reduce that time would be to take typing classes, but as explained in episode 58, the best typist in the world would be around or slightly above the 80 words per minute mark.
This would yield for me a 66% improvement, which is good, but nowhere near what can be achieved with the solutions that I’m about to introduce.
Overview of solutions to minimise repetitive typing
At a high level, there are actually three main techniques or strategies to reduce repetitive typing.
The first one is text replacement, the second one is by using templates, and the last one is by leveraging automation.
Now to keep the episodes short and sweet, I’ve decided to dedicate a separate one for each strategy.
So it means that I will cover text replacement now in this episode, and then I will focus on templates in the next one, so episode 62, and I will talk about automating text input in episode 63.
Text replacement intro
So the fastest way to reduce repetitive typing is a technique called text replacement.
The idea is to be able to type just a few characters that would immediately be replaced by several words or even multiple paragraphs of text.
This has the potential to literally 10X your typing speed without the need to take typing classes.
In this episode, I will cover the built-in feature of macOS, then a third party tool called TextExpander.
Built-in text replacement feature of macOS
So first option, the built-in text replacement capability of macOS.
If your Mac is running macOS 13 Ventura, or later, you would need to open System Settings, then visit keyboard, and there you would find text replacements.
On macOS 12 Monterey or earlier, you open System Preferences, then keyboard, and there you will have text
So, you will see two columns, the snippets, the thing that you will type, and then on the right what will get replaced, the replacement column.
When I need to enter the VAT number of EasyTECH, I used the trigger ” ,tva ” TVA it’s VAT, but in French.
On social media, when I post things I have hashtags that I used very often. And so I’ve used the snippet “, hash1”, and that would be then automatically replaced by “#Apple #Technology”. I have “, hash2”, “, hash3”, “, hash4”, depending on whether it’s iOS related or macOS related or security related.
To do remote sessions or remote support, I get my clients to install the TeamViewer QuickSupport application. Some of them don’t have it yet. And so I’ve created a snippet “, qs” for QuickSupport. And so whenever I need to send that link, it could be via messages, WhatsApp or via an email. I just type “, qs” and automatically it gets spit into https://downloads.teamviewer.com/ and I don’t remember exactly the, the path, but it’s a very long URL.
So a few tips when you create text replacement.
Number one: choose a prefix for your snippets. I recommend it to be a special character. Like in my case, I use the comma for the built-in text replacement capability. But it could be the dash, it could be something else.
Do not use a character that you would use otherwise, like the hashtag, right? If you use hashtag. There’s a chance that you would use it whenever you are on social media already, and also be consistent.
So, in my case, built-in text replacement of macOS : I use the comma.
Whenever I use TextExpander, I use the dash as the prefix.
With the built-in text replacement capability, you can replace your snippet by multiple paragraphs.
The trick is: you write that somewhere else. So for instance, in Notes, in Pages, in Word, in a Google Docs, doesn’t matter.
So you create your multiple paragraph text, you copy that, and then you paste it inside System Settings or System Preferences.
It’ll look like it’s a big, long sentence, but actually when it’ll be replaced, automatically, it’ll put the, the return character for you.
Third tip about this, is that it’s asynchronized via iCloud, which means that you can define it on any of your Macs, or you can even define one on your iPhone, and then it will be available on your Mac and vice versa.
And a tip only valid for macOS: if you want to do a backup , it’s simple from System Settings or System Preferences, you do the COMMAND (⌘) A keyboard shortcut, which means it’ll select all your text replacements.
And then with the mouse, you just drag and drop outside of System Settings or System Preferences. So for instance, in a folder in Finder, or it could be also on your desktop if you want to, and that will create a file .
And that means that you’d now have a backup, which if for some reason there is an issue or if you delete some text replacement by mistake, you would be able then to repopulate.
If you just want to share one text replacement, you just select that one and you drag and drop that one, and it’ll do a backup of only that specific text replacement.
Now this feature is a really great starting point and I encourage you to explore it and and to use it, but it is limited.
One of the limitations is that it doesn’t store formatting like bold, underline, italic.
And so this is why I’m covering now the tool that I’m using the most for text replacement, it’s called TextExpander.
So it’s much more powerful.
One thing for instance, that it can do is to use the content of the clipboard anywhere in the replacement phase.
So you can have predefined text, then you put clipboard, and then you finish off with other text, which means that whatever is in the clipboard will be automatically included when you will trigger the snippet.
But you can also use the tabulation key. You can use the return key. You can use something called a FILLIN field, which would be like a text box ready for you to customize, to put some text manually. But you can also create pick list if you know that you only have a few options.
So in my case, for instance, when I do training, the day of the training is usually either a Tuesday, a Wednesday, or a Thursday. So I have already a pick list and whenever I need to send a message or an email to my students saying the next training will take place on, and then I can choose the day of the week.
But on top of that, It also can put the date, so today’s date, but you can also do date calculations. So you could say in 10 days. So today’s day plus 10 days, and it’ll automatically put the right date over there.
It is cloud-based, meaning you can synchronize all your snippets.
It’s also multi-platform, so it means it works on Mac, on iPhone, on iPad, but also on Microsoft Windows, and they even developed a Chrome extension, which means it can run on Linux as well.
It is possible to share groups of snippets with other people, and it has very affordable pricing.
I’m not at all, sponsored by TextExpander but I really love it.
So pricing starts at $3,33 per month, or $39,96 per year for the individual plan, and then for the business plan, it starts at $8,33 per month, or $99,96 per year per person.
Quick words about my personal experience.
It has helped me save 26 hours, 40 minutes over the last three and a half months. So it’s, it’s a lot.
A few examples.
One that I use the most is “-ymd”. Y for year, M for month, D for day, and so “-ymd” will get expanded into today’s date in the format: the year dash the month in two digits dash the day in two digits. That’s my naming conventions for files on my computer.
But I also use ChatGPT a lot and I use it for the Apple Newsflash that I do. It’s a monthly newsletter that I do for EasyTECH.
And so I have a prompt that is already predefined and I want ChatGPT to summarize the most important information from a bunch of article titles and URLs that I’ve collected over the past month.
And so I curate the URLs and the, the article links. I already categorize them. And then when, let’s say that I have a bunch of articles related to, Apple TV+, I will select all those article titles and URLs. I will do command C to copy them in the clipboard. Then I will use my TextExpander snippet, which is “- nfgpt” and inside the ChatGPT window, it’ll write my prompt, put the clipboard content, and then it goes ahead with the summarization.
Now, whether you use TextExpander or the built-in text replacement capability of macOS, there are two main hurdles with this strategy.
First of all, you need to make sure to define the snippets so that they don’t fire inadvertently, right?
The second hurdle is, I would say the biggest one is actually you need to remember them, right?
And the more you have, The more you need to keep them in your brain. And I know how painful it is already with with passwords. So with text replacement snippets, I can understand also that it’s not yeah, can be difficult.
That’s one of the reason why I prefer TextExpander also, is because it has a keyboard shortcut command equal, that allows me when I don’t remember a snippet to search for them.
So I do command equal, I have a search bar, like a spotlight search bar. I type a few letters related to what I’m looking for, and usually I’ll quickly find the trigger and then I can invoke it.
So to recap the goal of this episode was to explore text replacement techniques that can help you drastically reduce repetitive typing on your Mac.
I’ve started with the built-in text replacement of macOS, then I covered a third party application called TextExpander, which alone has helped me save more than 26 hours in the past three and a half months.
In the next episode, episode 62, I will dive into the use of templates. It’s another strategy that can help you minimize repetitive typing when text replacement cannot help you or doesn’t make sense.
So that’s it for today.
If you’d like to know how well you are currently coping with the three killers of Mac productivity, I’ve prepared a free quiz available at macpreneur.com/score.
So visit macpreneur.com/score to discover your Mac productivity score today.
And until next time, I’m Damien Schreurs, wishing you a great day.