TextExpander Abbreviations

How I memorized every snippet abbreviation

zach holmquist
Feb 4, 2014 · 4 min read

I love TextExpander, but since I bought it I have completely failed at memorizing a good amount of useful snippets. Did I stick with prefixing “,,”? or did I change to “;;”? or just “;” or maybe I did the double first letter thing like “ddate”? As a result of the mass confusion many of my favorite snippets have gone unused. I cannot convey the anxiety and frustration I get by not being able to use such inspiring characters, emoji, and emoticons like , 💩,ヾ(´༎ຶД༎ຶ)〴, and ๏_๏.

Desperately Looking for Inspiration

Being fed up knowing I could get much more out of TextExpander, I went on a search to find the perfect solution to manage abbreviations and came across a blog post by Sayz Lim, “Creating Memorable TextExpander Abbreviations. While the bulk of the post was insightful, the most inspirational part was a small block of update text which included a memorization method that rang true for me.

Johnny Knittle suggested . . .

. . . to group abbreviations based on functions and objects. By using the unique character as separator, you can create multiple level abbreviations for your personal contacts.

That was all I needed to have the lightbulb go off, and to motivate me to finally cleanup my TextExpander Snippets. No more ;; or ,, confusion. All I had to do was simply split groups of snippets into period separated by objects and functions.

The idea is that if I need snippets about me, such as phone, email or address, then I know those snippets start with “me”.

I need my email? me.email

My full address? me.home

My phone number? me.mobile

Unlocking More Power : Nesting Abbreviations

The beauty of this method is that it allows for logical nesting. Nesting abbreviations makes it even easier to recall snippets and keeps good consistency. For example our startup EventBoard has a small handful of documents, tutorials, and training videos. To quickly reference these snippets, I start each of them with eb, then a period, and the function doc or vid and finally the object hardware, theme, forcequit, etc.

The EventBoard User Manual? eb.doc.manual

The EventBoard Hardware Manual? eb.doc.hardware

The EventBoard Sales Deck? eb.doc.sales

A Few of My Favorite Abbreviations

To get you thinking about your snippets, below is a brief listing of snippets I use — all from memory .

char : char.apple (  ), char.cmd ( ⌘ ), char.sarcasm ( § ), char.hattip ( ), char.the ( Ћ ), char.shift ( ⇧ ), char.del ( ⌫ ), char.skull ( ☠ )

My Characters folder is the bundle of snippets that comes with TextExpander. I had to go through and change them from their comma comma abreviation to the new syntax ( ,,enter became char.enter ) — it is pain, but I have them all memorized.

emot : emot.fliptable ( (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ ), emot.annoyed ( ಠ_ಠ ), emot.wideyed ( ๏_๏ ), emot.shrug ( ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), emot.sob ( ヾ(´༎ຶД༎ຶ)〴 )

I highly reccomend Kaomoji for iOS to dig up even more emoticons to spice up your texts to those you love.

emoji : emoji.love ( ❤️ ), emoji.poop ( 💩 ), emoji.knife ( 🔪 ), etc.

Like char, I have an impressive amount of emjoi symbols memorized.

mm : mm.link ( [%|]() ), mm.tick ( - [ ] %| ), mm.h2 ( ##%| )

My Markdown folder is loaded with all the random Markdown Syntax that I cannot remember. The Link syntax in particular gave me serious heartburn before TextExpander.

util : util.ip.external ( ), util.ip.wifi ( ), util.date ( February 4, 2014 )

My Utilities folder is mostly a bunch of TextExpander scripts I have picked up over the years.

me : me.mobile ( 801-555-1782 ), me.twitter ( @zholmquist ), me.email.gmail ( zholmquist@gmail.com )

The Me folder is a fairly massive list of every possible bit of information about me — birthday, Facebook profile, LinkedIn profile, etc.

journal : journal.questions ( Anthony Robbin’s Morning Questions ), journal.doctor.adult ( Dr. Appointment Notes — Adult ), journal.doctor.child ( Dr. Appointment Notes — Child ) journal.gratitude ( Gratitude Template )

evernote : evernote.todo ( <en-todo/> ), evernote.quote ( <blockquote> “%|” </blockquote> )

Once I learned how to do the checkmark box, Evernote became much more useful. I mostly use my Evernote snippets in Drafts for iOS.

System level Snippets in iOS

Due to the walled-garden approach of iOS I can only use my snippets in apps that support TextExpander. Fortunatley, Apple provides a mediocre alternative by using the OS level Keyboard Shortcuts. Using this feature of iOS allows me to use some snippets in all apps.

To setup KeyBoard Shortcuts navigate to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts.

I hope you are inspired to revisit your long-forgotten TextExpander snippets. It is one of my favorite apps now that I have figured out how I can use it best in my workflow. Let me know how you are using TextExpander by emailing me ( zholmquist@gmail.com ) or reaching out via Twitter ( @zholmquist ).

Though my abbreviations may be long, at least they are useful.

    zach holmquist

    Written by

    product at wework // co-founder of teem // certified yoga instructor

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