How to use typing shortcuts on the Mac
Sunday, 02 September 2012
Your Mac can type text for you, by using macros. That means you type a few letters of your choosing and the Mac automatically replaces them with something different. This is specially handy if you often type
teh instead of
the, for example. Guest author Zaheer Mohiuddin explains how to access and use symbol and text substitution in OS X.
In an attempt to streamline my advanced customer support system *ahem* email for my side project, I started looking for some text expansion tools. If you’re not looking for something too fancy that just works, the built-in Mac (I believe it was introduced in Lion) text expander is great.
Miraz adds: if you need macros that go beyond the simple then see Book Review: Take Control of TextExpander, Cut your work in half: TextExpander types text for you and Type routine text with TextExpander.
Set up the built-in text expander
Here’s how to set up the built-in macros:
- Go to
System Preferencesand click on the
Language & Textpane.
- Click on the
- Make sure
Use symbol and text substitutionis checked.
Text pane you should see a list of items the Mac will substitute for you. It may include symbols such as © and perhaps fractions. Any that are checked will be automatically substituted when you type them.
For example, open a text editor such as TextEdit and type
(c). Then keep typing. When you look back in a moment or two you should see your Mac has automatically changed the
Miraz notes: In my experiments while testing this Tip I found the Mac didn’t instantly change the typed characters. I had to actually type a little more before the change occurred.
Add new substitutions
You’re not limited to the built-in substitutions though.
- Choose the
Texttab in the top row and click
+below the list to add a new text expansion.
- Choose a unique phrase to trigger your text expansion. Tip: use symbols or less common letters to avoid accidental expansions. For example, use
:sigto expand to your email signature. If you try to use just
sigthen any time you type words such as
significantyou’ll get a surprise.
- I found it easiest to type my text in a text editor and then paste it in the window. You avoid having to type in a tiny box and dealing with new lines.
- If you choose to type your expansion in the window: To add a new-line break use
Control (⌃) Returnand leave a full line in between the lines you want to break.
Thanks, Zaheer M.
Thanks, Zaheer M.
This Tip was originally published as Free Mac Text Expansion Tool (Built-In). It has been edited for inclusion here.