Experiment: Replacing TextExpander with MacOS/iOS text substitutions


  • Better iOS integration.
  • One fewer keyboard on my iPhone/iPad
  • Overall simplicity
  • Why not?

I just shut down TextExpander and we’ll see how long this lasts.



You can use aText for Mac, as well as Keyboard Maestro, but KM requires a bit more setup I think.


I’ve been keeping track of my TE use. I use about 7-8 snippets each day, but use them a lot.

I might try the same experiment…and report back…

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Yes, but I need something that runs on iOS.

I thought this was a pretty good idea, as well. However, I found a couple of factors that made me stay with TextExpander (correct me if I’m wrong):

Mac/iOS text substitutions: Didn’t look like it would handle multi-line substitutions or RTF (I have some text that has to be formatted).

Keyboard Maestro: Was going along really well on this. Opened TE and just did a cut-and-paste process. Simple…until I realized that these macros would not carry over to iOS. Since I use several of these in emails and documents I work on in iOS, this is not good for me.

Thanks for the idea, though. Will keep it in mind to see is there is another alternative.



This idea passed the use-it-for-five-minutes test.

I can already see two problems though:

  • It’s much easier to add new snippets on the fly with TextExpander than with the built-in text substitutions. More keystrokes the built-in way.
  • I had one particular snippet that I use frequently – I copy a string of text to the clipboard, then invoke this snippet, which types some text, with the clipboard text in the middle of the TextExpander string. It’s only a couple of extra keystrokes for me to do this manually with the built-in text substitutions. The result is some custom coding that we use on my company’s publishing server; I do this several times in every article I file.

I’ve decided to live with these drawbacks. At least so far.

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Obviously you need a Keyboard Maestro macro to open up the System Preferences to the right pane for you :wink:

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I don’t know about RTF, but multi-line is possible - I use it all the time. You need to add the replacement on a Mac and while editing, pressing option-return adds a line break.

I dropped TextExpander when text replacement got iCloud sync and don’t regret it at all. I don’t often add new snippets (the last time was around 6 months ago), so the added iOS integration is far more useful to me than being able to add a snippet quicker. Using the iOS keyboard is too much of a hassle for me, a horrid workflow, and I need to use my snippets throughout iOS, not just in the few supported apps. I may not add them often (I already have over 50) but I use them constantly.

I did this a few years ago. Given my relatively limited use of Text Expander, I’ve found it more than satisfactory - particularly on ios.


I’ve stopped using textexpander two months ago. As my subscription is up for renewal in a few months I wanted to know if I really need it.

I moved all my snippets into keyboard maestro on the mac (and a few short ones into text replacement), which actually is surprisinly easy!
On iOS I’ve added most of the TE snippets to the keyboard text replacements (which finally sync across all iOS devices).

I now have text expansion on all devices in all apps, and I really like it so far.
The fact that I have to remember to create a snippet on both iOS and MacOS is trivial.

So for me: I’ll be saying goodbye to TE come February.

For me, Apple’s built in Text Replacement function works great. I can see if you have more sophisticated needs for text replacement with special formatting, forms, sharing with others, etc., TextExpander might be a better option. But if you just want to automate some text (e.g., signature lines, your telephone number, address, etc.), the built-in function works great over all your devices.

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I add strings frequently so that’s an issue for me.

Also, I use an auto-generated date-time stamp frequently. I wavered this morning and re-started TextExpander so I could use that. But now I think I’ll shut down TextExpander and keep going with the experiment.

One option is to move all my simple expansions to MacOS/iOS and keep using TextExpander, or a less expensive alternative, for anything like the timestamp that I can’t do in MacOS/iOS.

BTW, I didn’t mention pricing yesterday as a reason to switch TextExpander off. Look, I’m not Bill Gates but I can afford $3.33/mo without noticing it. OTOH, three bucks is three bucks and those subscriptions DO add up. So now I’m adding saving money to the list of reasons to switch off TextExpander.

I think Alfred added date snippets etc when they added text expansion in an update (I didn’t look into it much as I use TextExpander - but I may also do this experiment as I don’t like having to switch keyboard on ios)

@Tim_O Truly, the need to switch keyboards is a big reason for my looking to get away from TextExpander. More precisely, the clutter of having four keyboards activated on iOS – I often hit TextExpander when I meant to go to something else.

@tjluoma You joke, but I usually add strings on the Mac, not iOS. So a Keyboard Maestro macro might be a good idea for me.

I’m currently using Text Expander but could easily replace it with the builtin text substitutions and Alfred for data and address expansions. I can safely say that if I were buying now I’d do just that as the Text Expander subscription is way too expensive when I can do what I need for free or close to it.

Is there a way to use Apple’s text expansion to insert the current date or time? Those are my number 1 and 2 use cases for TextExpander, and part of the reason I spend so much time in Ulysses and Drafts on iOS.

Now if only Things and some mail app would add TextExpander integration I’d be set…

If the Google ios keyboard added TE support I’d be sorted :slight_smile:

You can’t use Apple’s text expansion to do this, but you can use Services, and assign a service that inserts the date or time with a key combination. I did this prior to getting TextExpander (and before Alfred would do it). Now the problem is getting a service to insert the data or time. But it is available for free. Go to the App Store and search for “WordService”.

Aaaaand I’m back to TextExpander.

The clincher: TextExpander can be set to expand text when you simply type the shortcut. With MacOS, you need to type the shortcut and then a space. Many of my TextExpander shortcuts are set to expand when I type a fragment of a word.

Also, I can easily search TextExpander shortcuts if I remember I have a text snippet but can’t remember what the shortcut is.

Still, I may just think about how I can make better use of MacOS/iOS snippets, in part because those are just plain easier to access on iOS.

Additionally, I really need to clean out my TextExpander shortcuts. I just found one that I set up to use in a job I left in 2009!


I cannot get this (multi-line) to work, what am I doing wrong?