Summer of (maybe) Leaving Text Expander

Yes, TE has seemed to have gone downhill soon after it went to a subscription model.

Fortunately, I had tried Typinator back in 2006 when I switched to the Mac and liked it, but then tried TE a little later and switched. TE was very good then, but not so much now. But, Typinator has a nice upgrade discount (after I finally found my old license key in my old Web Receipts folder [thank you Foxtrot!], so I’m getting the current upgrade for about half-price! Nice company!

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Well, this thread convinced me to cancel my TextExpander subscription. I will now use Alfred snippets exclusively. Thanks for saving me a few bucks. :slight_smile:

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I also use Alfred as a replacement for TE.

I found this link that is useful for custom snippets:

https://www.alfredapp.com/help/workflows/triggers/snippet/snippet-triggers-with-dynamic-inputs/

You can even chain multiple inputs, storing your values as variables along the way, to paste a longer message with multiple custom arguments.

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I’ve been using aText for ages and I love it. A simple little app which fulfills all my text expanding needs. Not sure whether it can do some of the advanced TE functionality, but it works reliably and also does things like putting the cursor at a specified position after expanding etc. Also just 4,99$ – one time purchase.

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At one point, I think not long before COVID-19 hit, I had written up an entire analysis of TextExpander’s development (or lack thereof) post-subscription. But before felt that it was polished enough to post, we were in the midst of a pandemic, and it didn’t feel important anymore.

What was startling to me was that, as I remember it, with almost 4 years of subscription model data, there were almost no noteworthy features added to the app. They added Windows support, they moved to a subscription, and then the app just… languished. A few cosmetic things here and there. Some bug fixes. Other than that…not much.

Compare that to PDFpen which is not a subscription product, and which has received updates every year, significant enough that they felt comfortable offering an upgrade fee for it.

A common argument for software subscriptions is that it gives developers the freedom to add new features “when they’re ready” rather than holding off for major updates. I believe there are plenty of examples of that happening (Drafts comes to mind, certainly). But I don’t think you could say the same about TextExpander.

One of the reasons that I hesitated to post it, however, is that there are already so many people who are vehemently opposed to any software subscription ever that I feared it would do more harm than good.

I’m not even sure what the “good” might be. I doubt it would change anything about how often TextExpander gets updated, as Smile clearly doesn’t need to update it in order for it to continue being successful.

So… what would be the point? “Shame”? I doubt it would matter to anyone. There might be a day of Internet Outrage on Twitter.

People who hate subscriptions would point at this and say “See! Subscriptions are bad!” (which wouldn’t be my point at all, but…I think we do have to consider not just what we say, but how what we say will be “heard” and “used”).

Those who like/don’t mind/accept subscriptions would say “Well, if I used an app that wasn’t updated frequently enough for me, I’d just stop using it.”

Yup. Now I remember why I left it in the drawer.

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Thanks for your note – I think you’re right. I’d note, too, that PDFpen (regular, not Pro) is part of SetApp, whereas TE is not. We cannot know if that creates a motivation or not, but it might be a factor into why PDFPen is non-subscription.

I experimented with dumping TextExpander in December 2018.

According to that thread, I went back to TE a short time later — I don’t actually remember, myself. I do know that I have not used TE for quite some time, and I don’t miss it.

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Here was my experience summarized:

And some of the scripts I used:

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One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) for me to stick with TE is that’s it’s available (and syncs) on Windows. Windows is even more important for me than iOS/iPadOS, since I don’t do any significant text work on them.

As I believe it has been mentioned in this thread, TextExpander is the only expansion app that’s available on iOS and only through the use of their API in apps that support it. Smile has not been interested in developing that for years now though, making the benefit of the subscription less and less valuable as times pass.

No support for iOS/ipadOS though. But it has Linux support. :slight_smile:

Thanks for this! This looks like a fantastic expansion tool!

me whenever I see a TextExpander thread…

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The only reasons I pay Smile the $3 each month:

Drafts, Fantastical, Omnifocus, GV Connect for iOS
Windows
Fill-in Snippets

I sum up my disgust with Smile Software here…

https://macsorcery.com/the-sad-demise-of-textexpander-for-ios/

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Text expanderfor iPadOS has not updated my snippets list in years and is basically broken for all that I can tell.
I am happy to jump ship here!

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I’ve been really impressed with Typinator as I try it out based on the recommendations here, but one issue I’ve run into is that when I set up an “Alternatives” Input Field, even though I can set up my snippet with a list of several items, I can only pick one item from the list when using it. In TextExpander, I can select multiple items in a list (for example, I can select multiple hashtags among a long list of them). Am I correct that you can’t select more than one item from a list in Typinator?

I find it quite interesting to note that “some podcasters” try a different notetaking app like every other month, but still pretend TE is about the only text expansion app around. While – apparently – a lot of users are departing the app.

Just sayin’.

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The thing with TextExpander is that while the apps seem stuck in a frozen state, the server backend keeps improving. The sync feature with very sophisticated capabilities to sync snippets in teams is very advanced. I do not see any app that is as capable of doing that in such a good way like TE does. TE still is a very good choice for teams and companies, if they need this central administration and sharing of snippets.

Smile is a developer with very a good public relations “division”. Jean MacDonald was a very good “ambassador” for Smile as is Jeff Gamet these days. Both of them are very engaged in the Mac community and they are friends with a lot of podcasters and Jeff Gamet had been and still is doing/participating in podcasts these days.

Smile is not evil. I like how they were able to grow their business. And I really do get why TE still is an app that is being liked by a lot of users and podcasters. And yes, Smile is sponsoring a lot of podcasts on a regular basis.

Apparently, Smile has dedicated a lot of its development efforts to making the cloud experience better and better (syncing and sharing of snippets, creating groups and much more). This business model very well might have brought a lot of companies to using TE. And that probably leads to nice revenue from corporations that pay for subscriptions on a per user basis in their business plans. And I am quite sure that this corporate background with the server backend means a lot of development work.

So, where is the issue? Well, the core TE app still seems to be stuck in the good old days of the old TE without the server backend, while MacOS, Windows and other apps have changed. And that leads to problems: TE does not expand in every app, TE is not slow, but slower than other expansion apps, TE still is stable, but not rock-solid stable as it had been before, and yes, there is a Windows app, but TE on Windows had been a terrible user experience when it launched (did not work very well with proxies, I was not able to login into our RDP servers because of TE, while the trusty old Breevy just kept working). I am sure that TE on Windows has improved, but my initial experiences were enough for me to just keep on using Breevy on Windows.

Every year, when the annual TE bill is coming up, I ask myself if I should cancel. So far, I have not done it. I pay half the price because I have been a customer for ages. I do not share snippets with anyone and my work snippets are being used on Windows in Breevy. My personal snippets are being used in TE on my Mac. I am using Alfred, Keyboard Maestro and I am no TE power user. April 2022 will be the next occasion when I will consider cancelling.

I like Smile and I still use TE and it still is not bad. But it has evolved into something that very well might be something that is overkill for the every day user without the need of sharing snippets with others. And TE could use some improvements with regards to speed and reliability. Because in 2021, there are a lot of nice alternatives if you “just” need a nice expansion/replacement app for your personal use. They all have attractive price points and some of them work at least as good as TE does.

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As has already been mentioned, if you want something that works on both Mac and iOS, TextExpander is the only text expansion app around.

TextExpander on iOS has problems (including lack of advancement) and are fewer apps that support it than there used to be, but it has essentially no competition.

David mentioned this week that one of the places he uses TextExpander is Drafts on iOS, and he even joked about how many of his iPhone “workflows” depend on Drafts.

Stephen also mentioned that he has some ‘stock answers/replies’ that he sends from his iPhone - I’m not sure if he is using TextExpander or something else, but if you did want something you can use in both places, TextExpander is your only choice.

So, while you can use all the “subtle” innuendo you want to suggest there’s something nefarious going on, there’s no actual proof there is, and a reasonable alternative explanation is clearly visible, if you’re willing to look.

Just sayin’.

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I think this is a fair write up. The focus on teams and companies does seem to be where they moved to. I think the annoyance is with the front end polish, and the languishing of the best feature for most independent Apple users, which was the iOS functionality. It seems frustrating (to me at least) that the individual experience has suffered and been used to subsidized the efforts to go after the big “corporate” money, where we see other apps like Spark who give a lot away to the user for free because of the corporate monies. Perhaps I could be reading that wrong though. :man_shrugging:t3: