Textexpander Disenchantment

When Textexpander decided to move to a subscription model, I begrudgingly subscribed because I use a ton of snippets and it was the only tool that was cross-platform compatible with iOS (to a degree). Since I’ve subscribed (early 2017), there haven’t been any real updates to Textexpander other than bug fixes.

Other Apps that moved to a subscription model have been a lot busier - Drafts, Day One and Ulysses all seem to be earning their keep with frequent updates and new features. But Textexpander? Not so much. This feels like Smile Software is just milking their cash cow … after all, how many new features could they really add to a text expansion utility, right? Which, by my definition, shouldn’t be a subscription service. A lot of customers made this point back in 2017 when Smile made the decision to move to a subscription model, but were told new features were coming…

Here’s a link to Smile’s software updates to Textexpander over the last two years. Pretty disappointing to this subscriber:


I’ll continue to subscribe since there doesn’t seem to be a better choice right now, but gosh, what an opportunity for an upstart developer to take over the text expansion space with a great new app …


I dropped it and went with the basic apple built in text expansion. it works for pretty much all i was using textexpander for.


I moved all my text expansion to Alfred which has proven to be much more powerful on the Mac than TE was, partly because of the ease of integrating expansion with my existing Alfred workflows.

For the moment, I’ve kept the Mac TE app in place but with expansion turned off, and use Hazel to automatically add any new Alfred text snippets to TE, which are then synced to iOS. TE for iOS is pretty weak in itself but I like the integration with 3rd party apps.

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I’m a happy aText user. Does everything I expect from a text expansion utility. And at a very reasonable price. Frequent updates too. Mostly bug fixes, but as you said… what new features can you expect for a text expansion tool?


I use Keyboard Maestro for other reasons so I put all my text expansions there. The iOS built-in text replacements are enough for me.


I’d like to do that too, but it seems Alfred is still missing some options that dedicated text expansion apps have. Most importantly the incorporation of keystrokes in snippets (e.g. tab, enter). Or am I missing something?

Is it worth $3.33 to pay Smile to help you do your work each month?
If your time is worth, say, $10 per hour, does TE save you more than 20 minutes a month (40 seconds a day)?

Smile isn’t putting anything over on you. If their service is valuable to you, subscribe. If not, type things yourself or use another means. That is, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cost–benefit_analysis


I dropped TE and use Typinator which for my use is more feature-rich than TE and receives frequent updates and improvements. Typinator does not (and the developer says will never) have an iOS component, which is fine.

I too dropped TE when they went subscription, not out of protest or anything, but because the cost had gone up and I couldn’t justify it. I had a small number of use-cases where TE was massively helpful, but not necessary.
I now make extensive use of Alfred’s expansion.

I agree that Smile may have over-promised on the “new features” side of things, it seems like they’ve done little to introduce new value to the product. But they didn’t justify the subscription on new features alone. They justified it by introducing their own in-house syncing and sharing, which requires ongoing investment and maintenance costs – this didn’t exist prior to the subscription and likely wouldn’t have been feasible. They also introduced a windows version that, as far as I have seen, has been seeing ongoing development. And while a Windows may not be a new “feature” for a Mac or iOS user, it could be a huge feature for enterprise, freelance, or corporate clients who may have mixed environments, and which, of course, is likely made possible by the subscription model. That said, there may be some (justified?) disenchantment from Mac/iOS users that their subscription money is being used to build out features they’ll never take advantage of, but that’s almost always going to be the case with all software development, becuase no user uses every feature that they’ve paid for.

Overall though it has been eminently clear from the start that Smile was shifting tack towards enterprise and corporate clients with their subscription, likely shedding a lot of individual/lighter-weight users (such as myself) along the way. For those corporate/enterprise clients, the monitoring, cloud sync, and collaboration features likely justify the subscription.


Alfred handles multi-lines and embedded tabs in regular text snippets.

If you want to fill forms e.g. you can use a workflow with a snippet trigger and dispatch key combo objects. e.g.


The power of Alfred comes from the fact that you can call any workflow elements from a snippet trigger, but these are separate from snippets per se (and were added in 3.4 , after Alfred 3 had been out for a while) so they may not have got the recognition they deserve.

See https://www.alfredapp.com/help/workflows/triggers/snippet/

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I have found that when I pair a clipboard action (e.g., to paste something) with a key combo, sometimes the key combo will fire before the clipboard action can be executed.
If you have a clipboard/paste action prior to key combo actions, you might therefore want to toss in a .5 second delay object between the clipboard and the key combo objects. 41%20AM

When I use this workflow without the delay object, Alfred will tab from the subject line to the body of the compose window then paste, so the delay is required to make sure the paste comes first!

Yes, I understand this, and why I continue to subscribe to TE. But couldn’t you make this same argument about most every software program we use?

If Hazel ever went to a subscription service, they could charge me a small fortune and the math would still make sense with all those automation rules I have running. Alfred and Keyboard Maestro too. This is probably the future of software, whether we like it or not.

You still get the time back whether you can monetize it or not. The question is about what that 40 seconds a day is worth to you. If someone values 40 seconds a day of free time at more than $3.33 per month it doesn’t matter whether they could make more money with that 40 seconds, Text Expander would still make sense for them.

Do you find Keyboard Maestro to be relatively on par with TextExpander as far as expansion features? Fillable fields, etc.?

Just curious, as I’ve been considering getting KM for other reasons and if it could largely replace TE I’d be very happy. :slight_smile:

Pretty sure you could set up equivalents in KM for everything that TE does, but a lot of the more advanced features will have a more challenging learning curve and take a considerably bigger upfront time investment (e.g. creating your own input forms if you need expansion with fill-ins).

The KM forum is great. Lots of friendly, helpful people, and lots of examples. Yes the learning curve is steeper than TE, but Peter Lewis and crew will get you up that curve quickly.


I still use the version of TextExpander before the subscription model and will continue to do so as long as it keeps working. I have no interest in paying for a subscription service on a program with such simple functionality. As others have mentioned already, there are a LOT of other solutions to text expansion these days.

I have an iMac at home, carry a MacBook Pro, and work as a developer 8+ hours a day on Windows. For interoperability, I use Breevy on Windows which shares my TextExpander shortcuts through Dropbox. Dropbox provides world class synching and I don’t need other vendors to provide this functionality. PhaseExpress also runs on Windows and can share TextExpander snippets.

I’m a developer and I don’t buy the “you should keep paying if the programs provides you value” argument. If all my software required a subscription, I could not afford to turn my devices on. That is just a model that does not scale for the end user. There is nothing wrong with paying a fair price for a useful piece of software and then continuing to use it. If the vendor can improve the software in a way that is significant for your use case, then you should pay for that upgrade. If due to operating system changes over time, the vendor has to modify their code and give you a new version to keep it operational, they you should also pay a modest cost for that upgrade. This is a bit of a gray area whether there is planned obsolescence or if the cost is modest (looking at you Paralles).

Smile as a company can’t write a simple utility like TextExpander and sit back on their laurels and expect the same people to keep paying them to keep their company lights on. As a company, they need to innovate and come up with new products that people will buy. With a lot of software, there is plenty of room for new features, but I think this utility is pretty much feature complete. Most home users don’t have a need for “team sharing”. What most software companies do is come out with an enterprise version of their software when then add features that are company based. That doesn’t prevent a home user from purchasing that version, but it doesn’t impose the ongoing cost on to the their home user base for those enterprise features.

I have written a lot of software for my employers that have saved them (and continue to save them) both time and money in their business. There is no expectation on either side that just because I’ve done that, that they will continue to pay my salary without requiring me to do any more work. It is the fact that I continue to do that in new ways that keeps me employed.

There seems to be a trend to internalize synching (at a no doubt large cost for the company) and then subscriptionize their software to generate a constant steam of income. iCloud has finally become a viable form of synching for applications and Dropbox has always been one. We don’t need a one off solution for each application.


Actually, fill-in forms were the very first text expansion macros I did in KM. It found it pretty straightfoward.

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Have to agree here. KM is more automator, while text expander is more expander of text :slight_smile:

Same for 1Password (for web-forms).