If you regularly type text on your iPad or even the iPhone, you definitely should take advantage of the built-in keyboard shortcuts and voice to text functions. These features can save you lots of typing time and help avoid frequent spelling mistakes. If you happen to use your iOS device, particularly your iPad, for extended pieces of writing you might want to consider the iOS version of TextExpander ($4.99).
We’ve already covered the Mac and iOS versions of TextExpander in the past and have even shared several tips for getting the most out of text expansion applications. Smile Software has now updated the iOS versions of TextExpander to include more of the advanced features found in its Mac counterpart. TextExpander for iOS (formerly called TextExpander Touch) now includes built-in snippets, support for formatted snippets, Copy and Send Email actions support, and displays alerts for conflicting snippet abbreviations and duplicates.
TextExpander touch is also supported by over 150 other iOS apps, a few of which I will highlight in this review.
TextExpander can be used to type your most regularly used special words, phrases, boilerplate letters, email addresses, and other snippets of text. As an example, when I want to type my name, I simply type “bk” and TextExpander immediately replaces that abbreviation with my first name, “Bakari.”
Apple’s universal iOS keyboard shortcut feature works similarly to TextExpander, but it requires an additional tap to insert a text snippet, and your shortcuts are not synced between devices. However, because you can also sync your TextExpander snippets between your Mac and iOS devices using Dropbox, you don’t have to repeatedly retype and set-up shortcuts on each device. Any changes you make to your shortcuts also get automatically updated across your devices.
iOS Apps Support
Unfortunately TextExpander doesn’t work in default iOS applications like Mail and Notes (mainly because of Apple’s sandbox restrictions), but it does work in over 150 third-party apps. I recommend the following apps, especially if you use your iPad as a laptop replacement:
- Text editors: Byword, Drafts, Day One, or WriteRoom
- Task managers: Firetask, Things, OmniFocus, and Agendas
- Twitter and blogging: Tweetbot, Blogsy, Twittelator Pro, QwickWordPress
- Web browser: Aarde Web Browser (TextExpander works only in the browser’s note tap feature)
As of now, TextExpander is not supported by iOS mail clients and other web browsers, an area where
it could be most useful.
Version 2.0 of TextExpander includes support for fill-in snippets, which means you can create boilerplate letters that include text fields and popup menu items for filling in custom text.
To create a fill-in snippet in the iOS version of TextExpander, press and hold the part of the snippet where you want to add a fill-in. Tap Insert… in the popup menu.
From there, you can select the Fill-in Field, or one of the other appropriate macros, including date and time, an existing snippet, or the cursor position.
The Smile Software website includes several useful video tutorials for creating advanced snippets like this. The update also includes support for formatted text snippets, which are useful for special email signatures.
When you want to use TextExpander to write boilerplate letters or other extended pieces of text, you can use one of the supported apps listed above, or you can use TextExpander’s built-in notebook.
Though it would be better if we could use TextExpander directly in iOS Mail, the built-in notebook does include menu items for copying and pasting text into an email, text messaging or sending text to your designated Twitter client (see screenshot above).
Unlike the Mac version of TextExpander, you can’t create new snippets from within any application on iOS, but an advantage of using TextExpander’s notebook is that you can conveniently create new snippets as you type text into the app.
Preferences and Other Features
As with any application you frequently use, you should check out the preferences options in TextExpander’s Settings. For example, you can disable the sound TextExpander makes after it performs an expansion. You might also want to enable Auto-Capitalization, which capitalizes the first word of a new sentence as you type.
There are also settings options for selecting the Twitter client you regularly use on your iOS device, as well as how you want your list of snippets sorted.
If you don’t do much writing in your iOS device, the iOS built-in keyboard shortcut feature should suffice. Otherwise let us know if you find TextExpander useful on your iPhone, iPad or Mac.
Download: TextExpander for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad ($4.99)