Review: Cut down your typing with Auto Text Expander
If you were to analyze what you typed on a daily or weekly basis, how much of that would be the same repetitive stuff? How much would be the same pro-forma email replies, the same email signature, the same address and phone number, the same email sign-offs (Best Regards, Bye for Now, etc) and so on? Auto Text Expander is a neat little $30 program (free 200-snippet demo) that uses macros to help you quickly enter your most commonly typed texts through abbreviations.
All you have to do is type out the pre-determined abbreviation (such as snip5*) and Auto Text Expander will replace “snip5*” (or whatever the abbreviation is) with the extended text.
To make a new snippet, simply click “new snippet” and fill in the details, including the full text in the main window. Make sure to choose an abbreviation that you wouldn’t normally use in regular typing.
All of this takes mere milliseconds, so as soon as you type out your abbreviation, the extended text is already there. It seriously cuts down on the time you would normally take to type something. The only catch is that you have to first memorize the abbreviations and then get into the habit of actually using them. If you are someone with bad habits, breaking those habits could prove difficult. I only have to look at myself in the mirror to know that is true.
When you open up Auto Text Expander for the first time, you will see some already prepared snippets on the left hand side, including a plain text email template, an HTML email signature and entering the current date and time into a document. You can use or edit any of these snippets or you can make your own.
To make one of your own, just click “new snippet” and give it a title (for the purposes of this article, let’s call it TEST). Next, decide the abbreviation. The abbreviation should be something that you wouldn’t normally type in everyday emails and documents. So the word TEST for example wouldn’t be a good idea, because every time you type TEST, the program will kick in and replace your text for you.
So something like t*est or tes_t would be better; inserting a character that normally wouldn’t be there will spare you this trouble. You can also specify whether or not the abbreviation should be case sensitive, and whether or not the snippet will be plain text or formatted text.
In the main window, type out the full extended text which you want inserted when you type out the abbreviation. Add formatting and images if you want that too. You can also insert commands that pull in the date and time and the current contents of the clipboard.
Once you start building up a lot of time saving snippets, you can back them up in ATE’s own custom format and then restore them back into ATE in the event of a program reinstall. This of course should be done regularly.
According to the developer, a new version is being worked on which will have a database of common user abbreviations for different industries such as the medical and the legal industries. So this software is actively being improved all the time.
If you are someone who does a lot of repetitive typing, this is definitely one piece of software to check out. The price is rather high for something which is essentially a macro, but the free demo should allow you to evaluate it: it allows for up to 200 executions. If you own a typing-intensive business, where time is money, you may want to consider getting this to cut down on typing time.
Note: The "Download" button on the Product Information page will download the software to your system.
Copyright (c) 2013 PCWorld Communications, Inc.
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