The keyboard we’ve been using on our Macs, iPad, and iPhone have been around for 150 years! This is the same keyboard layout from the world’s first practical typewriter. But for most, we haven’t improved as typists, nor do we enjoy typing more – I certainly don’t. So what do we do now? We increasingly abbreviate to avoid typing, hence “CUL8R.” Text messaging aside, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to type less without compromising meaning or making your text look like it was composed by a teenager? Thanks to text expansion features built into the Mac and iOS, and extended with third-party utilities, you can.
For basic text expansion capabilities on the Mac, look in System Preferences > Keyboard > Text, and in iOS, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. For both, you can enter a phrase and a shortcut that expands into that phrase when typed and followed by a space or punctuation character. (Tip: If text expansion doesn’t work in a Mac app like Mail or Safari, make sure Edit > Substitutions > Text Replacement is selected.)
If you’re signed into the same iCloud account on both your Mac and your iPhone, for instance, the text expansions sync between them automatically. So, you can type omw and tap the Space bar to get “On my way!” typed out for you, regardless of what device you’re using. (Another tip: don’t create abbreviations that you’ll also want to type normally. It might seem like a good idea to use mm for “Martin Marietta,” but that will get in the way of talking about 35mm film.)
Here are some ideas for the kinds of things you might want to turn over to your computer for typing:
- Long or complex words or phrases, such as scientific names or signatures.
- Your address, phone number, and email address.
- Boilerplate text for common email replies.
- Special characters, so blb could expand to the British pound symbol £.
So think about what bit of text you might want to expand automatically and give text expansion a try today!
I do have a few video lessons showing how this works on the Mac, iPad, and iPhone. You must be a Premium Member to watch the videos.