Friday, January 11, 2013

Text Substitution

Clark Goble:

Once you find the character you want you probably don’t want to have to bring up the character viewer each time. Click on the Text tab in the pref pane. Apple has a very simple text substitution system akin to TextExpander or Quickeys. It doesn’t handle macros but it will replace any string with an other string. It’s useful for common misspellings like “teh” or the like. It also handles displaying unicode fractions so 1/4 becomes ¼. What I use if for though are other special characters I want to type.

He puts a semicolon in front of short abbreviations to make them unambiguous. I would use Language & Text substitutions a lot more except that at least half of the times I try to use them they never expand. I end up going into BBEdit and grabbing the same text from its clippings.

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I find them a lot more useful on iOS since you can't (easily) install custom keyboard layouts, but I notice the same thing — I often have to put the substitution on their own line to get them to expand.

Weird. I've never had a substitution not expand. If Apple's isn't working for you there's always TextExpander, Keyboard Maestro, or Quickeys (although I'd not advise the latter until I see an update).

"or Quickeys (although I'd not advise the latter until I see an update)."

While I'm still happily running Snowy, everything I've read indicates that 95%+ of QuicKeys works utterly perfectly on the latest suboptimal versions on OS X.

Toolbars are broken post-Snowy, but everything else is widely reported to work just fine. And given how clearly superior QuicKeys is to the competition, I'd have no problem advising folks running 10.8 to purchase QuicKeys if they care about getting the best personal automation solution, dead developer issues or not.

(Obviously, if your only concern is text substitution, QuicKeys is overkill, and TextExpander makes more sense. But QK is such delicious and well-designed software that can be used in so many ways that it's probably worth a purchase even if you think your only need is text substitution...)

Yeah, I keep thinking I should install TextExpander. Just haven’t gotten around to it yet. I already have expansions set up in FogBugz and BBEdit, but it does seem like a third system would be useful.

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