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I have read a few articles on text expansion (mainly from Lifehacker) and they express the benefits of text expansion in their workflows to save time throughout the day.

Has anyone put this to practice in their professional or personal work and can point to the actual advantage this provides? I am really looking to see if the setup is worth the effort.

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Would you mind explaining what text expansion is and how you put it to use? –  Raystafarian Jun 4 at 13:31
    
Certainly! a nickel tour of text expansion is that you take phrases you write a lot, say "Regards, Your local tech support representative". You add them to a text expansion tool, for example PhraseExpress. After that you set a "snippet" that will be a shorthand, say "Reg tech". With the application running, every time you type "Reg tech" it automatically replaces that with "Regards, Your local tech support representative". The purpose is to type less to produce more faster. –  Benjamin S Jun 4 at 18:55
    
It would really depend on how much do you have to repeat yourself. As a support officer, for example, it's a total necessity. –  AeroCross Jun 6 at 18:14

2 Answers 2

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Absolutely. I have two main use cases for text expansion.

Typing faster

There are things we type all the time. It's great to be able to type them in just a few characters. For example, I moderate on another website where I am frequently reminding people to do certain things. Having "canned messages" saves me a lot of time. I also use gmail's canned replies in a similar fashion. When someone emails us because they won in the weekly book promotion, I reply with the "canned reply" of our form letter explaining what happens next. The advantage of gmail's over a text expander is that it is shared amongst everyone who checks that shared gmail account.

Not having to look up information

At work, I have a phone bridge that I use for meetings. I have it set up so I can type myBridge and have it expand to the phone number and bridge code. I could copy/paste this information from somewhere. But then I'd have to context switch. Having it automatically enter saves me a tiny bit of time. And that adds up.

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I would add a third: prevent mistakes. For complicated (hard to remember) text strings an abbreviation reduces the chance for mistakes. E.g. Now that the EU has introduced IBAN (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Bank_Account_Number) of up to 34 characters it has become very hard for people to remember their own bank account number - a shortcut named 'IBAN' that automatically expands makes life much easier. –  Jan Doggen Jun 10 at 10:01
    
Thank you Jeanne and Jan! The typing faster advantage seemed to be there in specific contexts depending on people's daily tasks, but using text expansion as a way to retrieve occasionally used information that is difficult to memorize is an excellent use of this tool. I think that use alone is enough for be to invest the upfront time into setting up text expansion. Preventing mistakes goes hand in hand with retrieving information and being able to get it right once and use it repeatedly is much better than trying to get it right every time. –  Benjamin S Jun 16 at 13:47

Yes it is more productive in some ways, but less personal. I mean, we don't have to reply like robots do. And what difference does it makes from copy-paste texts?

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