Introduction

Anyone who tracks time likely uses certain phrases numerous times per day. While each time entry is unique, it often contains similar components. Those repeated phrases are prime candidates for automated text expansion. Faster billing entries are essential in today’s fast moving environment. I use and recommend TextExpander (iOS) and TextExpander (Mac) (there’s also a Windows beta). Entering billable time should be fast and accurate. Automation tools help with both of those metrics.

These tips can also be used in AutoHotKey (though it will take a bit more configuration).

Let’s Get Started

Let’s take the phrase “Correspondence to” or “Correspondence from” as examples. You could write two “snippets”, one for each. Or, you could use some more advanced techniques and save even more time. Through in the ability to have the initial C be caps or lowercase, depending on what you want, and you have the recipe for a solid snippet. Let’s get to work.

Open TextExpander (iOS) and create a new snippet. See screenshot 1.

TextExpander New Snippet

 

 

 

Set the Label and Abbreviation to something of your choosing. See screenshot 2.

TextExpander Label

 

 

Finally, set the case sensitivity to Adapt to Case of Abbreviation. See screenshot 3.

TextExpander Abbreviation

 

 

 

This last part will allow you to type C or c and have the snippet expand accordingly. Try it to see what I mean.

Next, type in the “opening” portion of your snippet using the word “correspondence.” See screenshot 4.

TextExpander Opening

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “middle” portion of the phrase is always “‘to” or “from”. We can use a “Fill-ins | Popup Menu” choice to select one of those automatically each time the snippet is triggered. See screenshot 5.

TextExpander Fill-Ins

 

 

 

 

Set the name of the fill in to your choice and then set the two options. The blue button indicates which choice will be selected by default. See screenshot 6.

TextExpander Fill-in Popup

 

 

 

 

 

Click OK and you should see something similar to screenshot 7.

TextExpander Code

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “ending” portion of the phrase is the word “regarding” with a space character after the “g”. Type that into your snippet as shown in screenshot 8.

TextExpander Last Phrase

 

 

 

 

 

 

The completed snippet should look like screenshot 9.

TextExpander Phrase

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, open a document where you can type text. Type your Abbreviation and watch what happens. If you type a lower case character to start the Abbreviation, you will get a box that looks like screenshot 10.

TextExpander Snippet

Note that “to” is selected by default, but you can change that by clicking the dropdown (screenshot 11) or by typing the first letter of the other options in the list (here, f for from).

TextExpander Snippet Drop Down

 

 

 

So, if you used my “xcorr” abbreviation, type that phrase and the enter key. The result should be “correspondence to regarding ”.

If you wanted it to be “from”, use “xcorr”, f, enter. The result should be: “correspondence from regarding ”.

Simply use a capital “X” in “Xcorr”, and the to/from selector, to get “Correspondence to [from] regarding ”.

Practice this a few times and you will definitely shorten the time it takes to write a billing entry.


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