Even though I send a lot of email from my iPhone 4, I must confess that I have a fat fingers and always have to correct my typing midstream, even when I try to keep my messages short. Since my day job is in an office where webmail is off limits, I downloaded TextExpander touch for $4.99 (USD) from the App Store to see if it could save me time by automating some repetitive writing tasks when I'm emailing from my iPhone.
About TextExpander touch
TextExpander touch is a handy app where you can store frequently-used text, like status information, URLs, and phone numbers you're apt to reuse in emails or SMS messages. With it, you can speed up your writing by substituting shortcuts (snippets) for text you commonly type. Its growing feature set includes:
- Insert text snippets into mail and SMS messages — otherwise, you have to copy and paste them into other apps on your iPhone
- Dropbox support for syncing snippets between devices
- Support for a growing list of iOS productivity apps
- Automatic insertion of today's date using the ddate short abbreviation
- Add and use predefined groups for your text snippets
- Archive for composed notes
Configuring TextExpander touch
After downloading TextExpander touch, I spent some time setting it up and tweaking it, so that it was ready for mobile use — whether I was coming and going from my day gig, the gym, or poolside this summer.
Here's how to configure TextExpander touch settings:
- Open TextExpander touch
- Tap Settings
- Slide ON under Snippet Sharing to enable snippet sharing with other iOS apps
- Slide ON under Synchronization to use Dropbox for sharing your snippets with other iOS devices and Macs (you'll also have to enter your Dropbox account information)
Getting started with TextExpander touch
Typically, I don't give much thought when trying out a new app. However, when it came to setting up TextExpander touch, I spent some time learning the app so that nothing would go wrong when I was out.
Follow these steps to modify existing snippets:
- Tap TextExpander touch, tap Groups, and then tap Sample Snippets (Figure A) Figure A
- When you tap the snippet you want to edit, the Edit Snippet screen will appear (Figure B) Figure B
- When you tap Edit, the cursor will appear in the content field, where you can make the necessary edits
- Tap Done, and then tap Snippets, which will return you to the Snippets list
TextExpander touch already has a number of editable text snippets ready for use.
The Edit Snippet screen is a great quick start for creating your own snippets.
Modifying the default snippets that ship with TextExpander touch is a great start, but there are still times when you might exhaust the starter list or have your own particular needs entirely. TextExpander touch has you covered there too.
Here's how to create your own snippets.
- Tap + (at the bottom right of the Snippets list), and the Add Snippet screen will appear (Figure C) Figure C
- Enter an abbreviation that's easy to remember
- Enter content for the full text
- Tap Done, and then tap Snippets to return to the main Snippets list — your new text snippet will appear at the end of the list, ready for use
The Add Snippet screen is a blank version of the Edit Snippet screen.
Use TextExpander touch with iOS email
I'm a creature of habit when it comes to mobile email, so at first, I had a hard time figuring out how TextExpander touch would work for me. Ever since I've had a smartphone, my email app has a prominent place on the home screen. I thought surrendering fully to TextExpander touch might change all of that, but I was happy to find out that wasn't the case.
Follow these steps to add a snippet to a blank email from TextExpander touch:
- Tap TextExpander touch
- When you tap the Action button beside the text snippet you want to use in the email, a dialog will appear (Figure D) Figure D
- Tapping Send Email will open your email with a new message that includes the text snippet you selected
- Complete your email, and send it to its recipient(s)
TextExpander touch lets you send snippets to iOS email or your iPhone's SMS app.
You can also insert a text snippet into an existing email. Here's how:
- Open an email message in iOS mail
- Go back to TextExpander touch
- Tap the Group Name that includes the snippet you want to insert in your email
- Tap the Action icon to the left of the snippet you want to insert into your open email
- Tap Send Email, and the snippet will appear in the open email
Sending an SMS with TextExpander touchSend an SMS is just like sending an email, but when you tap the Action button beside the selected snippet, and then tap Send Message, the snippet will appear in your iPhone's SMS New Message screen (Figure E). Figure E
Sending a snippet to SMS works similar to sending an email.
Using TextExpander touch with other iOS Apps
As I mentioned earlier, TextExpander touch isn't just for email. You can also use it with a growing number of iOS apps. If you use other iOS apps, you must first compose your text in the TextExpander touch Compose screen, transfer it to another app by tapping the Action button by the snippet you want to use, and then tap Copy Snippet Content. You can then copy the snippet into the other iOS application.
You can also send tweets using TextExpander snippets by tapping the Action button beside a selected Snippet and tapping Tweet.
Saving time with TextExpander touch
For my purposes, using TextExpander touch on my iPhone 4 shows great promise, especially after organizing my snippets into groups. I feel a little bit better now when replying to business emails while I'm outside my home office, without having to worry about embarrassing typos or autocorrects.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.