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Improving Speed and Accuracy with Text Replacement Tools

This post grew to be longer than I originally intended, so I’m going to provide some navigation tools here at the start in case you want to skip to something…


One of my favorite tricks to use on any of my devices — iPhone, iPad, or MacBook — is the underestimated Text Replacement tools.

There are times when I’m sending a text message or an email to someone, and I’ve got a long word or phrase to include. I generally prefer to avoid a lot of the common texting acronyms — I would rather spell something out completely. This is where the Text Replacement tools come in handy.

For instance, my favorite restaurant is P.F. Chang’s. But the restaurant name is a bit cumbersome and time-consuming to type out, especially on a small onscreen keyboard:


So I have a Text Replacement shortcut set up so that whenever I type PFC on my device, it’s automatically replaced with P.F. Chang’s”. It’s much faster and simpler for me to type PFC on my iPhone, and I know that Text Replacement will automatically and correctly spell and format the name for me. That speed, simplicity, and accuracy all matter to me.

So what are some ways that I use Text Replacement?

Sample Text Replacement Shortcuts

Here are some of the Text Replacement shortcuts that I have set up for myself:

Shortcut Phrase
@@ name@gmail.com (my personal email address)
@$ name@work.com (my work email address)
## 555.555.5555 (my cell phone number)
#$ C 555.555.5555 (my cell phone number, formatted for work purposes)
appt appointment
btw By the way,
cafe café
CFA Chick-fil-A
cmas Christmas
;emd — (em dash)
hdv hors d’oeuvres
heho Headed home 🏡
jjs Jimmy John’s
lto Leaving the office 🏢➡️
PFC P.F. Chang’s
resumee résumé
rsvp RSVP
rx prescription
sql SQL
ty! Thank you!
voila voilà
vzn Verizon
wifi Wi-Fi
xmas Christmas
y9u you
y9ur your

As you can tell, there are few general categories of what I include:

For some shortcuts, I know that I may occasionally encounter a similar letter combination in another situation, so I’m not afraid to tag on another letter or a punctuation mark to make my shortcut distinct (“;emd” gives me the em dash).

What the…??

You may look at that list above and wonder, How in the world do you remember all those shortcuts?”

It’s easy. But I’ll provide some recommendations for you here based on my experience:

These recommendations listed above aren’t intended to be a checklist for your shortcuts (although I’m sure you can use it that way, if you like). Rather, it’s intended to help you think of good ways to use Text Replacement for yourself.

How do I…??

So you’re interested in using Text Replacement for yourself. Awesome!

But you’re likely wondering, How do I set this up?”

Well, if you use Apple devices, like I do, then you’re in luck, because I’m about to explain it. If you’re not an Apple user, read through the instructions anyway, because they’re likely very similar to what you would need for your particular device.

iOS (iPhone and iPad) 📱

  1. Open the Settings app

  2. Select General

  3. Scroll down and select Keyboard

  4. Select Text Replacement

  5. Select the + (plus) icon in the upper right corner

  6. The Phrase is the full phrase that you want displayed in your message (from my example, P.F. Chang’s”)

  7. The Shortcut is what you want to type on the keyboard (from my example, pfc”)

  8. Select Save

  9. Repeat as necessary for any additional shortcuts you want to set up

Apple Laptops 💻 and Desktops 🖥

Apple provides a native tool for Text Replacement in their operating system (OS).

  1. Open the System Preferences app

  2. Select Keyboard

  3. Select the Text tab

  4. Select the + (plus) icon in the lower left corner

  5. The Replace is what you want to type on the keyboard (from my example, pfc”)

  6. The With is the full phrase that you want displayed in your message (from my example, P.F. Chang’s”)

There are other options for laptops and desktops…

Alfred is a fantastic multi-purpose app that I personally use. It’s perhaps most well known as a search tool for the Mac, but among the many other powerful things that it does, it also provides a Snippets tool, which is their version of a Text Replacement tool.

TextExpander is another popular tool (though I personally haven’t used it).

Regardless of which tool you choose, and which shortcuts you set up for yourself, I hope you’ll give it at try and see how these shortcuts can help you be faster and more accurate.

Posted on 2019-11-14   #iOS     #iPhone     #iPad     #Productivity     #Shortcuts     #Technology     #Tips  

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