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How to Autocomplete Text with Keyboard Tools & Widgets

When you enter a few characters into Google’s search box and get a list of suggestions for what you might be looking for, those are examples of autocomplete text.

Autocomplete was created to help people with physical disabilities type faster and with less effort. Today, most of us use autocomplete to save time and avoid repetitive typing.

Autocomplete exists as a feature in multiple software programs, but there is also standalone software for auto-completion. In this article, we’ll discuss essential autocomplete tools. We’ll cover:

What is autocomplete text?

Autocomplete text is one or more content suggestions based on what you started to type.

The goal of autocomplete is to help you complete a sentence (or input information, such as a URL in your browser’s address bar) with fewer keystrokes. 

How to auto-complete text

Below are software programs and tools you can use for auto-completion.

1. TextExpander 

Technically, TextExpander is more of an “autoreplace” than an autocomplete tool. Unlike the autocomplete functionality in email programs and search engines, which are based on word prediction and language modeling, TextExpander works with user-provided text fragments and shorthand

That means that rather than hope for helpful autocomplete suggestions based on the first characters you type, you can pre-enter frequently-used text (such as your home address) into TextExpander and assign it a short abbreviation (for example, ;home).

This achieves the same goal as autocomplete — reducing the number of keystrokes required to type something — with a few extra advantages:

  1. You can autocomplete several paragraphs’ worth of content.
  2. You can autocomplete anywhere you type.
  3. You get the specific text you are looking for, every time.

2. Autocomplete in your browser

Autocomplete is a default setting in most web browsers. It’s how you get URL suggestions after typing the first character in the address bar. (For instance, when I type “a”, I get Asana.com, Amazon.com, and Airbnb.com, based on my browsing history.)

If autocomplete isn’t working in your web browser for some reason, enabling it is pretty simple, although the steps are different for each browser. You can get instructions on how to toggle autocomplete on/off in different browsers here

3. Autosuggest in search engines

Autosuggest is also a default setting in most search engines. It helps you achieve your search goals even when you misspell a word or phrase, and gives you suggestions (based on language, location, search trends, and past searches) as you type to help you complete your search faster. Here’s how to turn on autocompletion on Google.

4. “AutoComplete” in Excel

Excel has an Auto Fill feature that automatically enters data that is part of a predictable series (for example, 1, 2, 3…; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…) and an Autocomplete feature that helps you type previously-used information faster. Here are Microsoft’s instructions for using Auto Fill and AutoComplete.

5. JavaScript  

If you’re tech-savvy, you can use JavaScript to automate tasks in your browser. For example, you can create an automated script to scan a webpage, look for specific elements on that page (for example, buttons), and click them all automatically. (Here’s a good video tutorial on how to do this on LinkedIn.) You can also use JavaScript to enter text. 

Use tools and widgets to type less

Search engines, email programs, web browsers, text editors, and other software programs offer autocomplete functionality. Some standalone tools and widgets also help you autocomplete, auto-fill, autocorrect, and autoreplace text.

Want to see what it’s like to eliminate repetitive typing? Click the button below to try TextExpander free for 30 days.

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