Speed Through Web Forms and Emails with Programmatic Tabbing in TextExpander

You’ve got a series of people you need to send the same email to. You set up that message as a TextExpander snippet, but you still find yourself having to write out the same subject line each time. Well, you can stick that subject line in the same snippet so that a single snippet will write out your subject line, tab down to the email body and fill that out too.

That’s just one of the ways you can tab, not to be confused with the other ways 🙂

Tabbing in TextExpander happens in a few different ways. Whether you need to fill out multiple form fields at once, tab from an email subject line to the body copy or just enter a tab space, here’s how.

What is it?

TextExpander has a way to replicate, in a snippet, the act of you physically pressing the Tab key on your keyboard. This is sometimes called programmatic keys. Tab isn’t the only Key you can have. You can also have Escape, Enter and Return keys. So, if you have the right combo of those, you could set up a single snippet to fill out several form fields, tabbing through them, and then submit the form with an Enter at the end.

Tabbing for Form Filling

Suppose you need to fill out a web form, such as your mailing address when checking out of an online store. Or maybe you use Salesforce, or another database, to input information. As long as the fields are always in the same order, you can set up a snippet to fill out all those fields in one go (i.e. in one snippet).

Here’s how you can set up a snippet with a Tab:

  1. Create a new snippet from the toolbar
  2. Type your content into the snippet editor
  3. Within your content, position your cursor where you want a Tab to occur.
  4. Select the keyboard button from the editing bar and choose Tab. You’ll see the Tab macro inserted.

Your form filling snippet may look like this:

Tabbing for Email

A variation on tabbing: If you use snippets for emails, use Tab to fill out the subject line and email in one go. Your snippets for email may look like this:

snippet in TextExpander editor showing Tab macro
TextExpander snippet with tab for moving to a new field

Tabbing Inside Snippets

When you press Tab in the snippet editor, you’ll see the cursor jump to the next available field. This is handy for filling out the Label and Abbreviation. What about if you meant to add a Tab space? Here’s how:

  1. Create a new snippet from the toolbar
  2. Type your content into the snippet editor
  3. Select the rightmost button in the editing bar, then choose Tab when you need a tab within your content.
TextExpander snippet showing return and tab

Bonus tip: Spacing

Any characters you enter before or after the tab will show up in the text, so don’t include any carriage returns or other characters you don’t need. For example, take a look at this snippet:

Snippet in TextExpander showing tab and return

This snippet will expand with an extra carriage return before the beginning of the email, due to the carriage return after the tab key. If you’d rather it expand like the first example above, remove all spaces around the Tab macro.

Which editing bar features do you use the most? Let us know in our Facebook group.

Comments and Discussion

  1. Please add SHIFT+TAB (backtab) to your list. Some (granted poorly-designed) websites sometimes require a change further down and then have to go back up to do something For instance, in sending a gmail email message in one snippet, I need to click on Bcc: first to get the fields right, and then I have to manually go up to the To: line for things to work properly. It’d be great if it could handle the back-tab up to the To: line for me.

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