TextExpander in Law: Q&A session

This is part one of this two part post. Find Part 2 here.

Starting out with TextExpander as a blank slate can be daunting, especially if you’re also running a law practice. To help, we crafted a webinar “5 Ways Attorneys Reclaim Time With TextExpander—A Beginner’s Guide.”

Thanks to everyone who joined us. Based on the interest, we’ve already got an advanced webinar in the works, tailored for solos and firms. Stay tuned for more on that.

We got so many great questions, we wanted to share them in this two part blog post. Here are the questions we collected and the answers provided by our experts from the webinar, Brett Burney from MacsInLaw.com, and Maia Olson from TextExpander.


How do I implement TextExpander quickly and efficiently?


Quick Resources

Our blog is a great spot for ideas and guidance. A good getting started post is TextExpander 101.

If you prefer a shorter format, we have a Quick Start Guide

If you prefer a more detailed format, try Brett Burney’s course: TextExpander for Lawyers.


A quick rundown:
1. Visit TextExpander.com and sign up for a free account.
2. Download the app for Mac and/or Windows and log in with your account.

From here, your goal is to create one snippet. You have to start somewhere :).

Brett suggests starting with one simple snippet such as your office phone number or your email address, whichever one you type more often throughout your day.

For your office phone number, use a snippet such as


and have it expand into the full phone number. For your business email address, use a snippet such as


and have it expand into your full email address. Use whatever abbreviation makes sense to you – just keep it short!

Starting off with these simple snippets to help you throughout your day, you’ll understand the power of TextExpander and find all kinds of areas where it will help you save time!

Followup with more snippets you notice yourself typing. Try:
– Paragraphs of text you reuse, such as common paragraphs from Objections
– Document outlines and templates, so you can create a new, clean document quickly.


What are your favorite productivity apps?


We polled the group, here are the favorites:


When naming files on Windows, can a file name be too long?


Short answer:

Best practice is to keep filenames as succinct as possible. Begin a filename with the date in this format:


Using TextExpander of course 🙂

Then add whatever other information needed so you can identify the file in the future.


The exact length allowed depends on the specific version of Windows you’re running. In the early days of Windows, filenames could only have 8 characters, plus a 3-character file extension, the 8.3 filename. Modern-day versions of Windows, while still working on the 8.3 foundation, can have filenames of 260 characters. If you can tweet, you can file name :).

If you find your filenames getting too long, try using additional folders to better organize the files. In other words, if you store files in a “Client” folder with “Matter” sub-folders, then you don’t need to include the client and matter names in the filename.


Can you put a graphic or picture in a snippet?


Yes, snippets support images. To add an image to a snippet:

  1. Set the “Content:” menu to “Formatted Text, Pictures.”
  2. Click the Add Image button in the editing bar. Select your image from the dialog.

Watch this in action in our video “Working With Snippets“.


How do I put an active URL link, or hyperlink, in a snippet?


Create a “Formatted Text” snippet, then use the Make Link button in the editing bar. This is very handy for putting social links in your email signatures.

Full Directions.


Some of my abbreviations conflict, what do I do?


Only unique abbreviations expand. TextExpander tracks your abbreviation in the order you type it. If you have two abbreviations with the same characters, TextExpander won’t know which to expand. It will also show a conflict in the snippet editor indicated by an orange outline.

For example, if you type the abbreviation “cat” That would conflict with the abbreviation or word “catalog”

Notice, as you type the final character of the first abbreviation it completely matches another snippet.

Instead, you need to have unique beginnings on your snippets. This is why we recommend prefixes on different snippet groups. Such as:




Both are different at the start of the abbreviation and will not conflict with each other.

Here is an article with several tips on choosing snippet abbreviations.


Can hotkeys directly insert snippets?


TextExpander is specifically related to typing, and will transform a series of characters into more characters. For example, TextExpander can turn “;;email” into “name@acmecorporation.com”.

If you would like to perform actions with TextExpander, you can create JavaScript snippets.

Hotkeys are a combination of keys which you can set in macOS or Windows to perform some action on your computer. For hotkeys you expect Command, Alt, Control, Shift, and other such keys to be pressed. In order to perform some action you can use Keyboard Maestro on Mac and system hotkeys on Windows.


Can TextExpander insert text into ALL Windows applications, including time and billing software?


TextExpander can see when you type an abbreviation and expand it into your full snippet in all the apps on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad with very few exceptions.

This makes it easy to create a system of responses in TextExpander which are CRM independent, or code snippets which are editor independent.

One instance where you may run into trouble is if you are using one computer to remotely control another. In this case, make sure to turn TextExpander off on your local computer by disabling expansion, and keep it running on the remote computer.


Does TextExpander maintain a clipboard history?


TextExpander doesn’t maintain a clipboard history, that’s something for Alfred on Mac or Clipmate on Windows. These types of apps are very handy, but don’t work directly with TextExpander.

What’s a clipboard history?

Every time you copy something, it is stored on the computer’s clipboard. You can then paste the last thing you copied but don’t have access to other thing’s you’ve previously copied. You can get an app which remembers all of the things which you have copied and gives you access to them.


How can I create custom forms with fill-in-the-blank snippets?


Fill-in-the-blanks allow you to customize a snippet as you expand it. For example, in an email snippet you could have a blank area for the first name so you can customize it when you use it.
Watch how fill-ins work in our video.

This is part one of this two part post. Find Part 2 here.

If there’s something you’d like to learn from us in a webinar let us know on Twitter or Facebook.