two students sat at a school computer

TextExpander Story: How Mr. Anderson Saved 300+ Hours on High School IT with TextExpander

Mr. Anderson is an Associated Technology Director for a private Illinois high school. We caught up with him to hear how he uses TextExpander in his work and personal life.

Hey Mr. Anderson. Please introduce yourself and tell us about your job.

Hi! I work in a private high school in Illinois. I actually graduated from the school myself. I went to college for Computer Sciences and had to do an internship as part of my course—so I came back. After the internship, I asked if they’d be interested in having me full-time and they were. I’ve been here 15 years now. I do a lot of software based trouble-shooting. I love working with computers.

And what do you do for fun?

I love reading. I do the Good Reads Challenge every year. I started in 2014 and have read 110 books since. I also play Dungeons & Dragons, I play a Paladin Elf and an Elf Cleric.

If you can remember, think back to your work B.T.E. – Before TextExpander. What were those dark times like?

Oh, I can tell you exactly! I started working at the school in 2004. I started using TextExpander in 2012. A lot of the repetitive information I sent out to people I kept in multiple text documents. I actually still have them! I would copy and paste information from them. It was difficult to stay organized and I couldn’t keep various versions straight. It was a nightmare! Then, I heard about TextExpander on the NosillaCast podcast.

How does TextExpander fit into your workflow?

Oh my gosh, I use it every time I send an email. I use it on my cell phone too. I’d say it is 90% work and 10% personal.

For work, it’s mostly for email. I send a lot of emails and reply to a lot of emails. I like to include a ‘Message Composed’ snippet at the end of each. Because I’m in the tech industry, the people I’m working with are frequently in different timezones.

It looks like this:

Message composed:
2019-07-25 at 10:45:49 AM (GMT-5, UTC/GMT-05:00)

I expand these two time and date snippets:

snippet showing 'Message composed: utime'
snippet showing date format for email signature

What snippets do you use most?

I have a snippet for WiFi information that expands into seven short paragraphs. It explains all the different WiFi networks, whether students or guests should be on them, and if there’re problems what you should do about them.

We also do lesson plans via Google Sheets, so I have to make a file for every teacher. I use a snippet for this which includes drop-down menus so it can be personalized.

Also, every new employee gets an email account. I have to create their account and send them a letter with the account information. For that snippet I use some optional selections and a fill-in for usernames so I don’t have to type it over and over.

For students, I sometimes need to send them new email account information. I use the date math to add 90 days to the current date so students are sure to change their password.

I’ve converted a few people at school to TextExpander, too. We recently went to one-to-one, which means every student has a device. A colleague and I share a set of snippets so we can reply to parents who are always asking a ton of questions about the devices. We wanted all responses to have the same verbiage. We use shared snippets for that because if one person updates a snippet, it updates for both of us.

We also do shared snippets for summer classes where the students need to register using paper forms. The teacher gets a confirmation and she will use a TextExpander snippet with dropdowns, optional selections, pop-up menus and fill-ins for student names. Plus date math, as the students have 90 days to do the class.

I also found this fun snippet on Twitter that puts emojis between whatever you paste, so I can type things like:

Snippets 👏 save 👏 me 👏 more 👏 time 👏 than 👏 anything 👏 else

Snippet content: y = " %fillpopup:name=emoji:default=👋:🤣:❤️:🤢:🛑:✋:👏:😡% "; "%clipboard".split(" ").join(y); %filltop%

I have a snippet group just of quotes. Whenever I eat pie, I send a photo of the empty pie dish with this quote:

"Oh my God! Someone ate my entire pie! I don't know how that happened!" - Josie Geller / Never Been Kissed (1999)

What advice do you have for other technology professionals in the education sector?

Start with the core reusable content you always type. Come up with a snippet abbreviation scheme that works for you. It’s your shorthand – you don’t have to follow someone else’s naming conventions. I’ve been using TextExpander since 2012 and it’s taken me years to develop my snippet group.

Also, watch the videos! Learn what TextExpander can do for you and reach out to support if you need it.

Looks good! Can you share some of your TextExpander stats?

Sure! I’ve saved 300+ hours in my 7 years with TextExpander.

Mr Anderson's stats: 49,105 snippets expanded, 7,183,778 characters saved, 332.5 hours saved

You might have seen I Tweet my stats. I have it as a snippet! Here it is:

Blank snippet with fill-ins for snippets expanded, characters saved and hours saved.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us! Where can we find you?

No problem! I post my stats monthly on Twitter @7nk.