Q&A

TextExpander in Law: Q&A session Part 2

This is the second part of this post. Find Part 1 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. We got so many great questions, we didn’t want anyone to miss out. Here are the questions we collected and the answers provided by our experts.

Maia Olson and Brett Burney


Q.

What is the most efficient way to use TextExpander for drafting and/or answering interrogatories, requests for production, and others?

A.

An excellent method comes from the Albertson & Davidson law firm in California, who document what they do in this blog post.

Instead of trying to compose an entire document in TextExpander, create snippets for the most common paragraphs in Discovery Responses and Objections.

To keep things organized, each snippet for responding to an interrogatory starts with the prefix:

ROG

This is followed by a short description. As the blog example states, when the opposing counsel requests an expert opinion in special interrogatories, he will simply type:

ROG ExpOp

Which expands into the paragraph of his specific response.

Pro Tip 1
Not mentioned in the post, but if you have a paragraph which requires adding a date, a name, or any other situation depended custom content, you can use a Fill-In inside the TextExpander snippet. Here’s a video all about fill-in-the-blank style snippets.

Pro Tip 2 You could potentially have a ton of paragraphs for each document and there’s no way you can remember them all. That’s when Inline Search comes in. In the example above, the attorney could start typing ROG then hit Command+/ (Mac) or Control+/ (Windows) to trigger TextExpander’s Inline Search window. A pop-up appears right where they’re typing, where they could select the paragraph they need.

Here’s a screenshot from the blog post since the post doesn’t appear to have images any longer. Note this is a screenshot from an older version of TextExpander.

California Trust blog image

Q.

I want to know more about Brett Burney’s course: TextExpander for Lawyers.

A.

We’ll let Brett speak for himself here 🙂

Every day I meet lawyers that don’t realize how much TextExpander can easily save valuable minutes in their day. Every lawyer types, which means every lawyer will save time with TextExpander.

That’s why I created the TextExpander for Lawyers online course to help more lawyers learn exactly how they can take advantage of this simple and wonderful efficiency booster. The course walks you through:

  1. How to create a TextExpander account and install the software.
  2. Creating your first simple snippet.
  3. Tips and tricks of all kinds, guaranteed to save you time every day.

You can find more details about the soon-to-be-released course at TextexpanderForLawyers.com.

Pre-order now

Q.

I think my snippets disappeared, what happened?

A.

Check to see if you have a “Conflicting group” of snippets, that may contain your “lost” snippets.

If not, make sure you are online before you quit the TextExpander app. If you have TextExpander 6.2.3 or later you should get a notice if you are trying to quit while offline with unsaved changes.

You can always reach out to TextExpander support for more help.

Q.

How do I create a snippet with fill-in-the-blanks where I can fill the same info into multiple fields at once?

A.

Every fill in has a field name. This allows you to name a field something helpful, such as “firstname” at the top of a form letter, and also alerts TextExpander that the fields for, say, “firstname” and “date” are to be treated differently.

Fill-in window

To have TextExpander treat 2 or more fields the same, give them all the same name. Note that they also need to be the same type of field.

For example, you have a form letter with snippet content as follows, if you enter a name into the “firstname” field, all the “firstname” fields will fill in at the same time, with the same information.

For example:

Hi %filltext:name=firstname%,

Thanks for your order! It will be shipped to: %filltext:name=firstname%

Learn more about fill-ins in the help: Fill in macros.

Q.

How do you make snippets work within snippets?

A.

TextExpander allows you to place references to other snippets inside a single snippet so that you can expand all at once. Say you have crafted several different snippets each for a different email message. You can have a single email signature snippet with is nested, or referenced, in each email snippet. This way when you need to update information in your email signature, you edit one signature snippet instead of all 10 email snippets.

Here’s an article on nested snippets.

Q.

How can I use TextExpander on an iPhone? Which apps can I use it in?

A.

TextExpander for iPhone & iPad lets you expand snippets in three ways:

  1. Expand snippets in any app using the TextExpander keyboard. There are also one-tap expansions for your most popular snippets using snippet keys. The limit of the keyboard is that you can’t expand snippets which include fill-ins. Fill-ins are areas of a snippet you can customize as you expand the snippet, 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.
  2. A large group of apps have built-in TextExpander support, allowing you to expand snippets, even fill-in snippets. You can find a list of all supported apps on our site. Since these apps support snippets without the use of the TextExpander keyboard, you can expand snippets using a third-party or hardware keyboard. If you’re an iPad user, you’ll appreciate using your hardware keyboard to expand snippets. You cannot use third-party keyboards, such as the TextExpander keyboard, with hardware keyboards, so these supported apps get around that limitation.
  3. The TextExpander app lets you copy/paste snippets over to other apps. It also has a Notes section where you can compose a message using your snippets and then copy/paste into other apps. Learn how to set up the TextExpander keyboard and snippet keys.

Q.

Can I use TextExpander on an Android Phone?

A.

TextExpander does not currently have an app for Android. If you want TextExpander for Android, let us know. We crave feedback 🙂

Q.

Can TextExpander change a date from “01/01/01” to “January 1, 2001,” without having to create a snippet for every variation of this formula?

A.

TextExpander does not transform date forms, you will have to create the formats you want as separate snippets.

We have a ready-made snippet group for various types of future and past dates in our Public Groups. Get the group, it’s free to use, and you get dates such as “Last week,” “Next Monday” and other dates more advanced than what’s easily available from date math.

Get the Dates group

Q.

How can I re-enable TextExpander when it has been blocked by another app, such as one presenting a sign-in screen?

A.

Secure input is a message you may have seen TextExpander for Mac give you when it appeared to stop working, but is really blocked from working.

What Secure Input Does:

Secure input is for your protection. When an app turns on Secure Input it is throwing an invisibility cloak ✨ over your password field so no other apps can spy on what you’re typing. Apps which control secure input are apps with protected password fields, such as Chrome, 1Password and other apps you log in to or use to login.

Once you leave the password field, the app which turned secure input on is the only one with the power to turn it off, removing the invisibility cloak ✨ so that apps such as TextExpander can see what you type. And TextExpander needs to see when you type an abbreviation so that it can turn it into the full snippet. It is up to each app to be a good neighbor, and turn secure input off at the appropriate time.

When Secure Input Hurts:

When secure input stays on forever, TextExpander is blocked. It can never see what you type. Only the apps which turn secure input on can turn it off, but they don’t always. There’s no way for TextExpander to effect that.

The Work-around:

You, the user, can quit the app which turned secure input on. This will turn secure input off. TextExpander tries to help by sending you a message about which app it thinks turned secure input on. We’ve tried to clarify our messaging on topic, to make it a bit less frustrating for you and us.

Secure input details

Q.

How does TextExpander differ from Keyboard Maestro?

A.

TextExpander is focused on speeding your typing and accuracy. Keyboard Maestro is more like a hotkey, or Automator for Mac. It is a more general automation tool which can perform actions, such as “Move all Images From Desktop Into This Folder” or anything along the lines of “perform this action when this thing happens.”

TextExpander takes typed characters and turns them into other characters, usually more of them 🙂

TextExpander does support JavaScript, AppleScript, and shell scripts. These can all perform actions with the typing of a few characters, but do require you to write that script yourself.

If you are interested in learning about TextExpander and scripting, check out the Script section of our Tips page.

Q.

Can you dictate from Nuance Dragon Dictate into TextExpander?

A.

No, TextExpander does not directly work with Dragon Dictate.

Q.

Sometimes I type the abbreviation but it doesn’t go away when the snippet expands. What do I do about that?

A.

This is rare, but happens in specific cases. The trick is finding out why it’s happening in your specific circumstances.

An initial solution is to restart your device, or at least restart your app. Then contact support and tell them which app this is happening in, as this can be app-specific.


Hope that was enough information for you 🙂

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

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