At its heart, TextExpander helps you communicate smarter by typing text—and a lot of it—for you. Today we have a small tip that can make a big difference in your workflows: TextExpander can automatically press the tab key for you in your web browser, emails, other tab-able forms.
Fun with TextExpander Macros: The Tab key
TextExpander supports a variety of “macros,” short codes that can insert bits of information like today’s date, text from your clipboard, text from other snippets, and more. But TextExpander macros can also perform actions, such as pressing the Return key or placing your cursor in a specific part of an expanded snippet.
One supported macro is the Tab key. This means that TextExpander can insert some text, press Tab for you, then insert more text. This can be extremely powerful in myriad scenarios, but let’s explore a couple simple examples to get you started.
Tab through emails
Let’s say you regularly send your boss an email with status updates on various projects. For the sake of this example, maybe you generally use the same subject line and email structure, filling in the blanks with any changes. This is a perfect job for TextExpander and the Tab macro.
With a couple keystrokes or a quick search, you could start a new email, then trigger a TextExpander snippet that:
- Automatically types your boss’ email address
- Presses Tab
- Fills in the standard email subject
- Presses Tab
- Fills in the standard email body with project information
- Places your cursor in the first spot where you need to add information
In addition to helping you to save a ton of time, a snippet like this will also work just about anywhere you manage email, whether it’s in a browser web app or something like Apple Mail or Outlook.
Plus, it’s a pretty simple snippet to build. Here’s a template you can riff off of:
firstname.lastname@example.org %key:tab% Weekly Project Update %key:tab% Project 1: %| Project 2: Project 3:
and so on. Bonus tip: See the %| after “Project 1?” That’s another TextExpander macro. Once your snippet expands, that macro tells TextExpander to place your cursor there so you can start filling in the details.
Tab through web forms
As you saw in our example above, one TextExpander snippets can use multiple macros, and even use each one multiple times. Another great scenario for the Tab macro is filling in web forms.
Let’s say you have to fill out a lot of forms with the same information. Tasks, such as entering different shipping addresses throughout the day or creating social media campaigns, are good examples here.
You can use the TextExpander Tab macro to dramatically speed up your workflows. For example: if you create a snippet for each shipping address you regularly enter, you don’t have to worry about which browsers you use, or saving and updating addresses at multiple services.
Another example you could riff off, and certainly edit based on the services and forms you use:
First Name %key:tab% Last Name %key:tab% Company Name Street Address %key:tab% Street Address 2 (optional) %key:tab% City %key:tab% State %key:tab% Zip Code
Create one of these snippets for each of the addresses you regularly enter. Then, with a couple keystrokes or a quick search, TextExpander can do all the heavy lifting for you, regardless of which browser or services you use.
Go forth and macro
Tinker with this a bit and try some of your own snippet workflows. These are pretty powerful stuff, and you can learn more about TextExpander macros in our support docs.