Author: Fiona Bledge, Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Justice
As educators and support professionals, we all lead busy lives that involve a myriad of responsibilities. Although much has been documented about the distraction that digital tools can encourage, if harnessed in the right way, some tools can go a long way to alleviating some of that busy-ness and one of the productivity applications that I use every day, and that has undoubtedly contributed to my greater efficiency and a smoother workflow, is Text Expander
Text Expander allows you to create a ‘snippet’ – basically a block of text – and link it to a keyboard shortcut (a short abbreviation) that, when entered, expands and inserts that text. It is ideal for those phrases or contents of emails that you find yourself repeating over and over again. It can save so much time (and you also receive a very satisfying audible notification when your snippet has been successfully expanded – anything to brighten up your daily admin tasks!)
I have used Text Expander for quite a few years now and have built up a big library of ‘snippets’. Below are just a few of the ways in which I use the application:
- A quick sign-off of emails – instead of writing ‘Many Thanks’, ‘Best wishes’ or ‘Kind regards’ followed by my name at the end of emails, all I have to type is a two or three letter abbreviation and it ‘expands’ to the full sign-off;
- Automatic insertion of my contact details;
- Automatic insertion of email addresses
- Populating fields of repeated emails with individual details
Whilst this isn’t a teaching tool, it certainly supports me in my teaching in that the ability to quickly insert a block of text or stock response into an email or document means that I spend less time on drafting responses and text and more time on the deep work required when creating teaching materials and developing class content.
Text Expander is a cross-platform application available to download on a Windows PC, Mac, iPad and iPhone and snippets are stored at textexpander.com which means that you can access them on your various devices and also share them with others that have a subscription. You can find out more at Text Expander.com – you can sign up for an account and choose the test drive option, to try it out for 30 days before you commit to the paid version. The individual ‘Life Hacker’ account is just under £37 a year – only just over £3 per month – but education pricing is available which provides a 30% discount over the next 4 years. It is well-worth it, in my view.
So, if you find yourself using the same response to emails or the same text in documents over and over again, I would highly recommend that you check out Text Expander.