Affinity Consulting Blog


Regardless of whether Santa brought you a brand-new Mac or if you’re working with one you’ve had for a while, there are always new tricks and tools that you can learn to save you time and make you more efficient. Below is a way to make you a more productive Mac and iDevice user. But before you read on, register for our FREE 30 minute MAC Tips & Tricks Webinar on January 19.

Macros

The scary way to think of macros is as tiny computer programs that you write yourself. The friendly way to think of them is as a way to speed up the repetitive tasks that you do every day on your computer. Basic macro programs record your keystrokes and can then play them back when you hit a shortcut key combination. For example, in Microsoft Word, this feature is called AutoText, and has been available in the Windows and Mac versions of Word for years. By following the above-linked article, you can learn how to create keyboard shortcuts for your most-frequently typed items in Word, like salutations, signature blocks, and boilerplate paragraphs.

Of course, the shortcut function I just described is available only in Word. But there are programs available that take Word’s AutoText function and put it on steroids. In the Mac world, the best-known of these programs is TextExpander from Smile Software. TextExpander takes the idea of text snippets and dramatically expands what it can do. Not only does TextExpander take Word’s AutoText functionality and essentially make it available to any text field on your Mac, including any word processors or email programs, but it also adds cool features like the ability to create boilerplate paragraphs or text blocks that include fillable form fields and dropdown lists. Effectively, you can use TextExpander as a basic document assembly system in the word processor of your choice. It’s available on the Smile Software website for $35.

In addition to the Mac version, Smile Software also has a version of TextExpander for iOS, called TextExpander Touch, for $5 from the App Store. Prior to iOS 8, TextExpander Touch was only useful in apps specifically built to accommodate it using application connections that Smile built. There are 68 such programs, including many iOS favorites. But now things are even better. With iOS 8, and the ability to use custom keyboards on your iDevices, TextExpander Touch snippets can be used with any iOS program, just like the breadth of functionality on the Mac. Plus, of course, your TextExpander and TextExpander Touch snippets sync with each other over Dropbox.

Start Small

If you would like to experiment with keyboard shortcuts on your Mac and iDevice without spending a penny, head over to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts, on your iPhone or iPad, or System Preferences > Keyboard > Text, on your Mac. In either place, you should see the default included entry of replacing “omw” with “On my Way!”. Add you own phrases and replacement shortcuts (which cannot contain spaces), and watch them sync from the iDevice to your Mac or vice versa. Additional information is available on this 9 to 5 Mac article. These shortcuts will be available to you throughout your Mac and iOS machines.

Conclusion

Macros are just one way to work faster, more efficiently, and with fewer mistakes in the new year. Keep an eye out for an announcement of a special 30 minute new year Mac tips and tricks seminar later in January, probably the 19th, which will cover additional items to make you more efficient and productive. As always, if you have questions or comments, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or message me on Twitter @jrsch.

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