App of the Week: DashExpander
If there is one thing that Mac users tend to do a lot, it would be writing, whether it be in email, a final, or that script to your award-winning movie that you’ve never finished. As such there are a variety of text expansion apps for the Mac, probably more than any other operating system. What is text expansion you may ask? Text expansion is the process of using a program to connect an abbreviated phrase with a longer body of text. So if I constantly am filling out my qualifications for a job in emails, rather than constantly type out those qualifications, I can attach a phrase like “job qual” to a program, which would then fill in those qualifications whenever I type that phrase. The catch is that almost all of these text expansions apps share another feature: a high price tag. It’s not that these programs aren’t worth the money, just that I can’t afford to pay $35.00 for an app that changes text around (no offense).
DashExpander fills this void by being free, but the ability to get the job done. After installing the app, you open up the snippet creation window either by tapping “Open” in the optional menubar icon, or by using the keyboard shortcut “Option+Spacebar”. The window has 4 text boxes. The top box is the name of the snippet, the second being the abbreviation of the text, the third is the text you want it to become, and the bottom box is how you want to tag it. Tagging isn’t necessary, but it helps if you need to search for one of your snippets later. I
found the window a little confusing to use at first, but after a while it was pretty easy to use. A nice little feature in DashExpander is the ability to create fields in the expanded text. Say if you need to fill out the date and want to put it in a snippet, you can type _word_ (fill in “word” with whatever text you want) and then you’ll be able to quickly jump to that field & fill it out post expansion. The app is very light and responsive, both when being used and just sitting in the background. It’s very easy to use and setup; the preferences are only to startup at login and for a menubar icon.
Besides the initial confusion with snippet setup, the only complaints I have are merely about the icon. For one thing, I’d like to have option for a black & white menubar icon, rather than always having it in color. And to be honest, the dock icon is a little bit creepy. I like the Cheshire cat idea, but something about it just doesn’t look right. But for a free, effective, and responsive app like this, I can’t really complain.
DashExpander is a free app from Kapeli and is available in the Mac App Store. You can check out more at http://kapeli.com/dashexpander/. DashExpander runs on OS 10.6 and higher. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. Thanks! (P.S.: This last paragraph was almost completely typed via DashExpander)