I began using TextExpander, née Textpander, in 2006 because it helped me save time and reduce typos in my code. The software logs your keystrokes and when you type a certain combo of them — e.g. ddate — it automatically replaces it with something more meaningful, like the actual date — e.g. December 17, 2015. You can set these replacements up to be simple, BEck automatically changing to Beck, or more complex, substituting dynamic info or even pasting the contents of your clipboard.
I’ve used it all sorts of ways, but I’m writing this post to share with you the way I’ve found most beneficial: I use TextExpander as a method for questioning my use of words I’d rather avoid. Specifically, the words should and just.
I create snippet for the word I want to avoid — e.g. should — and I tell TextExpander to replace it with that word followed by a question mark — e.g. should?.
It’s easy enough to delete the ? if I want to use should, but it requires me to consider it first. After a while, I added a snippet for the word SHOULD in all caps, replacing it with should in lowercase for times when I’m sure I want to type it and don’t want to be bothered. The small step of holding down the shift key still requires me to be intentional about its use.
I added the word just recently, after a couple tweets I made in a moment of frustration with my use of the word seemed to have some resonance with my friends and followers.
This blog post isn't an endorsement of TextExpander, though I obviously like it and find it useful, but rather it is an exploration of ways we can use technology to help us become who we want to be.