My boss likes me to use her full name every time I mention her in an email. It’s a pain. Is there a way I can set up a keyboard shortcut in Apple Mail so I can type her initials and have it expand to her full name?
You’re in luck and your boss will be happy too: MacOS X has a very slick keyboard shortcut system tucked into its settings that can let you specify that any key sequence should be transformed into any other, whether you want to have common misspellings like “teh” automatically changed to “the” or whether you want to type in “boss” and have it turn into “Ms. Susan B. Miller, Esq.”.
Even better, it’ll work in all Apple produces apps, including Mail, Stickies and even Messages for if you’re texting. On the down side you can’t get too reliant on it because it doesn’t help in, say, text input boxes in a third party Web browser like Google Chrome while you’re using Gmail. So there’s a bit of experimentation required for you to figure out what apps and programs will support keyboard shortcuts, but let’s get started with the setup itself!
Rather than use the link to System Preferences from the Apple menu use Spotlight to jump straight to the correct place. Type Command-space and the Spotlight box appears instantly on your screen. Now type in “keyboard” and here’s what you’ll see:
The very first match shown is exactly what you seek: The Keyboard system preferences. Double click on the matching entry on the left side and it’ll open up System Preferences with that particular panel front and center. Click to choose the “Text” tab along the top, as shown:
Now you can see the shortcuts I have set up, from ‘-sig1-‘ and ‘-sig2-‘ (which expand to various signatures I use in email and other correspondence) to ‘adn’ as a common misspelling of ‘and’ and ‘teh’ as a misspelling of ‘the’. Then there are the abbreviations: ‘hadb’ expands to ‘Happy anniversary of the day of your birth!’ and ‘omw’ turns into “On my way!’ while ‘texpert’ expands into a phrase I use in my YouTube channel descriptions: ‘Tech expert Dave Taylor of https://askdavetaylor.com/’
Pretty straightforward, actually, and darn useful. To create a new one, click on the “+” on the lower left. Two boxes are then highlighted:
Start by typing in the abbreviation or shortcut. Using you boss’ initials is a good idea, but for this demo, I’ll just use “Bob”, with the intention that every time I type in that word it expands to a more formal name. Here’s how it’ll look:
It’s easy to test these out immediately – just jump to any Apple application and type in the shortcut. I’ll try this new shortcut in the handy Apple Notes app and it works perfectly:
As with any spelling correction, I can push the ESC button to reject the suggested correction or I can simply keep typing and it’ll be applied instantly. Done. Easy. And sure to save you some keystrokes when you’re typing!
Pro Tip: I have a lot of top-notch Mac help here on the site. Please take some time to check it all out!