I’m typing more than ever on my MacBook and find that there are certain phrases that I type again and again. Are there any keyboard shortcuts in MacOS X that would let me assign an acronym to a fully expanded phrase? Ideally typing shortcuts that would work across apps too.
Whether you’re typing a letter to your sibling or composing a memo for work, the reality is that typing on a keyboard can be a very tedious process. Fortunately there are a variety of ways to make it move along more smoothly on your Mac. One that I like is to use dictation: I’m using that right now for this paragraph of text! I’m just talking and the computer is automatically translating everything I say into the correct words in this document. [Here’s an article on how to get started with dictation on your Mac system]
Another smart solution is to use keyboard shortcuts. The idea is that you type in an atypical sequence of characters and/or digits and the computer automatically converts that into a word, a phrase, a URL, really whatever you want. And it just happens to be the case that this very feature is built-in to macOS and surprisingly easy to use. Let’s check it out…
I like to wish my friends happy birthday on Facebook, but it’s not really their birthday, it’s the anniversary of their birth day. Pedantic, maybe, but I routinely wish “Happy anniversary of the day of your birth”. The secret is that phrase is a keyboard shortcut on my Mac system so I literally just type in hadb and it’s automatically expanded.
In Facebook, I might well be wishing someone that happy day like this:
Notice I’ve typed in ‘had’. When I add the ‘b’ to make the full shortcut phrase, a tiny tip window pops up:
But I don’t have to use the mouse and click on it, simply typing in a space auto-replaces the acronym with the phrase:
How handy is that?
You can set up your own keyboard shortcuts on the Mac by going into System Preferences… and finding Keyboard:
Choose it, then go to the “Shortcuts” tab:
You can see that I have about a half-dozen setup, including the hadb that I’m demonstrating. Your phone already expands omw to “On my way!” so that’s handy too. [Note: I shouldn’t have two, not sure what’s up with that. Easy to fix, though; choose the one you don’t want and click on the “-” button below the list of replacements]
There are some other options worth checking out on this preference pane too, notably how to disable spelling autocorrect. You’ll note that I have just about everything disabled 🙂
Want to add a new shortcut? You can do that with the “+” button on the lower left.
This is also where you can get into some serious mischief with friends and family if you can access this on their Mac systems. Imagine if I had a shortcut like this:
Every time I’d type ‘facebook’ it would automatically change to twitter. Maddening! Same with names; every time your Mom types in the name of her ex it could change to something more, uhm, graphic and accurate than their actual given name. 🙂
Finally, since they work without much effort as you type spaces to separate out words, this is a great way to never have common spelling mistakes plague your writing again, like adn for and and teh for the:
All in all, five minutes of setup can save you hours of typing in a given month. Do it, you’ll thank me later!