Where Are My TextExpander Snippets? Using TextExpander With The SmartKeyboard On The iPad

TextExpander

One of the applications that I cannot live without is TextExpander. The application’s primary purpose is to expand snippets of text through simple key combinations (e.g., ty = Thank You!) but it does much more. TextExpander is available on the Mac, iOS, and Windows (in beta).

I invoke about fifty TextExpander snippets while working on macOS during a typical day (I am university professor by day). It is one of the first apps I install when setting up a new machine. The functionality that TextExpander brings to macOS is transferred to iOS through TextExpander’s iOS application. TextExpander on iOS accomplishes this feat by using a TextExpander specific keyboard. This functionality allows me to respond to emails with lengthy thought out replies while on the road and compose posts like these with ease.

The Problem

This method works great…unless you are on are using Apples SmartKeyboard on an iPad Pro. Since the SmartKeyboard is hardware (and not software), using it means loosing the ability to expand your snippets while typing. My understanding is that this is not something that the folks at Smile Software have any control over as it is a security limitation implemented by Apple.

Partial Solutions

  1. One partial solution is to use apps that natively support TextExpander on iOS. Once granted permission to view your TextExpander snippets 1 , these apps will automatically expend your snippets—without the use of the TextExpander keyboard. This is great; however, you must be using one of the supported apps. This means that if you typically write words in any other applications than those that natively support TextExpander (e.g., Mail), you will not have access to your snippets. More apps are incorporating the TextExpander API each month (see Dispatch by Clean Shaven Apps as an example) but with so few there now your app of choice is not likely to be on the supported list.
  2. Another limited solution is to use Apple’s text expansion built into iOS. This solution is OK but, in my experience, snippets do not sync reliably across iOS devices through iCloud and the service only expands text. While TextExpander’s main focus is to expand snippets of text, the app can do a lot more (See this video series by David Sparks) and the built in snippet expansion in iOS does not come close to matching TextExpanders expanded functionality.
  3. The final and most inelegant solution is to simply detach the SmartKeyboard from the smart connector revealing the on screen TextExpander keyboard granting you access to your snippets. Once you are done using the TextExpander keyboard you can reconnect it and continue using the SmartKeyboard. This solution is reliable and available anywhere you can type on the iPad. However, the time that it takes to detach and attach the SmartKeyboard negates any time you would have saved using TextExpander making this solution only worth while for those times that long or fill-in snippets are necessary.

Footnotes

For these apps to work you must have the TextExpander mobile app installed on your iOS device.  ↩

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7 thoughts on “Where Are My TextExpander Snippets? Using TextExpander With The SmartKeyboard On The iPad

  1. danryker says:

    Another solution is to open the TextExpander app and type in a note. The snippets will expand using the smart keyboard in this case. You then hit the share button and ‘copy’. Then switch back to the other app and paste. If you use the key combination, cmd – shift, to quickly switch between apps, it’s pretty fast. I just have one note open. When I come back to the note, I hit ‘cmd-A’ to select all and then start typing fresh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • okdie says:

      Thanks for the alternative option @danryker! This solution also works but is still a bit inelegant. That said, as long as you keep the TextExpander app open and in note view, you can make the switch relatively quickly. Thanks for the useful tip!

      Like

      • Bryan Reeves says:

        Actually I just kinda did. I’m using the Logitech keyboard that goes with iPad Pro. There’s a hotkey on that logitech board that I can press to immediately bring up the iPad keyboard, which when I’ve already selected the TextExpander keyboard just brings that up directly onscreen. I use the onscreen TE keyboard to type my snippet, hit that logitech hotkey to make the onscreen keyboard go away and just keep right on typing with the Logitech. It’s a 75% solution where before I only had 50% solutions at best.

        Like

      • okdie says:

        This sounds great. Unfortunately, this is not possible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard. The TextExpander keyboard is available for selection when the keyboard button is pressed but when selected the onscreen keyboard does not appear. I am happy that you found a better solution though!

        Like

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