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