Daily tip: Make quick text shortcuts on OS X

Last year I explained how to create text shortcuts on the iPhone for faster typing. You can do the same thing on a Mac, using text replacement. There’s a preference pane that will let you set it up. To get started, just follow these steps:

Launch System Preferences and click Language & Text.


  1. Click the Text tab.
  2. The Symbol and Text Substitution field appears. Its three columns show 1.) if a given substitution is enabled, 2.) the trigger text you’ll type 3.) the resulting replacement.
  3. Click the “+” at the bottom of the list to create a new substitution.
  4. Choose your trigger text. This is what you’ll type. For example, “thx” (minus the quotes).
  5. Choose the replacement text. This appears in place of your trigger text. For example, “Thank you.”

That’s it. But there’s a caveat here.

This does not automatically work with every app that accepts text input. To use it with Apple apps like Messages, iPhoto, Mail, Safari, and TextEdit, simply select Text Replacement from Substitutions under the Edit menu (below). Also, it’s a 1970 Chevy Nova compared to the LaFerrari that is TextExpander. But for light work in those apps, at least, it’s a help. It would be nice if we could sync these between Mac OS and iOS.


This post is part is one of 31 tech tips I published in March, 2013You’ll find the rest here.