Utility software

TypeIt4Me 3.1

As a computer user, you know the routine. Every day, you sign e-mail messages with the same closing lines; you make the same typing errors; you use the same phrases in business correspondence; you write sections of code for your Web site that are nearly identical to other sections. Typing the same thing over and over is not only tedious, it’s a waste of time and can lead to errors.

Enter TypeIt4Me 3.1.1, a utility that’s been around in some form since 1989. Think of TypeIt4Me as an intelligent typing assistant. It sits silently in the background and monitors every keystroke. When it sees a key sequence you’ve previously defined, it replaces that sequence with the assigned text.

New in version 3.1.1 is the ability to create abbreviations that are actually executed as AppleScript code using the Run As AppleScript tag, and you can refer to abbreviations within abbreviations). You can also apply meaningful titles to abbreviations, show or hide any abbreviation in the TypeIt4Me menu, import abbreviations from a tab-delimited text file, and expand abbreviations from two different abbreviation files.

Using TypeIt4Me, you will no longer have to type out phrases like With best regards at the bottom of each message you send. Instead, type wbr and let TypeIt4Me keystroke the rest. Can’t remember what strange key combination to use for the euro symbol (€, shift-option-2 in most fonts)? Create a new abbreviation— eeuro —to type it automatically.

TypeIt4Me can also repair typos, such as teh for the or alot for a lot. While many word processors contain autocorrection features, abbreviations you create in TypeIt4Me work in any application—unless you don’t want them to. TypeIt4Me can create multiple abbreviation sets, any of which you can specify for use with a given program, so you could have one set of abbreviations for Word and another set for Excel.

TypeIt4Me can work with dates and times as variables in an abbreviation—when you type the abbreviation, TypeIt4Me inserts the current date and time. You’ll see some strange codes for this abbreviation in the TypeIt4Me interface, but don’t worry about them. Those are just how the system represents the date and time: %A is the day of the week, %B is the month, and %e is the day.

Abbreviations can also contain other special codes and characters. For example, you can insert a code to position the cursor at a given spot in the text, to move the cursor around via the arrow keys, to paste the contents of the clipboard, and even to type special characters such as backspace, return, and tab, something that TextExpander (   ), a similar program, cannot do.

All this power comes at a price, however, and that price is interface complexity. The sheer number of options may overwhelm new users at first glance. However, most people can use TypeIt4Me very successfully without touching most of the settings. Just click on the plus sign (+) at the bottom of the window, type the abbreviation ( !myname or whatever), type what you’d like the abbreviation to stand for ( Jane Smith ), then click on Save. If you get lost, just click on the question-mark icon (?) to access TypeIt4Me’s online help.

Taken together, these features let you build some very powerful abbreviations. You can tab through Web forms, insert URLs into certain spots within an HTML string—the possibilities are nearly endless.

Macworld’s buying advice

If you type a lot, you owe it to your fingers to give TypeIt4Me 3.1.1 a try. The interface might look a bit daunting, given the number of options available in the Settings tab, but if you leave everything at its stock setting, TypeIt4Me will work just fine. There’s also handy documentation available in the Help menu. While it may seem expensive if you’re used to cut-rate shareware prices, at $27, TypeIt4Me is a good value; it’s very good at what it does and its competitors are comparably priced.

[Macworld Senior Editor Rob Griffiths runs the Mac OS X Hints Web site. ]

This odd-looking code will insert the date and time in the following format whenever you type !dt : Wednesday, January 31, 2007 8:45PM. You don’t have to know what the codes mean to use this feature—they appear automatically when you select plain-text options, such as January or 11, from the Insert menu at the bottom of the window.

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