Editor's Choice 2019, macOS

Review: Typinator 8, the text expander which has the user in mind

Typinator 8 macOS text expander review.

My favourite text expander Typinator has reached version 8 and except for its Regex capabilities, its assistant for creating forms to enter variable data in an expansion, its calculation features and its ability to set your cursor where you need it after an expansion, Typinator 8 now also offers usage statistics, literal support for inclusion of the Mac’s modifier keys in abbreviations, and time zone support.

The new statistics mode lets you see the number of times you’ve been using abbreviations and sets, as well as how long ago an abbreviation has been used. That’s useful if you want to clean out your collection of expansion sets from time to time.

Better even, you can sort (ascending/descending) your entries by clicking the tiny clock icon (how long ago) or hashtag icon (how often) in the column header. That way, you can instantly see which abbreviations you are using frequently and the ones you may have forgotten about and which are perhaps ready to be thrown over the left.

A feature that I was really surprised to see included in version 8 are what the developers call “Magic Keys”. Those are actually the modifier keys – Shift, Control, Option and Command – which you can now use in abbreviations as if they were regular keys typing literal characters.

If you’re puzzled; don’t worry, I was too, until I started using them and found this novelty to be very efficient. The reason is that you can use them as additional trigger characters that are only rendered as literal characters inside Typinator so you can use the same abbreviation for different extensions and still avoid conflicts.

The new “mini menu bar” right above the expansion field improves the UI by grouping together all of the markers and editing functions. It also groups together the abbreviation options under a separate icon from included scripts and texts. An abbreviation marker group I find particularly interesting is the Time Zone group which is associated with the “Language for Date Elements” group.

These allow you to expand time expansions in languages and a time zone that differ from the one your system is using. So, for example, if you want to enter US-Pacific time in a document that was actually saved in the UK, you can direct Typinator to use Pacific Time for the time expansion and it will automatically create the correct entry without you needing to look it up from a world clock website or similar. And you could enter it in Chinese if need be.

New also is the integration with Ergonis’ own Popchar 8.2 or newer. You can now use Typinator to search for and insert arbitrary Unicode characters by their name or Unicode number. You first enter a prefix for Popchar in Typinator’s quick search, then the number or the name. To me, this was the least eye-popping novelty of the upgrade, but if you’re a coder or a layout designer, you might see things differently.

Finally, with KeyCue 9 you can show your Typinator sets and select the abbreviation you need to expand without having to look it up or remember anything.

As with its previous upgrades, Typinator’s developer keeps adding features and improvements that are incredibly useful at making your work a lot easier and more comfortable. Typinator costs €24.99.