Mastering text replacement on Mac can be a game-changer. Imagine, you’re working against the clock, your fingers flying across the keyboard… And then comes that long string of text. You know, that ridiculously lengthy URL or those technical terms you have to type repeatedly?

A tedious task indeed! But here’s where text replacement comes in.

Text replacement, also known as text expansion or text substitution, is a powerful tool that can significantly enhance your productivity. It allows you to replace long strings of text with very short phrases, snippets or shortcuts, saving you time and reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries from excessive typing.

Understanding Text Expanders: A Game Changer for Efficiency

You’re probably asking yourself, “What exactly are these text expander things?”

Well, essentially they are an intelligent tool that replaces long strings of text with shorter snippets or shortcuts. Think about frequently typed phrases like your email ID or company address – wouldn’t it be easier if you could just type “addr” and have the full address populate automatically with the replacement text?

Beyond saving keystrokes though, using these tools effectively helps increase overall efficiency by cutting down on mundane tasks. And what’s cool is, if you use a Mac, you already have an existing text replacement app right in your system settings!

The Power of Text Replacement on Mac

This built-in text replacement macOS feature can increase your productivity by reducing the time spent typing repetitive phrases. (It also works on your iPhone/iPad.) Let’s delve into the details.

To start using Text Replacement, you simply need to:

  • Navigate to the Apple Icon on the top left and open your Apple menu bar

Apple side menu bar showing system settings

  • Open System Preferences (or System Settings depending on if you have the latest version on your iOS version)
  • Select Keyboard
  • Click on Text Replacement

Image of Mac system preferences showing the Text Replacement option

  • Click on the +
  • Add your desired text replacements. (For example, you might replace “teh” with “the”.)

Example adding text replacement on a Mac

How to Use Text Replacement on Mac

Let’s dive a little deeper into how this tool can save knowledge workers, business owners, sales reps and marketers an enormous amount of time. Here are a few peccadilloes when creating custom text replacements on your Mac.

Apple Toolbox emphasizes:

The text replacement feature can be used across various apps on MacOS.

If it’s not working, head on over to your Apple Icon and click on your Apple Menu and system preferences (or system settings) and ensure that the ‘Correct spelling automatically’ option is unchecked. This is because you will be adding short codes and misspellings that you want to replace with replacement text.

I’ll be honest with you – one of the reasons I don’t use Apple’s native text replacement app is because of this. It sometimes messes me up, as I am a horrendous typist and need all the help I can get! If I turn this option off in order to enable the text replacements, it usually means my content fills up with typing and spelling errors. I prefer, in most cases, to use third party apps for both my spelling and grammar. Linquix and Grammarly are compatible apps that I use for spelling and grammar, and I use FlyMSG to enable text replacement not just on my Mac apps, but everywhere. We’ll talk more about that later.

Turn your correct spelling automatically on in the Apple Menu System Settings

AppsNTips mentions:

As mentioned previously, the process varies slightly based on your macOS version.

  • For macOS Ventura, use the new System Settings app instead of System Preferences.
  • For older versions like macOS Monterey, use the System Preferences app.

The Power and Limitations of Mac’s Text Replacement Feature

One of the main advantages of using the built-in Mac Text Replacement feature is its cost-effectiveness. It’s free to use and doesn’t require a subscription. It’s also simple to use, with a fairly user-friendly interface. As mentioned above, just click on the plus sign to add your text substitutions. (And of course, the minus sign to remove any that are no longer relevant.)

Another advantage is its compatibility. The built-in Text Replacement feature works natively on your Mac as well as on your browser. It also syncs across iCloud, allowing you to use your snippets and shortcuts across all your Apple devices, like your iPhone and iPad.

Text replacement on your iPhone and iPad

Limitations and Challenges

While the built-in Text Replacement feature on a Mac (and iPhone/iPad) is a valuable tool, it’s not without its limitations.

Lack of Compatibility

One of its main limitations is its lack of compatibility with all apps. While it works across a wide variety of macOS apps, it’s not available in all apps. This is because it requires third-party developers to enable this feature from their end. For example, popular apps like Microsoft Word, Outlook, and Mozilla Firefox don’t work with Text Replacement.

This is one of the main reasons I don’t use the native text replacement app on my desk top (although I do still use it on my iPhone & iPad). I need to be able to access and use text replacement in other apps, and in the Cloud!

Limitation on Text

Another limitation is its inability to handle long pieces of text. If you’re a power user who needs to swap out long emails or canned responses with auto-text, the built-in Text Replacement feature might not be sufficient.

I use text replacement to swap out multiple paragraphs. I simply can’t do that with the native app.

No Formatting

Not only do I create shortcuts (FlyCuts) that have several paragraphs, I often create content with my text editor that is formatted, including underlining, strike through, bold, italics, hyperlinks, smart links, images and more. This formatting doesn’t translate or carry over when you paste it into the Mac app.

Accidental Triggers

Additionally, the built-in Text Replacement feature can sometimes trigger accidentally if you’re not careful with your shortcuts. For example, if you have a shortcut set to trigger with a word you use frequently, there’s a high chance of text replacement being triggered unintentionally.

Exporting Snippets

Finally, exporting snippets can be complicated with the built-in Text Replacement feature. If you’re switching Mac devices, you’ll need to manually export all your snippets from one computer to the other. #PainInTheButt

Leveraging MacOS Built-In Text Expander Across Applications

If you are still wanting to use text replacement on Mac, and create and swap out the shortcut phrase into any compatible app, let me share some more tips to help you share and fix text replacement if it’s not working.

Unleash the power of text replacement on your Mac. Streamline work, save time typing repetitive phrases and sync snippets across iCloud for seamless integration. It's a game changer for efficiency. #MacTips #Productivity Click To Tweet

Syncing Text Replacements Across Devices

If working across multiple devices sounds daunting – don’t fret. iCloud syncs these handy little helpers automatically as long as Documents & Data are enabled for same Apple ID across all devices. I literally had to Google this to find out how to do it!

Enabling Documents & Data for iCloud on your Apple device allows you to sync information across all your devices using the same Apple ID. Here’s how you can enable this feature:

On an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch:

  1. Open the “Settings” app.
  2. Tap on your name at the top to access Apple ID settings.
  3. Tap “iCloud.”
  4. Scroll down to find “iCloud Drive” and toggle the switch to the ON position (it will turn green).
  5. Below “iCloud Drive,” you’ll see a list of apps that can store data in iCloud. Toggle on the ones you want to sync.

On a Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple menu () in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. Select “System Preferences” or “System Settings”
  3. Click “Apple ID” (macOS Catalina and later) or “iCloud” (macOS Mojave or earlier).
  4. Check the box next to “iCloud Drive.”
  5. Click “Options” to select the apps that you want to sync with iCloud Drive.

Enabling Documents & Data for iCloud on your Apple device

Unfortunately, as mentioned, Mac Text Replacement doesn’t work everywhere online. For that you’d need to use a more comprehensive Text Expander like FlyMSG.

Unleash the power of your Mac's built-in text expander to save time and streamline workflow. - Create shortcuts and custom shortcuts, sync across devices with iCloud, and say goodbye to repetitive typing tasks. #MacTips #Productivity Click To Tweet

More Troubleshooting of Common Issues with Mac’s Text Replacement

macbook open

Text replacement on your Mac might sometimes act like a stubborn mule. It may refuse to work as expected or throw tantrums when you try using it with certain apps. But fear not. We’ve got the remedies to fix text replacement:

1.Verify App Compatibility

The first step in our troubleshooting guide is checking if the app you’re trying to use supports text replacements at all, much like ensuring your car has gas before blaming the engine for not starting. You might check out Apple in order to find out which are the compatible apps you can use.

2.Activate Text Replacements within Apps

If an application does support this feature but seems oblivious to its existence, make sure that text replacement is enabled in that particular app’s settings – just as one would in system settings to ensure their phone isn’t set on silent mode while waiting anxiously for an important call.

3.Add and Delete New Snippets

Sometimes giving your system a little nudge can do wonders – similar to how shaking up a ketchup bottle gets things flowing again. Try adding new text replacement and delete the occasional shortcut from time-to-time; it could be just what the doctor ordered.

4.Maintain an Up-To-Date MacOS Version

Your issues could also stem from running outdated software versions (think of it akin driving around town without updating Google Maps.).

Always keep macOS updated by navigating through System Preferences (or the latest version in system settings) under the Apple Icon. Then search for “Software Update” and make sure you have “automatic Updates” turned on.

Keep your Mac up to date.

5.Relying On The Old-School Restart Trick

Last resort: When everything else fails, give restarting device trick shot. (It sounds simple because well, it really IS). Many times we forget this tried-and-tested solution which often fixes even complex glitches faster than saying “apple pie”..

Facing issues with your Mac's text replacement feature? Check app compatibility, open system preferences, enable settings within apps, refresh snippets and keep macOS updated. If all else fails, try the old-school restart trick.… Click To Tweet

Exploring Third-Party Text Expansion Tools

While the native text replacement feature of MacOS is quite useful, the constraints mean that there are restrictions to how and where you can enable text replacement. That’s where third-party extension-based text expander tools come into the picture.

These powerful software solutions offer advanced features that outshine what your MacOS can provide. They’re like taking your Mac’s built-in text expander and adding a turbocharger for those heavy-duty users among us.

The real charm of these third-party tools lies in their cross-platform compatibility. Whether you’re juggling Windows or Linux alongside your trusty Mac, these tools ensure smooth sailing with compatible apps across all platforms – no more feeling shackled to one operating system.

Ramp Up Your Productivity Game

If you find yourself stuck typing lengthy paragraphs or intricate codes over and over again, then investing in an efficient tool might just be worth every penny. The following apps are designed with time-saving at heart by automating repetitive tasks so that you can zero in on delivering top-notch work efficiently. Check out some top-rated third-party tools here.

Unleash your Mac's full potential with third-party text expander tools. Enjoy advanced features, cross-platform compatibility, and time-saving automation for maximum productivity. #MacTips #ProductivityHacks Click To Tweet

New Text Replacement Third Party Apps to Consider

There are a lot of Text Expander apps out there. Here’s a few to consider!

  1. FlyMSG by Vengreso
    • Benefits: Designed for productivity enhancement, integrates with various platforms, and offers unique features tailored for knowledge workers. Has best in class customization and flexibility. Fully supported Freemium features. Premium features include FlyLearning for sales people, entrepreneurs and small business owners. Includes team sharing of content. Supports various platforms. Extensive library of templates (FlyPlates). Dashboard shares time and money saved.
    • Website: FlyMSG by Vengreso
  2. OSlash
    • Benefits: Cross-platform support, advanced text replacement features, and offers customization and flexibility.
    • Website: OSlash
  3. Magical
    • Benefits: Simplifies repetitive typing, offers team collaboration, and syncs across devices.
    • Website: Magical
  4. TextExpander (by Smile)
    • Benefits: Syncs across devices, team collaboration, customizable snippets, and supports various platforms.
    • Website: TextExpanderBeyond Basic Features

Many of the text following expanders above have the following features. FlyMSG has all of them!

Spelling and Grammar Correction

Apart from straightforward text replacements, many third-party applications, including FlyMSG, bring extra goodies to the table such as form filling and automatic typo correction. One of my favorite features due to my terrible typing 🤪

Easy Sharing

Plus, they make importing and exporting a snippet or shortcut easy-peasy when switching devices.

Not only that, some allow you to share commonly used phrases with team members. In our app, it’s called FlyShare! (More on that and other new features can be found HERE.)

flyshare features

Productivity Dashboard

Many of these apps are designed with time-saving at heart by automating repetitive tasks so that you can zero in on delivering top-notch work efficiently. With that in mind, several of these apps have Dashboards (we call it a FlyBoard,) that show you statistics like: time saved, shortcuts (Flycuts) used, characters typed by the app, and cost savings.

FlyMSH FlyBoard


Unleash your Mac's full potential with third-party text expander tools. Enjoy advanced features, cross-platform compatibility, and time-saving automation for maximum productivity. #MacTips #ProductivityHacks Click To Tweet

Organizing with Categories and Search

Another bonus with these apps is the ability to organize your snippets. If you have hundreds of shortcuts, you are going to forget them. That’s where categories and subcategories come in! You can easily organize into categories and subcategories you have created.

Not only that, but with a right click, or within the FlyMSG app, you can even do a search on a keyword to find your FlyMSG or shortcut.

categires and right click search for FlyMSGs

Dive into the world of advanced text replacement techniques on Mac. Master complex snippets, nested snippets and more to optimize your productivity. #MacTips #ProductivityHacks Click To Tweet

FAQs in Relation to Text Replacement on Mac

Can you do Text Replacement on Mac?

Yes, macOS has a built-in text replacement feature that allows users to create shortcuts for frequently used phrases or sentences.

How does Text Replacement work in Mac?

The new text replacement feature works by replacing user-defined keyboard abbreviations with longer pieces of text. It can be utilized across various macOS apps and synced across Apple devices via iCloud.

How do you find and use text replacement to automatically replace text on a Mac?

In most applications, press Command + F to open the Find dialog box. Input the current word in the text tab the ‘Find’ field and then paste the new word in the ‘Replace With’ field, then click the ‘All’ button to replace all instances.


Unleashing the power of text replacement on Mac can revolutionize your productivity. This built-in feature is more than just a time-saver; it’s an efficiency booster, helping you type faster and smarter.

Setting up this tool is straightforward, with easy-to-follow steps that lead to big rewards in saved typing time. Troubleshooting common issues may be necessary, but rest assured solutions are at hand.

The limitations of the built-in feature do exist, so it might be worth your time to explore third-party tools like FlyMSG to open new doors for enhanced functionality and cross-platform compatibility.

Digging deeper into advanced techniques unveils even more features and greater potential for maximizing productivity using both native and external text replacement tools.

Finally, harnessing these benefits isn’t limited to tech wizards alone – business professionals across various sectors can leverage them too. Ready to take your productivity game up a notch?

At Vengreso, we’re all about empowering knowledge workers like you with tips and strategies that save on productivity – such as mastering text replacement. In fact – we build our own text expansion software!

Dive in today!

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