My top typing tip for pastors
You, like most pastors, probably type a couple thousand words a day.
We can’t get away from the work of typing, but there are resources available to you that make it go faster and easier. This is where Text Expander comes in.
NOTE: Text Expander is a Mac, iPad, and iPhone only software, but there is a Windows competitor called Phrase Express which will be able to do many of the things I write about here.
As someone who types 72 WPM, I can still testify to the importance of Text Expander in my day-to-day life.
What the software does, at it’s most basic use, is keep a clipboard worth of text always available for you when you type a specific group of keys. It literally “expands” a group of keystrokes into a predetermined set of text. A simple example is using text expander for contact information.
Here's a few of my expansions as examples:
“t.ws” expands into www.tnsinksdesigns.com
“t.we” expands into firstname.lastname@example.org
“t.wp” expands into (561) 749-9046
As you might have noticed, I chose those expansions based on two factors:
- It’s not something I’ll accidentally type. Some people suggest starting expansion phrases with an “x” or two periods.
- My expansion phrases follow a system that’s easy to remember, but not so long that the phrases take as long to type as what they expand. These expansion phrases follow the pattern: “t.w” which in my mind translates as “Travis.Work…”, which is then followed by “s” for website, “e” for email, and “p” for phone.
Although this can seem like just a drop in the bucket, I want to you to consider how many pieces of text you use which could be expanded. I used these three examples, but what about your church website, address or a brief explanation of your services and their times? Maybe you get a lot of emails asking the same question, and you could have a few paragraphs prepared that could be answered in 5 keystrokes instead of a few hundred?
Becoming an Expert:
In addition to basic text expansion, Text Expander has many other features that I encourage you to explore. My top four are:
- Date/Time - I use this every day to datestamp files or notes.
- Fill-in Sections - This feature allows you to have fillable sections inside of the larger template. This concept could be used in emails, to personalize a large section of text, or in reporting, giving you a complete template with spaces for you to fill-in a few numbers.
- Popup Menus - This is much like fill-in sections, but you can have predetermined options (like a drop down menu) that you choose from for the custom sections
- Using the clipboard - You can include your current clipboard inside your expansion. An example could be if a Bible study location changes often, you could copy the address for that week’s study and then have that address, which is now in your clipboard, automatically added to your expansion reminding people of the study.
Two Features You Need to Know:
If the features listed above weren't enough, here are two features that has made Text Expander completely invaluable to me:
- Suggested Snippets - About a year ago, the Mac version was updated to include a popup with suggested text snippets based on what you type often. This has helped me find what snippets of text that would be useful, even when I haven’t even realized I might need a snippet yet.
- iPad/iPhone sync - One of the biggest selling points for me is that I can use all of these snippets and expansion phrases on all my devices. By downloading Text Expander, you can use their keyboard on your iOS device to save a ton of time typing, even on your phone.
I hope this has helped you save time at your computer. If you have any questions about how you could make use of Text Expander, or any use-case suggestions, I’d love to hear from you!