Finding Automations: Typing

This series on automating your computer started because I didn’t like a TextExpander blog post on the fundamentals of using TextExpander. So what do I use to expand text? I’m glad you asked – Alfred.

Alfred let’s me find files, play music do web searches, and more, all without my hands leaving the keyboard. Utilizing cmd + space I can do almost anything just by typing.

Keyboard Snippets

I really wanted to talk about keyboard snippets though. What should you expand? Where should you start? For me, it was the dumbest of things. As we learned from the article on automating your mouse it’s not about saving time, it’s about saving cognitive load. So the very first thing I automated was the month.


I have an awful time with invoicing. I hate the paperwork and find the entire process tedious. It was the perfect item to automate. Knowing what month it is isn’t hard. Remembering what last month was; takes the tiniest amount of mental math. Typing that month out takes up the smallest amount of physical time. Instead, I mapped a dynamic keyboard snippet up to type “p month” (without the space and quotes) and last month is automatically typed for me (Especially nice because I never know where the r goes in February). “m month,” n month” and “pp month” work to get me the current month, next month and two months ago as I need them.

Dating Snippets…cont.

Since I was already doing so much date expansion, I have a couple more. At my old agency job we were required to date and initial, then leave notes. I had “b date” expand to the current date with my initials.

I personally liked to format dates with year / month / day: 20230328, for March 28, 2023. The snippet “d date” takes care of that for me. However, when working with others, I noticed they weren’t understanding the jumble of numbers. I created “s date” as a more “American” way of dating things, 03-28-2023.

What am I typing too much?

But then I started going through all the things I was just typing too much, or places where I was running into trouble. A smattering of keyboard shortcuts with spaces, and what they did.

  • = ==
    • Three equal signs made a 10-equal sign divider line for running notes
  • l last
    • L3M – I was doing reporting on a biweekly basis and wanted a way to quickly type out “last 3 months.
  • m med
    • Media Authorization – the standard unit of billing we send to clients. It’s a pain to type out correctly and quickly. Why not reduce it to four key inputs when you type it numerous times a day?
  • client ma
    • This one I’m particularly proud of this. It took the clipboard, and put it at the end of “Media Authorization – Client Name – {Paste Clipboard Here}.” We were doing an annual rework of all the client’s Media Authroization’s with huge program names I didn’t feel like retyping. Client’s name plus Media Authorization and my copy button on my mouse made quick work of it all.
  • two tac c
    • 🌮🌮 We used tacos in slack to reward each other for a job well done. I could use tac c to give one taco. Or I could be especially generous and award two. Sometimes it’s the dumb automation you’re most proud of.

Anything Else?

I think you should go through everything you type. If you find yourself typing something repeatedly and hate typing it, why not shorten it.

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