Back to Learning CenterUsingIntroduction to textexpander for iphone ipadAdvanced textexpander features on ipad and iphone

Advanced TextExpander Features on iPad and iPhone

Snippet formats

The snippet editor and the notes screen both support:

  • Plain Text
  • Rich text (formatted text, but not pictures)
  • JavaScript (AppleScript and shell script will simply appear as “(script)”)

Edit the Content-type by tapping on the menu. Format some text by selecting it and using the editing bar tools, see Formatting Text.


An example of a snippet that uses macros is the current date “ddate” snippet found in the Sample Snippet Group which comes with TextExpander. For a visual guide to macros check out our videos.

Use the buttons in the editing bar at the top of the snippet editor to add macros to our snippet.

Choose from several options:

  • Date, Time and Date/Time math:

    Tap on each segment of the time or date you would like to add to your snippet. You will see it’s macro representation, some form of %+letter pairing, appear in your snippet. Include any punctuation you prefer.

    For example for the current time, tap on Hours, then type a colon, then tap on Minutes.

    For greater detail see Date, Time, and Math Macros.

  • Fill-in fields:

    Create customizable boilerplate text with “fill-in-the-blank” fields that you fill in when you expand the snippet. For example, in a standard email response, use a fill-in instead of “Dear Sir”. When you expand a snippet with fill-ins, it will appear in a separate window to allow you to type in each field. Tap on a field to navigate to it, or tap Next in the keyboard’s extra row. To finish the expansion, tap Done.

    There are four types of fields:

    • Single-line: Type in words and phrases. When added to a snippet it appears as:

      %filltext:name=field 1%

      A menu will appear to let you edit the fill in. “Field #” is the field’s name, use it to differentiate it from any other fields you may add. For example, name it “fname” if you intend to use this field for inputing first names. Otherwise, each field is numbered to differentiate them. If several fields have the same name, they will be treated as the same field. Fill in one, and they will all fill in with the same data.

    • Multi-line: A larger space will appear as you expand the snippet with room to type full sentences.
    • Popup: Create a selection of standard options, like “today”, “tomorrow”, “in two days”. When added to a snippet it appears as:

      %fillpopup:name=popup 1:option 1:default=option 2:option 3:%

    • Optional section: Create a section of text which can be included or excluded from the expanded snippet. When expanding this snippet, there will be a checkbox next to this section to include or exclude it from the expanded text.

      For a more in depth explanation see Creating and Using Fill-in Fields.

  • Nested snippets: %snippet:XXX%

    Tap “Insert Snippet” in the keyboard editing bar button.

    The content of another snippet, abbreviation XXX in the example, will appear in place of this macro. For example you might use your telephone number snippet as part of your email signature snippet. ttel= 555–1234 em1=
    Acme, Inc.

  • Position cursor marker: %| (% Shift+\)

Place this macro in your snippet wherever you want the cursor to appear after expansion.

  • Selection Range: %\

    Indicates the end point of text to be selected upon snippet expansion. Must be used with %| first and %\ last. For example, only select %|this%\ text.

  • Clipboard: %clipboard

    Text currently copied to the clipboard will appear in place of this macro upon snippet expansion.

  • Tab:

    Insert a Tab character into your text, instead of using four spaces.

Macros not fully supported:

TextExpander for Mac supports several other macros which TextExpander for iPhone and iPad for iOS does not.

  • Key Tab: %key:tab%

    On a Mac this would cause a snippet to tab between fields. In iOS it expands as a Tab space.

  • Key Return, Enter: %key:return% %key:enter%

    Expand as carriage returns.

  • Key Escape: %key:esc%

    Ignored upon expansion.

  • Cursor routing: %< %> %^ %v

    Ignored upon expansion.

  • Shell Script / AppleScript

    Expands as plain text.

Mac-version Settings

If you use TextExpander for Mac you will notice some familiar Mac-version features are supported. Not all Mac-version TextExpander features work in iOS.

The Expand after: Snippet Group setting, only accessible in the Mac version, will affect the snippets on a mobile device.

TextExpander Keyboard

Set up the custom keyboard to expand snippets in any app. There are a few limitations on the types of snippets that can expand using the keyboard.

Bluetooth Keyboards

Several keyboard shortcuts are supported when used with an external hardware keyboard, like a Bluetooth keyboard, including the following.

This applies when using TextExpander in the TextExpander app, or any app with built-in TextExpander support. This will not work when using the TextExpander custom keyboard. Third-party keyboards do not have access to use Bluetooth hardware keyboards.

  • ⌘Return : When expanding a fill-in snippet, this will complete the expansion the same as tapping Done.
  • ⌘N : create a new snippet, Snippet Group, or note.
  • ⌘T : switch between the Notes and Snippet Groups screens.
  • ⌘+, ⌘- : Will increase or decrease the size of selected text.
  • Arrow up, Arrow Down : Navigate through a list of snippets or notes.
  • Escape : When expanding a fill-in snippet, this will cancel the expansion.

JavaScript Snippets

JavaScript snippets are supported in TextExpander for Mac and TextExpander for iPhone and iPad. These script snippets can function in both OS X and iOS. The JavaScript for Automation variant of JavaScript can only function in OS X. Switch the Content menu at the top of the snippet editor to JavaScript to begin a JavaScript snippet.