This free Windows text tool will change the way you type


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When it works, a text shortcut tool can feel like magic. Create a few shortcuts for your most frequently typed phrases or sentences, and you can enter them instantly with just a few keystrokes. With a bit of practice, text shortcuts—also known as text expansion—can cut down on vast amounts of repetitive typing.

For a while, I used a program called PhaseExpress for text shortcuts. It didn’t always work reliably, and I got tired of its periodic nags to pay for unnecessary extra features. Earlier this year, I started looking for text expander alternatives, which led me to a brilliant app—with an even more brilliant name—called Beeftext.

Beeftext is an open-source Windows program that’s free to use, simple to set up, and has none of the annoyances I experienced with PhaseExpress. Once you’ve installed the app, you set up “combos” that include the text you want to write and a short keyword you use to make that text appear. Beeftext works inside any Windows app, and unlike the predictive text tools built into apps like Gmail, you can make it write anything you want.

Some examples of how I’m using Beeftext now:

  • Contact information. For instance, I type “@@” to write my email address, and “@adr” to enter my home address.
  • Typing “—” in Windows, whose emdash keyboard shortcut otherwise requires a number pad. I use “—_” to enter this.
  • Email templates. My personal favorite: Rejecting PR pitches by typing “!Gopa,” which turns into “Gonna pass on this one. Thanks – Jared”
  • Googling specific sites. For example, I’ve set up “pcw:” to type “ ‘Jared Newman,’” which helps me look up my previous articles here.
  • Retrieving forgettable info, like the hexadecimal code for the color scheme of my newsletter. (Note: Don’t use this for passwords or other sensitive details.)
  • Easy emoji entry: While you can always hit Win + . to bring up Windows’ emoji picker, typing them in Beeftext is faster. I use !thumb to create a thumbs-up 👍🏻 on the fly.

Basically, Beeftext is ideal for any situation where you’re typing the same text over and over. Setting up shortcuts will save you time and help eliminate typos.

How to use Beeftext

Once you’ve installed Beeftext, head to Combos > New and give your first shortcut a nickname. Under Keyword, enter the phrase you’ll use to trigger the shortcut. Under Snippet, enter the text you want it to generate.

beeftextgopa Jared Newman / IDG

Just create a trigger phrase for your shortcut, then enter the text you want it to create.

You’ll also notice a couple of extra options: Changing the Matching option from Strict to Loose will trigger the shortcut even when you type the keyword inside another word. If you want the shortcut to be case-insensitive, you can change it here as well.

After creating some shortcuts, you might consider sorting them into groups so they’re easier to find. For instance, I have one group for personal details, and another one for work-related typing tasks.

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