Automate Repetitive Typing with Snippits

Automate Repetitive Typing with Snippits

If you’re a regular Lifehacker reader and Linux user, you probably have a hole in your productive little heart where a great text substitution app should be. Our own Texter makes repetitive phrases a snap to call up in Windows, TextExpander gives Mac users loads of quick-text options, and you’ve read all about how you can save time with text substitution (or hit the play button above to see it in action). Say goodbye to unrequited speedy-text love with Snippits, a free, open source utility that can insert text, activate program shortcuts, correct spelling, and even run bits of code, all at the touch of one button. Here’s a quick start guide to installing and customising Snippits to start saving time and keystrokes in Linux.

I’ll be using Ubuntu 7.10 to walk through installation and setup. Snippits, however, can work from any system that supports the Ruby programming platform, and finding equivalents to the packages listed below shouldn’t be too difficult in most Linux distros. I’ll also note here that Snippits is still in development, under the steady hand of Ben Kudria, and might produce the occasional bug or oddity. Overall, though, I’ve found it to be a pretty helpful tool in a working Linux desktop.


We’re going to hit the command line pretty hard here, but it’s almost entirely a cut-and-paste affair, so no need to get scared off. The first thing we’ll need to do is install Snippits’ prerequisite packages. Open a terminal and enter the following:

sudo apt-get install ruby ruby1.8-dev rdoc rubygems libruby-extras xautomation xsel aspell libaspell-dev aspell-en