Writing your blog should be a fun way to stretch your mind and stay connected to trends, friends, and the greater world, not another computer task that takes far too long to get done. But that's exactly what it can feel like if it takes you more time to find your post ideas, tweak your markup, and make everything look right than to actually get your thoughts down. Being somewhat experienced at this blogging thing, your Lifehacker editors have pinpointed a few tools and tricks that make our posts go faster and smoother. After the jump, we round up 10 of them.
Tagged With text substitution
All platforms with Firefox: If you're constantly typing "Thanks for writing" at the end of all your web email messages, the Paste Email Firefox extension can insert it—and any other repetitive text phrases—with the click of the context menu. Based on the same concept as our home-built Texter and Mac-only TextExpander, Paste Email saves you repetitive typing by offering a selection of pre-entered phrases (like your email address, a link to your web site FAQ, a signature). Unlike global text replacement applications, Paste Email is browser-specific; it also only does single lines instead of text boxes.
Windows Vista only: Microsoft has released a free "Technical Preview" of new macro features for Vista's Speech Recognition features, offering the kind of text substitution and macro-keystroke-firing provided by Texter and similar apps to voice commands. The interface is extremely simple, as explained by Lifehacker reader Abdul—simply choose the type of macro you want to enable, give it the text or commands to fire, and turn on Vista's speech recognition. It worked pretty well with my cheap USB headset on a test run, and the software is pretty refined for a "preview." Windows Speech Recognition Macros is a free download for Windows Vista systems; downloading requires running a Windows Genuine validation tool.
The first message one could consider email was sent more than 30 years ago, and that's probably when people began associating angst and uncertainty with the words "Inbox" and "unread messages." The tools available to read and send emails have advanced considerably since then, but what you actually do with all that chatter, without eating up entire days of work time, is up to you. Luckily, we've covered a wealth of filtering and processing methods and software tweaks that make email less stressful and time-consuming over the years, and a list of our top 10 productive email boosters is after the jump.
Need to make all-caps text a little less shout-y? Don't feel like going through a ream of lines and fixing all the capitalisation? TextOpus, a free text-filtering web app, is a great place to start. Paste in problematic text and choose from a wealth of options, from line adders to a decent, simple "Clean Text" option to a very handy "Strip tags" that takes the HTML and forum code out of a blurb. For those who know what to do with them, there's also options to hash, hexadecimal, and encrypt text. Next time you're staring at a wealth of un-printable babble, try TextOpus before diving in with your mouse and backspace key.
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.
Windows only: Previously mentioned freeware text replacement application PhraseExpress has updated with a couple of really impressive features, namely automatic text prediction and the handy clipboard cache, both of which you can see demonstrated in the video above. Like Lifehacker's own text replacement app, Texter, PhraseExpress saves you time by expanding text snippets to larger pieces of repetitive text. It doesn't have all of the features you'll get using Texter, but the text prediction in particular is very impressive, so you'll have to look them over and decide which works best for you. PhraseExpress is freeware for non-commercial use, Windows only.
TextMate is a super-powered word processor beloved by coders and productivity geeks like Merlin Mann and Matt Haughey and available in a Windows port, but where does that leave Linux users? If they haven't already fallen under the sway of Vi or Emacs, they can download a few files and plug-ins to give GNOME's default text editor, gedit, many of the features—including word completion, quick file browsing, and highlighting switches—that Mac users have enjoyed for so long. Some of the plug-ins touted by the handy guide below are installed by default in gedit and just require an enabling click, while others require a bit of unpacking and placement. For writers and coders just getting started, it could make gedit a great learning tool with a gentler learning curve.
Windows only: Our very own text replacement and-then-some software Texter has updated to version 0.6, adding new features like instant replacements, universal spelling autocorrect, hotstring renaming, scripting shortcuts, improved bundle management, bug fixes and—of course—tons of under the hood improvements. Hit the jump for a more detailed look at what the latest Texter has to offer.
Mac OS X only: The latest version 2.0 of typing utility TextExpander adds some useful new features and on what was already a solid time-saving foundation. We rarely feature software that isn't free here at Lifehacker, but like Quicksilver, TextExpander has become one of my must-have Mac apps (just like our own homegrown Texter on Windows.) The latest version 2.0.3 of TextExpander adds Leopard support, .Mac synchronisation, AppleScript access, and a few other handy doodads that deserve screenshots of their own. Step into my office to check out some more advanced uses of TextExpander 2.0.