Website: TextExpander

Price: $3.33 Month (Billed Annually) $4.16 Month (Billed Monthly)

Free Trial: Yes (30 Days)

TextExpander is a utility that, in my view, is a must have for any Mac user who enters text on a regular basis, so effectively every Mac user.

TextExpander works in the background and watches keystrokes for pre-defined abbreviations and extends these abbreviated keystrokes into longer words, phrases, paragraphs or even entire  letters with fill-ins so a letter template can be quickly customised with a few dropdown choices. 

When TextExpander is initially launched it will walk through creating some basic snippets e.g. a snippet for an email address by asking the user to type in their email address and then a keyboard abbreviation for this (my abbreviations always start with x, so my email abbreviation is ‘xem’) once this walk through is completed the snippets can be used anywhere (text editors, web forms, spreadsheets, etc.). With my email example whenever I need to type my email address I just type ‘xem’ and my complete email address appears. This is just a basic snippet and even this basic use will save a great deal of time but imagine if there is a sentence or paragraph that has to be entered on many occasions over time, just write it once, give it an abbreviation in TextExpander and see it appear with just a few keystrokes. 

As well as saving time TextExpander can help with commonly mistyped words. If a user has a word that they misspell in the same way on a regular basis then they can add the misspelling as the abbreviation and then add the correct spelling as text triggered, therefore, every time the misspelling is entered it will be replace with the correct spelling by TextExpander. 

There are many uses for TextExpander adding email signatures, adding salutations quickly on a letter, quickly filling out forms on a website or adding the date to a file name. Also, as I have already stated advanced features include creating entire forms with customisable drop down fields available from one short abbreviation.

Other great features include, TextExpander suggesting snippets from phrases you habitually type, reminding you of missed opportunities to use your snippets and the ability to search and expand snippets in the menu bar application.

TextExpander is now a subscription service, which enables sync across all of your devices (including Windows) and sharing of snippets.  Also, there are more immediate updates due to the fact they no longer have to be agreed by Apple in the App Store.

For any Mac user TextExpander will speed up text entry to unbelievable levels. TextExpander is a great application and is worth every penny. There is a free trial version available on Smile Software’s website, there will be no looking back once TextExpander is installed. 


Website: Bartender

Price: $15.00

Free Trial: Yes (4 Weeks)

Bartender is a must have menu bar utility for anybody who uses a laptop and finds that screen real-estate is at a premium.  If you use even a few menu bar utilities inevitably, if you have a 13 inch MacBook Pro, like myself the icons for those utilities will disappear behind the menu options for the program you are using rendering the utilities you have invested your hard earned cash into completely inaccessible and useless.

Bartender solves the problem of inaccessible menu bar utilities.  It gives you a second row of icons that is viewed and used by clicking on the bartender icon.  The user chooses which utilities they put in this second row from within the bartender preferences and it can include the macOS default menu bar apps such as the Wi-Fi Utility and The Bluetooth Utility.

I keep my least used utilities in there such as the afore mentioned Bluetooth Utility, Alfred (always accessible via a keyboard shortcut), PopClip and more.  If you have Dropbox or other cloud services enabled but wish to know when they are updating you can still keep them in the bartender row but use a setting in the bartender preferences to have them briefly display in the main menu bar when they update.

As stated above this is a must have app for everyone with limited screen real-estate but it is extremely useful on larger screens.  I also use it on my 27 inch iMac to hide menu bar icons that I only rarely need to access, maybe I’m a little too obsessive with my desktop being tidy and efficient!

Bartender is a great menu bar app and at £11.92 UK or $15.00 US is a valuable addition to anybody’s Mac.