Increase Your Work Productivity with Espanso Text Expander

Posted August 29th, 2022 in Productivity.

If you’re a blogger, writer, coder, or someone who has to respond to a huge pile of emails everyday a text expander is an indispensable program for you. It is essentially a productivity-enhancing tool that helps in replacing or expanding manually typed text with its longer equivalent, thus allowing you to type faster.

Espanso

You can easily find a bunch of text expansion tools online; however, Espanso seems to be the most promising one out of the lot. It is a free tool that offers plenty of customizations that you can put to good use. In this post, we’ll take you through the features and working of Espanso and explore how it can be useful in your everyday workflow.

What is Espanso?

Espanso is an open-source text expander software that is written in a language called Rust programming and comes with cross-platform support. It is a free text expansion tool for Windows, macOS, and Linux that analyzes the text as you type against a record that’s already present in the configuration file and replaces your text with its longer equivalent.

Espanso doesn’t offer a GUI to control or customize your actions. You don’t have any other choice but to resort to the terminal or switch to YML files for any configuration change. Thanks to its default settings, the tool is still pretty easy to use.

Espanso allows you to use shortcodes to quickly type a piece of text. For instance, it offers a basic code to type the date. When you write “date”, Espanso will quickly replaces the word with the actual date, e.g., “08/03/2022”. By default, the date format provided by the tool is MM/DD/YY, but you can easily switch it as per your requirement. Similarly, you can have any custom codes or keywords to type “hello”, “thank you”, etc.

Espanso example

Before you start using Espanso, here are a couple of terms you must be aware of:

Trigger

It is a basic code or a keyword (letter/word) that Espanso tries to find a match for in the configured file and replace with its longer equivalent, i.e., the replacement text whenever there’s a match.

Replacement text

It is the longer text that replaces its trigger as you manually type it.

Match

It is a key-value pair that associates a trigger with its replacement text. Most of the time, it is set using a particular rule, which you can either create or download via available packages.

Espanso offers two kinds of matches: static and dynamic. A static match is constant and ideal for situations that don’t require active values. A dynamic match changes and molds depending upon the context and is best suited for dynamic text expansions, i.e., where the replacement texts are variable.

How to use Espanso?

Because there is no GUI, some users might find it hard to figure out how Espanso works. But you should be able to easily get around it with these pointers:

Launching and setting it up

Once you’ve successfully installed Espanso, you need to launch it to set it up. To do that, just type the following in the terminal:

espanso start

The terminal will then ask you to add Espanso to launch on system startup. You can click on proceed if you want it that way. If you press no, you’ll manually have to start Espanso every time you log in to your computer. But you can always register the service to the system by typing.

To register Espanso, you’ll need to use the command:

espanso register

To verify if Espanso is running, you can type:

espanso status

Sometimes the keywords or shortcodes Espanso offers might conflict with your regular usage. So, if in case you need to stop it, just hit the terminal and type:

espanso stop

You can easily explore more commands and options for Espanso by typing espanso-h in the terminal to get more details.

What are the features offered by Espanso?

Here’s what Espanso offers you to make sure your workflow turns out to be more productive:

  • It allows the support of text expansions when using the shell in order to make things faster.
  • Allows you to execute custom slips with the help of Espanso’s basic codes and keywords.
  • Supports adding emoticons (requires additional installation).
  • System-wide integration.
  • Specified application configuration option.
  • Cross-platform support.

These are some basic functions offered by Espanso but, you can get a lot more things done once you start exploring the tool.

Evaluating Espanso

Just like every coin has two sides, every software comes with its own pros and cons. Some of the pros and cons of Espanso include:

Pros

  • Espanso offers a chrome extension that works on Linux, Windows, and macOS.
  • All the templates can be customized with additional installations.
  • It is free of cost and open-source.
  • Keyboard shortcuts help in automating the writing process which saves a lot of time.
  • Offers many advanced features for complex text expansion.

Cons

  • Customizing the software as per your needs or modifying it entirely to fulfill specific requirements. This extra step will likely require extra time and effort.
  • Maintenance costs may occur from time to time.
  • Importing data from one system to another can be a task while you replace your existing systems.
  • To work with Espanso comfortably you might need to undergo a training program that’ll help you get familiar with all the important features.
  • Boost work productivity with Espanso espanso.org/ – a text expander by @terzi_federico via @supermonitoring

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Final thoughts

Although a text expander may not seem very relevant to you at first, one thing you can be assured of is that it’s an extremely valuable tool that will help you type faster and be more productive while managing your everyday workflow.
We hope this guide was helpful and gave you a quick primer to get started with Espanso.

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