In Windows I used to have a program (or actually a background service) in which I could define shortcuts or abbreviations, which would automatically expand to full sentences or phrases wherever I type them.

For example, when I type: (in any program or context)


It would automatically be replaced with:

Best regards,


And I could define and customize tons of personal 'text shortcuts' like these. It helped me a great deal in typing texts faster and more efficient.

Note that the backtick character was to invoke the replacement (could also be customized to something else, like ~).

Question: Is there a way to pull this off in OS X? (FYI: I'm using OS X El Capitan 10.11.3)

I've heard it ought to be possible with OS X's native keyboard / text settings, by defining autocorrect entries, but could not find a way to get that to work as described above.

Note that I absolutely don't want to enable dictionary-based autocorrection (that drives me crazy, as I often type in multiple languages).

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's built into the system [& can also share with any iOS devices you may have]

System Prefs > Keyboard > Text

There are a few there to start you off - if you don't want them, select & hit the - button beneath.

enter image description here

Adding a new one is as simple as hitting the + button, type your trigger on the left [it wants something nice & alphanumeric as a trigger, no punctuation]
The output can be pretty much anything you can imagine, including multi-line text, however, to get multi-line into it you need to copy/paste it from somewhere else, like TextEdit.

The auto-generation of the shortcut in daily use is inter-dependant on your general spelling auto-correct settings, which will change its behaviour from only replacing on completion of the trigger then hitting Space, or offer to fill as soon as it thinks it has recognised what you are going to input.

I use it for anything from generating my signature, markup in Stack Exchange, to correcting some of my favourite typos that regular autocorrect doesn't seem to pick up.

enter image description here

  • Thanks, I actually tried that, but it doesn't seem to work in most applications (including Firefox and Chrome). I've added a test entry and it's working in TextEdit, but not here in Firefox while I'm typing this comment (also tried Chrome). Same in LibreOffice, Atom, etc. Do I have to do anything else to activate this everywhere throughout OS X? (not just in TextEdit?)
    – RocketNuts
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 12:06
  • 1
    It works in all Apple apps, & all those that actually properly use the Mac Toolbox. A lot of apps that are last-minute ports to Mac seem to forget there's a standard toolbox for this stuff. You'd need something like TypeIt4Me in that case, though I've never tried it. I actually avoid apps that can't be bothered to use the toolbox properly.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 12:11
  • 1
    More specifically, the text autocompletion is a feature of apps that are built using the Mac's native Cocoa libraries. As @Tetsujin notes, cross-platorm apps such as those you mention often do not use these libraries... not so much because they "forgot", but because it makes sense for their developers to share as much code as possible between the Mac, Windows and Linux versions of their applications. Were they to try to use all the native features of each platform, maintaining their code would be more complicated and error-prone.
    – calum_b
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 14:54
  • I see.. Ok, well thanks for the suggestion, but in that case it's not a viable solution for me. I rarely ever use Apple apps at all, 99% of the time I'm working in other (non-Apple) apps like browsers, Atom, UltraEdit, LibreOffice, etc. I can try and ask in software recommendations if there are any 3rd party solutions for this.
    – RocketNuts
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 16:02

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