Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome

How often do you find yourself keying the same information? Do any of these examples sound familiar?

  • The name of your organization
  • Contact information
  • The answer to a frequently-asked question

How would you like to hit just a few keys and have the entire text appear before your eyes? Welcome to the world of the “text expander.” In this post, I will introduce you to Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome. As you read, realize that because this tool is a Chrome extension, it will work in your browser. It works well, for example, in Gmail. It works well in task notes within most task managers. It does not work with Google Docs. It also would not work in any environment outside of the Chrome Browser.

My most frequently-asked question

One of my ongoing projects relates to the progress students make while in preschool special education. Teachers use an instrument to assess the child’s abilities upon entering preschool special education within our state. They do the same when the child exits to kindergarten. For a number of years, teachers entered their data into a website. One of my roles is to assist with troubleshooting. Below is a question I received at least once a week:

Dr. Buck
[Name of student] is not showing up on the ELPP website. Can you help us with what to do?

“ELPP” is an acronym for the name of the instrument. However, that’s not important to this conversation. What is important is while the question may be short, the complete answer was much longer. The problem was always the same. The school had left out an important piece of data in the special education software. When the teacher completed the missing data, the student showed up like magic!

Here is the answer I gave:

Please check to see that the following are true of this student:
1. The student is showing in iNOW with a status of “Enrolled” in your school system.
2. The student is “Active” in SETS.
3. The student has a current IEP date that is in the past.
4. The student has a “Date of Initial IEP Meeting” in the SETS folder.
5. The students has a “Preschool Services Begin Date” in the SETS folder.
6. The student is in grade 97, 98, or 99.
7. The student is between the ages of 3 and 5.

These are the criteria that cause a student to appear on the website. Realize any change you make will take 24 hours before the results would impact the website.

If you see no problems, examine #1 a little closer. You may need the help of your school office or even technology coordinator to look at the student’s enrollment history and make any corrections needed.

If after all of that the student is still not showing up on the website, let me know.


The response gave the teacher everything he/she needed in order to find the missing element. It was a thoughtful response. It was also a lengthy response. Imagine having to answer that question over and over.

Luckily, I don’t need to. When I see the question, I think, “The problem is the student is not showing on the ELPP.” I hit “reply” in my email (I use Gmail) and I enter nselpp (standing for “not showing ELPP”). The full reply you saw above appears.

How did you do that? Auto text expander to the rescue

If you use Google Chrome, there is a wonderful extension known as “Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome.” Let’s get started:

  1. Click here to go to the Chrome Store. In the upper right, click the “Add to Chrome” button.
  2. Notice the icon that now appears with your other extensions. Click on it. Here is where you will be able to create your shortcuts.

Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome

My favorite Auto Text Expander examples

Look at the last one in the diagram. There is my thoughtful response to the ELPP question. You can type the text or copy/paste from somewhere else. Choose what you want the shortcut to be. Make it something you can remember.

Frequent hashtags. I include the hashtag #GetOrganized on many tweets. More often than not, a typo destroys the whole purpose for the hashtag. I created a shortcut…#G which expands to #GetOrganized. I find it works when I am composing in Twitter or HootSuite. It does not seem to work in the Hootsuite Hootlet.

Date stamp and date/time stamp. To understand the value of these two shortcuts, read the post Digital Note Taking: A Different Take. In that post, I talk about using the note section of a task to document communication related to it. Recording the date (and time) of a phone call is always helpful. I find myself using this shortcut all the time. It works well with many task managers. Clicking in the note section of a task and keying ds enters the current date. Keying dts enters the current date and time.

To help you, if you want a date stamp, copy the following: %d(MMMM Do YYYY) and paste it into your Auto Text Expander. If you want a date/time stamp, copy the following: %d(MMMM Do YYYY, h:mm:ss A) and paste it into your Auto Text Expander.

Your email address. How often do you type your own email address? How often do you include a typo in it? That spells disaster, doesn’t it? I created a shortcut. Entering e@ produces my email address.

Common sentences. Do you find yourself closing countless emails with the same statement? For me, “I hope this information helps” is one of them. Create a shortcut that will produce the entire sentence.

Common typos. Some people are great typists. I don’t happen to be one of them. I find certain words where I tend to reverse or omit a letter. One example is “would.” I know how to spell it. But without fail, it comes out “wold.” So, I created a shortcut. Anytime I type “wold,” auto Text Expander changes it to “would.”

Email signatures. You know how to create an email signature in your software of choice. What if you want to use different signatures depending upon the nature of the email? One way to accomplish your mission is through Auto Text Expander.

Start by creating your signature in Gmail. Include any hyperlinks or other html. Paste it into Auto Text Expander. Choose a name for your shortcut. Perhaps you choose sig1, sig2, and sig3 for the shortcuts to each of three email signatures. Now, when you compose an email, just enter the shortcut for the signature you wish to use.

It syncs across all computers

One of the beauties of Chrome is that it syncs across your computers. Once you have installed Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome on one computer, you are done! Install it on your desktop at work. When you boot your laptop (and log into your Google account), you find Auto Text Expander is already there. All of the shortcuts you created are available. Go home and log into your computer. Your shortcuts work there too.

What if you borrow a friend’s computer? Log into your own Google account on his/her machine. Auto Text Expander loads. All your shortcuts are ready for use.

Is this something that would help you? If you already use a text expander, what are some of your favorite shortcuts? Feel free to comment. Also, please share this post on Facebook or Twitter with others who could use it.