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Triggers for expansions

We sometimes are asked why Typinator does not use explicitly defined keys or characters for triggering expansions. In our opinion, this would be a bit counterproductive, as it means an extra keystroke, which is not quite in the sense of a tool that is supposed to save keystrokes.

We therefore designed Typinator to work without such "triggers" from the very beginning.

An important advantage of this approach is that it simplifies usage. You don't need to think about which special characters make sense as "triggers" or "delimiters". And since you don't need to define a list of special characters, you cannot get it wrong.

Explicit trigger keys would not work at all for certain purposes. For example, many people use Typinator's auto-correction sets to fix misspelled words as they type. One of the rules in the English auto-correction set automatically replaces the common misspelling "teh" with "the". With triggers, you would need to recognize that you just typed "teh" and then you would need to type a specific trigger character to fix it.

To avoid the risk of inadvertent expansion, we suggest using the "Expand at word break" option instead. It is much more elegant than explicit triggers, and it helps to save keystrokes. For example, assume you have an abbreviation "ty" that expands as "Typinator". Of course, this replacement should not take place when you type words like "typical". The "Expand at word break" option avoids such unwanted expansions when regular words happen to begin with an abbreviation. Instead, the expansion takes place only when you type "ty" as if it were a regular word and the next character is neither a letter nor a digit. Note that the terminator character can be any special character, and Typinator keeps this character, so the terminator is not an extra keystroke (which would require extra time) but rather a natural part of your text. For example, you could write "This is typical in ty, so you can...", and Typinator would turn that into "This is typical in Typinator, so you can...". All you need to do now is develop the habit of typing the word "ty" wherever you want to write "Typinator", and Typinator will do the rest. Note that the "Expand at word break" option also handles cases where you enter an abbreviation in a text field and then use the return or tab keys to confirm input or navigate to another field. For example, you could enter "ty" in Mail's Subject field and then press the tab key to jump to the message body. Typinator will expand "ty" before the navigation to the next field takes place; you don't need to type any trigger characters first before jumping to the next field with the tab key.

For more information about the "Expand at word break" setting, please see Typinator's User's Guide (select Help>User's Guide from the Typinator menu to access the document), section "Expand at word break" on page 6.

When you have a set that will typically contain whole words, you can define this as a default setting for the set: Click the blue "i" button below the set list and enable the "Expand at word break" drop down in the "Default Options" section. Newly created items will then automatically be created with the "Expand at word break" option selected.

If you still explicitly wish to expand certain abbreviations only with a special character (such as space or period), you can add that character to the abbreviation (e.g., use "wr." instead of "wr"). You can even add such extra characters generally to all abbreviations in a set by defining them as a "suffix" for the set. To do so, select the set and click the blue "i" button below the set list. Using this suffix option has the advantage that you can easily change the terminator character globally for all items in the set. In contrast to the "Expand at word break" option, this technique requires an extra keystroke, since the special character is now part of the abbreviation. When the abbreviation "wr." occurs at the end of a sentence, you will therefore need to type two periods: one for completing the abbreviation, and one for terminating the sentence.