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TextExpander 6 review: A snippets subscription service that’s priced too high

Glenn Fleishman | April 11, 2016
TextExpander moves from paid apps to a subscription ecosystem with identical apps and an immature Web interface.

This may seem like overkill and it adds a support burden to Smile (a lost passphrase means snippets would be unavailable unless backed up locally), but with their subscription cost, this seems like a reasonable baseline for which to ask. There are many approaches, and Smile chose none of them.

One more issue, highlighted after this review was originally published. The terms of service for TextExpander states explicitly, “The Service is not intended for use by users employed by any federal, state or local government.” This is likely intended to reduce liability, but it strikes another sour security note.

A choice to upgrade for existing users

Those who own recent copies of TextExpander may be faced with a quandary. To ease the transition, Smile is offering registered users 50 percent off for their first 12 months of TextExpander service. For an individual user, that’s $24 if paying for the full year.

However, many users may not be interested in the sharing feature; I can’t find a reason for it in my workflow. It’s my fundamental question as I review this revision: How many current users have been dying to share automatically updated snippets? The new system may be highly attractive to new subscribers, especially in business, but if you have no desire to move to this mode, you don’t have to.

The previous releases continue to work in iOS and OS X. Smile has also committed to any necessary software upgrades to keep version 5 for Mac working for the next OS X release following El Capitan, but won’t be adding new features. They haven’t made any commitment to future iOS support, however.

If you want to try out the new version, you can’t have both TextExpander 5 and 6 running at the same time, although you can have both installed and named distinctly, and run one or the other. Installing the new version 4 in iOS doesn’t remove the previous version 3 release, and as alternative keyboards, you can switch among them.

Smile says TextExpander 6 won’t create backward-incompatible snippets, so you can make new snippets in the new version and then export and use them with the older one if you don’t choose to continue with a subscription.

You don’t have to make a decision right away—or even until Smile decides to stop supporting the software. I believe most current users will probably stick with the previous versions.

A low value in the current price

As a dedicated user of TextExpander for many years, I continue to find a high degree of utility in it, even more so as it’s matured. However, it’s impossible for me to wholeheartedly recommend TextExpander’s new approach to either existing or new users.


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