In which situations would you use a named clipboard as opposed to a sophisticated 'text' expander like Typinator?

thanks in advance for your time and help

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One use case I have is a collection of graphic images that I keep on-hand to paste into documents and emails.

I've never found need to look at Typinator, is there anything it can do that Keyboard Maestro cannot?

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I don't understand your connection between KM "Named Clipboards" and Typinator.
So let's start with KM "Named Clipboards"

  • They offer no advantage for storing and using plain text
  • They are only needed to store images, rich text, and objects
  • Store your permanent plain text in KM Global Variables
  • But in most text-expansion cases, you don't even need Global Variables. Store the resultant text in a Local Variable. The Macro is the container that stores your text.

Now, KM vs Typinator:
First, I have to say that I have, and frequently use, both of these great apps.
Most of my text-expansions are in Typinator, but I do have a few in KM.

  • Typinator

    • is a high-end, industrial-strength text expansion tool that can easily handle thousands of snippets
    • It is very easy to add a new snippet (abbreviation) to Typinator
    • It has a great search auto-completion feature to help you choose an abbreviation to expand.
    • There are many 3rd party Typinator sets available that you can subscribe to or import into your local storage.
  • KM

    • By comparison, is a good, but light-weight text expander
    • It may well be fine for many users, many use cases
    • It is not designed to handle thousands of snippets (which means Macros in KM)
    • However, there are some use cases where KM might be preferred:
      • Use of images
      • Complex logic
      • Some others I can't remember right now.

So, my recommendation is that if you have light-to-moderate text expansion needs, use KM, or at least start with KM. If you have extensive needs, or thousands of snippets to import from somewhere, then use Typinator.

Best of all worlds: Use both.


thank you for your reply.

The whole point is that typinator uses snippets. It can handle anything : plain text, formatted text, apple scripts etc

For example, I could create a snippet called devoy$$ which when typed would automatically open this forum and look for your posts.

that being said, i could use the same snippet as a KBM trigger.

Thank you for your detailed reply. Very interesting as usual.

After reading your post and thinking about it, I have come to more clarity.

KBM would be more for images and objects (KBM actions for example)

Typinator for all kinds of texts, plain and formatted. One of the big advantages being the incredibly powerful search capabilities.

AppleScript : I think that KBM is much better. Typinator uses (as far as I understand) some kind of AppleScript variant which is not straightforward.

thanks again for your reply

I don't think that is correct. The macOS provides only one version of AppleScript, and all apps and services that use AppleScript use the same AppleScript. What can vary is the method by which AppleScript is invoked.

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One additional approach to text expansion worth keeping in mind is what's built in to the Mac in System Preferences > Keyboard > Text. It lacks nearly all the power and flexibility of Keyboard Maestro or apps like Typinator, but it does offer syncing to other Macs and to iOS devices. For example, I don't ever want to type my email address or phone number on my phone—that keyboard is annoying for that kind of typing—so I use the Mac/iOS text replacement method for my shortcuts so the capability is on my iPhone.

In my case, I do use all three approaches (well, TextExpander instead of Typinator, but that's inconsequential). It definitely adds some organizational messiness, but I get the strengths of each technique applied to my preferences.

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I'm sure that you are right.

The grounds for my comment was a prior email exchange with the Typinator developer. Sorry I cannot trace back the script I was referring to.

I have a script which works perfectly when I run it in both script editor and keyboard maestro but not with Typinator.

Typinator scripts work in a different way. They are supposed to return a string that should get inserted as the result of an expansion. Scripts should not mess with the clipboard, activate other applications or "remote-control" other applications.
Please rewrite the script such that it produces a string that you want to get inserted at the location where you typed the corresponding abbreviation.
For more information about how to write scripts for Typinator, visit our "Extras" page:
Download the package "Creating Typinator Scripts" and read the documentation.

thank you for your comment.

I used to do exactly that, and abandoned because I felt I was losing control over snippets. I would get sudden expansions and could not remember where I created the expansion in the 1st place. That being said, if one is well organized, which I am sure you are, it is an excellent solution.

I had not thought about syncing with iOS which is useful. I should mention that although I use iOS, I am turned off at the present. I spent quite a lot of time creating Shortcuts (as in the Siri-Shortcuts app, not expansions) and feel that it was a waste of time because the options are so limited. I also tried to take interest in iPad OS, and no feel that it's (for me) a total waste of time and a far cry from a Mac.

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Another circumstance where I prefer Keyboard Maestro compared to other text-expansion options is application-specific situations. For example, I have to regularly proofread text extracted from scans which had optical character recognition (OCR) used. I do this work in TextEdit, and many corrections I make are common enough to be worth using text-expansion tools. But I don't need these available elsewhere, and Keyboard Maestro is great for a situation like that since it offers application-specific groups.

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a good point, thank you
do you store the expansions in variables or named clipboards ?
I have to read large numbers of long technical PDFs. If you are in the same situation, do you use annotations summaries ? with which app ?

I never thought of storing text expansions in variables until it was mentioned upthread. That's an approach I'll look into someday. For now, my TextEdit expansions are either

  1. Typed String (then delete key simulations to remove the typed string) followed by text being pasted, or
  2. I invoke a palette and select the insertion I want (which is pasted).

I know that second one might seem absurd, but it's because of the OCR-related work. There are text insertions I regularly have to do, but they're done to replace text that isn't consistent in presentation. So I'm selecting a variable amount of text that needs to change, then using the palette options to replace the selection. Across all applications, I have F2 set for app-specific KM actions, so it's nearly instinctive for me to hit that key.

As for PDF annotations and summaries, that's not something I do often. For annotations, I've just defaulted to Preview just because I have it and I've never taken the time to determine if there's a better approach for me on the Mac. And while I understand your feelings about iOS, you may want to look at LiquidText. If you have an iPad I can see how it might be helpful if you're doing a lot of annotating and summarizing.

LiquidText homepage, and I would suggest hitting the links for Deeper Dive and for Videos if you're still intrigued after looking over the homepage.

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Never mind me doing that research after reading this post in another thread

which informs me that Variables don't sync. I work with multiple Macs so I'll just stick to a system I know achieves what I want and syncs.

thanks very much for the suggestion about Liquid Text which I bought and am looking into.