Save Time Writing With Text Substitution App Texter

Texter is a free text substitution app to save you countless keystrokes when typing. It automatically replaces hotstrings (abbreviations that you define) with commonly used words, phrases, paragraphs or scripts of your choice.

Unlike program-specific text replacement features (like those in Microsoft Word), Texter runs in the Windows system tray and works in any application you’re typing in.

Examples include comments boxes/forms on websites, letters, emails and documents – almost any application where you need to type.

How Does Texter Work?

As an example, say you have an awkward long email address like [email protected] which you often need to type out.

Using Texter you could assign a hotstring e.g. em1 to that email address – in future, anytime you type em1, Texter will immediately replace that with your full email address.

The concept works equally well for addresses, signatures, salutations or long paragraphs of text etc.

Texter works on Windows only – XP, Vista and W7 are supported. It is a tiny download and, once installed, only takes up about 10MB of RAM – so on most systems it would be fine to leave it running permanently.

Download the installer from Lifehacker here or the portable version from Portable Apps here (run the paf.exe file to extract the program into a folder of your choice) – my tests are with the Portable version.

Run the Texter program – the Texter icon will launch in the system tray (bottom right of screen). To create a new hotstring do one of the following:

  • Press CTRL+Shift+h to open the Add New Hotstring window as shown below:

texter 1

  • OR Double click the Texter icon to open the Texter Management window (shown below) then press the + button to launch the Add New Hotstring window as above

texter 2

Type in a hotstring (abbreviation) – choose something you are unlikely to ever use by mistake (e.g. em1, not just email) or else Texter will replace text when you don’t want it to! Adding a number on the end is a good idea – add1 for address, sig1 for signature etc.

Now type in your replacement text – you can use separate lines for long addresses etc.

Finally, choose the trigger – what action is required for Texter to replace the hotstring as/after you type it.

The 4 trigger options are Enter, Tab, Space and Instant. E.g. in the original example, if you chose Space then Texter will replace em1 with your full email address as soon as you press the space bar after typing em1.

Press OK when done – you can now test that the text substitution works as expected.

Examples of Basic Use

Modifying Hotstrings

To change or delete existing hotstrings, press CTRL+Shift+m or double click the Texter icon to open the Texter Management window.

Here you can use the – button to delete an entry, the + button to add a new one, or edit the text/trigger of an existing hotstring.

Changing Preferences

Open the Texter Management window and select Tools \ Preferences.

Under the General tab you can choose to run Texter at startup – recommended so it is always ready to act on your hotstrings. You can also disable the sounds and change the hotkeys.

Tip: if you type in non-English languages or find your spellings being wrongly corrected, make sure you disable the Universal Spelling AutoCorrect!

Under the Print tab you can print a cheat sheet of all your hotstrings and replacements.

Under the Stats tab you can see a summary of the number of characters and hours that Texter has saved you.

Advanced Use

Texter has several integrated variables to include the current date or time in your text substitution:

  • %ds = Short date, returns the date in the following format: 7/10/2012.
  • %dl = Long date, returns the date in the following format: Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
  • %t = Time, returns the time in the following format: 1:30 PM.

These are a useful way to add today’s date or time to your text substitution e.g. add one below your home address text for use in writing letters.

Texter also lets you perform more advanced scripting commands using keyboard shortcuts by selecting Script (instead of Text) from the drop-down box.

Select Help \ Advanced use from the Texter Management window menu to go to the Lifehacker website for further details – there are powerful options but they require a bit more work to master.


Texter is one of those apps that you may never have thought you needed – but it quickly becomes essential once you have tried it.

It’s free, small and lightweight – on modern computers it shouldn’t be a problem to leave Texter running in the background, waiting for your input.

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