save time with aText

what’s aText?

according to their website, “aText accelerates your typing by replacing abbreviations with frequently used phrases you define.”

aText is the thing i use to access google drive documents (or other webpages with messy URLs), bypass annoying splash pages (why does IKEA make me verify my country every time?), and type a million words per second.

how much is it?

a whoppin' $5 one-time payment.

how does this make gail more gail-like?

empirically, i get a lot more stuff done in an 8-hour period than my peers do. it’s not really any single tool or tip or habit… it’s all of them together that seem to make me super efficient and productive. aText is one of my favorite tools because it enables me to work faster without any downsides.

okay, cool. i wanna be super efficient and productive, too. how does it work? 

there are two inputs: abbreviation + content. 

let’s say i enter ;pam as my abbreviation and pam rides a motorcycle, loves cheese, plays all the sports, and writes software.

now, whenever i type ;pam in any sort of text field (like an address bar, a text editor, a field in a webpage, an email app — anywhere you can type anything), it’ll magically erase ;pam and replace it with pam rides a motorcycle, loves cheese, plays all the sports, and writes software.

i love that the ui is no-nonsense and speedy, too. there are only three steps:

  1. click New.
  2. enter your abbreviation.
  3. enter your content. you don’t even have to hit any kind of annoying Save button.

okay… but how often do you really type out pam rides a motorcycle, loves cheese, plays all the sports, and writes software?

ALL THE TIME BECAUSE PAM IS THE COOLEST AND I DESCRIBE HER TO ALL MY FRIENDS. fine. never. here’s what i really do:

go/ shortcuts

i love love love shared documents. but i hate hate hate the extra step of navigating to google drive/dropbox/whatever, typing some keywords into the search box, waiting for the results to appear, and THEN opening it up. (talk about impatience.) i have a really good memory, but not good enough to memorize a url like https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ag9FovOeBJaddEhOSGg0RmZVYlB3eJpYffmRxNGNGach

i use a spreadsheet at work to track the serial numbers of our employees’ laptops. i access this spreadsheet whenever we acquire new laptops, one gets stolen, or someone leaves the company and returns their laptop. in other words, i don’t open the spreadsheet every day, so it’s one of those tabs that i actually close when i’m done with it. so instead of searching for “laptop serial numbers” every time, i’ll just type go/serial into the address bar and go directly to my spreadsheet. yay.

in the screenshot above, you’ll see that i use the prefix go/ for most of my shortcuts. this is just a personal preference left over from the days i worked at a company where go/ was a thing. you can use whatever prefix you like — just make sure that you use a unique one. why bother using a prefix at all? say i’m writing an email to pam about this crazy serial killer i dated. if i’d used the abbreviation serial instead of go/serial, i’d end up writing something like, dude my date with jim went really well! turns out he used to be a crazy https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ag9FovOeBJaddEhOSGg0RmZVYlB3eJpYffmRxNGNGach killer back in the day.

phone numbers

my counterpart at work, kate, and i are effectively one brain and two bodies to our colleagues and vendors. one of the consequences is that i type out her phone number. a lot. you’d think i would’ve memorized it by now, but… i haven’t. instead, i just type ;kate and it saves me the trouble of picking up my phone, unlocking it, and searching for her name.

annoying splash pages

whenever i go to a website where it takes a few clicks to get to the page i actually wanna go to (like OneMedical, Vanguard, IKEA, CapitalOne360), i use the website’s main url as the abbreviation (ikea.com) and the yummy webpage as the content (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/).

other example uses

  • go/wiki → url for our internal corporate wiki page
  • go/interviewmap → url for a map of our office that i print out for interviews
  • go/zerocater → url for our weekly lunch/dinner menu
  • ;sig → my email signature (for when i’m writing to people who don’t know me)
  • go/jira → url for my team’s specific ticketing system
  • amazon.com → smile.amazon.com