Customers of past versions of TextExpander get a 50% lifetime discount to the new service, paying $20 per year, which isn’t bad.
But what about new customers? The new pricing is a lot to pay for a text expansion app, for which there are many alternatives on the Mac. And I’m skeptical of the existence of the corporate market for the product that Smile Software anticipates.
As for me, I’m in the process of migrating my TextExpander clippings to the built-in Apple keyboard shortcuts and the Copied clipboard manager app. I’m not doing it to save money or as a protest against Smile Software – I’m doing it because I think it’ll be a better solution. But the price change doesn’t make me want to stay with TextExpander.
The major mistake in the announcement of the new model was a failure to explain the benefits of it, or to provide any major new features along with it that would be relevant to individual users. The touted benefit of the subscription model was group sharing, which is really an enterprise feature, and it felt like individual users were being forced to pay for something they didn’t require.
TextExpander users have been quite satisfied with the current Dropbox/cloud sync for their snippets. What Smile left out of the marketing was that the current system had hit some limitations, and the move to a hosted service opened a new world of possibilities for feature development. Easy sharing and updating of snippets between users (without having to have a hosted URL) is only the first benefit; it also makes possible improved compatibility between platforms (Windows version in beta), things like Zapier and IFTTT integration and automation, and a host of new features they’re excited about (but can’t share yet).
The new model also ends the repetitive upgrade system. Once users are on the subscription plan, updates will come seamlessly, frequently, and without extra charge or major version bumps. Most of us have been upgrading regularly at a cost that comes out to about the same as a year-long subscription.
The three-year cost of running TextExpander on the Mac has gone from $20 to $142.56. That puts TextExpander in the price range of Microsoft Office, Adobe Lightroom, and TurboTax.
As for me: Smile says it will continue to support the current version of TextExpander through the current and next versions of OS X. I’ll stay with it until I get a compelling reason to upgrade or switch.
Ironically timed, just this morning I saw a write-up of an intriguing alternative for large numbers of complex text snippets.
TextExpander is a keyboard-shortcut app for the Mac. You configure TextExpander to output a long block of text when you type a short text string. For example, people enter their email signatures in TextExpander and type out the whole long thing by just typing “ssig” or some other short string. I use TextEpander to store a lot of full names of the companies I cover, their Twitter handles for when I tweet out headlines about them, “dts” to type out the current date and time, “mmob” for my mobile phone number, and so on.
Now, TextExpander is going from a paid app to a subscription model.
$60/year seems like a lot of money. The new features outlined in this article don’t interest me all that much – I don’t have a team to share snippets with.
On the other hand, TextExpander is one of my most-used apps, and I do believe in throwing financial support to indy apps I use heavily.
I’ll stay with the current versions on Mac and iOS until some compelling alternative comes along, which could mean upgrading to the new service and could mean switching to a competitor.
Julie and a couple of my Apple-using friends like to give me grief for switching apps so frequently. And that’s true for some apps – text editors, to-do apps, and I haven’t even talked here about my quest for the perfect clipboard manager. But I’ve stuck with TextExpander since a few months after I switched from Windows to Mac in 2007,
For extreme Mac productivity nerds: Brett Terpstra describes nesting TextExpander snippets. For example, if you’re a software developer with a product priced at $X, create a separate snippet with the price and include that snippet in other snippets. Then when you change the price it automatically changes throughout all your boilerplate. Neat.