Typinator Part 3 - Sets and the Sets Folder

What are Sets?

Sets can be viewed as groupings of abbreviations. You can relate them to how folders work within Finder.

You could create sets for many different reasons. For example, you could:

  • Have groups of categories for signatures and email templates
  • Create a group of HTML expansion snippets
  • Group your most frequent spelling mistakes ready for auto-correction

The possibilities for sets that you wish to have are limited only by your circumstances and workflow.

Other things that you can do with sets, as well as group together abbreviations, are:

  • Import and Export sets for use on another Mac or by someone else.
  • Specify which applications can use certain groups of abbreviations if you wish to lock them down.
  • Temporarily disable groups of abbreviations without pausing the whole Typinator engine.

Types of sets

Typinator distinguishes between two types of sets which appear under separate headings in the set list:

  • Abbreviation sets - these contain simple rules that translate short sequences of characters into a longer text fragment or pictures.
  • Regular repression sets - these are more complicated and contain rules that use a pattern description language to define which text input should trigger expansions. Regular expressions are a powerful but more complex concept. They are described in detail in a later blog post.

So where are these sets located? They are stored on your hard drive and you can determine this setting yourself by clicking on

Preferences -> Expansion 

and modifying the Sets folder property.

By default, the Sets folder is

 ̴/Library/Application Support/Typinator/Sets 

You can of course change this to your Documents folder or something similar, particularly if you have a backup/synchronisation schedule set up for it.

Typinator will, however, restrict the folder that you can select to empty folders as well as folders that have already been used for Typinator sets before. This is put in place by the developers in order to avoid potential data loss in folders that already contain other documents.

Why should you take care about exactly where you place your Typinator Sets folder?

  • If you sometimes need different sets for a certain project, you can create a second sets folder and switch back and forth between sets by selecting the desired sets folder in the Preferences window.
  • You can put your sets folder inside your Dropbox folder to synchronise it among multiple Macs.

Let’s start with Abbreviation Sets. Abbreviation sets are simpler to define and create than Regular Expression sets. By default, Typinator comes with two abbreviation sets ready to use in the Set window and these are:

  • Default Set
  • AutoCorrection

The Default Set includes a handful of abbreviations to help show you the syntax for creating picture expansions, web link expansions and plain text expansions.

The AutoCorrection Set is incredibly useful and contains over 800 common spelling and grammatical correction snippets.

If you look in the above image, you can see that there is a spelling correction for ‘about’ (1) as well as a general typing correction for when you forget to put a space between ‘about’ and ‘a’ (2). If you make as many typing errors as I do when trying to knock out as much as work as possible, you will find yourself using these snippets a lot and adding your own fairly regularly!

There are several Regular Expression sets installed by default within Typinator as well. Regular expressions are a study topic within themselves and beyond the scope of this wak through. Suffice to say that where an abbreviation replacement is kicked off by merely typing in a small selection of keystrokes, a regular expression replacement is activated when a certain pattern of text has been detected. For example, below you will see the regular expression for detecting when a word has DOuble CAps within. Regular Expressions are not for the faint hearted and I say this as someone who has just started studying them! Thankfully, there are lots of these sets preinstalled and a vibrant RegEx community out there for you to interact with if you want to start creating your own.

It does have to be said that Regular Expressions are an extremely powerful way to create replacements and there will be a blog post dedicated to these in the coming weeks.

To close, let us quickly examine the four buttons below the Sets window.

Add Set - the plus icon allows you Add either an Abbreviation Set, Regular Expression Set or a Predefined Set
Delete Set - guess what the minus icon does?! Yes, you can delete a set you currently have.
Set Info - this icon diplays some key information for the set you have highlighted as well as some configurable options.

You can do the following:

  • Change the name of the set
  • Decide whether or not you would like to have a prefix or a suffix for the abbreviations you type in the set. For example, if you enter a prefix of xx here then all entries contained within the set will now only be expanded or corrected if the characters xxare typed in before the abbreviation. wbr for With Best Regards would now bexxwbr.
  • You can set whether the statistics for the text replacements in the site will count asexpansions or corrections
    • You can change the sound that plays when a replacement occurs within the set
  • You can decide whether any replacement entries within the set will appear in Quick Search.
  • You can also set what the Default Options are for case sensitivity for new replacement items. You may not want the replacements to be case sensitive for the whole word. Conversely, you may want the replacement to be fully case sensitive with what you type.

Application - One handy feature is that you can decide which sets will apply to certain applications. As an example, check the images below. You will see that for BusyCal, I have decided that I do not want any replacements defined in the Default Set to take place. Nor will there be any corrections for DOuble CAps and sentences will not be Auto-Capitalised. However in Byword, everything is selected.

That leads us to a nice conclusion here on what Sets are and some of the default sets and options that ship with Typinator as well as how to set some Sets parameters.

Sets, however, are just a placeholder for Abbreviations and that is what we are going to be looking at, in detail, in the next post.