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Sync PDF Documents with PDFpen 7 and iCloud Drive

Posted 01/15/2015 by Greg

Thanks to iCloud Drive, one of the few differences between PDFpen from the Mac App Store v.s. direct from the Smile store has been removed, that of document sync.

Specifically, version 7 of PDFpen and PDFpenPro, purchased directly from Smile, can sync documents with PDFpen for iPad & iPhone version 2 and with PDFpen Scan+ via iCloud Drive. Here's how.


  • You must be running iOS 8 (or later) and have iCloud Drive enabled on your iPad and/or iPhone
  • In the PDFpen for iPad & iPhone and/or PDFpen Scan+ settings, you must have iCloud turned on
  • You must be running OS X Yosemite (or later) and have iCloud Drive enabled on your Mac

On the iPad and iPhone, once you've turned iCloud on in the app settings, all of your documents are stored on iCloud and synced automatically.

On the Mac, only the special “PDFpen container” folder is synced with the iPad and iPhone. That folder is found at the top level of iCloud Drive and is named “PDFpen”, “PDFpenPro”, or “Scan+”. When you modify documents in the PDFpen container folder, they are synced with your iPad and iPhone. Documents stored elsewhere in your iCloud drive on your Mac can be imported on the iPad and iPhone, but they will not sync.

For example, here is what that iCloud folder looks like in the open dialog (File > Open) of PDFpen or PDFpenPro 7.

Open Dialog - Cmd+O

Note: The PDFpen container folder may have any of the three visible names noted above, and its visible name may change over time. Under the hood, both the actual name of the folder and its contents are consistent. The visible name is just a cosmetic issue which appears to stem from an Apple bug with how the names of shared iCloud Drive folders are shown in the Finder and file dialogs. Hopefully, this will be fixed in a future update to Yosemite.

If you have questions about syncing your documents, please contact us.

(Aside from the standard differences in all apps purchased directly from the developer v.s. the Mac App Store, the only other difference specific to PDFpen is Library sync, which does require the iCloud available in the Mac App Store version.)

More Elaborate Date Formatting with TextExpander

Posted 01/08/2015 by Greg

One of the most basic yet handy snippets in TextExpander is the current date. When it comes to customizing the date's layout, many users don't realize that TextExpander has supported Unicode Date Format Patterns since version 3.1. In addition to what you can do with TextExpander's built-in date formatting, this adds support for:

- week of year, month
- calendar quarter
- day of year
- time zone
- more elaborate options for hour, minute, seconds, month, day, and year
- era (AD/BC)
- cyclic years (Chinese, Hindu calendars)

Here are a few examples:

Week of year with leading zero for single-digit weeks (e.g. 02):

Current calendar quarter and year (e.g. Q12015)

Time with long time zone (e.g. 8:11:49 AM America/Los_Angeles)
%date:h:mm:ss a' 'VV%

Please see the Unicode Date Format Patterns documentation for complete details.

If you have a favorite elaborate date format, let us know: we're @TextExpander on Twitter, and we look forward to your tweet.

Number Pages using PDFpen 2 on iPad & iPhone

Posted 12/18/2014 by Greg

One great new feature in PDFpen 2 is the ability to number pages in a PDF document. PDFpen 2 brings complete, desktop-class PDF page numbering to your iPad and iPhone and includes all of the options from PDFpen for OS X:

  • Vertical Position: top or bottom of the page
  • Alignment: left, center, right, or inner / outer corners book style
  • Format: numbers, Roman numerals, letters, or Bates numbering
  • Prefix, Digits: Options for Bates numbering
  • Starting Page
  • Include number on first page

To access page numbering:

  1. Open a PDF
  2. Tap "Tools" Tools icon
  3. Tap Insert Page Numbers
  4. Select your options
  5. Tap Done

Here's what the page numbering options look like in action:

Page Numbering Options

If you want to change the page numbering after you've added it, just repeat the steps above. Your new numbering will take the place of the old numbering. Details on page numbering are included in the PDFpen 2 online help.

What is Bates numbering?

Bates numbering (or Bates stamping) is a system for uniquely and consecutively numbering the pages of a document to make it easy to identify a specific page. Originally, this was done with a mechanical stamper from the Bates Manufacturing Company. Now, it is a common feature in word processors and PDF editors, and it is required in legal discovery and other fields. To learn more about Bates numbering, see this Wikipedia article.

How PDFpen Scan+ Let Me Copy the Uncopiable

Posted 12/05/2014 by Maia

One of the exciting things about app development is seeing the unintended uses of the app after it is alive in the world. 

This is an example of how one of those side effects worked for me.

The Goal

Copy text from a webpage with unselectable text and paste it into an email. 

The Challenge

The webpage in question is the rudimentary front end for a database that is normally never seen on a mobile device. Text selection just doesn't work, no matter how much you zoom in. The information needed to be exact and re-typing all of it on an iPhone is annoying and laborious. 

The Solution

Zoom in to the necessary portion of the page then take a screenshot by holding down the Home and Power buttons at the same time. Then, open Scan+ and import that photo via the Photos button, and run OCR via the "OCR Document" option in the OCR menu.

Voilà, some text that is easily copied into an email, using "Copy page text" from the OCR menu. 

In case you are wondering, that takes 13 taps from initial screenshot to final paste, with a Home button double tap counting as one tap. Having to type out a paragraph of exact code is much more than 13 taps. 

At the end of the day I'm happy to be able to do just one more simple thing on my iPhone that would normally require a Mac. 


How does “Complete My Bundle” pricing work?

Posted 12/02/2014 by Greg

Today, we're excited to release PDFpen for iPad & iPhone version 2, a universal upgrade to our existing PDFpen for iPad and PDFpen for iPhone apps. PDFpen 2 is a separate app and thus a separate purchase.

We've also released the PDFpen 2 Pack for iPad, which bundles PDFpen 2 and PDFpen for iPad; and the PDFpen 2 Pack for iPhone, which bundles PDFpen 2 and PDFpen for iPhone. These bundles allow us to simulate upgrade pricing by offering PDFpen 2 at a discount based on your prior purchase of either PDFpen for iPad or PDFpen for iPhone.

Most users of PDFpen for iPad can use “Complete My Bundle” with the PDFpen 2 Pack for iPad to upgrade for $7. That assumes you paid full price $14.99 for PDFpen for iPad. If you got PDFpen for iPad at a discount, then the “Complete My Bundle” pricing will be more. The “Complete My Bundle” pricing for the PDFpen 2 Pack for iPad is $21.99 minus whatever you paid for PDFpen for iPad.

Let's say you purchased PDFpen for iPad on sale for $9.99, your “Complete My Bundle” price is $12:

Complete My Bundle Pricing Example $12

Put simply, your “Complete My Bundle” price is the cost of the bundle minus whatever you actually paid for any components in the bundle.

We hope this clarifies the bundle pricing, and we're thrilled to be able to offer it to our existing customers.

(For another helpful take on this same issue, please see: How “Complete My Bundle” Pricing Works on the Panic Blog.)

Black Friday: TextExpander touch 3

Posted 11/28/2014 by Maia

Black Friday 2014 has come! We're helping you celebrate by discounting one of our favorite apps, TextExpander  3 + custom keyboard.

Until Saturday you can buy it, along with several other handy apps, at Black Friday Apps. We are extending the TextExpander 3 discount all the way to Cyber Monday, but the price goes up each day so buy now!

What's TextExpander?

The typing redundancy of everyday life, sped-up, and made easy.

  • Expand custom typing shortcuts in every app on your iPad and iPhone using the TextExpander custom keyboard.
  • Sync all your snippets with TextExpander for Mac.
  • Expand multiple email signatures, form letters with customizable fill-in-the-blanks, current date and time, and more!

iCloud Drive: How to Find and Edit Files

Posted 10/23/2014 by Maia

(Updated December 4, 2014 after the release of PDFpen 2.)

Yosemite (OS X 10.10) and iOS 8 bring with them iCloud Drive. This means, in addition to the iCloud storage you are familiar with, the "switch it on and it just works" sync and storage, there is also a new iCloud Drive feature in the form of a folder structure similar to Dropbox or Google Drive. This is an exciting new update which we are working to implement and understand all the details of.

If you are running Yosemite or iOS 8, access iCloud Drive by opening Finder on your Mac or opening an import / export action in an iOS app. Keep in mind, you will only see iCloud Drive in an iOS app if support for it has been added by the app’s developer.

In iCloud Drive you will notice that all the Apple apps, Numbers, Pages, Preview, etc., all have folders giving you have access to all the files in them, files made by those apps. This makes sharing files between apps much easier.

Why aren't you seeing the rest of your apps in iCloud Drive? 

All files in iCloud don't just appear in iCloud Drive. An app's files are not viewable in iCloud Drive until that app's developer adds that feature.

TextExpander 4.3.4 for Mac and TextExpander touch 3.2 do not support iCloud or iCloud Drive. We were unable to support iCloud previous to iCloud Drive, but are now working on a way to include support for iCloud Drive in the future.
PDFpen 6.3.2 for Mac and earlier, PDFpen 1.8.2 for iPhone and iPad and earlier, and PDFpen Scan+ 1.4 and earlier do not support iCloud Drive. iCloud still works, you can have iCloud switched on and your documents will still sync, but you will not see your PDFpen documents in iCloud Drive.

For iCloud Drive support upgrade to PDFpen for iPad and iPhone version 2 and PDFpen Scan+ 1.5 and later. We are working on adding iCloud Drive to PDFpen for Mac.

How do you access iCloud Drive documents on your Mac?

You’ve upgraded to Yosemite and iOS 8, you have turned on iCloud Drive, now you want to get at your PDFpen documents on your Mac, and maybe open a Preview PDF in PDFpen, or vice versa. Since we haven't implemented iCloud Drive, yet, you can't see your documents in the iCloud Drive folder, but you can still access them.

For our PDFpen/PDFpenPro for Mac users, there are two scenarios. 

  • You have PDFpen for Mac purchased from the Mac App Store. This means your  documents are stored in iCloud. In Finder you will not see PDFpen documents in the iCloud Drive folder but in the PDFpen folder under iCloud. This will allow you to open PDFpen documents in other apps, like Preview for example.When accessing documents from within the PDFpen app, edit documents stored in iCloud via the open/save dialog. This is how you can edit your PDFpen documents, or Preview PDFs.
  • You have the direct purchase version of PDFpen, not from the Mac App Store. If you also have PDFpen for iPhone or iPad, with iCloud turned on, that you have documents in iCloud. While the PDFpen documents in iCloud are currently hidden in iCloud Drive, they are still accessible on your Mac. To access the folder in Finder choose View > Go to Folder (Cmd+Shft+G) and paste in this location:

    ~/Library/Mobile Documents/7PKJ6G4DXL~com~smileonmymac~PDFpen/Documents

Keep in mind that if you update your devices to Yosemite or iOS 8, and you update to iCloud Drive when you do, those devices will no longer sync iCloud files with older operating systems. We explain this a bit more in our previous post iCloud, PDFpen and iOS 8 — Before you update.

Yosemite, TextExpander Helper, and Accessibility Permission

Posted 10/21/2014 by Greg

After updating to Yosemite, some users are being prompted to grant access to TextExpander Helper in the Security & Privacy preferences of System Preferences, and they're finding TextExpander Helper isn't in the Accessibility list under the Privacy tab. This appears to be a bug in Yosemite's accessibility access preferences, and it affects other apps with helpers, such as Keyboard Maestro and Witch.

The workaround is to drag the TextExpander Helper app directly into the Accessibility list by following these instructions:

It's possible that TextExpander Helper will not appear in the list after you've dragged it in, but behind the scenes your action has granted the permission to TextExpander Helper that it needs. Hopefully, OS X will return to displaying helper apps in a future update.

If you are one of the few cases where this doesn't work, we recommended rebuilding your Launch Services database using a tool such as Cocktail and restarting your Mac.

If, after following these steps, you still encounter trouble, please get in touch with our support team.

Letters in Circles Snippet Group

Posted 10/17/2014 by Greg

Ⓛⓔⓣⓣⓔⓡⓢ ⓘⓝ Ⓒⓘⓡⓛⓔⓢ

Perhaps you’ve seen something like this on Twitter:

When I saw that, I thought: I can make a TextExpander group to make that really easy to do, and so…

To add the Letters in Circles group on a Mac:
1. Click the + button under the snippets list and choose “Add Group from URL…"
2. Enter this as the URL:
3. Press OK

To add the Letters in Circles group an iPhone or iPad:
1. Turn off “Ignore Case” in the settings, or you’ll be limited to capital letters in your circles
2. Tap the + button under the Groups list and choose “Add via URL"
3. Enter this as the URL:
4. Tap OK

To use the Letters in Circles group:
Type a lowercase o three times then the letter you want to be in the circle.

For example:

oooT gets you: Ⓣ
ooox gets you: ⓧ
ooo4 gets you: ④

(if ooox gets you Ⓧ on iOS, you probably have Ignore Case turned on in the settings)

I chose triple o as the abbreviation prefix so that it’s easy to type on both OS X and iOS, and so that it’s easy to remember.

I included numerals 0-9, but I did not include 10-20. Although 10-20 in circles are available, they won’t work with my abbreviation scheme and expand immediately, and I doubt they’re used very often.

Ⓘ ⓗⓞⓟⓔ ⓨⓞⓤ ⓗⓐⓥⓔ ⓢⓞⓜⓔ ⓕⓤⓝ ⓦⓘⓣⓗ ⓣⓗⓘⓢ!

iOS-ify your Mac Snippet Abbreviations

Posted 10/03/2014 by Brian

For those of us who made the bulk of our snippets on the Mac, some of us use a system of prefixes to differentiate snippets from other words we type. For example,

slash / used to start web addresses
comma comma ,, used to start code snippets
semi-colon ; used to start snippets you share with the rest of your team

Whatever your prefix system, it is tricky to use these types of snippets on iOS, where punctuation keys take an extra tap to shift out of letter view into punctuation view.

In trying to solve this problem, we have considered adding a key to the letter view of the TextExpander keyboard which is programmable by the user. As in, you would have an extra key to setup as a semi-colon ; key on the letter view of the keyboard, while others could choose to make that a / slash key. 

However, this is still on the “nice to have in the future” feature list. In the meantime, here’s a script-based work-around.

Download this Abbreviation Alias script to create a new group of snippet aliases which have your choice of iOS friendly abbreviation prefix. You will end up with a new snippet group and your current snippets are not effected.

How does this work?

This script uses the nested snippet feature of TextExpander. While a single snippet cannot have two abbreviations, you can have two snippets, both with unique abbreviations, where the second nests the first so that both expand to the same content. This script makes those second snippets for you so you can have your Mac abbreviations and your iOS abbreviations. For example:

Snippet 1: Mac style

Abbreviation: /wiki

Snippet 2: iOS style

Abbreviation: zzwiki
Content: %snippet:/wiki%

Use the Script

1. Download the script and click on it to open it in the AppleScript Editor, an app that comes with your Mac. Yes, this means you are looking at actual script, but we have added directions for you to follow, all of the gray text on each line after a "--".

There are only two places you need to change things:

  • Set the abbreviation prefix you use and want to change
  • Set the new iOS friendly prefix you want to use

Optional Third

  • Scan your snippets one group at a time instead of all at once by changing the word “true” to “false” 

2. Once you have done this, in the menubar of the AppleScript Editor window click on “Run.” If you chose to run one group at a time a popup window will appear to let you choose one of your snippet groups.

3. A dialog will appear to let you save and name the new snippet group, which appears in the dialog as a TSV file. It will even show you how many new snippets you have. Click Save and you will find a new group of snippets in TextExpander with their punctuation prefixes replaced with iOS friendly “cc” or “zz” or whatever you chose.

It doesn’t matter where the TSV file saves, once you see the new group in the TextExpander window, you can delete the TSV file.

This new group is just aliases. When you need to edit a snippet, go to the original snippet to edit its contents.