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Use TextExpander with DropBox

Posted 05/13/2009 by Greg

UpdateTextExpander 3 has built-in Dropbox sync.  (Preferences > Sync > Dropbox)


I set it up this way a while ago (I should’ve posted it, sorry!). Works great. Textexpander with Dropbox is an awesome combo!

Posted by Scott Gardner  on  05/14/2009  at  07:44 AM

I’ve used an Automator workflow to create symlinks in the past for use with Dropbox.

I take it could use this to make the symlink & place in in the ~Library/Application Support folder rather than using the Terminal?

Posted by Jono  on  05/14/2009  at  09:16 AM

Jono: Yes, I suspect an Automator workflow to create the symlinks would work fine.

Posted by Greg  on  05/17/2009  at  01:56 PM

Hi, it is possible to import snipets from typinator 3.4 to textexpander ?

Posted by Mário  on  06/09/2009  at  06:49 PM

Typinator uses a proprietary format for their snippet data storage and does not offer a non-proprietary export format, so TextExpander cannot presently support importing snippets from Typinator. We have expressed our concern about this to Ergonis, the developer of Typinator, as we believe it benefits all text expansion utilities to either store their data in a non-proprietary format or to offer export in a non-proprietary format.

Posted by Greg  on  06/10/2009  at  08:49 AM

I got all the way to the Terminal part. 

Could not figure it out. 

Any I typed in:  ln -s ~/Dropbox/Library/TextExpander ~/Library/Application\ Support/TextExpander

Am I doing something wrong?  I got;

-bash: In: command not found

Posted by Brian  on  06/11/2009  at  12:38 PM

Brian - that’s a lowercase L and a lowercase N, not an uppercase I and a lowercase N. It’s a shortened form of “link,” much as the Unix cp command is a shortened form of “copy”.

Posted by Greg  on  06/11/2009  at  01:29 PM

Thanks for the reply back. I couldn’t get it to work, it kept saying “Can not save” and then it would error out on the subsequent machine.  But no worries, I just made a copy of the key and placed it back in the subsequent machine’s ~/Library/Application Support/TextExpander folder.

So, I dont have a self updating solution, but at least I was able to transfer over all the saved snippets.  I am sure this is just operator error on my part, but my solution at least got me far enough.

Posted by Brian  on  06/14/2009  at  04:22 PM

Would it cause data loss keeping it open on both computers as it does with Things? I’m not really sure how that would work with a plug–in, as Things I just shut down and not worry about it, where a plug–in is working all the time.

Posted by Erik Mallinson  on  07/09/2009  at  03:33 PM

I am trying out the program and love it—but I can’t get it to sync via Mobile Me no matter how hard I try. Is there something I’m doing wrong?

Posted by Randy  on  07/09/2009  at  04:31 PM

I’ve taken this a little further and have written a Perl script that auto-converts TextExpander snippet files to AutoHotKey (free, open source) scripts that you can use directly on Windows.

After conversion you just double-click on the converted .ahk file in Windows and all your TextExpander snippets are available there. Very useful if you’re forced to work on both platforms. Combined with the Dropbox solution, which also works on Windows, it enable you to synch your TextExpander snippets across multiple Mac and Windows machines, including Windows virtual machines.

It now just needs a TextExpander AppleScript snippet to run it, I haven’t got around to that yet.


Posted by Khoji  on  07/09/2009  at  10:23 PM

Randy: Please send a message to the TextExpander support team at They’ll be able to help you sort it out.

Posted by Jean  on  07/10/2009  at  07:06 AM

Just updated the TextExpander to Windows converter with a couple of improvements:

Expand mode (immediately, at delimiter with keep/delete) is read from TextExpander and exported to the AHK script.

Abbreviation mode (case sensitive/ignore case) is read from TextExpander and exported to the AHK script. However, “Adapt snippet to case of abbreviation” does not work in AHK – at least, I haven’t been able to make it work, even though it’s supposed to.

The keep/abandon delimiter macros in individual snippets are now evaluated and work correctly in AHK.


Posted by Khoji  on  07/11/2009  at  03:03 AM

Having trouble setting up on a subsequent MAC. Have removed TextExpander folder from the Home Application Support folder per the above. I simply copied and pasted the above Terminal command into the Terminal App. No alias is showing up in the Application Support folder. If the problem is the simple copy and paste that I did, would you mind writing the command in proper format and putting it in an email that I could copy and paste?

Posted by Mike  on  07/11/2009  at  09:06 AM

I don’t know how to imput the above strings into Terminal. So I’ve looked into other ways to sync up TextExpander.

Sure enough, there is a simpler and easier (no need to type strings into Terminal) way to sync TextExpander between two MACS. You do this by creating a Symbolic Link between the place where TextExpander expects to find the TextExpander folder [user|Library|Application Support|) and DropBox on all your MACS.

Start by going to Apple’s home page and search for Create Symbolic Link. Download JuneCloud’s Automator workflows and import “Create Symbolic Link” into Automator on all your MACS.

Now all you have to do is move the TextExpander folder on your main MAC from user|Library|Application Support| to a folder you create in your DropBox you call “Library.” Trash all the TextExpander folders on your other MACS and create symbolic links from your Dropbox|Library| to your user|Library|Application Support folders. Don McAllister’s show number 202 provides an elegant explantion of how to do this.

Posted by Lamike  on  07/15/2009  at  04:17 PM

I got the same problem with the TE complaining it couldn’t save to the linked folder.

This worked though:
ln -s /Users/derek/Dropbox/Library/TextExpander Library/Application\ Support/TextExpander

Posted by Derek  on  08/24/2009  at  09:59 AM

These instructions in the index post worked for my primary machine, but the instructions for “subsequent macs” did not.

A free program available on the website, SymbolicLinker 2.0 was the solution for my secondary machines. SymbolicLinker can be found by searching for “SymbolicLinker 2.0” on

Step by step:

1. Install Dropbox on both primary and subsequent machines.

2. Install SymbolicLinker 2.0 (after reading the brief installation and usage instructions - there are instructions for both Snow Leopard and Leopard/Tiger… and they are different) on both machines, or only on the subsequent machines. I followed the Snow Leopard install directions.

3. Install TextExpander on primary machine.

4. On your primary machine, follow instructions under “On your primary machine” in the index post above (open Terminal etc).

5. Install Textexpander on “subsequent” machine.

6. On the subsequent machine, in: System Preferences—> TextExpander preference pane—> Preferences disable TextExpander (uncheck the enable box). Then quit System Preferences.

7. Open the Dropbox folder on subsequent machine in Finder. Navigate to /Library and highlight the TextExpander folder. Right click and choose “Make symbolic link” from the drop-down menu. A folder with a name ending in symblink (or something like that) will be created - the icon will have a curved arrow in the left lower corner indicating ‘alias’ or ‘symbolic link.’

8. Open a new Finder window and navigate to /Users/username/Library/Application Support/ - delete the “TextExpander” folder you find there. Drag the symbolic-linked folder you created in the Dropbox folder in the first Finder window to the Application-Support folder in the second. THEN RENAME that folder “TextExpander” (without the quotes).

9. Log out and log back in. (Not sure if this is necessary, but it couldn’t hurt). Make sure TextExpander is enabled in System Preferences—> TextExpander—> Preferences.

DONE. All should be well - TextExpander synch’ed via Dropbox on multiple macs.

Hope this helps someone who, like me, could not get subsequent macs sync’ed up using the index post instructions or the other helpful Comments.


Posted by Alex DeLuca  on  09/11/2009  at  06:57 PM

It’s important that you create a symlink to the TextExpander folder and not just the files it contains.

When TE creates the Settings Backup.textexpander file it seems to do this by making a copy of the original file and renaming it. because the original is a symlink, the renamed file still points to the original file and you end up with both files referencing the same file on Dropbox.

This isn’t an issue when you symlink the folder.

Posted by Abizer  on  10/04/2009  at  03:08 AM

None of this worked for me. The instructions aren’t clear about shutting down SystemPrefs, vs. somehow closing out TE. So, when I moved the folder initially, TE freaked out and crashed. Creating the symlink worked, but then destroyed all of my snippets and reverted back to… well, nothing.

I tried bringing things back via Time Machine, but that made everything much worse. Now TE won’t launch at all, even after a re-install.

Posted by Victor Agreda Jr  on  10/15/2009  at  09:22 AM

Why can’t they just include a feature like Typinator to sync with Dropbox. Comeon people, get it over with it. Move to Typinator if they dont implement this feature anytime soon.

Posted by Van  on  10/24/2009  at  09:48 AM

WARNING: This symlink solution worked great until for some reason the symlink broke. Once it broke TE couldn’t access it’s prefs files and brought the UI to a crawl and ultimately becoming unresponsive. Of course those two simple sentences don’t represent the hair pulling I went through getting back up to operational and tracking down the issue. BUYER BEWARE with this solution!

Posted by Alex  on  11/22/2009  at  04:41 PM

@Alex: I’m not sure how the symlink would break, but if you can contact us at, I’d love to help figure out where things went wrong.

Posted by Justin Williams  on  11/23/2009  at  10:21 AM

Works great! Thanks! wink

Posted by Patrick Mast  on  02/25/2010  at  07:00 AM

Any plans for official Dropbox syncing support? Love to be able to just tell it to move the folder where my snippets are to Dropbox.

Posted by Alex  on  02/27/2010  at  02:28 AM

Built-in Dropbox support is planned for TextExpander 3, due out in March. For more details, check out this interview with Greg on MacVoicesTV.

Posted by Jean  on  02/27/2010  at  03:34 PM

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