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Smile Brings Back Standalone TextExpander, Reduces Subscription Price

For the last week, the main controversy in the Apple world has been Smile’s decision to add cloud-based snippet sharing to their TextExpander text-expansion utility and switch to a subscription model (“TextExpander 6 Adds Teams and Subscription Billing,” 6 April 2016). Smile took flak from people who dislike subscription software, individuals who had no use for snippet sharing, folks who try to avoid cloud-based software, and those who felt the total price was too high. (Full disclosure: Smile is a longtime TidBITS sponsor.)

Smile is now walking back some of those decisions in two major ways:

  • The company will continue to sell and support the standalone versions of TextExpander 5 for the Mac and TextExpander 3 for iPhone & iPad. Although there was some initial confusion as to whether or not this meant that these apps would receive ongoing development, Smile founder Greg Scown told me, “It’s a very feature rich product. We’ll be listening to our customers’ needs, and plan to bring in new features where they most benefit, as well as continue development to ensure OS compatibility.” So yes, the standalone versions will continue to evolve in the future. The Mac version of TextExpander costs $44.95 and TextExpander touch 3 + Custom Keyboard for iOS is $4.99 on the App Store.

  • The Life Hacker subscription plan for individuals using TextExpander 6 is now priced at $40 per year, down from $47.52. Even more significant, customers with current licenses for any previous version of TextExpander now receive a 50 percent lifetime discount, dropping the subscription price to $20 per year for as long as the subscription is renewed. Upgrading customers who want to test-drive the new version can pay $2.08 per month before committing to the $20-per-year plan. Plus, for those who purchased TextExpander after 1 December 2015, the first three months of the Life Hacker plan are free. (Team subscription pricing for TextExpander 6 remains the same at $7.96 per user per month, billed annually, which works out to $95.52 per year.)

It’s unfortunate that Smile’s desire to expand into the business market with snippet sharing got tangled up with the needs of individual customers. This revised approach should answer the criticisms of the previous plan, satisfying both those who like TextExpander the way it is and those who stand to benefit from the new features.


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Comments about Smile Brings Back Standalone TextExpander, Reduces Subscription Price
(Comments are closed.)

Roger D. Parish  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-04-13 10:00
I wish them well, but they've already lost me. Of course, they have my money and probably wouldn't be getting any more with free upgrades for OS compatibility.
Steven Bauer  2016-04-13 10:48
I've supported and paid for TextExpander from Smile for years and years but unfortunately they already lost me with their prior announcement. Just switched to aText which supports all my personal use case needs for $5.00.
Dave Trussell  2016-04-13 18:13
Yeah, I'm with the two posters above. I've already switched back to TypeIt4Me, although I have aText. But either way I'm not doing business with a company who thinks so little of my needs.
Typinator is a good replacement. Offended customers are hard to win back. Not to mention that subscription for a utility is ridiculous - it's not a major program like Photoshop.
Michael Lever  2016-04-14 02:23
I use TE on both Snow Leopard and El Capitan. I find it a very useful app that I couldn't do without - having said that, most of the features are of no use for my purposes - but I wouldn't want to pay on subscription so I'd find an alternative - although having used alternatives before TE it might be difficult to find as good a replacement.

I think it is daft to expect a subscription for low price app: smacks of poor cash-flow management than anything else.
Yashodhan Khare  2016-04-14 02:41
I think the problem is that the new version doesn't have any new features, apart from the Windows Beta version. The Windows version is of no use to Mac users anyway. So what are we paying them extra after we have bought the software?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-04-14 09:44
The major new feature is snippet sharing, which is either hugely useful or completely unimportant, depending on your situation.
Durbrow  2016-04-18 19:25
Even their new plan does not jive well with me. I'm looking elsewhere. Fortunately some apps can import TextExpander snippet files...
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-04-18 20:13
I recommend TypeIt4Me ($20), which has been around for 25 years, almost as long as TidBITS. And their tech support is excellent. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of TextExpander; then again, you won't be paying for features you don't need. Oh, and the current version—5.5.2, no subscription—can sync with iCloud Drive, Dropbox and Google Drive, for no extra charge.
Their revised plan still is not acceptable. I've moved on to TypeIt4Me.
Alan Sanders  2016-04-19 02:21
Computer users have always had a certain amount of choice about when to upgrade their software. For the most part, only well-heeled users upgrade their apps every year; and I predict that any attempt to force all users to pay and pay and pay whether they can afford to or not will meet with powerful resistance and ultimately fail. The only reason that Adobe has gotten away with their version of this little extortion racket... er, subscription model is that a significant percentage of their users are working professionals who can afford to pay the yearly tariff even if they don't like it. And even Adobe was forced by the considerable backlash that followed the introduction of their subscription plan to offer a low-priced alternative for photographers who can't afford to pay $50 a month for a suite of apps they mostly don't need. The makers of TextExpander made a wise move in rethinking their original plan. Other software developers should take note.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-04-19 18:38
To be clear to the people who are saying that the revised plan is not acceptable, did I fail to make it clear in the article that you do not have to upgrade to TextExpander 6 and the cloud service at all? Smile was crystal clear about how the standalone versions that you're using now will continue to be developed and enhanced into the future, so there's no actual need to do anything at all if you don't want.
David Emme  2016-04-19 20:44
"the standalone versions that you're using now will continue to be developed and enhanced into the future"

Subject to change with or without notice, of course, the next time they get a similar brilliant idea...
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-04-19 21:30
Yeah, well, I think Smile got the message loud and clear. :-)