The New Old TextExpander [Link]

April 13, 2016 by Gabe | [mmd] | ℳ↫

As of today, Smile Software has softened their stance on the new subscription version of TextExpander. If you are an existing user, they cut the price in half of the new TextExpander. I'd have nothing to say if this was all about pricing.1 TextExpander was something I used a lot and was definitely worth the price.

The previous versions of TextExpander are returning to the App Store according to Smile:

We will continue to sell and support TextExpander 5 for OS X and TextExpander 3 + Custom Keyboard for iOS for those who need it. Some of you can only use Dropbox and/or iCloud at work. Some of you cannot or will not purchase subscription software. You’ve told us that it’s important to serve you in this way, and so we shall.

Unfortunately, I worry that the big take away from all of this is that it was too expensive (again, I don't think it was). This new era where every app maker wants to hold my data is not a future I look forward to. The TextExpander privacy FAQ says everything that I think is wrongheaded with the change:

For TextExpander.com, snippet data is stored plain at rest with our database provider...

A design choice like that has consequences that I'm not comfortable with. It's not something I want to use or recommend. It's great that the old apps with Dropbox, iCloud, and non-existent syncing still work and will continue to be available. I'd wait to see if they are treated as first class citizens before I recommend them again but I'd certainly recommend their software as top-tier stuff.

I do think this was an unfortunate mistake by a company I really like.2 Whether you know it or not, you have benefited from Smile just being an all around good company with good intentions. They sponsor a lot of my favorite websites and podcasts. Those people have gone on to inspire others to be kind and make great stuff. This whole thing was a real shame.

But it also revealed some true character. Not only was Smile willing to suck it up and take what I assume are major losses but it revealed the character of their "fans." It was enlightening to see how Smile business partners responded to a change that was contrary to many of their own tenets. Some clearly rejected the new change, some endorsed it, and some were silent. I still think one of the most thoughtful and straight assessments came from Merlin and I will forever trust his recommendations.


  1. Except for a few words to all the bloggers that wrote click-bait think pieces about how developers should earn a living wage and customers should accept higher prices and then talk about how expensive TextExpander 6 was. Man, that's an embarrassment. 

  2. I refuse to believe this new version made it all the way through user testing without anyone making a strong argument against the subscription and syncing model. Maybe they just have the wrong kind of testers