Use Dropbox and TextExpander to Make a Global Snippet Database

Chad Nielsen -

Using Dropbox and TextExpander to Make a Global Snippet Database


The latest enhancements in TextExpander 3 allow for snippets (shortcuts containing text, pictures or other useful information) to be synced to a Dropbox account. The synced TextExpander folder can be shared out to other team members running TextExpander. When the other team members enable Dropbox syncing in TextExpander it links them to the same file, creating a global snippet database that is automatically updated on all machines each time a user makes a change.


This solution is ideal for programming, marketing and technology support teams who often end-up typing the same signatures, quick-fixes, code, prices and links over and over. This setup not only allows you to save time while typing, it also allows you to save time making new snippets. A new snippet created by a single user is automatically synced to all users, eliminating the time it would take for each user to make the snippet themselves.




(1) Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is required to run TextExpander 3. If you are not currently running Snow Leopard and are not planning / unable to upgrade proceed no further.


(2) A free account from Dropbox. You can use your existing Dropbox account if you have already signed up. If you do not signed up click here to create one:


(3) Licensing for of TextExpander 3. They have individual licenses for $34.95 and a five-user office license for $99.95. If you require a greater quantity of licenses the have automatic volume discounts that are added depending on how many licenses you add to your cart.


(NOTE) A user with multiple machines may legally use a single-user license on each machine, provided they are the only user. If there are multiple users consider the office or volume licensing.


TextExpander from Smile Software:



TextExpander 3 does not have the ability to share only part of the snippet database. This means that all snippets are available to all users. If you use TextExpander snippets with private or sensitive information this solution is not for you.


A snippet created is synced to all machines. A snippet deleted is deleted from all machines. Any change to naming or organization is immediately reflected. It is recommended that snippets be organized into groups and kept organized so that users can easy see what options they have available to them. Agree on a standard format ahead of time to minimize confusion later on.




Syncing to Dropbox for the first time will supersede and replace any existing snippets you have already created. You must export your existing snippets so you can import them into the global snippet database once you have connected. You can skip this step on any machine that does not have TextExpander already installed.


01. Open TextExpander, select one of your folders and press S to save the snippet group.

02. Repeat this process for each snippet group you have made.

03. In TextExpander > Preferences > Backup, ensure that automatic backup has been selected.



Setting up Dropbox for the first time is quick and easy. You can skip this step for any user that already has Dropbox set up.


01. Click on this link to create a free Dropbox account:

02. Drag and drop the Dropbox app into your Applications folder.

03. Double-click Dropbox and follow the steps to sign into your account.

04. Ensure that you leave the Dropbox folder in the default location.

05. Proceed with the Dropbox Tour to familiarize yourself (recommended, not required).




Setting up TextExpander is even easier than setting up Dropbox. You can skip this step for any user that already has TextExpander set up.


01. Download TextExpander 3:

02. Unzip the downloaded .zip file and drag & drop the app into your Applications folder.

03. Double-click TextExpander and enter your license.

04. In TextExpander > Preferences > Backup, ensure that automatic backup has been selected.



01. Create or choose an existing Dropbox account that will act as the Master.

02. Ensure Dropbox and TextExpander are running and set up on that machine.

03. Log into as the master and click on Sharing > Share a folder.

04. Click 'I'd like to share an existing folder' and 'Next'.

05. Select the 'TextExpander' folder and click 'Next'.

06. Invite the other team members using their email addresses and click 'Submit'.

06. Have each user accept the invitation. A TextExpander folder will appear in their Dropbox.

07. Have each user open TextExpander > Preferences > Sync, choose 'Dropbox'.

08. Exported (saved) snippets can be double-clicked and imported, if any.


From this point forward any snippet created or imported into TextExpander will be synced to all machines. Please refer to the TextExpander documentation for instructions on how to create and manage your snippets!

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