Snippets and Text Expansion Troubleshooting

Alfred's Snippets and Text Expansion feature is an incredibly useful way to save time by keeping your most used text clips as snippets you can paste with a few characters.

If you've followed the steps to activate text expansion but are still not seeing any expansion taking place, take a look at the troubleshooting steps below.

If your snippets are expanding incorrectly, partially or the keyword isn't disappearing fully, skip to the Partial Expansion troubleshooting section.


My snippets aren't expanding at all

1. Activate expansion in Alfred's preferences

First, ensure you're using the latest version of Alfred. Check by going to the "Update" tab, where you'll be notified if there's a newer version available.

Launch Alfred's preferences to Features > Snippets and check the box in the top right to "Automatically expand snippets by keyword".

The "Alfred Text Service" pop-up should appear; Follow the steps as described in the Text Expansion activation page.

Take a look at the steps below if the "Alfred Text Service" pop-up doesn't appear.

2. Check Accessibility for Alfred Text Service

In order for Alfred to be able to recognise the keywords for your text snippets, you need to ensure that Alfred Text Service is granted Accessibility access in your Mac's Security & Privacy preferences, under Accessibility.

Alfred Text Service needs to be listed here and the box next to it must be checked.

Alfred Text Service granted access to Accessibility

3. Set Snippets to Expand

In your Snippets preferences, ensure the checkbox next to the specific snippet you want to expand is checked.

In the example below, only the top two snippets are set to auto-expand when their keyword is used. The others will not auto-expand when the keyword is typed.

Enabling auto-expansion for snippets in Alfred 3

4. Use the correct keyword

Are you using the correct keyword?

Check that there are no unexpected spaces in your keyword. In the example below, there are two spaces before the keyword "andrew" and a space before and after "luke", so the snippet will only expand when typed with these spaces around them.

Snippet Example with Spaces

5. Secure Input may be locked

Alfred will show a warning in the Snippets preferences if another application is preventing text expansion by locking secure input. If you're unable to expand your snippet, check these preferences then quit or re-launch the appropriate app.

Secure Input notice in snippets

The error message usually makes it easy to identify which application has locked secure input. If Alfred reports that "loginwindow seems to be preventing text expansion by locking secure input", it's likely that Alfred is unable to tell which application is using secure input. This can be because OS X / macOS itself has left the secure input enabled (e.g. when you've recently logged into your Mac, or after waking your computer and typing your password). This can be resolved by restarting your Mac, or logging out fully and logging back in.

6. Interference from other applications

If you've carefully followed the steps above and are still unable to expand your snippets, another app may be interfering.

Take a look at any other apps listed in your Mac's preferences under Security & Privacy > Privacy > Accessibility, and remove any non-essential apps.

You can check whether other apps are interfering by creating a new profile on your Mac temporarily. You can then activate and test out snippets on a fresh account to see if the snippets behaviour is as expected.

Be sure to try snippet expansion in a simple application like Apple's TextEdit to ensure that the issue isn't caused by the destination app.


My snippets are expanding partially, or the keyword remains

1. Slow down key events

If, when expanding your keyword, you find that part of the keyword is still visible, or part of the snippet text is deleted, turn on "Slow down simulated key events".

You'll find this setting in Alfred's Snippets preferences, by clicking on the cog in the top right, under the Tweaking tab.

2. Check for interfering applications

If you're using another clipboard, snippet or keyboard manager app, this may be interfering with Alfred's ability to paste correctly (e.g. if two apps use the same snippet keyword and try to expand at the same time).

Launch Apple's Security & Privacy System Preferences to Privacy > Accessibility, and uncheck all other apps in Accessibility temporarily, and try using your snippets again. Turning them back on one by one will allow you to identify the interfering app.

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