Using text shortcuts to respond to every email

Like many people, I suffer from email overload. Some days, even after spending some time unsubscribing from email lists and marketing messages, I still get in excess of 150 messages per day. As a journalist, a great many of these are press releases and story pitches. The volume is so great I simply can’t write all the stories – even if there great ideas and leads. But how can I respectfully respond to all these? Should I even try?

During a recent episode of the How I Work podcast, the host interviewed someone who said they answered every single email they received. Every. Single. Message.

The reason being that it showed respect to the sender.

You can find the How I Work podcast at:

That makes a lot of sense and made me feel a little guilty about how I simply ignore or delete so many messages. Getting past hello can be really challenging. But it’s hard to respectfully decline so many pitches.

That’s why I’m employing some automation to my email now.

I’ve create a text shortcut that replies to pitches I am not going to action. Here’s how I do it.

How to create text shortcuts

I’m on a Mac so I’m able to use the text shortcut function that’s part of the Keyboard settings. I’ve added some simple email responses, my address and a couple of other strings of text I need to type regularly.

You’ll find the relevant options, on a Mac, in System Preferences. Open the Keyboard section and you can create lots of shortcuts from the Text section. If you use an iPhone and or an iPad and have all the devices connected via iCloud, then the shortcuts created on the computer automatically work on all your other devices.

With Windows, there’s no built-in, system wide text replacement or text expansion tools. But there are third-party solutions. There are bunch of them listed here to choose from.

How do I use text shortcuts

I’m in the process of transitioning to a new email address. For messages coming to my old address, I simply type ’emailchange’ and the text automatically expands to say:

PS – can you please update your records as I’m transitioning to a new email address. Details below.

Similarly, when I receive a press release or pitch I can type ‘passon’ and it automatically expands to:

I’ll pass on this. Thanks.

It may seem a little impersonal – OK, perhaps a lot impersonal. But there are many times when an email is followed up by call to check if I either missed the message or if I was after more information.

A short message saying I’m not interested takes me a few seconds and saves the other person a few minutes. So, while it may be very direct, perhaps even blunt, it saves us all a bit of time.