A VooDoo fix for Macintosh Text Replacement Sync

Dec13

I’ve recently won a small victory in the battle against the Black Box that is iCloud Sync and currently have a complete and correct set of Text Replacement shortcuts synchronizing across all my Macintosh computers and iOS devices. 

 

Warning: Voo Doo follows. I’m not a true expert on the deep inner-workings of Mac OS. I don’t believe my fix will do any harm, but proceed with caution and always make a backup! (Then make another for good measure. Remember the 3–2–1 rule!)


Executive Summary 

After removing the folder com.apple.InputMethodKit.TextReplacementService from the depths of the ~/Library heirarchy and restarting the computers my current list of Text Replacement shortcuts is available on two Macs that previously refused to synchronize. Both of these Macs legitimately run Sierra, but didn’t start life that way. The folder com.apple.InputMethodKit.TextReplacementService is buried somewhere inside ~/Library. Sorry, I didn’t make note of the full path — I found it using a Finder Search.

Update: A friend in the Ars Technica: Macintoshian Achaia forum reports that the path is ~/Library/Group Containers/com.apple.InputMethodKit.TextReplacementService

 

The Whole, Sordid Tale

For a very long time (I want to say going back to at least iOS 8?) Keyboard Text Replacement shortcuts weren’t syncing consistently across my Macs and iOS devices. I had varying combinations of shortcuts available depending on which device I was using and no way to get the same set to propogate across all devices At times shortcuts would disappear completely, and reappear as duplicates after I’d taken time to recreate them. This was an annoyance because I make heavy use of a handful of shortcuts and because I want access from all of my iOS apps, Text Expander isn’t an option for me. 

I tried numerous proposed fixes without success and refused to try a few that I deemed too extreme, complex and time consuming — particularly given the mixed results reported from the killing of these various rubber chickens. I have an open (for months) support ticket with Apple for months — The engineers were aware of the problem, but no fix was forthcoming. 

With the recent purchase of a new MacBook Pro, I found that the shortcuts weren’t syncing over to it at all. I was temporarily ignoring the problem but in the end I knew this would not stand

Seemingly coincident with the latest round of behind the curtain iCloud adjustments, the system magically started working and after a restart of each device I had a complete set of shortcuts on my iDevices. (So complete that there were multiple entries I’d long ago abandoned and thought I’d purged!) I checked the shortcuts on the new MacBook Pro and was disappointed to find them missing — until I restarted the Mac after which the shortcut list appeared. 

Thus encouraged, I removed the extraneous entries from the Mac. This didn’t take long with multiple selection. Next I made a few adjustments to the shortcuts I wanted to keep. I was really pleased when, in very short order, this corrected master list of Text Replacement Shortcuts propogated to both my iPhone and iPad Pro.  

Next stop was my iMac. Opening the appropriate preferences pane revealed its own special selection of keyboard shortcuts that (previously) weren’t at all in sync with any other devices. Okay, I got this. Restarted. No joy. Grrrr.

I spent a few minutes re-searching the internet for anything new on the topic. Still a lot of noise and no definitive solutions, but I came across an article that through a chain of “logical leap what ifs” on my part led me to doing a finder search that in the end led me to discover a folder buried deep in my user library: com.apple.InputMethodKit.TextReplacementService. This folder may be a legacy preference/cache because a searching for it on my new MacBook Pro (Sierra native) returns null.

I moved the folder to the Desktop and restarted. I immediately opened the Text Replacement preference pane and found the list was empty. However, within a few seconds it was populated with my complete and correct master list of shortcuts. I repeated the this procedure for my account on the MacBook Air I administer for my mother and had the same experience. 

There was one more device in the mix. I keep a 4th gen. iPad at work for reading and light browsing during breaks. The restart trick wasn’t working on that device — most likely because the guest network is accessed through a captive portal. (I speculate that after the device restart, the iCloud Sync Check takes place before the network connection is made.) Last night I brought the 4gen home to do the iOS system update. After the update/restart the shortcuts are present and good to go.

At least for now I have a consisent set of shortcuts across all of my Apple devices and changes made to those shortcuts propogate to the other devices promptly. 

Finally.

If you’re having this problem and  this fix works for you please drop a note in the comments. 

Mini’app’les Meeting, Tuesday November 15 Meeting Notes & Links

Nov15

News

New MacBook Pros

Mini’app’les Meeting, Tuesday November 15 at 6:00 p.m.

Nov14

The next Mini’app’les meeting is Tuesday, November 15th, the third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 p.m., at our new location: Cimbura.com, Inc. (5155 East River Road Suite 405, Minneapolis, MN 55421)

At 6:00 p.m. join us for some social time and then at 6:30 p.m., members of the board and other knowledgable people will be available if you have specific questions you would like answered. We will do our best to address your question and help you troubleshoot the issue. 

At 7:00 p.m., we will discuss some news items which will roll into discussing the new MacBook Pro’s that were announced last week.  Let’s discuss the new hardware!

We look forward to seeing you there.

Mini’app’les Meeting, Tuesday October 25 Meeting Notes & Links

Oct25

News

macOS Sierra

watchOS 3

iOS 10

Mini’app’les Meeting, Tuesday October 25 at 7:00 p.m. – New Location!

Oct10

Please note new location and date: Cimbura – Oct 25 at 7:00 p.m.

The next Mini’app’les meeting is Tuesday, October 25th, the fourth Tuesday of the month, at a new location: Cimbura.com, Inc. (5155 East River Road Suite 405, Minneapolis, MN 55421). At 7:00 p.m.

We are trying out a new location at Cimbura.com.  Cimbura.com delivers custom technology solutions that give businesses a competitive advantage by developing applications using WordPress / the web / FileMaker Pro / and Swift Xcode.  Find out more info here: https://cimbura.com/
Apple Users MN is joining Mini’app’les and we are combining our forces as one group going forward.  Sean Johnson founded Apple Users MN in 2012 as a group for people who use Apple products or are looking to make the switch. The goal is sharing of information and ideas.  We welcome Sean and his group and think they will fit right in with us in our continuing effort to share knowledge and excitement about Apple.
This month’s meeting, Sean has planned to discuss all the latest hardware releases from Apple and discuss how everyone is liking iOS 10, macOS Sierra, and watchOS 3.
We look forward to seeing you there.
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