PhraseExpress v11 Documentation

Table of Contents

Installation

PhraseExpress can be installed on a computer or run from a USB thumb drive without installation.

Whenever possible, PhraseExpress should be installed on a computer for best integration and support of all available features.

Computer installation

To install PhraseExpress on your computer:

  1. Download the PhraseExpress client installation file.
  2. Double-click the installation file and follow the instructions.
  3. If you have purchased a license, register the license key.

MS Office AutoCorrect may interfere with PhraseExpress as both programs compete to interprete your text input. We recommend to import the MS Word AutoCorrect entries into PhraseExpress and disable the function in MS Word (see Microsoft help).

Installation requires admin rights. If you cannot obtain administrations rights on your computer, consider running PhraseExpress in portable mode from your hard drive.

For client deployment in large networks, check the PhraseExpress server manual or SQL Client Manager manual.

Portable Use

To run PhraseExpress from a USB thumb drive:

  1. Download the Portable Edition.
  2. Extract the folder /PhraseExpress of the ZIP archive "PhraseExpress_USB.exe" into any directiory of your USB device.
  3. Launch "PhraseExpress.exe" from the USB device.
  4. Copy any existing phrase file onto the USB device and load it from there.
  5. If you have purchased a license key, register your USB thumb drive installation.

In portable mode, PhraseExpress stores user and application data into the program directory on the portable device and indicates running in portable mode in the title bar. No data is written on the host computer.

Portable mode can be enforced by command-line parameter -portable.

Some functions may be unavailable in portable mode, e.g. the Outlook Add-In as it would require writing files onto the host computer.

  • Shutdown PhraseExpress before unplugging the USB drive to prevent data loss!
  • Read the license key registration notes if using PhraseExpress on a portable device.

Upgrade

Export your phrase file to another disk before upgrading to a newer version.

Major new versions may update your phrase file structure to support new features. Older PhraseExpress versions will not be able to read such new phrase file format.

You can then install the new version over the old version.

Getting started

You can now start to save frequently used text into PhraseExpress, such as your name, email adress, post address, bank account information or boilerplate templates for communication so you never have to type them again.

PhraseExpress tray icon

The speech bubble icon in the Windows system tray is your main access to PhraseExpress:

tray menu icon

  • Left-click the icon to access phrases in the phrase menu.
  • Right-click the icon to open the options menu.
  • Double-click the icon to open the main program window.

Missing icon? Click the triangle icon in the task tray to show hidden icons and drag the PhraseExpress icon from the popup into the system tray to make it permanently visible.

What to do next?

Enable the AutoSuggest feature if you wish PhraseExpress to scan your daily routine work for repetitive text input. After a short training period, PhraseExpress will start offering to auto-complete such phrases for you.

PhraseExpress comes preloaded with a sample phrase file that allows you to try out several features. You can download additional free addons from our website.

Store a new phrase

Watch the video tutorial

To save a new phrase in PhraseExpress:

  1. Highlight the desired text in any application.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select "New phrase…".
    Alternatively, press customizable hotkey CTRL-ALT-C.
  3. Enter additional information for your new phrase:

phrase details

  • The Description identifies the phrase in the phrase menu.
  • Hotkeys insert the phrases by pressing a keyboard combination (learn more).
  • An Autotext is a text abbreviation which is replaced with a longer text snippet. For example, entering the autotext 'kr' would insert the phrase 'Kind Regards' (learn more). 
  • Phrases can be restricted to specific programs or specific users.
  • If the text is formatted, additional options become available under "Save As":

    Formatting Description
    • Phrase without text formatting and without bitmaps.
    • Efficient and memory resource friendly.
    • Supports for all macro functions.
    • Phrases with formatted text and/or bitmaps.
    • Requires more space in the phrase file.
    • Microsoft Word text formatting, Word macro placeholders, pagination, embedded contents (such as Excel spreadsheets), etc.
    • Requires more file space.
    • No support of PhraseExpress macro functions.
    • Works with Microsoft Word only.

The menu item to create new phrases may have been removed by the admin to prevent operating errors or if you may not have write permission.

Insert phrases

To insert a phrase, place the cursor into the target application and perform any of the following actions:

  • Click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select the desired item from the phrase menu.
  • Press the customizable hotkey ALT-SPACE and use the search feature.
  • Press the hotkey you may have assigned to a phrase or phrase folder.
  • Enter the autotext you may have defined for the desired phrase.
  • Select the desired phrase from a desktop menu.

The phrase menu provides instant access to your phrases:

Phrase selection menu

To select a phrase:
  • Click the phrase with the mouse.
  • Type any part of the description to narrow down the menu to the desired item.
  • Navigate with the Arrow Up/Down keys.
  • Press the Page Up/Down key to scroll through the menu in larger steps.
  • Press the Home- or End-key to jump to the very first or very last item.
  • Press Arrow Right-key to jump into the first subfolder. To return to the parent level, press Arrow Left.

The selected phrase is inserted into the target application by pressing the customizable confirmation hotkey TAB.

Right-click a phrase for content-sensitive options:
  • Insert text with or without formatting.
  • Fill the clipboard with the selected text.
  • Create a new email to the email address contained in the phrase.
  • Open web browser if the phrase contains any URL.
  • Open folder in Windows Explorer if the items contains any file path.

Phrases with program or access restrictions may be filtered from the phrase menu.

Press the ESC key or click anywhere else to cancel a phrase menu.

If pressing Arrow Up / Arrow Down-key at least once, you can also trigger the phrase with ENTER.

CTRL-click a phrase to copy its content into to the clipboard (vs inserting it into an application).

SHIFT-click a phrase to insert its content without formatting.

Drag the menu borders to resize the menu.

Desktop menus

Phrase menus disappear by default after you selected an item for insertion.

However, they can be made visible permanently as desktop menus:

Desktop menu

To place any phrase menu onto the desktop click the pin symbol in the top right of any phrase menu.

Double-click the title bar to expand/collapse desktop menus. Resize desktop menus by dragging their edges.

Desktop menus can dynamically show/hide automatically together with specific programs.

Example:

A desktop menu may contain various bank account information and is shown only if you open a specific banking website or banking software. It automatically hides if you switch to another program. Program restricted desktop menus appear as they would be attached to specific programs and virtually become part of them.

To restrict a desktop menu to particular programs right-click any desktop menu item or its title bar and select "Restrict to specific programs" (also see chapter "program restrictions").

Edit phrases

Open the main program window to edit a phrase:

  • Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select Edit phrases.
  • Or right-click an item in a phrase menu or desktop menu and select "Edit".
  • Or SHIFT-click the PhraseExpress tray icon to open the last used phrase.
  • Or press the hotkey to open the main program window, if specified in the settings.

The main program window

The main program window allows you to organize and edit your phrases:

Your phrases are available in the customizable folder structure on the left:

The root items in the first level of the tree structure represent one or more phrase sources and their state.

Drag & drop phrases and folders to rearrange them in the tree structure.

Use the CTRL and/or SHIFT keys to select multiple objects in the tree.

If you move/copy access restricted phrases, check the important notes about moving phrases.

Hotkeys

A hotkey (or shortcut key, keyboard shortcut, key combo, etc.) is a set of keys associated to a specific phrase or folder.

For example, the very useful hotkey ALT-SPACE opens the main phrase menu.

PhraseExpress can insert a phrase by pressing its associated hotkey. Press CTRL-ALT-S could insert your signature for example.

PhraseExpress allows you to re-use the same hotkey for multiple phrases or for a phrase folder, containing multiple phrase. E.g. you could use the hotkey CTRL-ALT-B for a phrase folder containing several phrases with bank account information.

Hotkeys defined in PhraseExpress may conflict with other programs using the same hotkey. Avoid frequently used hotkeys and rather use combinations with the CTRL- , ALT-, WIN-, SHIFT- key and a letter. Many hotkeys are reserved by Windows and cannot be assigned in PhraseExpress. Especially, the WIN-key is almost exclusively reserved by the Windows OS and should not be used without a combination of additional modifier keys.

Please check section "trouble-shooting" if hotkeys do not work.

Autotext

Autotexts are text abbreviations that are replaced with a longer phrase is a feature similar to MS Office's 'AutoCorrect', replacing text shortcuts (the autotext) with larger text phrases.

In PhraseExpress, autotext works in most Windows program and offers much more functionality.

Sample applications:
  • Enter 'FBI' to replace it with 'Federal Bureau of Investigation'.
  • Typing mistakes are corrected as you type: 'tpyo' » 'typo'.
  • Enter an autotext to launch an application. For instance, typing 'calc' can launch the Windows calculator.

If autotext does not work as expected, check the trouble-shooting section.

If you experience unwanted text replacements, chapter "Unwanted text replacements" may help.

If autotext are grayed-out, autotext may be disabled in the parent folder or you have no editing permissions.

PhraseExpress offers an easy for beginners and an expert mode for advanced applications:

Easy Mode
Option Description

The autotext is recognized after pressing ENTER, TAB, SPACE or any default trailing delimiter such as punctuation marks.

This is the recommended default setting.

Autotext is recognized immediately after typing the last character of the autotext.

Avoid this setting if the defined autotext can be part of a word. E.g., if you would choose the autotext "hav", it would unwantedly trigger a text replacement whenever you enter the regular words "have", "behave", etc.

The phrase is offered in a popup menu instead of being inserted automatically. You can either accept the phrase by pressing the confirmation key or you can ignore the offer to insert by continuing to type.

Phrase are suggested in a popup menu if you enter the beginning of its description. You do not need to define an Autotext.

Press the confirmation key to insert the phrase or continue to type and the menu will disappear.

Selecting SmartComplete automatically enables caps sensitivity and manual confirmation option.

Expert Mode:

The Expert Mode enables additional autotext options.

Example applications:
  • Do you want the space or punctuation mark not to be output after triggering a phrase?
  • Shall autotexts only be recognized within a word or only following a number?
  • Do you want different text insertions depending on upper vs. lower case autotext?
Autotext delimiters

PhraseExpress monitors your keyboard input for any autotext matches. Technically, a 'separate word' is defined as entered text at the beginning of a sentence or text that follows or is followed by a space, punctuation mark, comma and semicolon, TAB or ENTER.

The character required before an autotext (leading delimiter) is called Prefix. The character which must follow the autotext (trailing delimiter) in order to trigger an action is called Postfix:

Prefix/Postfix Explanation

None (available for postfix only)

There is no character required following the autotext. An autotext is recognized immediately after entering the last character of the autotext.

There is any character required before/after the autotext.

The autotext must follow/be followed by the default characters as defined as "default leading/trailing delimiters" (as defined in the expert options).

The autotext must follow/be followed by the ENTER / SPACE / TAB-key.

The autotext must follow/be followed by any letter from a-z/A-Z or number 0-9

If you select this option, an input dialog allows you to define a custom set of delimiters.

Do not separate the characters with any other characters. Simply enter them one after another without any separator. Any separator, such as a comma or space, would itself be interpreted as a delimiter.

You cannot enter the ENTER- or Tab-key here. Instead use #13 for ENTER and #9 for the TAB-key.

Incremental (for postfix only)

This option is deprecated and should not be used anymore.

Incremental autotext has no particular postfix that would trigger a phrase. If Incremental autotext is selected as a postfix, all matching items are offered in a popup menu after you begin typing the first letters of a matching autotext. The choices narrow down as you continue typing the autotext.

Example prefix/postfix settings:
Prefix Postfix Explanation Notes

An autotext such as 'eth' is only recognized when entered as a separate word. It is ignored in 'Ethan', within 'methane' and in the end of the word 'Beth'.

This is the default setting and recommended for most purposes.

The autotext example 'eth' is recognized everywhere, e.g. in 'Ethan', within 'methane' and in the end of the word 'Beth'.

This option is suitable e.g. to correct mixed letters at any position of a word. Careful use is of this option is recommended as such autotext may be recognized inadvertently.

The autotext example 'eth' is only recognized in the beginning of a word such as 'Ethan' but ignored within 'methane' or 'Beth'.

This option is suitable e.g. to correct mixed letters at the beginning of a word only.

The autotext example 'eth' is only recognized in the end of a word such as 'Beth' but ignored within 'methane' or in the beginning of 'Ethan'.

This option is suitable e.g. to correct mixed letters at the end of a word.

Manual confirmation

Phrases are inserted automatically by default if you trigger the phrase by entering its associated autotext.

If you activate the Manual confirmation, phrases are offered in a popup menu:

Manual confirmation

  • Press the customizable confirmation key TAB to insert the phrase.
  • The menu disappears automatically if you continue to type.
Remove trailing delimiter

If you do not want to output the trailing delimiter after phrase insertion, select "Remove trailing delimiter".

This option is only visible in Expert Mode.

SmartCaps

PhraseExpress can automatically adapt the letter case of the output depending on the first letter of the autotext as entered:

SmartCaps feature

  • Enter the first letter of the autotext lower case, to insert a phrase beginning with lower case.
  • Begin the autotext with upper case and PhraseExpress will insert the phrase beginning with upper case.
Examples:
Keyboard input Phrase contents Pasted text
max maximum maximum
Max maximum Maximum
MAX maximum MAXIMUM
SmartCaps feature requirements:
  • Phrases must begin with lower case.
  • Autotext must be lower case.
  • Autotext must not exist in a separate lower and upper case variation.
  • Autotext option "Case sensitive autotext" must be disabled.
  • The all caps feature must be configured under Expert Options » Text insertion.

Restrict phrases to specific programs

Each phrase can be restricted to one or more specific target applications:

Application examples:
  • The autotext "fyi" can expand into "for your information" when typing in an email while the same Autotext is replaced with "Fiscal Year Information" in a MS Word document.
  • The hotkey CTRL-ALT-B could open a phrase menu containing your bank account information while you are performing online banking in your browser but the same hotkey could turn any highlighted text into bold letters in OpenOffice.
  • Hotkeys can be excluded from applications that already use such hotkeys for a different task in that program.
  • Phrase menu contents can be taylored to specific programs.
  • Desktop menus can show/hide together with specific programs.
To restrict a phrase (folder) to specific programs:
  1. Launch the program(s) you wish to define include/exclude from PhraseExpress.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase (folder) and check the option Execute only in specific program.
  3. Select to restrict to vs. exclude from a specific program.
  4. Select the desired program from the drop-down list.
  5. Optionally define (parts of) the window title of the program to make the restriction more specific.
Click the +- button to add additional program restrictions. Remove entries with the - button.

To exclude a phrase from the current program, execute the phrase, right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and uncheck the corresponding option.

The program restriction feature explained here is valid for individual phrases/phrase folders and those settings are stored in the phrase file. If you share the phrase file with others, also the program restrictions are shared with all users.

You can restrict the entire PhraseExpress including the AutoSuggest feature to specific programs on a global level. These "global program restrictions" are stored in the configuration file (vs. the phrase file) and take effect on the specific computer only. Global program restrictions do not roam with the phrase file.

If PhraseExpress cannot detect a window title, repeat switching fokus from and back to the application.

PhraseExpress detects applications by their visible program window. Some programs may hide their program window (e.g. a few password managers), making them invisible for PhraseExpress. If possible, reverse program restrictions and allow to all programs except unwanted applications.

Programs or tasks, running in virtualized environments or encapsulating frameworks cannot be distinguished by PhraseExpress, such as Java applets or "metro-styled" Windows apps (Edge browser, etc.).

Access permissions

Video Tutorial

All users can use and edit all phrases by default.

Read/Write permissions for each phrase folder can be restricted to specific users, workgroups or domains:

Access permissions dialog

Use cases:
  • A specific phrase folder keeps your personal phrases which is accessible only for you.
  • Only a particular user shall have access to a particular phrase folder.
  • A particular folder shall only be edited by accredited editors but used by all members of a specific work group.
To configure access premissions:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select the phrase folder you wish to configure.
  3. Check the option Define access rights.
  4. Configure the read and write access permissions of the selected folder to specific users, workgroups, usergroups or domains.
  5. Confirm with OK

To configure access rights for multiple folders at a time, highlight all desired phrase folders in the tree view by clicking on the folders while pressing the SHIFT- and/or CTRL-key.

Users are identified by their Windows login user name. If you log onto a different PC in the network, you can see your private phrases there as well.

  • The original creator of a phrase folder is the "owner" and always has access rights.
  • Write permissions automatically grants read permissions.
  • Your IT administrator has maintenance functions to override access restrictions. To secure phrases, use the password protection.
  • If you move access restricted phrase folders into another directory, access restrictions will be replaced with the destination folder access restriction settings. To preserve existing access restrictions copy the phrases by holding the CTRL key during the drag&drop operation (instead of moving them).

Editing options

Right-click phrases or folders for additional functions:

  • Autotexts and hotkeys can be disabled for each folder by unchecking option Enable autotext and hotkeys. Disabled folders are grayed out.
  • Uncheck Show in popup menu to hide individual phrase folders.
  • The Extended functions for folders offer rich bulk-editing features that will take effect for any item in that folder.
  • The command Remove duplicates removes duplicates phrase and merges autotexts in the selected folder.

You can find a specific phrase either in a phrase menu or in the tree view of the main program window.

Popup menu search

  1. Open a phrase menu.
  2. Start typing any part of the phrase description you wish to find.
  3. Click the phrase to insert it or right-click for additional options.

Right-click the magnifier icon to configure the search feature.

Program window search

  1. Right-click the magnifier icon to configure the search feature.
  2. Click into the search box below the tree view (or press CTRL-F).
  3. Enter the search term.

Matches are shown in a flat list:

  • Click any phrase in the list to edit it.
  • Double-click any item to show it within the tree structure.
  • Click into the search input field to switch back to the flat list of search results.
  • Hover the results for additional information.

Find & replace search

  1. Right-click any phrase folder in the tree view.
  2. Select Find & Replace from the context popup menu (or press CTRL-H).
  3. Fill in the search & replace boxes.
PhraseExpress only searches in the selected folder (and optionally subfolders).

Delete phrases

To delete a phrase:

  1. Open the main program window
  2. Select the item in the left tree view.
  3. Press DELETE or click the trash bin button.
Items cannot be deleted in following situations:
  • You do not have edit permissions (or any subfolder of that folder).
  • Another user is editing the element.
  • The phrase file is write-protected.

Undo accidental deletions with the backup restore feature.

See additional notes for deleting phrase files.

Extra Features

PhraseExpress is not only a Text Expander but also includes useful extra features that seamlessly integrate into the existing program architecture:

Clipboard Cache

The Clipboard Cache provides instant access to earlier Windows clipboard contents.

Open the clipboard cache popup menu by pressing hotkey CTRL-ALT-V.

The clipboard cache can enabled/disabled under Tools » Settings » Features » Clipboard Cache.

Highlight the clipboard cache folder in the phrase tree view for additional configuration options:

  • Specify a hotkey or autotext to open the clipboard cache popup menu.
  • The Clipboard Cache can optionally be flushed when the program is closed.
  • Text formatting and bitmaps can optionally automatically be stripped from the clipboard contents.
  • Exclude the Clipboard Cache from specific programs to prevent the Clipboard Cache from picking up sensitive information.
  • Duplicate entries can be filtered. If enabled, an existing item will be placed on top if copied again.

Create a desktop menu of the Clipboard Cache to gain instant access to your clipboard history on your desktop. PRO EDITION

You can also add the Clipboard Cache to an input form (Video tutorial).

The Clipboard Cache can be password protected.

System folders are automatically populated by the system and cannot be altered. You can only drag & drop items from the system folder into your own folder.

AutoSuggest

The AutoSuggest feature creates phrases from any repetitive input you make during your daily routine.

The feature is disabled by default and must be enabled first at Settings » AutoSuggest.

AutoSuggest recognizes repeatedly entered text during your normal work and saves words, sentences and manual spelling corrections. After a short learning period, PhraseExpress will start offering to auto-complete such frequently used text.

Right-click unwanted suggestions to remove them.

You can also train PhraseExpress with existing Word documents or sent Outlook emails to get instant suggestions based on what you have written earlier. It will be as if PhraseExpress has known you forever.

Highlight the AutoSuggest system folder in the tree view of the main program window for additional options.

Suggestions depend on following parameters:

  • Minimum text length, as specified in the AutoSuggest folder settings.
  • Minimum number of entered letters, as defined under Settings » Popup menu.
  • Text filter, as configured under Settings » AutoSuggest

Password input is not recorded if the password does not contain a space or punctuation mark. You can exclude PhraseExpress from individual programs if you enter confidential text in those programs. This feature is also available if you right-click a suggestion.

AutoSuggest is not available with Asian languages.

If you do not get any suggestions check the trouble-shooting section.

Spelling correction

The spelling correction feature is realized with the regular autotext feature. The PhraseExpress sample phrase file contains spelling correction items that replace misspelled words with the correct form.

Example:

A phrase with the contents "word" is triggered by entering the associated autotext "wrod". This means if you enter "wrod", PhraseExpress will replace this auto-correct the misspelled word with the phrase contents.

If you experience unwanted text replacements, you can easily identify and modify/delete unwanted items. Please find more information in chapter "Unwanted text replacements".

PhraseExpress can import MS Office AutoCorrect and Autotext for use in any Windows program:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » Import » Microsoft Office AutoCorrect

PhraseExpress imports the AutoCorrect entries. Make sure that AutoCorrect is disabled in Microsoft Office to avoid interferences.

We offer spelling databases in several languages as free add-ons.

If using a SQL server, consider storing AutoCorrect in a separate, local phrase file for fast access.

Calc-As-You-Type

PhraseExpress can offer to replace any entered calculation such as "10+5=" with the actual result of the equitation once you enter the equal sign.

This useful function is actually not an additional feature of PhraseExpress but just uses various existing PhraseExpress macro functions for this task. Download and import the special functions phrase file from http://www.phraseexpress.com/addons.php to use the Calculate-As-You-Type feature.

BrowserSearch

The BrowserSearch is a powerful tool to perform web queries with any hightlighted text:

  1. Highlight any text in any application.
  2. Press CTRL-F8 to open the BrowserSearch menu.
  3. Select the desired web page on which you would like to search for the highlighted term.

PhraseExpress will open the selected web page with the search results.

This function is part of the sample phrase file.

The BrowserSearch hotkey can be changed like any other phrase hotkey.

Sharing phrases

Video demonstration

PhraseExpress offers a large variety of sharing phrases with other users in the network or even over the internet.

Access to phrases can be restricted to individual users, workgroups or domains. Users can have their individual phrases while sharing common phrases with others.

To share phrases in a team:

You can use multiple sharing options simultaneously as PhraseExpress can load multiple sources at the same time.

File sharing

Multiple clients can load the same phrase file, e.g. from a network share or a cloud storage sync folder.

PhraseExpress automatically merges changes by multiple users into the common phrase file.

PhraseExpress creates a backup of any change including the user name of the editor. PhraseExpress merges backups of individual users into a common backup if the same backup storage location is configured on all clients.

Synchronization issues can occur if multiple users edit the phrase file simultaneously. Please use the PhraseExpress server or a SQL server if you want to avoid write collisions.

Cloud synchronization

The phrase file synchronization also works with online cloud storage solutions, such as Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, iCloudDrive etc.

  1. Save the phrase file you wish to share via the command File » Save As… into the cloud sync folder, e.g. "/Dropbox/phrases.pxp".
  2. The cloud service synchronizes the phrase file with all computers using the same cloud storage account.
  3. All other PhraseExpress clients automatically detect the phrase file in their local cloud sync folder and will offer to load such phrase file if you open the main program window. If you disabled auto-detection of files in cloud storage locations (Settings » Files), load the phrase file manually.
The cloud synchronization service distributes updates to the phrase file and PhraseExpress syncs the phrases on program launch or if you save any phrase file changes.

Set a password to secure your phrase file.

Online cloud synchronization services require some time to distribute the phrase file over the internet. Sync issues can occur if multiple users are editing the file while Dropbox is still distributing the update. You can avoid such issues by restricting write permissions to only few or one single users.

To prevent synchronization conflicts, use the PhraseExpress server or a SQL server.

Password protection

To secure and encrypt your phrase files against unauthorized access:

  1. Open the main program window
  2. Highlight the phrase file node in the phrase tree root
  3. Select File » Set password protection.

PhraseExpress uses the state-of-the-art AES "end-to-end" encryption. The password can be entered on program launch automatically. This option will not protect the phrases on the local computer but the phrase file cannot be opened on other computers without the password.

Password-protected phrases are also protected if using the PhraseExpress server or if you share phrase files with cloud synchronization services such as Dropbox or GoogleDrive. The phrase file is encrypted before it is saved to your hard disk or transmitted over the internet.

PhraseExpress Server

The free PhraseExpress server provides central access to a shared phrase file.

PhraseExpress server benefits:
  • Shares phrases with others in a local network.
  • Prevents editing conflicits that can potentially happen if users edit phrases simultaneously with simple file sharing. The server provides exclusive edit access to the central phrase file, preventing multiple users creating editing conflicts. If you have many editors editing the same database at the same time, then use a SQL server.
  • The phrase file is cached on the client if the network connection is interrupted.

PhraseExpress clients automatically detect a PhraseExpress server in the network by sending UDP broadcast poll via a customizable port 1036.

To manually connect to the PhraseExpress server, select File » Open » Connect to a PhraseExpress server

Make sure to have the network function enabled in Settings » Network

Find more information in the PhraseExpress server documentation.

Offline Caching

If the network connection is interrupted (e.g. if you are traveling with your laptop), PhraseExpress uses a cached version of the last phrase file version. You can still use and edit such cached phrase files.

PhraseExpress automatically switches back to the network phrase file upon network re-connection and will synchronize any edits made offline. Backups created offline are also synced if the backup storage is located on a network drive.

PhraseExpress clients use a temporary cached license while being disconnected from the network, if licensed via the PhraseExpress server or a SQL license database. The client must renew their license by reconnecting to the PhraseExpress server after a while. You can review the license state via Help » About.

SQL Server

PhraseExpress supports FireBird or Microsoft SQL server connections to share phrases in large enterprise networks.

SQL server notes:
  • Recommended for 25+ users
  • PhraseExpress loads the phrase contents in the moment of text insertion to minimize memory consumption on the local clients.
  • Multiple users can simultaneously edit different phrases of the same database.
  • Database backups are not performed by PhraseExpress but with the help of 3rd party SQL backup solutions.
  • The database is not cached if the network connection is interrupted. You may drag & drop your SQL phrases to a local phrase file node if you need those phrases while you are on the road.

Clients automatically detect to a SQL server if the PhraseExpress SQL Client Manager is running in the background. The clients send UDP broadcast polls which are answered by the SQM Client Manager with the SQL server connection details.

To manually connect to a SQL server, select File » Open » Connect to a SQL server

Make sure to have the network function enabled in Settings » Network

Find more information in the SQL Client Manager documentation.

Working with phrase files

PhraseExpress can load phrase files and databases from multiple locations simultaneously and combines all phrase files in the tree structure of the main program window.

Most commands under the File menu refer to the currently highlighted phrase file node.

PhraseExpress supports a variety of different storage types for your phrases:

Symbol Explanation

Lokale Datei

Local Phrase File

Examples: c:\data\phrases.pxp

Phrase files have the extension .pxp and contain the phrase folder structure, phrase contents, autotext and hotkey settings and program restrictions and access permissions.

The default name is phrases.pxp unless you saved your phrases under a new file name.

Phrase files can be stored on a local hard disk or network share.

Multiple users can now access the same phrase file. PhraseExpress will then synchronize and merge changes.

PhraseExpress server connection

Example: 192.168.123.121 (IP address of the PhraseExpress server)

The phrase file is hosted by the PhraseExpress server.

SQL Server

SQL Server connection

Example: Computername:d:\data\phrasPhraseExpress Serveres.pexsql

PhraseExpress loads the phrases from Firebird or Microsoft SQL servers.

Cloud synchronized file

Phrase file stored in a cloud storage sync folder

PhraseExpress automatically detects if the phrase file is located in a folder synced by e.g. Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, iCloudDrive, etc.

Mobile device file

Phrase file synchronized with a mobile device

PhraseExpress can sync phrases with an Android SmartPhone or Tablet device.

Phrase files can be created, loaded and saved in PhraseExpress similar to any other program, like Microsoft Word:

Open a phrase file

To load one or multiple phrase files:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » Open and select a phrase file source.
  3. Navigate to the desired phrase file.
  4. Choose whether to add an additional file node or to replace any existing phrase file.

If you enter a phrase file name that does not exist, PhraseExpress will create a new phrase file.

If the phrase file is read-only, editing commands are hidden from user interface.

Import a phrase file

Import an existing phrase file to add its contents to your existing phrase library:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired target destination in the root level of the phrase tree.
  3. Click File » Import and specify the phrase file. Alternatively, drag the phrase file into the phrase tree structure to the desired location.

The phrase file will be imported and added to the existing phrase file.

To import external data files, see "Import external data"

Save a phrase file

To save a phrase file to a new destination:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase file node in the root level of the phrase tree.
  3. Click File » Save As and choose the desired new storage location.

The phrase file will be saved to the new location and will be used from this new location.

File names must be unique if using multiple phrase files.

Export a phrase file

To export any phrase/folder/file, drag it out of the phrase tree onto the Windows desktop.

The exported .pxp file can be imported or opened in PhraseExpress as an autonomous (stand-alone) phrase file.

Any password protection is still applied to the exported file!

Create a new phrase file

To create a new empty phrase file:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » New and choose the desired phrase file type from the fly-out menu.
  3. Enter the name and location of the new phrase file.
  4. Choose if an additional file node shall be added or if any existing phrase file shall be replaced with the new file.

Replaced phrase files will not be deleted but remain on the hard disk.

Unload a phrase file

To remove a phrase file from PhraseExpress:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase file node in the root level of the phrase tree.
  3. Click the trash bin button or press Delete.
  4. Decide if all backups created by PhraseExpress for this file shall be deleted as well.

After confirmation, the phrase file will be removed from PhraseExpress.

The phrase file will not be deleted from the hard-disk. Use the Windows File Explorer to delete the file from your hard disk.

Review storage location

To review the physical storage location of a phrase file:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase file node in the root level of the phrase tree.
  3. Click File » Properties for detailed information about the highlighted phrase file.

Move a phrase file

To move a phrase file to a new computer:

  1. Export the phrase file.
  2. Transfer the phrase file to the new computer.
  3. Load the phrase file in the other PhraseExpress installation.

The phrase file contains all phrases with descriptions, Autotext and hotkey associations, program and access restrictions and the tree structure.

Data Backup

PhraseExpress automatically creates a phrase file backup each time you modify local phrase files.

To restore an earlier version of a phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired local phrase file node in the tree view of the main program window.
  3. Click File » Restore from backup.
  4. Choose the desired version of the phrase file.

PhraseExpress replaces the current phrase file with the selected archived version.

The backup feature can be configured in the backup settings.

The Enterprise Edition allows you to revert each individual phrase to any earlier state if using a SQL server.

Backups may not be available in following cases:
  • The selected file is a SQL/PhraseExpress server connection.
  • The corresponding phrase file is set to read-only.
  • The phrase file is missing.
  • The backup folder path as specified in the settings is not accessible or invalid.
  • The backup folder does not contain any backup yet.
  • Backups of a password protected phrase file are protected with the same password.
  • Additionally backup your phrase file to external storage media to minimize the risk of losing your data, e.g. in case of hard disk failure.
  • PhraseExpress does not create backups for system phrase files (such as the Clipboard Cache).
  • The PhraseExpress server uses a separate backup system.
  • If using SQL databases, use the back system provided with the SQL server

Import external data

To import external files into PhraseExpress:

  • Drag the file(s) into the desired phrase folder of the phrase tree view.
  • Or right-click the desired target phrase file (folder) and select Import.

Depending on the import data type, PhraseExpress shows a selection of following options:

Import Option Description

A copy of the file contents will be stored within the phrase file.

Benefits:
  • The original file is not required anymore.
  • Pasting is very quick as the file content is embedded with the phrase file and loaded during initial PhraseExpress startup.
Disadvantage:
  • The phrase file size is increased which may slow down the PhraseExpress startup time. In order to keep the phrase file small you should avoid embedding too many external files.

PhraseExpress creates a new phrase and links the external file with the {#INSERTFILE …} macro function. If you call the phrase, the macro will dynamically load the external file and inserts its contents into the target application.

Benefits:
  • The macro function does not require much space in the phrase file.
  • As the external file is loaded at the time of the insertion, you always get the latest contents.
Disadvantages:
  • As the external file is loaded at the time of the insertion, the phrase is inserted with a small delay.
  • You must not move or delete the linked file in order to keep the link. Links to external files are ignored by PhraseExpress if missing.
  • If you are using the phrase file on another PC you must make sure that the external file is also accessible via the same link. If using a PhraseExpress server, this is not critical as the phrase file is centrally stored.

PhraseExpress creates a new phrase and opens the external file/program with the {#OPEN …} macro function.

Example: If you import a Microsoft Excel .XLS file this way, PhraseExpress will launch Excel and load the Excel spreadsheet.

PhraseExpress can generate a separate phrase for each line of the text file. Each line may contain a phrase content and, optionally, an Autotext for that phrase.

Example: A text file contains a list of words and their abbreviations, each separated by three by three underscore characters as a "separator".

After defining the order of the phrase <-> Autotext, PhraseExpress will create a phrase folder named with the imported text file name and generate a separate phrase per line.

Text file formatting requirements

You may need to tweak the raw data of your text file to allow PhraseExpress scanning the file line-per-line properly:

  • The file must be text without formatting.
  • Each line must consist of a phrase plus optionally an Autotext that is separated by one or more separating characters.
  • The order phrase <-> autotext does not matter but must be consistent for all lines.
  • All separators must be identical.
  • The separator (as a whole) must not be contained in any phrase text or autotext in that file.

PhraseExpress trise to auto-detect the separator. You can manually correct the separator.

Text data from other applications can alternatively dynamically embedded into a specific phrase by using a variety of macro functions, such as {#ENV …}, {#ADLDAP …} or {#EMBEDFILE …}.

TextExpander Import

PhraseExpress can import or sync your SmileOnMyMac TextExpander snippets from the Mac:

Import from TextExpander

  1. Locate your TextExpander snippets on the Mac:
    • Your snippets are stored in the file Settings.textexpander, located on your Mac in the folder [Home]/Library/Application Support/TextExpander. You can alternatively perform a search in the Finder to find the file.
    • To get a specific snippet groups instead of all of your snippets, save a copy of the snippet group you would like to use with PhraseExpress by selecting the desired group in TextExpander's main window and then pressing the Command key (also known as the "Apple key") and the S key simultaneously.
  2. Copy the *.textexpander snippet file(s) from your Mac to the PC.
  3. Open the PhraseExpress main program window and select File » Import » TextExpander (5). to import the transferred file.

PhraseExpress will convert the proprietary TextExpander file and import the snippets into the PhraseExpress phrase library.

PhraseExpress currently supports unformatted text and some TextExpander macro functions (except Apple/Javascripting scripts).

Sync with TextExpander

  1. Enable Dropbox Synchronization in TextExpander on the Mac.
  2. Open the PhraseExpress main program window on Windows.
  3. PhraseExpress will automatically prompt you to add the TextExpander snippets to your phrase library.

If you are not prompted, enable Settings » Phrase File » Scan cloud synchronization folders in the PhraseExpress program settings.

Miscellaneous

License Registration

If you are using PhraseExpress in a professional environment or to use advanced features, you need to purchase a license and register your PhraseExpress installation. This is a one-time procedure.

To review the current license registration state, select Help » About

Stand-Alone installation

If you use PhraseExpress in a client/server environment, please skip to below section.

To register a stand-alone installation or an USB stick installation:
  1. Purchase a license.
  2. You will receive license keys by email. License keys begin with "PEX…".
  3. Copy the license key into the Windows clipboard.
  4. Open the PhraseExpress main program window and select Register for professional use.
  5. Paste the license key into license key input field and press the Register button.

The license key registration requires an internet connection to store the association between your hardware and the license key in our license database. No personal information is transmitted to us. Offline license registration is available on request for volume license purchases.

After successful registration, the program title changes to either "PhraseExpress Standard", "PhraseExpress Professional Edition" or "PhraseExpress Enterprise Edition" depending on your purchased license.

  • No PhraseExpress must be installed on the host PC if you want to register PhraseExpress running from a USB stick! Otherwise, the license key will be associated with the PhraseExpress installation on the host PC instead of the USB stick installation. If you have PhraseExpress installed on the host PC, please fully uninstall PhraseExpress from that computer if you wish to register PhraseExpress to the USB stick. Make sure to delete all settings as well when being prompted during the uninstallation sequence!
  • Shut-down PhraseExpress before pulling out the USB stick from the host PC to allow PhraseExpress writing the registration information on the USB stick. Otherwise your license may get lost.
  • Your license key will be tied to the USB hardware and you must not move the PhraseExpress program folder to any other USB stick without de-registering your license first.

PhraseExpress Server

Multiple installations in a network can get their license from the PhraseExpress server (Download). The PhraseExpress server can also be used as a license-only server if the clients do not load a phrase file.

  1. Register your license keys in the Client Manager as described in the PhraseExpress server manual.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress client tray icon and select Register for professional use.
  3. Select the option "License server" and click "Automatically find server" or enter the IP address of the computer running the PhraseExpress servers. You can find the server IP address in the monitor tab of the Client Manager.
  4. Press the button Register.

SQL Client Manager

If you load phrases from a SQL server, we recommend licensing the client installations with the SQL Client Manager (Download):

  1. Register your license keys in the SQL Client Manager as described in the SQL Client Manager manual.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress client tray icon and select Register for professional use.
  3. Select the option "SQL license database" and enter the license database path.
  4. Press the button Register.
Benefits of licensing with the PhraseExpress- or SQL server:
  • The clients do not need an internet connection.
  • Licensing is done from a central point and you do not need to walk from computer to computer to enter individual license keys.
  • You can choose between NamedUser- and ConcurrentUser licensing.

If you use a server, no license key input is required on the workstation installation. The PhraseExpress server handles all license keys centrally. Please find more information in the PhraseExpress server manual.

Remove license

A license key can only be used for one installation. If you wish to use your license key for another installation, please unbind the license association from the current installation first:

Open the PhraseExpress program window and select Tools » Remove license from this installation.

This operation requires an internet connection in order to delete the license key association in our online database.

You must not continue to use a PhraseExpress installation for professional activities after license removal.

If you forgot to remove a license from an installation, you can remove the license after re-installing PhraseExpress.

Usage statistics

PhraseExpress measures your individual typing speed to calculate the time you save by inserting phrases instead of entering them manually.

The program can calculate the aprroximate money saving if you optionally enter your hour rate. Of course, no such information is transmitted to us.

To access statistics, open the main program window and select Tools » Statistics.

PhraseExpress uses the currency as defined in the Windows regional settings. The statistics works only for unformatted phrases. Macro functions may reduce accuracy. The statistic feature is for entertainment only and not suitable for accurate productivity measurement.

Gathering information about user performance statistics may violate employee privacy protection laws in your country. The feature can be disabled at Settings » Features.

If using the PhraseExpress or SQL Server, you can disable the statistics function on all workstation installations by removing the statistic columns 'time saved' and 'money saved' in the Client Manager "Monitor" tab.

Temporarily disable PhraseExpress

Click the PhraseExpress tray icon while holding the CTRL-key to temporarily disable PhraseExpress. This is indicated by a gray exclamation mark in the PhraseExpress icon. Simply click the tray icon again with the CTRL-key to re-activate PhraseExpress.

You can also define a hotkey under Tools » Settings » hotkeys for this action.

Update check

To check manually for updates, select Tools » Settings » Network » Online updates.

Disable or configure the update check to only notify you about critical, minor or experimental updates.

Online update check is disabled if PhraseExpress is connected to a PhraseExpress or SQL server to prevent software version mix-up in a network environment. Use the Client Manager to check for updates in this case.

UI restriction

PhraseExpress can be secured against operating errors by removing menu options from the user interface:

Restriction Configuration

Prevent change of program settings

Prevent editing phrases

  • Menu items to edit settings/phrases will not only be disabled but completely removed from the user interface.
  • The reduced user interface increases ease-of-use and minimizes training and technical support by IT staff.

Uninstallation

Tip!

If you feel lost with the settings and just wish to reset PhraseExpres to a default state, you do not need to uninstall PhraseExpress. You can reset the configuration to system defaults (see here).

To permanently remove PhraseExpress :

  1. Deregister any license key, allowing you to reuse the license key for another installation.
  2. Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select Exit.
  3. Press the Windows-key (which is left to the space bar) on your keyboard.
  4. Type "Program and Features" in the search box and select the corresponding entry from the list of found items.
  5. In "Program and Features", right-click PhraseExpress in the list of programs and select Uninstall.

If the Uninstaller tells that PhraseExpress is still running while there is no PhraseExpress tray icon visible, press CTRL-SHIFT-ESC to open the task manager, click Details, switch to the tab Processes, select the process 'phraseexpress.exe' and end the process.

The uninstallation routine does not delete phrase files to prevent accidental data loss. If you do not need the phrase file anymore, delete them in the Windows file explorer.

Reference

Phrase file states

Icons in the first tree level of the main program window indicate the phrase source and current status:

Symbol Explanation

Normal

Default state - Everything is fine.

Offline

The phrase file is currently unavailable (offline) and a temporary local copy is used.

Zugriffsbeschränkt

Access restriction have been applied.

Deaktiviert

Autotext and hotkeys are disabled for this element. Right-click and check "Enable autotext/hotkeys" in the context menu to change state.

Bearbeitung gesperrt

Another user is editing this element. Press F5 to update the status.

Keine Schreibrechte

The phrase file is write-protected or you do not have edit permissions.

Passwortschutz

The phrase file is password-protected.

Program states

PhraseExpress has different states which are indicated by its tray icon:

Color Explanation

default

PhraseExpress is ready to use.

play

PhraseExpress is currently executing a phrase or a macro automation.

blocked

PhraseExpress is deactivated for the current application:

  • The current application has been launched with different user credentials than PhraseExpress (see Wikipedia). For security reasons, PhraseExpress cannot paste into programs launched with admin rights while itself is running with normal user rights (or vice-versa). Make sure to have PhraseExpress and the target app running with the same credentials (more info).
  • PhraseExpress has been manually excluded to work in the current target app.

withe

PhraseExpress is currently busy with loading/processing a phrase file.

disabled

Hotkeys, Autotext and the AutoSuggest feature are temporarily disabled (see chapter "Temporarily disable PhraseExpress").

Program hotkeys

PhraseExpress temporarily uses following hotkeys in the main program window:

Hotkey Purpose
CTRL-N Creates a new phrase at the current cursor's location in the tree view
CTRL-O Creates a new folder at the current cursor's location in the tree view
CTRL-F Opens the QuickSearch popup
CTRL-H Opens the Find&Replace dialog
CTRL-D Duplicates the currently selected item in the tree view
CTRL-S Saves the current status of all phrase files and keeps the main program window open.
CTRL-A Selects all items in the current folder level in the tree view.
CTRL-I Opens the Import dialog.
CTRL-C, -X, -V Clipboard operations: Copy, Cut, Paste
Delete-key Deletes the currently selected item
ESC Minimizes the main program window.
F1-key Opens this documentation
F5-key Reloads the currently selected phrase file. This is also useful to check the current file status (online/offline, write protections, etc.).
ALT-F4 Minimizes/exits PhraseExpress
Arrow Left/Right Expands/Collapses the currently selected phrase folder level. If press multiple times, the selection advances to the parent folder.
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Left/Right Collapses/Expands all phrase folders.
Arrow Up/Down Moves the selection cursor to the previous/next item in the tree.
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Up/Down Jump to the first/last item in the phrase tree
CTRL-Arrow Up/Down Shifts the current tree view within the viewport by one item to the top/bottom.
SHIFT-Arrow Up/Down Extends the current selection to the previous/next element.
Page Up/Down Jumps to the first/last currently visible item of the current phrase folder level.
SHIFT-Page Up/Down Extends the current selection to all currently visible previous/next elements of the current phrase folder level.
CTRL-Page Up/Down Shifts the current tree view within the viewport to the top/bottom currently visible item.
Home/End Jumps to the first/last item of the current phrase folder level.
CTRL-Home/End Jumps to the very first/last item of your entire phrase librabry.

PhraseExpress hotkeys are temporarily disabled when the cursor is placed in the hotkey input field to allow you to enter/use above hotkeys for your phrases/folders.

File locations

PhraseExpress uses a couple of files which are stored in following locations:

File Purpose Location

phrases.pxp

The phrase file keeps all your text snippets including the phrase folder structure, folder access permission information, Autotext and hotkey definitions.

If you want to move your phrases to another computer, copy this file to the new computer.

Backup this file frequently to an external storage media to prevent data loss of your personal phrases!

Common user documents folder: C:\Users\Public\Documents\PhraseExpress\

The file path may be different if you have loaded another phrase file.

If running PhraseExpress from a USB drive, the phrase file must be located in any directory on that USB drive.

clipboard.pxp, lastused.pxp, autolearn.pxp

Stores the dynamically generated contents of the special phrase folders used for the clipboard cache, last used phrases and AutoSuggest feature.

User data folder: C:\Users\UserName\Documents\PhraseExpress\

If running PhraseExpress from a USB drive, these files are located in the directory where the program file is running from.

pexdesktop.xml

Contains desktop menu sizes and coordinate information.

If using a SQL server, desktop menu information is saved in the SQL database for each user instead.

words.pal

This file contains the AutoSuggest dictionary and must not be edited.

It does not contain human-readable information but only word lists and information about links between words.

If using the AutoSuggest feature, backup this file frequently to an external storage media to prevent loss of your text predictions!

config.xml

Contains program settings. It has an XML structure and can be edited by experienced IT administrators.

User Application data folder: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\PhraseExpress\

  • The installation file copies a default configuration file into the Common User Application data folder: C:\ProgramData\PhraseExpress\
    If PhraseExpress is launched for the first time from a new user account, it will copy this common configuration file into the User Application data folder.
  • If running PhraseExpress from a USB drive, these files are located in the directory where the program file is running from.

network.pxp

If you are using the PhraseExpress server and if the network connection is interrupted, PhraseExpress uses this dynamically generated temporary copy of the latest version of the network phrase file as a cache while you are not connected to the Server.

Command line parameters

Video tutorial

Several command-line parameters are available for the program executable and for the installation file.

Program file

Advanced users can launch the PhraseExpress program file with command-line parameter in order to activate additional functions:

Command line parameter Explanation

-DEBUG

Creates a debug file into a folder on the Windows desktop. This file is useful for our tech support for trouble-shooting purposes.

Do not use this command-line parameter as a default as PhraseExpress will slow down over time as the debug file can become very large and PhraseExpress may behave erratic while trying to handle the large file.

-CONFIGFILE=file path

Launches PhraseExpress with a custom configuration file.

Example: PhraseExpress.exe -configfile=c:/data/myconfig.xml

When closing PhraseExpress, the program will save the configuration to the default position (User Application data folder, e.g. \Users\John Doe\AppData\Roaming\PhraseExpress\config.xml).

-READONLY

The phrase file will be treated as if the read-only file attribute would be set. Consequently, you cannot create or alter phrases.

-NOSETTINGS

Menu commands to change settings are hidden from the user interface.

-NOEXIT

The menu item "Exit PhraseExpress" is hidden from the tray icon popup.

-PORTABLE

Forces PhraseExpress to launch in the USB mode even if the program is not launched from a USB memory stick. Please find more information in the chapter "PhraseExpress on USB flash drives".

-LICENSE="YourLicenseKey"

Allows to automate the license key registration on stand-alone installations. Do not use if using a PhraseExpress/SQL Server!

Make sure to use a individual license key for each installation. We can replace multiple license keys (25+) with a single license key (valid for the equivalent number of installations) on request.

Do not use this command-line parameter if using a PhraseExpress or SQL server. In this case, license keys are centrally registered with the (SQL) Client Manager.

Installation file

Following command-line parameter can be used with the standard PhraseExpress installation file (not the MSI installer and not the program file):

/SILENT, /VERYSILENT, /SUPPRESSMSGBOXES

Instructs Setup to be silent or very silent. When Setup is silent the wizard and the background window are not displayed but the installation progress window is. When a setup is very silent this installation progress window is not displayed. Everything else is normal so for example error messages during installation are displayed.

/SQLSERVER=XY|server:drive:path\phrases.pexsql

Specifies the SQL database location if using PhraseExpress with a SQL server.

Replace place holders "X" and "Y" corresponding to your SQL configuration:

  • X=0 if SQL server connection is authorized by the SQL server.
  • X=1 if SQL server connection is authorized with Windows logon.
  • Y=0 if using a Firebird SQL server.
  • Y=1 if using a Microsoft SQL server.

Following example connects to Microsoft SQL server with Windows logon authorization:

/SQLSERVER=11|myserver:d:myfilepath\phrases.pexsql

/SQLLICENSE=XY|server:drive:path\license.pexlic

PhraseExpress expects the license database at the phrase database location by default.

If the license database is stored in a different location, use command-line parameter /SQLLICENSE to specify the license database.

Replace place holders "X" and "Y" corresponding to your SQL configuration:

  • X=0 if SQL server connection is authorized by the SQL server.
  • X=1 if SQL server connection is authorized with Windows logon.
  • Y=0 if using a Firebird SQL server.
  • Y=1 if using a Microsoft SQL server.

Following example connects to a Firebird SQL server, authorized by the SQL server:

/SQLLICENSE=00|myserver:d:mydata\license.pexlic

/SERVER=IP address:Port

specifies the PhraseExpress server's IP address and port.

/SERVERUDPPORT=port number/ServerUDPPort=port number

The Client tries to find the Server by sending UDP broadcast polls via a UDP 1037 by default. You can change this UDP port to a custom port:

Example: /ServerUDPPort=1062

/LISTENUDPPORT=port number

The PhraseExpress server answers client's broadcast poll with the TCP address and TCP port via a UDP 1036 which can customized with this command-line parameter. Example: /ListenUDPPort=1035

Do NOT use following command-line parameter if using a PhraseExpress or SQL server as following parameters can be configured centrally in the Client Manager:

/LICENSE =XXXX

Passes the license key to the Stand-Alone installation and automatically registers the license online. Use individual licenses key for each installation. We replace multiple license keys (25+) with a single license key (valid for the equivalent number of installations) on request.

Video tutorial

/NOCONFIG disables access to client program settings to prevent operating errors.

/NOEDIT disables editing phrases on the client.

Macro Functions

Macro functions extend static phrases with additional features, such as embedding external file contents, prompting users for text input or adding current time & date stamp.

Macro functions can also launch programs, open documents, or websites, display message dialogs or tray hints or create input forms, link phrases, calculate math expressions and so much more…

PhraseExpress automates repetitive tasks by emulating key press sequences and with the help of string operations, program loops, variables and conditional statements.

Native support of the macro software Mouse Recorder turns PhraseExpress into a full-fledged automation solution.

How it works

Macro functions are placeholders which are replaced with dynamic contents into the static phrase at the time of execution.

Example

Today is {#DATE}. The current time is {#TIME}.

PhraseExpress processes the macro functions sequentially from the left to the right and replaces {#DATE} with the current date and {#TIME} with the current time:

Today is 09/01/2015. The current time is 3:50 PM.

Adding a macro

To add a macro function to a phrase:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select any phrase you wish to add a macro.
  3. Click in the phrase content box at the desired position.
  4. Click Macro in the main menu and select the desired macro function.
  5. Configure the parameters in the macro configuration dialog.

Display Options

Macro functions can be displayed in two modes. To switch display mode, change option View » Expand macro functions:

Standard macro view:

  • Shortened macro display for easier view.
  • Hover the macro for details.
  • Double-click macro to edit parameters and to review nested macro functions.
  • CTRL-click {#INSERT …} macros to jump to the linked phrase.
"Classic" view:

  • Macros are shown with all parameter, including nested macro functions.
  • Double-click click to open the macro configuration dialog.
  • Double-click the autotext of a {#INSERT …} macro to jump to the linked phrase.
  • In classic view, you can also manually enter/edit macro functions.
  • Classic view is not supported for formatted phrases.

Nesting macros

Macro functions can be nested to feed the output of one macro as a parameter of another macro function.

Example

The result is {#CALC {#INPUT -HEAD Number?}*{#RND 10}}.

PhraseExpress scans phrases from left to right and nested macro functions first from the inside to the outside (with only few exceptions).

Above example is processed as follows:
  1. PhraseExpress begins the output with the static text portion "The result is".
  2. The following {#CALC} macro surrounds the macro functions {#INPUT} and {#RND} , so those will be processed first:
  3. {#INPUT} prompts the user for a manual input.
  4. {#RND} generates a random number.
  5. After all nested macros are processed, continues to process the surrounding macro {#CALC} , that multiplies the manual input with the random number and outputs the result.
  6. The {#CALC} macro is followed by a punctuation mark that is output as regular static text.
Example output:

The result is 15.

Nested macros open unlimited possibilities of automating tasks or creating complex text processing. Almost any macro can be nested and combined with other macro function.

To add a nested macro
  1. Open the configuration dialog of an existing macro
  2. Rightclick any input field and choose from the available macro functions in the context menu.
  3. Configure the nested macro function.

Check out our step-by-step video tutorial blog at http://www.text-expander.com for inspirations.

List of Macro Functions

Date & Time

Timestamp

Macro functions {#DATE} and {#TIME} insert the current date/time at the macro position. The date formatting adapts to the Windows regional settings.

Formatting

{#DATETIME} outputs the time and date in specific format.

Parameters
  • -F formatting defines the date output format (see below).
  • -S dateshift adds a time/date shift
  • -D outputs the number of days that have passed within the current year.
  • -W outputs the number of weeks that have passed within the current year.
  • -MANUAL adds a manual date input box.
Applications:
  • Output only parts of a date or time, e.g. the current month's name or the day of the week.
  • Output of a shifted date or time, e.g. next month, the current time plus three hours or any given date plus 14 (work) days. This may be versatile for invoice reminder boilerplate templates or out-of-office notifications.
  • Output of the rounded time, e.g. "11:45am" instead of "11:39am".
Examples:
Examples Output
{#DATETIME -F mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm} 03/16/2016 10:47
{#DATETIME -F dd.mm.yy} 16.03.2016
{#DATETIME -F dddd dd.mm.yy} Thursday 16.03.16
{#DATETIME -F hh:mm am/pm} 10:47 am
Date/time placeholders:
Unit Meaning
d Day without a leading zero (1-31)
dd Day including a leading zero (01-31)
ddd Abbreviated weekday (Sun-Sat)
dddd Weekday (Sunday-Saturday)
dddddd Date in standard format
m Month without a leading zero (1-12). If the following parameter is h or hh, then the minute is being displayed instead of the month
mm Month including a leading zero (01-12). If the following parameter is h or hh, then the minute is being displayed instead of the month
mmm Abbreviated month (Jan-Dec)
mmmm Month (January-December)
yy Year with two digits (00-99)
yyyy Year with four digits (0000-9999)
h Hour without a leading zero (0-23)
hh Hour including a leading zero (00-23)
n Minute without a leading zero (0-59)
nn Minute including a leading zero (00-59)
s Second without a leading zero (0-59)
ss Second including a leading zero (00-59)
am/pm 12-hour time prefix am or pm
Time shift
Date/time shift examples Output
{#DATETIME} 03/16/2016 10:47
{#DATETIME -S 1d} 03/17/2016 10:47
{#DATETIME -S -2h} 03/16/2016 08:47
{#DATETIME -F mm/yyyy -S 5y} 03/2020
Perform date calculations

A date can be passed via parameter -VALUE to perform date-/timeshift calculations.

This example takes the current date and calculates a shift by +14 workdays:

{#DATETIME -VALUE {#DATE} -S 14w}

Calendar

{#CALENDAR} opens a calendar and outputs the selected date in the defined format.

Parameters
  • -HEAD title specifies the calendar window title.
  • -F formatting defines the date format.(see {#DATETIME …}).
  • -MANUAL adds a manual date input box.
Example

Purchase date: {#CALENDAR -head Select purchase date -F MMMM dd -MANUAL}.

The example outputs the selected date in the format "month day", e.g. "May 13".

To re-use the selected date in various places within a phrase, use the identical window title for all instances of the calendar macro.

User Input

PhraseExpress can prompt the user to enter information which can be either embedded in the phrase or processed by other nested macro functions.

Manual text input

{#INPUT} prompts the user to enter text.

Parameters
  • -HEAD title specifies the input window title.
  • -DEF default populates the input field with a default.
  • -REQUIRED prevents users to submit the form without making any input. Additional parameters email, text, letters, numbers, url, filepath or folderpath validate the input syntax.
  • -SINGLE shows a single line input box which allows you to dispatch the input with ENTER (vs. CTRL-ENTER). Example: {#INPUT -HEAD MyInput -SINGLE}
Example

Dear {#INPUT -HEAD Name? -SINGLE -REQUIRED letters},

Thank you for your email.

PhraseExpress inserts the beginning of the phrase "Dear ". The user is then prompted for input with a single-line input box:

Manual input dialog

The entered text is syntax checked (letters only) and replaces the macro function. Then, the remaining phrase is pasted:

Dear Frank Harris,

Thank you for your email.

If the input is required at multiple positions within a phrase, use the identical window title text for all macro functions. You will only need to enter the input once and the input is used for all instances.

Input form

Forms collect multiple user input with a variety of form controls before a phrase is inserted.

PhraseExpress scans a phrase for all form macros and dynamically generates an input form.

After filling the form, PhraseExpress replaces the form macro placeholders with the corresponding input throughout the phrase and inserts the whole text.

Example

Customer Name: {#FORMEDITBOX -TEXT Name? -SINGLE -REQUIRED}

The user is {#FORMCHECKBOX -TEXT Existing Customer? -VALS an existing|no -DEF Yes} customer.

The customer is using {#FORMCOMBOBOX -TEXT Which version are you using? -ITEMs version 10|version 11}.

This phrase opens a form to prompt for user input:

After filling the form, PhraseExpress replaces the form macro functions with the user input and outputs the phrase:

Customer Name: Michael

The customer is a an existing customer.

The customer is using version 11.

Normally, macro functions are processed recursively, starting with inner nested macros to outer macros. Form macros are an exception as they are sequentially processed. Macro functions nested within a form macro are processed recursively.

If you need any input at multiple positions within a phrase, use the identical label for all related form macros. Only one instance of the objects that have the same label will be shown in the form.

How to create a form:

  1. Create the text phrase that shall include the form later.
  2. The form is automatically created for this phrase just by adding form macro functions. To add a form macro, position the cursor where the input of the form will be inserted later when you execute the phrase. Then, select Macro button and choose the desired form macro function from the menu.
Common form macro parameters

Most form macros share following parameters:

  • -TEXT Label defines the form control label
  • -HINT Description adds a customizable text that is shown if the mouse hovers the form control.
  • -DEF DefaultValue defines a default value that prefills the form control
  • -REQUIRED forces the user to make an input.
Text input

{#FORMEDITBOX} adds an input box to a form.

Parameters
  • User input becomes mandatory by adding parameters -REQUIRED. The term "input required" will be added to the text description. The user can only click the OK button of the form if the input field has any contents. PhraseExpress can additionally verify the syntax with additional parameters email, text, letters, numbers, url, filepath or folderpath.
  • -HIDDEN hides user input with **** characters (as known from password input dialogs).
  • -SINGLE turns the input field into a single line input field.
Example

{#FORMEDITBOX -TEXT Enter the URL -DEF http://www.google.com -SINGLE -REQUIRED URL}

The example prompts the user to enter a website address. The input box is prefilled with "http://www.google.com". Input is required and checked for correct URL syntax.

Numeric input

{#FORMNUM} adds a numeric input box to a form.

Parameters
  • -MIN value defines the minimum required value.
  • -MAX value defines the maximum allowed value.
Example

{#FORMNUM -TEXT Enter a number between 1 and 10 -DEF 7 -MIN 1 -MAX 10 -REQUIRED}

The example prompts the user to enter a number between 1 and 10. The default value is 7 and input is required.

Check box

{#FORMCHECKBOX} adds a check box to a form.

Parameters
  • -VALS OutputIfChecked|OutputIfUnchecked specifies output if checkbox is (not) checked. Without specified values, the words 'yes' or 'no' are used.
  • -DEF True ticks the check box by default.
Example

{#FORMCHECKBOX -TEXT Are male? -VALS He is male|She is female -DEF True}

The example creates a checkbox. If checked, it outputs "he is male". Otherwise, "she is female" is output. The check box is ticked by default.

The form group macro can combine sets of check boxes.

Drop Down

{#FORMCOMBOBOX} adds a drop down selection ("combo-box") to the form.

Parameters
  • -ITEMS Option1|Option2|Option3 specifies the drop-down menu items, each separated by a vertical dash.
  • -VALS Output1|Output2|Output3 optionally defines alternative output for each item, each separated by a vertical dash.
  • -DEF Option1 defines a preselected item.
Example

{#FORMCOMBOBOX -TEXT Dropdown selection -ITEMS OptionA|OptionB|OptionB -VALS OutputA|OutputB|OutputC -DEF OptionB -REQUIRED -HORIZONTAL}

The example adds a drop-down menu control with three items.

Phrase Selection

{#FORMPHRASECOMBO} adds a drop down control ("combo-box"), filled with phrases of a specific phrase folder.

Parameter

-SOURCE PhraseFolderAutotext specifies the phrase folder that populates the drop-down control.

Example

{#FORMPHRASECOMBO -TEXT Select a phrase -SOURCE ##myphrases}

The example adds a drop-down menu, filled with phrases of the phrase folder with the Autotext "##myphrases".

This macro can be used for e.g. the phrase folder keeping your clipboard history (Video tutorial).

Radio button

{#FORMRADIOGROUP} adds a radio button group.

Parameters
  • -ITEMS OptionA|OptionB|OptionB specifies the radio buttons, each separated by a vertical dash.
  • -VALS OutputA|OutputB|OutputC optionally defines an alternative output for each item, each separated by a vertical dash.
  • -HORIZONTAL changes the radio button layout from vertical to horizontal to save space (make sure to use short -TEXT labels).
  • -DEF Option1 defines a preselected item.
Example

{#FORMRADIOGROUP -TEXT Radio buttons -ITEMS OptionA|OptionB|OptionB -VALS OutputA|OutputB|OutputC -DEF OptionB -REQUIRED -HORIZONTAL}

The example creates a set of horizontal set of three radio buttons.

Group

{#FORMGROUP} groups a set of form elements and outputs the user input by customizable enumerators.

Parameters
  • -ITEMS FormControls contains all form elements that shall be grouped.
  • -ENUM characters specifies the enumerator. In most cases, you want a comma plus a space character.
  • -LASTENUM characters specifies the last enumerator which often will be either " and " or " or ".
Example

{#FORMGROUP -TEXT Parts -ENUM ,  -LASTENUM  and  -ITEMS {#FORMCHECKBOX -TEXT Ear -VALS ear}{#FORMCHECKBOX -TEXT Nose -VALS nose}{#FORMCHECKBOX -TEXT Mouth -VALS mouth}}

Note the intentional extra space characters which are part of the enumerators.

The example creates a group of 3 checkboxes. The checked items will be separated by ", ". The last checked item will be separated by " and ".

Output examples:

ear, nose and mouth

ear and nose

Number Slider

{#FORMSLIDER} adds a slider for number input.

Parameters
  • -MIN value defines the minimum required value.
  • -MAX value defines the maximum number of eggs in the fridge.
Appearance

{#FORM}specifies the form window title text and width .

Parameters
  • -TEXT Window title defines the title of the form window.
  • -WIDTH value specifies the form window width in pixel (default is 450 px).

This macro must be placed in the very beginning of the phrase.

Text label

{#FORMTEXT} adds a text label to the form.

Parameters
  • -TEXT Text is the actual text.
  • -LINK URL turns the text into a clickable weblink
Separator

{#FORMSEPARATOR} inserts a horizontal line to visually separate form contents.

Document Generator

The Document Generator allows users to create a document by selecting multiple phrases in a easy-to-use frontend.

Please check the Document Generator manual for details.

Open File dialog

{#OPENDLG} opens the Windows dialog to select a file.

Parameters
  • -DEFEXT FileExtension specifies the file extension.
  • -DEFFILENAME FileName pre-fills the file name input box.
  • -INITDIR FileDirectory opens the dialog with the provided file directory.

The macro returns the selected file path and is useful to feed other macro functions for advanced macro programming.

Example

{#EMBEDFILE {#OPENDLG -TITLE Select MS Excel spreadsheet -DEFEXT xls -DEFFILENAME MyFile -INITDIR d:/data}}

The inner {#OPENDLG} macro prompts the user to select an MS Excel file. The selected file path is then passed to surrounding macro {#EMBEDFILE} , inserts the contents of selected file into the phrase.

Save File dialog

{#SAVEDLG} opens the Windows dialog to select a file to save.

Parameters
  • -DEFEXT FileExtension specifies the file extension.
  • -DEFFILENAME FileName pre-fills the file name input box.
  • -INITDIR FileDirectory opens the dialog with the provided file directory.

The macro returns the selected file path that can be used with other macro functions.

Example

{#OUTPUT -TARGET {#SAVEDLG -TITLE title -DEFEXT txt -DEFFILENAME Myfile -INITDIR d:/data} -CONTENT SampleContent}

The inner {#SAVEDLG} macro prompts the user to specify a text file destination. This file path is passed to surrounding macro {#OUTPUT} that saves specified contents into the file as entered.

External Data

MS Outlook Add-In

PhraseExpress can extract data from incoming emails in Microsoft Outlook.

Please check the Outlook Add-In manual for details.

Embed external file

{#EMBEDFILE filepath} inserts the contents of the specified file into the phrase.

Supported file types:
File Type File Extension
Text files .TXT, .RTF, .HTM, .HTML, .DOC, .DOCX

Bitmap files

.BMP, .JPG, .TIFF, .PNG

Microsoft Word files are supported in the Pro Edition (or higher) only and require a local Microsoft Word installation.

Insert external file

{#INSERTFILE filepath} copies the contents of the specified file into the clipboard and pastes the clipboard into the target application. For Microsoft Word files, see above.

Insert MS Excel cell value

{#EXTRACTCELL} inserts the contents of a cell of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Parameters
  • -FILE FilePath specifies the source file.
  • -ROW Value defines the row of the desired cell, starting at 1 for Excel files and zero for CSV files.
  • -COL Value defines the column of the desired cell, starting with 1 or A for Excel files and zero for CSV files.
Example

{#EXTRACTCELL -ROW 5 -COL 2 -FILE D:\data\table.xls}

This example inserts the cell contents with the coordinates B5 of the Excel spreadsheet "table.xls" into the phrase at the time of the execution.

PhraseExpress uses numbers only for the coordinates instead of letter-number coordinates ("B4") to enable you calculating cell coordinates, e.g. with the help of macro function {#CALC …}.

To insert the whole spreadsheet instead of a single cell, use {#INSERTFILE …}.

This macro function requires a Microsoft Excel installation.

XML value

{#EXTRACTXML} inserts a XML file value.

Parameters
  • -FILE FilePath specifies the source file.
  • -XPATH XPath defines the xpath value (see Wikipedia).
Example

{#EXTRACTXML -XPATH //path/value/ value -FILE D:\data\file.xml}

This macro function can be used as a data bridge to external databases which can create an XML file.

Windows environment variable

Macro function {#ENV %variable%} inserts the specified Windows environment variable (see Wikipedia).

Example

The operating system is {#ENV %os%} and the user name is {#ENV %user name%}

Above phrase will be output as follows:

The operating system is Windows_NT and the user name is Jon Donson

ActiveDirectory variable

Macro function {#ADLDAP variable name} inserts the specified LDAP variable into the phrase.

This macro is useful e.g. for email signatures which are dynamically filled by the ActiveDirectory variables.

Example

Kind regards,

{#ADLDAP Name}

Phone {#ADLDAP Phone}

PhraseExpress renders the phrase at the time of its execution as follows:

Kind regards,
Jon Doe
Phone (203) 345-674

Output

Simulate keypress

PhraseExpress can simulate keystroke combinations, e.g. to automate programs. For advanced automation tasks also check the macro function {#mouserecorder …}.

Special key examples Output
{#ENTER} Simulates pressing the ENTER-key
{#SHIFT -chars abc} Outputs the characters 'abc' together while pressing and holding the SHIFT-key
{#SHIFT -chars {#ALT -chars abc}} Outputs the characters 'abc' together while pressing and holding the SHIFT- and ALT-key
{#DOWN -COUNT 5} Simulates pressing the Arrow Down-key five times
Application Example

jondoe{#TAB}password{#ENTER}

Above example outputs "jondoe", followed by the TAB-key, the text "password" and the ENTER-key. This is useful to automate the login procedure at website logins.

List of keywords:

CTRL, ALT, SHIFT, SPACE, BKSP, TAB, BREAK, DEL, LEFT, RIGHT, UP, DOWN, ENTER, ESC, NUMPAD0, NUMPAD1, NUMPAD2, NUMPAD3, NUMPAD4, NUMPAD5, NUMPAD6, NUMPAD7, NUMPAD8, NUMPAD9, MULTIPLY, ADD, SEPARATOR, SUBTRACT, DECIMAL, DIVIDE, F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, F6, F7, F8, F9, F10, F11, F12, F13, F14, F15, F16, INS, HOME, END, PGDN, PGUP, PRTSC, SCROLLLOCK, NUMLOCK, CAPSLOCK, LWIN, RWIN, NONE

Notes for certain special keys:
Special key Note
{#NONE} This is a placeholder for special purposes. Example: {#NONE -chars {#ENTER}{#DOWN} -COUNT 5} simulates pressing the ENTER- and Arrow Down-key five times.

{#ADD}, {#MULTIPLY}, {#SEPARATOR}, {#SUBTRACT}, {#DIVIDE}

These keywords represent the keys on the extended number block on the far right of your keyboard (or distributed throughout if using some laptops/netbooks).

Random text

{#RANDOMTEXT RandomItem1|RandomItem2} insert one of the specified texts (separated by vertical dashes) by random. The items can also include macro functions.

Example

With {#RANDOMTEXT kind|best} regards

This phrase may output:

With kind regards

Or by random, it could output:

With best regards

Output to file

{#OUTPUT} saves text into a file.

Parameters
  • -CONTENT Text specifies the contents to be saved.
  • -TARGET FilePath defines the target file name/path.
Example

{#OUTPUT -TARGET {#SAVEDLG -TITLE Where to save the file?} -CONTENT {#DOCGEN}}

This example runs the Document Generator and saves its generated output into a file. The file destination is defined by the user with the help of the "Save file…" dialog.

This macro function requires a Microsoft Word installation.

E-Mail attachment

{#PASTEFILE FilePath} pastes the specified file to the target application by using the Windows clipboard.

This is useful to attach a file to an open email message window.

Example

{#PASTEFILE D:\data\brochure.pdf}

If this macro is executed in an open Outlook email window, Outlook will add the specified as an email attachment to this message.

You may need to add a {#SLEEP} macro to give Outlook some time to process the data.

Message window

{#MSGBOX} opens a message window.

Parameters
  • -HEAD Text specifies the window title.
  • -TEXT MessageText contains the actual message text.
  • -YES Autotext branches to another phrase with that Autotext if the "Yes" button is pressed in the message dialog box.
  • -NO Autotext branches to another phrase with that Autotext if the "No" button is pressed.
  • -CANCEL Autotext branches to another phrase with that Autotext if "Cancel" has been pressed.
  • -DEFAULTNO sets the input focus to the "No" button.
Example

{#MSGBOX -HEAD I am a messagebox -TEXT This is some sample text -YES ##yesclick -NO##noclick -DEFAULTNO}

This example shows a message box. It inserts the phrase with the autotext ##yesclick if the "Yes" button is clicked. If "No" is pressed, the contents of the phrase with the autotext ##noclick is inserted.

Tray notification

{#BALLOON} shows a clickable speech bubble notification near the Windows system tray:

Parameters
  • -TITLE Text defines the notification title.
  • -TEXT NotificationText defines the actual notification text.
  • -ONCLICK Text may define text or macro functions that are executed if the notification is clicked.
Example

{#BALLOON -TITLE Headline -TEXT TextContents -ONCLICK OutputIfClicked}

ASCII char

{#ASC character code} pastes the special character with the three-digit character code just as you would when using the ALT-key while entering the three-digit character code on the extended number block.

Example: The copyright-symbol © can be pasted by using the macro {#ASC 169}.

The MS Windows utility Charmap provides an overview of the special characters including their code.

Random number

Macro function {#RND maximum} pastes a random number between 0 and the specified maximum value.

Example

This is a random value: {#RND 100}

Output:

This is a random value: 23

Set cursor position

{#CURSOR} places the cursor to the macro position within a phrase after insertion of that phrase.

Example

The cursor will be here: {#CURSOR} and not at the end of the phrase.

This macro only works for phrases without text formatting that are pasted using the key-by-key paste method. The cursor position can be affected by {#ASC …} or {#SIMKEY …} macros.

Automation

Mouse Recorder Automation

{#MOUSERECORDER name} launches Mouse Recorder and playback the macro automation which has been created in Mouse Recorder through PhraseExpress.

The automation data is stored in the macro (i.e. the phrase file/database).

Double-Click the macro to edit the automation in Mouse Recorder.

Automation playback and editing requires an installed Mouse Recorder.

Create email

{#MAIL } creates a new email with your default email client.

Parameters
  • -TO recipient
  • -CC cc-recipient
  • -BCC bcc-recipient
  • -SUBJECT MailSubject
  • -BODY MailBody
  • -ATTACH FilePaths
Example

{#MAIL -to holly@would.net -subject News for you -BODY {#INSERT ExamplePhrase}}

Given, the phrase with the Autotext ExamplePhrase has following contents:

Dear Holly,

Please check your post mailbox at home.

Sincerely,
Earl E. Bird

The resulting email:

Email

Strange characters in the mail body may be caused by email programs with UTF-8 character encoding (e.g. Microsoft Outlook ). In such a case, please enable UTF-8 support in the PhraseExpress expert settings.

Multiple file attachments can be separated by a vertical line. Example: -ATTACH C:\file1.txt|C:\file2.txt

If the attachment file names contain space characters, you must enclose the path in "".

The #mail macro offers additional features if using Microsoft Outlook, such as definition of a file attachment and unlimited body text length. On the other hand, email sent using the mailto: system command only offers a limited body text length. Reduce the amount of text if an error message occurs.

Open a web page

{#URL web page} opens the specified web page in the default internet browser.

Example

{#URL http://www.phraseexpress.com -WAIT -TIMEOUT 10000}

Parameter -WAIT pauses the phrase execution until the web page is fully loaded (IE only) or after the optional timeout (in seconds).

Open File Explorer

Video Tutorial

The above macro function {#OPENFOLDER "c:\path"} opens the specified file folder in Windows Explorer.

Example

{#OPENFOLDER "C:\Windows"}

This example opens the file folder c:/Windows in the File Explorer.

Parameter -SELECT highlights the specified folder in File Explorer.

{#OPENFOLDER "C:\Windows" -select}

Launch program

{#RUN} launches the specified program.

Parameters
  • -FILE FilePath specifies the program to be launched.
  • -PARAMS ProgramParameters defines optional parameters.
  • -WORKDIR FolderPath optionally defines the working directory.
Example

{#RUN -FILE "notepad.exe"}

If the desired application is not registered in Windows, you need to enter the full program path.

Open a file

{#OPEN file} opens the specified file with the default application associated with the file type.

Example

{#OPEN d:\data\example.txt}

Switch focus

{#FOCUS window title} switches focus to the specified Windows application based on its windows title (e.g. "calculator"). The function is ignored if the specified application is not running.

Example

{#FOCUS Calculator}

The above macro changes the focus to the calculator program (if it is running).

You can also use a wildcard * within the windows title definition.

Loop Function

{#LOOP -COUNT x} repeats anything x-times, that is, the number which follows after 'LOOP'.

Example

{#LOOP Example{#ENTER} -COUNT 3}

The example used here uses the word 'example' three times:

Example

Example

Example

Programming

Link phrases

{#INSERT Autotext} inserts the contents of another phrase.

Parameters
  • -RANDOM selects a random phrase (if Autotext points to a phrase folder containing multiple phrases).
  • -ITEM Value inserts the n-th element of a phrase folder.
Example

Hello,

Thank you for your offer. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

{#INSERT footer_jon}

At the end of above phrase you can see that it calls another phrase with the Autotext footer_jon which has following contents:

Kind regards,
Jon Donson

Final output:

Hello,

Thank you for your offer. We will reply to you as soon as possible.

Kind regards,
Jon Donson

You can also drag & drop phrases from the phrase tree directly into the phrase contents field to link it to the phrase you are currently editing. PhraseExpress automatically create the {#INSERT} macro at the position where you drop the phrase. If the inserted phrase does not yet have an Autotext, PhraseExpress auto-generate an Autotext which consists of a '##', parts of the description and a random number.

Benefits of using nested phrases
  • Nested phrases work like a template system. Footer text changes automatically take effect on all phrases which refer to it and you do not need to enter the phrases individually. This is nice if, e.g. only the phone number in a footer needs to be updated or if you would like to add a temporary special offer advertisement to your footer.
  • You save storage space as you only need to add the reference to the nested phrase rather than typing its contents into each individual phrase.

Conditional statement

{#CHECK} checks the text/number specified by parameter -TEXT against multiple text/numbers which are listed in -CASE together with a comparator. If the condition is met, the text/value defined in -OUTPUT is output.

Parameters
  • -TEXT InputText defines the input to be compared.
  • -CASE Comparator CompareText defines how and against which text to compare.
  • -OUTPUT OutputText defines the output if condition is met.
  • -ELSE Text specifies the output if no condtion is met.

Multiple comparisons can be added with an "OR"-logic, separated by vertical dashes:

{#CHECK -TEXT InputToBeCompared -CASE == ComparisonText1 -OUTPUT Output1|.= ComparisonText1 -OUTPUT Output2 -ELSE NoMatches}

List of Comparators
Comparator Meaning
== equals
.= begins with
=. ends with
=.= contains
!= not equal
!.= does not begin with
!=. does not end with
!=.= does not contain
-> Text longer than
<- Text shorter than
> Value higher than
< Value lower than
>= Value equal or higher than
<= Value lower or equal than

Nested Macro functions are interpreted from inner to outer macros. Beginning with PhraseExpress v11 {#CHECK } macro branches are interpreted after the comparison.

Example

{#CHECK -TEXT {#INPUT -HEAD Name? -SINGLE} -CASE == Michael -OUTPUT This is Michael. -ELSE This is not Michael. }

Above example prompts to enter a name and if the input is "Michael", the output would be:

This is Michael.

Calculate expression

{#CALC formula} outputs the result of a math expression.

Parameters
  • -DIGITS adds a customizable number of leading zeros to the output.
  • -ROUND rounds the output to the given number of digits.
  • -DECIMALMARK defines the decimal mark character.
  • -THOUSANDS defines the thousands separator character.
  • If you use the value "auto" for -ROUND, -DECIMALMARK or -THOUSANDS, the output format adapts to the format of the input.
Example

{#calc (sin90^2)*2 -ROUND 2}

This example outputs the result in the number formatting, rounded to 2 digits.

Supported functions and operators:

ln, sin, cos, tan, ctg, abs, sqrt, !, ^, /, *, -, +.

The macro function becomes more interesting by combining it with other macro functions:

{#CALC {#INPUT -HEAD Number?}*45}

The {#INPUT …} macro of this example prompts the user to input a number and the surrounding calc macro outputs this number multiplied by 45. Instead of the number 45 you could even use the {#INSERT …} macro to point to a value which is stored in the phrase containing the defined Autotext:

{#CALC {#INPUT -HEAD Number?}*{#INSERT examplephrase}}

If you enter 5 and the phrase with the Autotext 'examplephrase' has the value of 12, then the above example would output 60.

The calc macro function also supports hexadecimal values that are identified by a leading $-symbol:

{#CALC $AB + $1F}

Create/Alter a phrase

{#SETPHRASE} creates/updates/deletes a phrase.

Parameters
  • -DESCRIPTION PhraseDescription defines the phrase description.
  • -CONTENT PhraseContents defines the phrase contents. Leave empty to delete the phrase.
  • -AUTOTEXT PhraseAutotext defines the autotext of the phrase.
  • -FOLDER FolderAutotext specifies the parent folder by its autotext. Leave empty to store in root folder.

The phrase file is stored after each execution of a phrase which contains this macro. If you use a PhraseExpress Server, then all clients are updated in this case. Unless you want to share the generated phrase with others, you might want to store it in a separate, local phrase file.

Temporary variables

Video tutorial

Temporary variables store any text or numeric data for re-use in one or multiple phrases.

Temporary variables are dismissed when PhraseExpress is shut down. Use {#SETPHRASE} instead, if you need to permanently store data.

Set temporary variable

{#SETTEMP} creates or updates a temporary variable.

Parameters
  • -NAME VariableName defines variable's name.
  • -CONTENT VariableContents defines the text or numeric variable contents.

You can create an unlimited number of temporary variables with either unformatted text and/or numbers. Such variables can be output with the {#GETTEMP …} macro function.

This macro can be used for advanced macro programming and is much faster than {#SETPHRASE …} as it does not require to write to the phrase file.

Empty parameter -CONTENT does not delete the variable but empties the contents to allow use with {#CHECK …} conditional statements.

Output temporary variable

{#GETTEMP} outputs a variable.

Parameter
  • -NAME VariableName specifies the variable's name.

Delay

{#SLEEP nnnn} waits for a specified amount of milliseconds to give applications enough time to perform automated tasks invoked by PhraseExpress, e.g. loading a website.

You can customize system-wide delays in the PhraseExpress settings.

Set paste method

String operations

Macro function Description
{#LENGTH Text} Outputs the length of the provided text. This macro can be useful if used together with the macros #substr and #calc.
{#LOWERCASE Text} Turns all letters of the provided text into lower case.
{#UPPERCASE Text} Turns all letters of the provided text into UPPER CASE.
{#LOWERCASEFIRST Text} Turns the first letter of the provided text into lower case.
{#UPPERCASEFIRST Text} Turns the first letter of the provided text into UPPER CASE.
{#LOWERCASEWORD Text} Turns the first letter of each word of the provided text into lower case.
{#UPPERCASEWORD Text} Turns the first letter of each word of the provided text into UPPER CASE.
{#TRIM Text} Removes any leading and/or trailing space characters of the provided text.
{#TRIMLEFT Text} Removes any leading space characters of the provided text.
{#TRIMRIGHT Text}

Removes any trailing space characters of the provided text.

{#POS Text -SUBSTR Substring} Outputs the position as a number of the position of the first occurrence of Substring within Text.
{#REPLACE Text -OLDTEXT OldText -NEWTEXT NewText} Replaces the text in Text as provided in -OLDTEXT with the text as provided in -NEWTEXT.
{#SUBSTR Text -FROM x -COUNT y} Extracts the partial string beginning at the position as defined in -FROM with the length -COUNT.
Sample Application:

Dear Mr. {#UPPERCASEFIRST{#TRIM {#INPUT -HEAD Name? -DEF {#INSERTCLIPBOARD} -SINGLE}}}

This nested macro is processed from the inside to the outside:

{#INPUT} prompts the user to enter a name. The current clipboard content is offered as a default to the user by the macro function {#INSERTCLIPBOARD}. The macro {#TRIM} removes any unwanted spaces eventually surrounding the manual input. Finally, {#UPPERFIRSTCASE …} turns the first letter into upper case.

Clipboard

{#CLIPBOARD -COPY} copies text into the Windows clipboard which is currently highlighted in any application.

{#CLIPBOARD -PASTE} This macro pastes the current Windows clipboard contents at the current cursor location within a phrase.

{#CLIPBOARD -CUT} cuts out the current text selection into the Windows clipboard.

Insert clipboard

{#INSERTCLIPBOARD} pastes the clipboard contents character-wise (key-by-key) instead of triggering the system clipboard paste (if you strike CTRL-C). This specific macro is useful when you wish to use the current clipboard contents as a default value for a manual text input:

{#INPUT -HEAD Input? -DEF {#INSERTCLIPBOARD}}

Set clipboard

{#SETCLIPBOARD Contents} fills the clipboard with the provided contents.

Example

{#SETCLIPBOARD {#INPUT -HEAD Text?}}

In this example, the clipboard is filled with the text you enter in the input dialog (keep in mind that macros are processed beginning from the innermost macro).

Keyboard layout

Set Keyboard Language

{#SETLAYOUT Language-ID} changes the Windows keyboard layout language.

Example

{#SETLAYOUT 00000407}This text will be pasted with German keyboard layout settings.

{#SETLAYOUT 00000409}This text will be pasted with US-American keyboard layout settings.

{#SETLAYOUT 00000407}This text will be pasted with German keyboard layout settings again.

This macro changes the Windows keyboard settings permanently.

Retrieve Keyboard Language

{#GETLAYOUT} retrieves the current keyboard language scheme. Following example saves the current keyboard language into a temporary variable:

{#SETTEMP -NAME CurrentLayout -CONTENT {#GETLAYOUT}}

After any keyboard layout operation, the original keyboard layout can be restored from the temporary variable with following macro:

{#SETLAYOUT {#GETTEMP CurrentLayout}}

A list of language identifiers is available at Microsoft MSDN web page.

Program Settings

Easy vs. Expert Mode

New users can be easily overwhelmed by the many PhraseExpress options and features. Advanced users want to tweak features in great detail on the other hand.

PhraseExpress meets both demands by offering two user interface options:

Mode Explanation
Simplified User interface to allow a quick start for new users.
Displays the full range of features and functions. If you should find this mode confusing, you can switch back to Easy Mode at any time.

You can switch between modes at any time by pressing the Easy/Expert mode button in the main program window.

Any setting made in Expert Mode still take effect in Easy Mode.

To configure PhraseExpress, right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon, select Edit phrases from the popup menu and click Tools » Settings.

Smart people click the tray icon while holding a modifier key:

Key combination Action
CTRL-Click Temporarily enable/disable Autotext/Text prediction feature and hotkeys.
SHIFT-Click Open the last executed phrase to edit in PhraseExpress.
ALT-Click Quick access to the program settings window.

The menu item Settings is not available in following cases:

  • The PhraseExpress configuration file config.xml is write-protected.
  • PhraseExpress has been launched with the command-line parameter -nosettings.
  • Setting permissions have been excluded in the Client Manager (no checkmark in column "S") of the PhraseExpress Server.

Features

Enable/disable specific features :

  • Clipboard Cache
  • A special phrase folder containing a copy of the last used phrases.
  • Usage statistics
  • Automatic detection of unwanted Autotexts.
  • Ignore the CAPS-Lock key to prevent unintended activation.
  • Launch PhraseExpress on system start.

Hotkeys

Access frequently used program functions by pressing hotkeys or mouse buttons.

We recommend to use combinations with the CTRL and ALT key.

Section "Settings - Popup Menu - Hotkeys" offers additional hotkey settings.

Display

Change the PhraseExpress user interface language and customize notifications.

Section "Settings - Popup Menu - Appearance" offers additional settings to change the phrase menu appearance.

If no tray notifications appear regardless of the configuration in PhraseExpress, tray notifications may have been generally disabled in the Windows configuration.

Sounds

Specify sounds for different events in PhraseExpress. For example, the the popup menu can be easily missed and a sound reminds you if it shows up.

Phrase File/Database

Phrase File Synchronization

PhraseExpress checks for changes made by other users of the same phrase file any time you save the phrase file.

Changes can be merged with the local file or remote/local changes can be dismissed.

If multiple users share the same phrase file and if you deactivate synchronization, any other user's changes will be overwritten. Data loss will occur!

If PhraseExpress shall not automatically detect phrase file stored in sync folders of popular cloud storage services like Dropbox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, etc., uncheck option "Scan cloud synchronization folders".

Backup

PhraseExpress can be configured to create a phrase file backup with each change to the phrase file.

The backup storage location should differ from the phrase file storage location. PhraseExpress merges backups if multiple client installations can share the same backup storage path.

  • Make sure to have sufficient disk space. Example: If your phrase file size is 3MB you may need at least up to 300MB free disk space if you wish to keep a history of the last 100 versions.
  • Backup your phrase file to multiple different (external) storage media. Hard disk can break and they do so when you rely on them the most!
  • PhraseExpress does not create backups for system phrase files (clipboard cache, etc.) and for SQL databases.
  • The PhraseExpress Server uses a separate backup system.

SQL databases

Phrase contents are loaded from the SQL database in the moment of insertion to ensure getting up-to-date contents. Enable "Cache SQL phrases" to reduce network traffic and to speed up text insertion.

Caching increases client memory consumption and phrase contents are updated only once on program launch.

"Record phrase usage statistics" saves the number of phrase executions and date of last use into the SQL database. This is information can be used to sort phrases by usage.

Network

Network Support must be enabled for use with a PhraseExpress or SQL server and to check for software updates.

Change network ports only if they are used by another program in your network.

Network - Proxy

Proxy server settings are aquired from Internet Explorer settings by default. Alternatively specify a proxy server of your choice.

Network - Software Update Check

PhraseExpress can optionally check for updates and major new versions:

Setting Description  

Disables the automatic update check.

This setting is not recommended as you will not be informed about newer versions and important bug fixes! We provide technical support for the latest software version only.

 

You will be informed about important updates that may fix critical bugs.

Important updates are released in the rare event that they are absolutely required in order to prevent data loss or malfunction.

This setting is recommended for companies with a conservative update policy.

 

Please choose this setting if you always want to have the very latest version, including minor improvements

Such minor updates are not essentially necessary but may include nice to have new features and may fix minor bugs that are not critical.

 

Only choose this setting if you expect a customization provided by us or if we instructed you to configure this option for technical support purposes.

Normal users should not activate this option as you may get an update that may not work in your environment or that may be erroneous.

Experimental updates have no use or benefit for normal users.

 

This setting informs you about the availability of a beta version of a major new PhraseExpress release.

This option may not always be present.

 

The settings is backward-compatible. This means that you will also informed about important updates, even if you have selected the setting minor updates.

See chapter "Keep PhraseExpress up-to-date" for additional information about updates.

This section allows you to customize the number, contents and appearance of items in the popup menu.

Phrases can be sorted by usage or by last access. Usage statistics will be dismissed if PhraseExpress is shut-down and kept only for phrases stored on a SQL server.

Enable "Hide program-restricted phrases" if you wish to filter phrases that have been excluded from the currently active target program.

Phrase menus open next to the input caret as specified. If Fixed position is selected, phrase menus are shown at the position where a phrase menu has been dragged to by its title bar.

Some programs such as Mozilla Firefox or Thunderbird may send invalid cursor coordinates to the operating system. PhraseExpress automatically recognizes invalid coordinates and defaults the popup menu to the specified fallback position.

The Microsoft Active Accessibility feature can provide more precise cursor information. Disable this option If it causes incompatible 3rd party programs to crash.

Click any element in the preview area to edit its appearance.

Choose a different color for text suggestions to enable you distinguishing suggestions from the phrases of your phrase library.

Very large fonts are shown in default size to fit into preview space.

The phrase confirmation hotkey confirms execution of a highlighted phrase in the phrase menu.

We recommend the TAB, ;, ', / or \-key as these keys are located around the ENTER-key for easy access.

Quick Keys allow you to choose any item in the phrase menu directly without the need to highlight it first:

Quick keys Description

Select one of the first nine phrase menu entries by pressing a number of the upper keyboard row.

Use numbers in conjunction with CTRL, ALT, SHIFT or WIN. Otherwise you would not be able to enter a number with the number keys.

Numpad are the numbers of the Number pad on the right side of a full size keyboard.

Benefit: Numbers can still be entered using the number keys of the upper row of your keyboard.

Activate 'NumLock' on your keyboard to enable numbers on the numpad.

The F-keys allow you to select up to 12 items in the popup menu.

Use function keys in conjunction with CTRL, SHIFT , ALT or WIN as function keys are usually reserved by programs and the operating system.

Regular letters allow you to select one of the first 26 items in a phrase popup.

Use letter keys in conjunction with CTRL, SHIFT , ALT or WIN as you would otherwise not be able to enter any text if a popup is opened.

The QuickSearch provides instant access to a specific phrase in phrase menus containing many phrases.

Matching items are narrowed down as you type into the search box.

Enable "QuickJump" to find matches based on discontiguous search terms: You only need to enter the beginning of a phrase description and any part within the phrase.

AutoSuggest

Configure the AutoSuggest feature to learn and show full sentences suggestions, single words suggestions, or frequently made spelling corrections.

Expert Options

Expert options are reserved for advanced users who need to adapt PhraseExpress to special use scenarios based on our instructions.

We do not provide technical support in the event that you change the expert options. Before contacting support, please revert the expert options to default values.

Autotext

Default leading- and trailing delimiter are the standard delimiters, allowing PhraseExpress to recognize the beginning and end of an Autotext. #0 means any character, #9 means the TAB-key, #13 means the ENTER-key. If you use #0 for both delimiters, then input would be recognized at any position within a word.

The option Route ENTER and TAB through PhraseExpress allows the program to extend Autotexts to their phrases if they are confirmed by ENTER before they are sent to the target application. You can disable this behavior, as it can cause problems in certain programs (e.g. Games) where ENTER may be blocked or double-executed.

Global application restriction

The detection of Autotext, hotkeys and the AutoSuggest feature can be restricted on a global level. This configuration is stored in the local configuration file of the user's computer and overrides any phrase program restriction. Global program restrictions are not shared with other users sharing a common phrase file/database.

E-Mail Delivery Method

Experiment with the email delivery method setting if you experience difficulties with the {#MAIL …} macro function.

Enable UTF-8 character encoding if your email client uses such encoding.

If MAPI fails, please search your PC for the file fixmapi.exe and launch it with administrative privileges. If you use Lotus Notes, you may need to manually enable MAPI support in Lotus Notes.

Text Insertion

Paste Method

Windows offers several methods to paste text into a target application:

  • The 'Key-by-Key' simulation of individual key strokes is suitable for short text without formatting. Simulating keystrokes begins instantly without delay but each keystroke takes a little time. You can actually watch how PhraseExpress "enters" the text for you. The longer the text, the longer it takes to insert it. PhraseExpress supports two keystroke simulation methods:
    Keystroke Simulation Pros & Cons
    • Supports most international (including Asian) character sets and keyboard language layouts.
    • Not supported by a few target applications.
    • Maximum program compatibility (including Java applets, Safari browser, Pidgin).
    • May not work with special keyboard layouts or special characters.
  • The Windows clipboard must be used for formatted text or bitmaps. PhraseExpress copies the phrase into the clipboard, switches to the target application and triggers the clipboard to paste its contents into the target application. The clipboard can paste large chunks of text very fast but requires some time to be filled with contents.

Enabling option "Automatically Paste text via clipboard if length exceeds x characters" chooses the recommended paste method based on the phrase length.

  • The paste method can be configured separately for specific target program (video tutorial). Some programs work better with VK_Packet and others may be fine with SendKey (JAVA programs and the popular chat client Pidgin for example).
  • PhraseExpress can optionally "Restore previous clipboard contents" after phrase insertion. This causes a little extra delay, as the original clipboard contents need to be cached and restored.
  • After selecting a phrase from a popup menu, Windows automatically changes the focus back from the popup menu to the target program. If you experience that text is not inserted properly into the target application, you may try the option "Force focus change". PhraseExpress will then explicitly sets the program focus.
  • Linked/Nested phrases are rendered to a complete phrase which is output in one single step. You can optionally let the phrases step-by-step by checking the option "Output linked phrases phrase-by-phrase".

PhraseExpress stores formatted phrases in RTF format and can be configured to derive a HTML version from the RTF source to maximize compatibility with target appliations:

Option Description

PhraseExpress uses RTF and HTML except in specific target applications that are known to have difficulties with HTML. Then, only RTF is used.

Recommended default setting

PhraseExpress always uses RTF and HTML format. The target application has to pick the preferred from the provided formats.

Only RTF is used. This setting may be required if the target applications struggles with HTML contents in the clipboard.

Only HTML is output. Use this setting if the target applications cannot process RTF properly.

There is no golden rule which paste method works best with specific target programs. Please experiment with the settings.

Delays

PhraseExpress can insert text and automate procedures much faster than the target program could actually handle and needs to add customizable delays for specific actions:

Delay Description

PhraseExpress changes the program focus from the target application to the phrase menu and back to the target program.

A customizable delay allows slower or busy computers to follow these focus changes.

Increase this delay if text is pasted into the wrong target application.

PhraseExpress adds this delay after a special keystroke to allow the target app to process the automation.

Increment this value if keystrokes are not processed properly by the target application.

Formatted phrases are inserted by using the clipboard.

As the Windows operating system handles clipboard operations with low priority, PhraseExpress needs to wait a little extra time.

This delay specifies the time that is given to Windows OS to load the clipboard with the text contents sent by PhraseExpress.

Increment this value if text is not copied correctly to the target application (for example, any old contents of the clipboard are pasted instead of the desired phrase).

PhraseExpress waits this delay to give slow clipboard operations enough time.

Increment this value if the clipboard is not restored with its original content after phrase insertion.

Delay parameters heavily depend on the system CPU power and CPU load at the time of phrase insertion. If you feel lost with the parameters, revert to default values and experiment from there.

You can add extra delays within your automation phrases with the macro function {#SLEEP …}.

Phrase Formatting

The font format default for new formatted phrase can be predefined.

The HTML phrase formatting output can be configured:

Option Description

HTML output contains font formatting tags only, if the phrase uses formatting different from the Default phrase format setting.

If the phrase font formatting has not been altered, no extra font formatting is added to the HTML output.

HTML output always includes font-family & font-size information and overrides formatting currently specified in the target application.

PhraseExpress never adds font-family & font-size tags to the HTML output. The phrase formatting adapts to the current formatting as specified in the target application.

Start with Windows

During installation you will be asked if PhraseExpress should be automatically started every time the computer starts. If so, a link will be inserted in the Windows Startup file.

You can configure this setting at any time in the settings under Tools » Settings » Features » Autostart.

PhraseExpress can only configure the startup behavior for the current user. To auto-start PhraseExpress for all users, place a PhraseExpress shortcut into the common users startup folder (default path: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp)

Reset to default configuration

If you feel lost with the settings, you can reset PhraseExpress to "factory defaults":

  1. Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select Exit.
  2. Press and hold the CTRL and ALT key and launch PhraseExpress (you may need to right-click the program link and select "Open").

Reverting to default settings also resets the phrase file location to the default storage location. You may need to load your phrase file from the custom location again.

Troubleshooting

  • Is PhraseExpress actually running? Check if the program icon is visible in the lower right of the Windows system tray. If not, click the Windows Start button in the lower left of your task tray » Programs » PhraseExpress » PhraseExpress.
  • If you still cannot find a tray icon, it may be hidden by Windows. Windows 7 introduced a feature that hides tray icons by default. Change the tray icon setting so that the PhraseExpress icon is always shown in the tray as it displays important program status information.
  • If the PhraseExpress tray icon is gray-colored, it is temporarily disabled (see chapter "Temporarily disable PhraseExpress").
  • PhraseExpress only works if it is minimized to the tray. Check if any PhraseExpress program or dialog window is hidden under any other window. Close any such dialog.
  • Very important: Close any program that may process keyboard input or the clipboard (other Clipboard Managers, Autotext utilities or special Multimedia keyboard drivers, e.g. AutoHotkey, Synergy, Microsoft Intellipoint) to isolate incompatibility issues with such programs.
  • If the ENTER or TAB key is blocked on your computer, disable the expert option "Route ENTER and TAB through PhraseExpress" (more info).
  • Very important: Make sure that no "security" program such "Antivirus/AntiSpyware"-software is blocking the keyboard hook of PhraseExpress. We have learned that such programs have become quite aggressive and may especially locking up browsers.
  • Test PhraseExpress in Windows Editor or Wordpad to isolate any issue with any particular target program.
  • Windows Vista/7/8 introduced security mechanisms that allow you to launch programs as a "normal user" or with "admin privileges". Programs of different privileges cannot "see" each other and PhraseExpress cannot paste text if it is launched with user rights while the target application is launched with admin privileges. Please make sure that PhraseExpress is running with the same privileges as the target application. You can launch programs with admin privileges by clicking the program icon with the right mouse button and select "Run as Administrator".
  • Reset the PhraseExpress configuration to system defaults if you are afraid having messed with the settings.

If above suggestions do not help to resolve the issue, please check one of the following hints covering common issues:

Undo unwanted Autotext replacements

PhraseExpress offers several options if you experience unwanted text replacements:

  • Delete the text replacement with Backspaces. PhraseExpress will detect the deletion and will not recognize the Autotext the very next time you enter it again.
    If you undo multiple times, PhraseExpress will offer you to edit the Autotext. You can then alter the Autotext settings or delete phrase.
  • Alternatively, hold the SHIFT-key and click the PhraseExpress tray icon to open the unwanted phrase in PhraseExpress. You can then edit or delete that item.
  • Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon to get additional options to prevent unwanted text replacements. You can exclude that phrase or PhraseExpress in general from particular programs for example.

If you get an unwanted popup menu with text suggestions or phrases, you can right-click such entry in the popup menu to get options to prevent future suggestions.

You can additionally define a custom hotkey to open the last executed phrase in the PhraseExpress settings at Tools » Settings » hotkeys.

Does a certain Autotext/Hotkey not work?

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Does the Autotext exist at all in the currently used phrase file? Open PhraseExpress, click the magnifying glass button and select only the Autotext and Exact match option from the popup menu. Enter the Autotext into the Find input field. Does the intended phrase show up? If not, there is no phrase defined yet for the desired Autotext. Check the Autotext entry for accidental typos or leading/trailing spaces.
  • Is the phrase content for the defined Autotext empty? Does it contain an erroneous macro function?
  • Is the Autotext restricted to specific applications only? Make sure that the Autotext is not excluded from the application in which you are trying to use it. See chapter "Restrict Autotext and hotkeys to specific programs".
  • Check whether the Autotext option is enabled for the folder that contains the Autotext phrase. If disabled, the folder is gray-colored. In this case right-click the folder and activate the Autotext/Hotkey feature.
  • Have you altered any of the expert options? In this case, try to resolve the issue by reverting the options to their default settings. Right-click into the Autotext input field in PhraseExpress and select Revert to default settings.
  • Create a new phrase and define an Autotext for it. If this phrase is executed then it seems that the Autotext configuration of the non-working phrase is not correct.

Does a certain Autotext/Hotkey not work in a particular program?

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Is the Autotext restricted in PhraseExpress to work in specific applications only? Make sure that the Autotext is not excluded from the application in which you are trying to use it. See chapter "Restrict Autotext and hotkeys to specific programs".
  • PhraseExpress cannot insert text into target programs that have been launched with Administrative privileges. In such, also launch PhraseExpress with Administrative privileges by right-clicking the PhraseExpress program icon and selecting "Run as Administrator" from the context menu.
  • Some target groups may have non-standard input fields that may prevent external text injection, e.g. programs with high security requirements such as banking software or password depository utilities. Please consult the make of the program to check whether they intentionally blocked text insertion.
  • PhraseExpress supports all known text insertion methods. Please experiment with the paste method settings (See chapter "Paste Method").
  • Check, whether the phrase you want to insert is not formatted if the target programs do not understand formatted text.

Is text incorrectly or incompletely inserted?

Please check the following if text is text inserted incompletely or with wrong characters:

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • If the first few letters of a text insertion are doubled in any Microsoft Office program (such as Word, Excel or Outlook), then most likely  the AutoCorrect feature of MS Office is enabled and interferes with the AutoCorrect feature of PhraseExpress. We strongly recommend disabling the AutoCorrect function in MS Word (see Microsoft help). You can import your MS Word AutoCorrect entries into PhraseExpress for use in any application anyway.
  • Applications and web browser input forms using Javascript may process your input, thus slowing down automated text insertion. For example, Adobe Dreamweaver or software development software ("IDEs") are always perform heavy text input processing. You may need to change the paste method to clipboard paste in such cases (See chapter "Paste Method"). If you use the browser Apple Safari v5.1, you need to configure the paste method to "SendKey".
  • If text is inserted only partially or broken, then your computer perhaps is slower than PhraseExpress trying to insert the text. In such case, increase the paste delays (See chapter "Paste Delays").
  • If scrambled text is inserted, please verify if a suitable keyboard language is enabled. Also make sure to use the clipboard paste method if using Asian languages (See chapter "Paste Method"). If inserting RTF- or Word formatted text, make sure that the computer has all required fonts installed that you have used in the phrase.
  • If the insertion of any phrase into a target program still fails, try this workaround: Press and hold the CTRL-key while selecting the phrase from the popup menu. PhraseExpress will copy the phrase contents into the clipboard instead pasting it. You can then paste the phrase manually by using the clipboard.

Are you not getting any text suggestions?

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Check whether AutoSuggest features are enabled in Tools » Settings »AutoSuggest.
  • Sentences must be entered identically at least three times before they are suggested. Make sure that you enter sentences without making typos to let PhraseExpress identify them as repetitive input.
  • Sentences must have a certain minimum length in order to be suggested.
  • Is the Text prediction feature configured to work in only specific applications?
  • The AutoSuggest feature is generally disabled for Asian languages.

Is Editing of phrases disabled?

There are a few situations where PhraseExpress disables editing of phrases:

  • The local phrase file may be set to read-only (file attribute "read-only" is set).
  • PhraseExpress was launched with the command-line parameter -readonly that disables any editing functions. See chapter "Command line parameters".
  • You are trying to load a phrase file saved by later PhraseExpress version that is incompatible with the version you are currently using.
  • A particular phrase file provided by us may be internally set to read-only.
  • If using a PhraseExpress Server:
    • Editing is locked while the PhraseExpress window of another user on the network is opened to prevent simultaneous write collisions and synchronization issues. The status column of the Client Manager's monitor can show who is currently editing the phrases on the network.
    • You may not have write access rights granted for a particular phrase folder. See chapter "Phrase Access Restriction in the network".
    • If the network connection is interrupted, PhraseExpress temporarily falls back to a write-protected cache file. Editing is disabled as any change would be lost after PhraseExpress switches back to the network phrase file if the network connection is re-established again.
    • Make sure that all PhraseExpress clients on the network have the same version number. Editing may be disabled as older clients may not support features of a newer phrase file on the network.

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