PhraseExpress v11 Documentation

Software installation

Software upgrade

Getting started

How to…

…store a new phrase?

…insert a phrase?

…edit a phrase?

…find a phrase?

…delete a phrase?

Additional functions

The phrase menu NEW

Desktop menus

Using hotkeys

Using autotext

Restrict phrases to specific programs

Restrict phrases to individual users

AutoSuggest feature NEW

Clipboard cache

Last used phrases

Spelling correction

Calculations as-you-type


Using PhraseExpress in a Team

Password protection NEW

Macro functions


List of macro functions

How do I…

…add time/date stamp to a phrase?

…link phrases with another phrase?

…add manual text input to a phrase?

…create an input form?

…create a pre-defined email?

…create a conditional If-Then-Else phrase?

…launch an application?

…open a web page?


Expert mode

Program settings

Disable PhraseExpress temporarily

License registration

Launch PhraseExpress with the PC

Time Saving Calculations

Loading/Saving phrases

Import/Export Data

Data backup

Keep PhraseExpress up-to-date

Uninstall PhraseExpress



Program states

Hotkeys used in PhraseExpress

Default file locations

Secure PhraseExpress against operating errors

Command-line parameters



PhraseExpress saves time typing text, filling forms and automating common tasks.

It works universally in any Windows program and can also correct spelling mistakes in any program.

Phrases are organized in a customizable folder structure that can be shared with other users in a network.

The professional client-/server architecture with SQL server and Citrix/TerminalServer support allows to share phrases in a company network. Users can have access to personal and shared text templates defined by an advanced permission system.

The portable edition allows you to use PhraseExpress on any computer. Cloud synchronization syncs a phrase file over the internet for remote teams.

The Clipboard Manager enhances your Windows clipboard by giving you instant access to the previous texts that you have copied into the clipboard.

PhraseExpress is available for Windows and Android smart phones and tablets. It can sync phrases with the Mac OSX TextExpander.

Software Installation

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


PhraseExpress may interfere with the MS Office AutoCorrect function 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).

For client deployment in client-/server environments, please check the PhraseExpress server manual or the SQL Client Manager manual.

Using PhraseExpress with portable USB drives

To use PhraseExpress with 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.


  • Shutdown PhraseExpress before unplugging the USB drive to prevent data loss!
  • Read the license key registration notes if using PhraseExpress on a portable device.
  • The portable mode can be enforced by command-line parameter.
  • Some functions may not work in portable mode, e.g. the Outlook Add-In as it would require writing files onto the host computer.

Upgrade from previous versions

Backup your current phrase file before upgrading to a newer version! The new version updates your phrase file to support new features. Older PhraseExpress versions will not be able to read the new phrase file format.

Getting started with PhraseExpress

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


Left-click the tray icon to access phrases

Right-click to open the menu with additional options.

Double-click to open the main program window.

If the icon is missing, click the triangle icon and drag the PhraseExpress icon from the popup menu into the system tray.

Storing phrases

Watch the video tutorial

  1. In any program, highlight the text you wish to save in PhraseExpress.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select "New phrase…" or press CTRL-ALT-C.
  3. Enter additional information for your new phrase:
  • The Description helps your to identify the phrase in the phrase menu.
  • Hotkeys inserts 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). 
  • Detection of hotkeys or autotext can be restricted to specific programs or specific users.
  • The option "Save As" selects the phrase format:

    Formatting Info
    • Phrase without text formatting and without bitmaps.
    • Efficient and memory resource friendly.
    • Supports for all macro functions.

    This is the recommended default setting.

    • Phrases with formatted text and/or bitmaps.
    • Requires more space in the phrase file.
    • Microsoft Word text formatting, dynamic 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.

Inserting phrases into a document

  1. Place the cursor in any target application where you wish to insert the phrase.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress tray icon or press the customizable hotkey ALT-SPACE.
  3. Select the desired phrase from the popup menu or use the search feature.

Alternatively use any of the following methods:

  • 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 floating menu. Pro Edition

If text is not inserted properly, visit the trouble-shooting section.

Editing phrases

  • Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select Edit phrases.
  • Or right-click the item from the phrase menu or a floating menu and select "Edit" from the context menu.
  • SHIFT-click the PhraseExpress tray icon to open the last used phrase.

Manage your phrases in a customizable folder structure on the left of the main program window. Move items with the up/down buttons or by dragging them with the mouse.

Icons in the first tree level indicate the phrase source and current status:

Symbol Explanation


Everything is fine - You can use and edit phrases - Autotext and hotkeys are activated.


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


Access to this element is restricted to specific users.


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.


The phrase file is password-protected.

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

Right-click an item in the phrase tree view for additional options such as duplicate, sort, find & replace, move or delete.

Phrase Settings

  • The description represents the actual phrase in the popup window.
  • The actual phrase contents. Right-click for additional options.
  • A hotkey triggers text insertion of the phrase (e.g. CTRL-SHIFT-A).
  • Whenever you type a sequence matching the specified autotext, your input will be replaced with the text phrase.

Folder Settings

Select a folder in the left tree view for configuration options on the right of the main program window:

  • The description represents the folder in the phrase popup window.
  • A hotkey opens the popup menu.
  • If your text input matches a specified autotext, PhraseExpress shows a popup window with the folder's contents.
  • The text field Information allows you to add notes such as copyright information.

Folder autotext settings are the default for any new phrase created in that folder.

Editing options in the phrase tree context menu

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 specificphrase either in a phrase menu or in the tree view of the main program window.

Search phrases in the popup menu

  1. To show a phrase menu, click the task tray icon, press a hotkey or enter an Autotext associated to a folder.
  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.

Find phrases in the main program window

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

Matching items 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 phrases

  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).

Deleting phrases

Click the item in the tree view on the left and press DELETE or click the trash bin icon below the tree view.

Items cannot be deleted in following situations:

  • You do not have edit permissions (or any subfolder of that folder).
  • Another user is currently editing the element.
  • The phrase file is write-protected.

You can undo accidental deletions with the backup restore feature.

See additional notes for deleting phrase files.

Phrase popup menu

PhraseExpress opens a phrase menu in following cases:

  • Enter an autotext or hotkey assigned to multiple phrases or to a phrase folder.
  • Click the task tray icon or pressing its default hotkey ALT-SPACE.
  • The Autotext requires manual confirmation.
How to select a phrase:
  • Start typing any part of the description to narrow down the popup to the desired item.
  • Click the phrase with the mouse.
  • 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. NEW
  • Open web browser if the phrase contains any URL. NEW
  • Open folder in Windows Explorer if the items contains any file path. NEW

The phrase menu may filter phrases which are not blocked in the current target program.

Press 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 to copy the phrase into to the clipboard (vs inserting it into an application).

SHIFT-click to insert a phrase without formatting.

Drag the popup edges to resize the menu.

Desktop Menus Pro Edition

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

Add new phrases by dragging any highlighted text into the floating menu.

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

Floating menus dynamically show/hide corresponding to program restrictions that may be applied to the corresponding phrases/folders.

Example: A floating 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 floating menus appear as they would be attached to specific programs and virtually become part of them.

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

Floating menus are very useful for the system-folders Clipboard Cache and Last Used phrases.

Using 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.

How to use autotext

Autotext 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.

Autotext Options in 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.

Autotext Options in Expert Mode:

The Expert Mode enables additional autotext options.

Example applications:

  • Do you want the space character 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?

Leading and trailing 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:


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:

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 phrase confirmation

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

If you activate the Manual confirmation, PhraseExpress offers you the phrase in a popup menu:

Manual confirmation

  • The phrase will be inserted if you press the customizable confirmation key TAB.
  • If you ignore the popup menu and continue to type, the menu disappears automatically.

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 feature

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

SmartCaps feature

  • If you enter the first letter of the autotext lower case, PhraseExpress will insert the phrase beginning with lower case.
  • Begin the autotext with upper case and PhraseExpress will insert the phrase beginning with upper case.
Keyboard inputPhrase contentsPasted text
max maximum maximum
Max maximum Maximum


AutoCaps feature requirements:
  • The phrase must begin with lower case.
  • The autotext must be lower case only.
  • The autotext must not exist in a separate lower and upper case variation.
  • Autotext option "Case sensitive autotext" is not enabled for the phrase.
  • The all caps feature must be configured under Expert Options » Miscellaneous.

Restrict phrases to specific programs

PhraseExpress works system-wide in any application by default.

However, you can restrict individual phrases or the whole program to specific applications:

Application examples:
  • The autotext "fyi" may be expanded into "for your information" when typing an email but replaced with "Fiscal Year Information" in a MS Word document.
  • The hotkey CTRL-ALT-B could open a popup containing your bank account information while you are performing online banking in your browser but it 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.
  • Individual phrases can only appear in a popup menu if a specific program has focus.
  • Floating menus are only displayed together with specific programs.

How 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 program you are currently working with, execute that 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.

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

Restrict access rights to individual users

If phrases are shared with others, you can configure read and edit permissions of each phrase folder to specific users, workgroups or domains:

Access permissions dialog

Usage examples:
  • 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.

How to configure access restrictions:

Video Tutorial

  1. Open the PhraseExpress main program window.
  2. Select the phrase folder(s) which you want to restrict to individual users.
  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.
  • 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).

The AutoSuggest feature

The unique AutoSuggest feature can automatically create phrases from any repetitive input you make during your daily routine.

The feature is disabled by default and can be configured at Settings » AutoSuggest.

  • Suggest entered words
  • Suggest entered sentences
  • Suggest entered spelling corrections

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 your 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.

The AutoSuggest feature is not available with Asian languages.

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

The Clipboard Cache

Windows overwrites the clipboard every time you copy something new into the clipboard. The PhraseExpress clipboard cache stores the clipboard history and provides quick access.

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

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

Configure the Clipboard Cache by highlighting the folder in the phrase tree view of the PhraseExpress main program:

  • You can specify a hotkey or autotext to open the clipboard cache popup menu.
  • The Clipboard Cache can optionally be flushed when PhraseExpress is closed.
  • The maximum number of items in the cache can be limited.
  • Text formatting and bitmaps can optionally automatically be stripped from the clipboard contents.
  • You can 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. NEW

You can create a floating 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.

Access the last used phrases

PhraseExpress can copy the last inserted phrases into a special system folder Last Used within your existing phrase structure. You can enable the function in Tools » Settings » Features » Last Used Folder.

This feature is useful if you need to have access to a limited set of phrases for repetitive insertion, e.g. when filling a batch of similar forms. We recommend to make this folder a floating menu.

You can disable this system folder by simply deleting it from the phrase tree. The system folder can be re-enabled in the program settings.

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.

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.


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".

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


The SmartSearch is a powerful tool to perform web queries with any select text:

  1. Highlight any text in any application.
  2. Press CTRL-F8 to open the SmartSearch 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 uses various PhraseExpress macro functions and is part of the sample phrase file.

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


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 to use the Calculate-As-You-Type feature.

Sharing phrases with a Team

PhraseExpress offers several options to share phrase libraries in a team:

Video demonstration

Sharing a common phrase file

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

The integrated synchronization feature automatically merges changes by multiple users into the common phrase file. You can configure the synchronization in the program settings.

PhraseExpress creates a rolling backup of any changes including the user name of the editor. PhraseExpress merges backups of individual users into a common backup pool if all users configure the same backup storage location.

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.

Sync phrases with Cloud Storage solutions

The phrase file synchronization also works with cloud storage solutions over the internet, such as Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, etc.

In this example, we are using Dropbox:

  1. Save the phrase file you wish to share via the command File » Save As… into the Dropbox Sync folder "/Dropbox/…".
  2. Dropbox synchronizes the phrase file with all other Dropbox-connected computers.
  3. All other PhraseExpress clients will automatically detect the phrase file in the local Dropbox sync folders and offers to load such phrase file. If you disabled auto-detection, just load the phrase file manually into PhraseExpress on all other computers.
Dropbox distributes phrase file changes and PhraseExpress syncs the phrases automatically if you open the main program window.

You can set a password to secure your phrase file with AES encryption.

Dropbox requires some time to distribute the phrase file over the internet. Sync issues can occur if multiple users are editing the file quicker than Dropbox can distribute the time. You can avoid such issues by restricting write permissions to only few or one single users.

Password-protect phrase files

To apply a password protection, highlight the desired phrase file node in the phrase tree of the main program window and select the command File » Set password protection for "xyz".

The password can optionally be auto-entered on program launch. This option will not protect the phrases on the local computer but the phrase file cannot be opened on other computers without the password. NEW

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.

Connecting to a SQL Server

PhraseExpress can connect to a FireBird or Microsoft SQL Server to share phrases in large enterprise networks with the command File » New/Open » SQL database.

Special Notes:

  • A SQL Server is recommended for 25+ users
  • PhraseExpress loads the phrase contents dynamically 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.

Find more information in the PhraseExpress SQL Client Manager documentation.


To connect to a SQL server enable the network function in Settings » Network.

Using the PhraseExpress Server

You can share phrases with others in the network by installing the separate PhraseExpress Server.


  • The PhraseExpress Server shares phrases with others in a local network.
  • Access to phrases can be restricted to individual users, workgroups or domains.
  • To prevent editing conflicts, editing is blocked for all users while one user is editing a phrase.
  • All clients load the phrase file into local memory for instant phrase insertion.
  • The phrase file is cached on the client if the network connection is interrupted.


Enable the network function enabled in Settings » Network if using the PhraseExpress Server.

Automatic Server Search

You can enable the automatic server search via File » Open » Connect to a PhraseExpress Server and select Automatically find Server.

By default, PhraseExpress continuously searches the PhraseExpress Server in the network (using a UDP broadcast poll via a customizable port 1036).

If the PhraseExpress Server recognizes a poll, it welcomes the client by providing the current Server PC's IP address via a customizable UDP port and the client installation will download the phrases from the server.

Once the client installation receives the IP address, it will first try to connect to this IP address every time a client restarts. The client only starts sending broadcast polls again if the server is not available anymore under the expected IP address.

You can disable broadcast polls by manually defining the Server IP address, using a local phrase file or if you disable the network function in the client.

Manual Server IP address

If the Server PC's IP address is permanent, you can enter it manually to allow faster connection and to disable the client's broadcast polls. This also allows you to access the PhraseExpress Server via the internet (whereas polling via UDP would fail).

The client will not find the Server again if the IP address changes in the meantime unless you enter the new IP address or switch to automatic server search (see above).

Please find more information about using PhraseExpress in a network in the PhraseExpress Server documentation.

Offline caching

If PhraseExpress is accessing a phrase file over the network and if the network connection is interrupted (e.g. if you are traveling with your laptop), PhraseExpress uses a cached version of the latest status of the phrase file. 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.

Macro functions

PhraseExpress includes powerful macro functions to add dynamic text to your phrases such as external file contents, manual text input, time & date stamps or counters.

It 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 can automate repetitive tasks by emulating key press sequences and with the help of string operations, program loops, variables and conditional statements and native support of the macro software Mouse Recorder.

List of macro functions

Click any macro name to get detailed information:

Macro name Purpose Hotkey


{#INSERT …} Inserts the contents of another phrase. CTRL-I
{#INPUT …} Opens a text input window to allow manual addition of text to a phrase. CTRL-M
{#DOCGEN …} Launches the Document Generator "DocGen II" (see DocGen Documentation) NEW  

Time- & Date functions

{#DATETIME …} Inserts the current date or time with custom formatting. CTRL-D
{#CALENDAR …} Opens a date selection window to insert the current date.  

Embedding external data

Outlook macro functions… Functions to read information from Microsoft Outlook emails (requires Add-In "Text Expander for Outlook").  
{#INSERTFILE …} Inserts contents of an external file.  
{#EXTRACTCELL …} Inserts cell value of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet cell.  
{#EXTRACTXML …} Inserts xpath value of a XML file.  
{#ENV …} Inserts Windows environment variable. CTRL-W
{#ADLDAP …} Inserts ActiveDirectory LDAP variable.  


{#MOUSERECORDER …} Playback an automation recorded by Mouse Recorder.  
{#MAIL …} Creates an email with recipient address, subject and message body. CTRL-E
{#RUN …} Launches an application. CTRL-R
{#OPEN …} Opens a file. CTRL-O
{#URL …} Opens a web page.  
{#OPENFOLDER …} Opens a file folder in Windows Explorer.  
{#OPENDLG …} Shows the Windows "Open file…" dialog and returns selected file(path).  
{#SAVEDLG …} Shows the Windows file "Save As…" dialog and returns selected file(path).  


{#CURSOR} Places the cursor at the macro position within a phrase.  
{#SIMKEY …} Simulates pressing a key (combination). CTRL-K
{#CLIPBOARD …} Copy/Cut/Pastes the current clipboard.  
{#INSERTCLIPBOARD} Inserts the current clipboard contents.  
{#ASC …} Inserts a special character.  
{#RANDOMTEXT …} Inserts one of the items defined by random. NEW  
{#RND …} Inserts a random number.  
{#OUTPUT …} Saves text contents into a text file. NEW  
{#PASTEFILE …} Adds the specified file as an email attachment.  
{#PASTEOPTIONS …} Overrides the default paste method.  
{#MSGBOX …} Opens a message window with customizable buttons.  
{#BALLOON …} Displays a balloon message near the system tray. NEW  


{#CALC …} Outputs the result of a mathematical calculation.  
{#SETCLIPBOARD …} Fills the Windows clipboard with the defined contents.  
{#SETPHRASE …} Creates or alters a phrase with custom content.  
{#SETTEMP …} Creates or alters a temporary variable. CTRL-T
{#GETTEMP …} Outputs the contents of a temporary variable. CTRL-G
{#SETVAR …} Defines the value and increment of a counter variable.  
{#FOCUS …} Changes the focus to a specific application.  
{#CHECK …} Conditional branching (like a CASE instruction) with powerful text/number comparators. NEW  
{#SLEEP …} Inserts a delay before continuing to paste a phrase.  
{#LOOP …} Repeat function CTRL-L
{#SETLAYOUT …} Changes the current Windows keyboard language scheme.  
{#GETLAYOUT …} Retrieves the current Windows keyboard language scheme.  
{#FORM …} Creates an input form that collects user input before executing the phrase.  
String operations… Provides several string operation functions for programmers.  
  • PhraseExpress macro functions are not available in MS Word-formatted phrases. However, you can use Microsoft Word macros in such phrases.

How to enter macro functions

  1. Click in the phrase content box at the position where you wish to insert the macro.
  2. Click Macro from the main menu and select the desired macro function or click its associated hotkey (see table above).
  3. Configure the macro in the macro configuration dialog.
  4. Confirm with OK to insert the configured macro.

By default, macro functions are displayed as shortened tokens within the phrase.

To show macro functions including parameters, switch to "classic" view mode, click View » Expand macro functions:

Display mode Notes
Standard macro view:

  • Shortened display for easier view.
  • Hover the macro to get details in a popup.
  • CTRL-click to open the macro configuration dialog
  • CTRL-click the autotext of a {#INSERT …} to jump to the linked phrase.
"Classic" view:

  • Macros are shown with all parameters to allow manual editing without opening the macro configuration window.
  • You can easily find all 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.


Macro functions are optionally colored in the phrase contents, making it easier to identify them within the phrase.

Example of a phrase containing macro functions:

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

The macro functions {#TIME} and {#DATE} in this example are sequentially executed in their order and replaced with the actual current time and date every time this phrase is inserted.

Nesting macro functions

You can nest macro functions to feed the output of one macro as a parameter of another macro function.

PhraseExpress processes nested macro functions from inner to outer macro functions (with only few exceptions).

Example of a nested macro:


The inner {#DATE} macro is surrounded by the brackets of the outer macro function and processed first. It outputs the current date into the parameter -DEF of the surrounding {#INPUT…} macro function.

As the result, this phrase shows an input window with the current date pre-filled.

Insert the current date into a phrase

Video demonstration

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

Date and Time Formatting

Macro function {#DATETIME -F formatting -S dateshift} allows you to select individual parts of a date or time and to change the order.

Example 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".

Parameter reference for the date/time formatting:

Examples Output
{#DATETIME -F mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm} 03/16/2014 10:47
{#DATETIME -F} 16.03.2014
{#DATETIME -F dddd} Thursday 16.03.14
{#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

The current date and time output can be shifted with the optional parameter -S shift

Replace shift with the positive/negative amount of shift. Directly after the amount, add which date/time unit should be shifted:

Date/time shift examples Output
{#DATETIME} 03/16/2014 10:47
{#DATETIME -S 1d} 03/17/2014 10:47
{#DATETIME -S -2h} 03/16/2014 08:47
{#DATETIME -F mm/yyyy -S 5y} 03/2019

Number of days/weeks passed of the current year

{#DATETIME -d} outputs the number of days that have passed within the current year.

{#DATETIME -w} outputs the number of weeks that have passed within the current year.

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:


Open a Calendar popup

Macro function {#CALENDAR -HEAD window title -F date format -S timeshift -DEF default value -MANUAL} opens a calendar and pastes the date selected by the user in the defined format as text.


Please choose a date: {#CALENDAR -HEAD Select a date}

The same date formatting options can be used as in {#DATETIME …}.

The current date is pre-selected by default and can be shifted with parameter -S.

Parameter -MANUAL adds a manual date input field underneath the calendar.

To re-use the selected date in various places within a phrase, use the identical window title for all instances of the calendar macro. In such an event, PhraseExpress opens the calendar only one time and inserts the same selected date in all occurrences of the calendar macro within the phrase.

Linking phrases

A very powerful function is the ability to link and nest phrases.

This is useful, for example, to create an email signature for re-use by other phrases.



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

The final output:


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

Kind regards,
Jon Donson

You can also use an Autotext for a phrase folder. In such a case, the corresponding phrase folder would pop up at the present cursor's location and you can select the desired phrase.

If using the optional parameter -RANDOM, PhraseExpress pastes a random phrase from the corresponding folder. Example: {#INSERT Autotext -RANDOM}

Parameter -ITEM number automatically takes the specified item from a phrase folder. Example: {#INSERT AutotextOfaPhraseFolder -ITEM 3}

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 will create the macro command 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.

Insert a counter variable

PhraseExpress features counter variables with customizable start & increment/decrement values. You can use counters for auto-incrementing invoice numbers, ticket numbers or for advanced programming tasks as a loop counter (in conjunction with the {#CHECK …} macro function).

Creating a variable

Variables are handled like usual phrases. To create the variable and select New variable from the popup menu.

In the right window you need to define a description, the start value, optionally an increment/decrement and - most importantly - the variable name (which is also interpreted as the Autotext).

If increment is zero, the variable will not be altered.

You can now paste the variable as a value into any application.

The practical way to use a variable is inside another phrase using the macro function {#INSERT …} where it could be used as an order number:


Your order number is {#INSERT ordernr}. Thank you for your purchase.

Kind regards,
Ben Dover

The current variable value will be inserted and increased/decreased with every call.

If sharing a phrase file, consider storing your counters in a separate, local phrase file to avoid having the phrase file updated on all computers whenever you use the counter.

Placing the cursor within a phrase

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


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.

Adding a manual text input to a phrase

Macro function {#INPUT -HEAD windowtitle} allows you to enter additional text, which will be inserted into the phrase at the position where this macro is positioned.


Dear {#INPUT -HEAD Name},

Thank you for your email. We will reply as soon as possible.

Best regards,
Marc A. Roni

If executed, an input box with the window title as specified in the macro function ("Name") prompts for input before the phrase is actually inserted:

Manual input dialog

The entered text will be inserted at the position of the macro function:

Dear Frank Harris,

Thank you for your email. We will reply as soon as possible.

Best regards,
Marc A. Roni

Additional parameters:

  • Parameter -SINGLE shows a single line input box which allows you to dispatch the input with ENTER (vs. CTRL-ENTER). Example: {#INPUT -HEAD MyInput -SINGLE}
  • Parameter -DEF populates the input field with a default. Example: {#INPUT -HEAD MyInput -DEF AnyDefaultText}
  • Parameter -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.
  • Following example requires the user to enter an email address:

    {#INPUT -HEAD Please enter E-Mail address -SINGLE -REQUIRED 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.

Create an input form

PhraseExpress can collect multiple user input in a dynamically generated form and insert the input into the phrase.

We recommend following procedure to create an online 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.

List of form macro functions:

Form macro Description

{#FORMEDITBOX -TEXT label -DEF default value -SINGLE -REQUIRED -HIDDEN -HINT description}

Adds a text input field to the form including a text description as defined with the parameter -text.

  • Parameter -DEF populates the input field with a custom default value that can be changed by the user.
  • Parameter -SINGLE turns the input field into a single line input field.
  • 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.
  • The parameter -HIDDEN hides user input with **** characters (as known from password input dialogs).
  • Parameter -HINT can define an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.

{#FORMCHECKBOX -TEXT label -VALS Ticked|Unticked -DEF True -HINT description}

Adds a check box to the form including a text description as defined with the parameter -text.

  • If the check box is selected, the first value of the parameter -VALS will be inserted into the phrase. If the check box is not selected, the second value (after the vertical line) will be inserted into the phrase.
  • Both values can be macro functions. The example {#FORMCHECKBOX -VALS {#INSERT ##yes}|{#INSERT ##no}} inserts the phrase with the Autotext #yes if the checkbox has been ticked. Otherwise, the phrase with the Autotext ##no would be inserted.
  • If you do not specify values for -VALS, the words 'yes' or 'no' will be inserted into the phrase.
  • The check box will be ticked by default in the form if you add the parameter -DEF True.
  • Parameter -HINT can define an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.

{#FORMPHRASECOMBO -TEXT Label -HINT description -SOURCE FolderAutotext} NEW

Adds a drop down selection ("combo-box") with all phrases of a phrase folder defined by its Autotext with the parameter -SOURCE.

Parameter -HINT can define an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.

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

{#FORMCOMBOBOX -TEXT label -ITEMs Option1|Option2|Option3 -DEF Option 1 -REQUIRED -HINT description}

Adds a drop down selection ("combo-box") to the form including a text description as defined with the parameter -text.

  • List any possible selectable items under the parameter -ITEMS, each separated by a vertical dash. Each item may be another macro function as macros can be nested.
  • You can define a pre-selected item under -DEF.
  • User input becomes mandatory if you add the parameters -REQUIRED. The term "input required" is added to the text description and the user can only click the OK button of the form if the input field has any contents.

  • Parameter -HINT can define an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.

{#FORMRADIOGROUP -TEXT label -HINT description -ITEMS OptionA|OptionB|OptionB -VALS OutputA|OutputB|OutputC -DEF OptionB -REQUIRED -HORIZONTAL}

Adds a radio button group with the text label as specified with parameter -TEXT.

  • List items under the parameter -ITEMS, each separated by a vertical dash. Each item may be another macro function.
  • You can define a pre-selected item under -DEF.
  • User input becomes mandatory if you add the parameters -REQUIRED. The term "input required" is added to the text description and the user can only click the OK button of the form if the input field has any contents.

  • Parameter -HINT defines an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.
  • -HORIZONTAL changes the radio button layout from vertical to horizontal to save space (make sure to use short -TEXT labels).

{#FORMSLIDER -TEXT label -HINT description -DEF 7 -MIN 1 -MAX 10}

Adds a slider for number input with the text label as specified with parameter -TEXT.

  • -DEF allows you to set a default numeric value within the margins defined parameters -MIN / -MAX.
  • Parameter -HINT adds a description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.

{#FORMNUM -TEXT label -HINT description -DEF 7 -MIN 1 -MAX 10}

Adds a number input with the text label as specified with parameter -TEXT.

  • -DEF allows you to set a default numeric value within the margins defined parameters -MIN / -MAX.
  • Parameter -HINT adds a description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.

Form Appearance

{#FORM -TEXT Window title -WIDTH 450}

Specifies the form window title text and width in pixels (default is 450 px).

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

{#FORMGROUP -TEXT label -ENUM enumerator -LASTENUM final enumerator -ITEMS form elements} NEW

Groups a set of form elements and outputs the user input by customizable enumerators.

  • Parameter -TEXT defines the group label within the form.
  • Parameter -ITEMS contains all form elements that shall be grouped.
  • Parameter -ENUM specifies enumerator char. In most cases, you want a comma plus a space character.
  • Parameter -LASTENUM specifies the last enumerator which often will be either " and " or " or ".



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

{#FORMTEXT -TEXT AnyText -LINK -HINT description}


Adds a text label to the form.

  • Parameter -LINK turns the text into a clickable link that opens the web page as defined if the text is clicked in the form.
  • Parameter -HINT can define an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.


Inserts a horizontal line to visually separate form contents.


{#FORM -TEXT Example form -WIDTH 500}{#FORMTEXT -TEXT This is form example}{#FORMSEPARATOR}Customer Name: {#FORMEDITBOX -TEXT Your name? -DEF Mike -SINGLE -REQUIRED}.

The user is a {#FORMCHECKBOX -TEXT Existing Customer? -HINT description -VALS paying|non-paying -DEF Yes}.

The customer is using {#FORMCOMBOBOX -TEXT Which version? -ITEMs version 1|version 2|version 3}.

This phrase opens a form window which collects all user input.

After filling the form, PhraseExpress replaces the form macro functions with the actual input and outputs the phrase into the target application in one go:

Customer Name: Michael.

The customer is a paying customer.

The customer is using version 3.

The maximum text description length is 256 characters. If text is cut by the form, increase the form width with the {#FORM …} macro function.

The number of controls in the form define the form height.

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. The user input will then be inserted at all positions of the form macro (that has the same label) in the phrase.

Form macros are only available in the Pro Edition (or higher).

Output a message window

Macro function {#MSGBOX -HEAD window title -TEXT message text -YES Autotext -NO Autotext -cancel Autotext -DEFAULTNO} opens a message window.

The message window can have a OK, Cancel or Yes/No buttons. You can define an Autotext of another phrase for each button, which would be inserted if the user presses that button. This allows you to branch to different phrases by user demand.

Parameter -DEFAULTNO opens the message box with input focus on the No/Cancel button.

Show balloon tray notification

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


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

The ballon can output text if clicked or trigger additional actions as specified by parameter -ONCLICK.

Insert a Windows environment variable

Macro function {#ENV %variable%} inserts the specified Windows environment variable.


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

Insert an ActiveDirectory LDAP 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.


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

Outputs item by random

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

With {#RANDOMTEXT kind|best} regards

It may output :

With kind regards

Or by random, it could output:

With best regards

Insert a random value

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


This is a random value: {#RND 100}


This is a random value: 23

Playback a Mouse Recorder Automation ENTERPRISE

Macro function {#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 an email

Macro function {#MAIL -TO recipient -CC cc-recipients -BCC bcc-recipients -SUBJECT subject text -BODY body text -ATTACH file path(s)} creates a new email with your default email client.


{#MAIL -to -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.

Earl E. Bird

The resulting 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.

Launch a program

Macro function {#RUN -FILE "program name" -PARAMS "optional parameters" -WORKDIR "working directory"} launches the specified program.


{#RUN -FILE "notepad.exe"}

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

If additional text shall be inserted in the program wich has been launched by the {#RUN …} command) , you must additionally set the focus to that program with the macro function {#FOCUS …}if expert option "Force focus change" is enabled. Otherwise the phrase execution continues in the program from where the phrase has been triggered.

Open a file folder

Video Tutorial

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


{#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}

Open a file

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


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

Open a web page

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



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

Show "Open File…" dialog

Macro function {#OPENDLG -TITLE Windows Title -DEFEXT DefaultFileExtension -DEFFILENAME DefaultFilename -INITDIR InitialDirectory} opens the Windows dialog to select a file to open.


{#OPENDLG -TITLE Select a Word document -DEFEXT doc -DEFFILENAME MyFile -INITDIR d:/data}

The macro returns the selected file path.

Show "Save File…" dialog

Macro function {#SAVEDLG -TITLE Windows Title -DEFEXT DefaultFileExtension -DEFFILENAME DefaultFilename -INITDIR InitialDirectory} opens the Windows dialog to select a file to save.



The macro returns the selected file path.

This macro function is useful in combination with the {#OUTPUT …} macro function (see below).

Output to file

Macro function {#OUTPUT -TARGET d:\data\test.txt -CONTENT text} saves the text as specified with parameter -CONTENT into a file with the name and destination as defined with -TARGET.


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

This nice 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 triggered by the {#SAVEDLG …} macro function.


The macro function #output requires a Microsoft Word installation.

Simulate pressing special keys

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:


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 for all supported special keys:


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.



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).

Insert a special character

Macro function {#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.

Calculate math expression

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


{#calc (sin90^2)*2}

This example outputs the result in the number formatting as specified in the Windows settings.

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}

Parameter -DIGITS adds a customizable number of leading zeros to the output.

Parameter -ROUND rounds the output to the given number of digits.

Parameter -DECIMALMARK defines the decimal mark character.

Parameter -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.

Switch application focus

Macro function {#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.


{#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.

Add a delay

{#SLEEP nnnn}

This function is very important and often required to slow down PhraseExpress automation. It 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.

Conditional statement

Macro function {#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.

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.

{#CHECK } replaces and extends the former {#COND } macro function.

Application 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.

Loop Function

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


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

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






This macro copies text into the Windows clipboard which is currently highlighted in any application.


This macro pastes the current Windows clipboard contents at the current cursor location within a phrase.


This macro cuts out the current text selection into the Windows clipboard.

Other clipboard related macro functions

Macro function {#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:


The macro function {#SETCLIPBOARD contents} fills the clipboard with the given contents.



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).

Insert triggering Autotext

Insert the Autotext into the phrase text that triggered the phrase itself.

The word {#AUTOTEXT} triggered this phrase.

If above phrase has been triggered by the word 'example', the text output would be "The word example triggered this phrase".

Create/Alter a phrase

{#SETPHRASE -DESCRIPTION phrase description -CONTENT phrase contents -AUTOTEXT phrase autotext -FOLDER folder autotext}

This powerful macro function creates a phrase with the given phrase description name and custom contents in any existing folder as defined with the -FOLDER parameter. New contents overwrite any existing phrase contents.

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.

  • The defined phrase will be deleted if you leave the parameter -CONTENT empty.
  • The phrase will be created in the root of the phrase tree hierarchy if no folder is defined.

Create/Alter a temporary variable

Video tutorial

{#SETTEMP -name VariableName -CONTENT VariableContents}

Defines or changes the content of a temporary variable with the provided name and 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 quicker than {#SETPHRASE …} as it does not write to the phrase file/database.

Temporary variables can also store numbers which can be used for calculations, e.g. with the {#CALC …} macro function. If you need a counter instead, please check {#SETVAR …}.

  • Empty parameter -CONTENT does not delete the variable but empties the contents to allow use with {#CHECK …} conditional statements.
  • Temporary variables are volatile and dismissed when PhraseExpress is shut down.

Output temporary variable

{#GETTEMP -name VariableName}

Outputs the content of a temporary variable.

Configure a counter variable and its increment

Macro function {#SETVAR …} changes and increment of a counter variable as specified by its Autotext.

{#SETVAR -VAR VariableAutotext -VALUE NewValue -INC NewIncrement}

This macro is useful especially if you want to reuse the same variable multiple times without increasing its value after insertion. Just set the increment to zero before pasting the variable and redefine the actual increment at the end of the phrase:

{#SETVAR -VAR Counter -INC 0}The Counter has the value: {#INSERT Counter}

The Counter still has the same value: {#INSERT Counter}.{#SETVAR -VAR Counter -INC 1}

Here is the text output of above example:

The Counter has the value: 5

The Counter still has the same value: 5

Without use of #SETVAR , calling the counter would increase its value from 5 to 6:

The Counter has the value: 5

The Counter still has the same value: 6

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. Please use this macro function with care. Unless you want to share the variable with others, you might want to store the variable in a separate, local phrase file.

Embed contents of an external file

{#INSERTFILE file path}

The #INSERTFILE macro function loads the specified file and inserts the contents into the phrase at the position of the macro function.

Supported file types:

File Type File Extension
Text files .TXT, .RTF, .HTM, .HTML, .DOC, .DOCX

Bitmap files


Microsoft Word files are supported in the Pro Edition (or higher) only.

The {#INSERTFILE} macro function combines and replaces the depreciated macro functions {#IMGFILE} and {#TEXTFILE}.

Insert MS Excel / CSV file cell value

{#EXTRACTCELL -ROW row coordinate -COL column coordinate -FILE file path}

Inserts the contents of a cell of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which is defined by its file path via parameter -FILE.

The specific cell is addressed by its coordinates -ROW and -COL , both with numbers starting with 1.


{#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 …}.

Insert external XML file contents

{#EXTRACTXML -XPATH xpath to the XML value -FILE file path}

Inserts a XML file value defined by its file path via parameter -FILE and -XPATH (see Wikipedia).

This macro function is useful as a data bridge to link external databases which can create an XML file. PhraseExpress can then embed specific tags with the {#EXTRACTXML …} macro function.


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

XPATH must lead to a single and specific value.

Set the paste method for a specific phrase

{#PASTEOPTIONS -PASTESPEED delay in milliseconds -METHOD kbk or cb}

This macro function overrides the automatic selection of the paste method for a particular phrase. You can also define the paste speed here (in milliseconds delay per keystroke). Either use kbk for the 'key-by-key' paste method or cb if you want the phrase to be pasted using the Windows clipboard.

This macro must be located in the very beginning of a phrase.

You can also configure specific paste methods for individual programs.

Advanced string operations

Several string operations allow advanced text processing. Programming skills are necessary in order to take advantage of these functions.

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.

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:


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.

Changing the Keyboard Language

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


{#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.

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


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.

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.

Program Settings

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.

Settings - Features

Enable/disable specific features :

Settings - 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.

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.

Settings - 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.

Use short and unobtrusive .wav or .mp3 sound files.

Settings » 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".


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.

Important Notes

  • 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.

Settings - 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.

Settings - Network - Proxy

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

Settings - 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.

Settings - Phrase Menu - Phrase Menu Contents

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.

Settings - Phrase Menu - Position

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 phrase highlighted 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.

Settings - AutoSuggest

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

Expert Options

Important Notes

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.


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.

Expert Options - 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.

Macro function {#PASTEOPTIONS …} allows you to override any paste method setting for a specific phrase.

Expert Options - 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 …}.

Expert Options - 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.

Temporarily disable PhraseExpress

You do not need to exit PhraseExpress in order to disable it.

Simply 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 hotkeys under Tools » Settings » hotkeys for this action.

Register PhraseExpress

License registrationis a one-time procedure and ties your license key to the hardware (computer or USB thumb drive).

Register a Stand-Alone installation

To register a stand-alone installation or an USB thumb drive installation:

  1. Purchase a license.
  2. You will receive license keys via email. License keys have the format XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXXXX-XXXX.
  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 association in our license database. No personal information is transmitted to us. An offline license registration option is available on request.

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

Important if running PhraseExpress from a USB stick

  • 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.
  • 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.

Register with the 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.

Register with the SQL Client Manager if using a SQL Server

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 from PhraseExpress

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 main 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.

PhraseExpress Automatic Start

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.

Time savings calculation

With the first launch of PhraseExpress, the program will measure your individual typing speed at different times and calculates an average.

Your personal typing speed is then used to accurately calculate the time savings as PhraseExpress now knows how many characters it pastes for your and how long you would need to have them entered.


Given an average typing speed of 60 characters a minute, you would need approx. 2 minutes to enter a text containing 120 letters. When using PhraseExpress you would only require approximately 5 seconds to select the phrase or to trigger the Autotext. Thus, your time saving is 115 seconds for each phrase. Given an hourly rate of $20, PhraseExpress saved you 64 cent ($20 per hour * (120 seconds - 5 seconds) / (60 seconds * 60 minutes) = $.64).

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

You will quickly realize that PhraseExpress pays off after a few hours of using it. The program even tells you the money you have saved by using it if you optionally enter your hour rate. Of course, no such information is transmitted to us.

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.

Important note

Gathering information about the computer user performance may violate employee privacy protection laws in your country. Make sure that it is legal to use this function. If not, disable it under 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' from the monitor of the Client Manager.

Load/Save a phrase file

Open a phrase file

  1. Highlight the top-left phrase file node in the phrase tree.
  2. Click File » Open and select a phrase file source.
  3. Select the desired phrase file.
  4. PhraseExpress can load multiple sources simultaneously. Choose whether to add an additional file node or to replace any existing phrase file.

If you define a phrase file that does not exist yet, PhraseExpress will create a new and empty phrase file at this position after confirmation.

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

Save phrase file to a new location

  1. Highlight the top-left phrase file node in the phrase tree.
  2. Click File » Save As and choose the desired new storage location.
  3. The currently loaded phrase file will be saved to the new location and always be loaded from the new location.

Create a new phrase file

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

Remove a phrase file node

Highlight the phrase file node in the tree for you wish to delete and press the Delete-key or press the red trashbin button below the phrase tree.

The phrase file will not be deleted from the hard-disk but just removed from the phrase tree.

Review the storage location

To review the file path to your phrases, open the main program window and highlight the phrase file node in the tree view. PhraseExpress will show the storage location in the status bar.

Select File » Properties for detailed information about the highlighted phrase file.

Working with multiple phrase sources

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.

The very first phrase file has certain priority as new phrases created with the hotkey CTRL-ALT-Care stored in the first phrase file of the tree structure. You can re-arrange the order of phrase file by dragging them with the mouse.

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




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

PhraseExpress Server connection

Example: (IP address of the PhraseExpress Server)

The phrase file is hosted by the PhraseExpress Server.

SQL Server

SQL Server connection

Example: Computername:d:\data\phrases.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, etc..

Mobile device file

Phrase file synchronized with an Android device

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

Importing External Files

External files can be imported for use with PhraseExpress in various ways:

  • Open the main program window and right-click the folder where you want to import the external file contents.
  • Alternatively, simply drag the file(s) into the desired phrase folder of the phrase tree view.
  • You can also right-click the desired phrase file in Windows Explorer and select Import from the Explorer context menu.

Now, it depends which file type you are about to import:

Importing a PhraseExpress phrase file

Imported .pxp phrase file contents will be added to your existing phrase library.

PhraseExpress will import the phrase file into the root path and additionally offer to filter out duplicate entries and to organize your phrases.

If you rather wish to replace your current phrases with another phrase file, please look here instead.

Importing an External Bitmap or Text File

PhraseExpress asks you how you would like to import the external file(s) if multiple options are possible:

Import Option Description

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


  • The original file can be deleted or moved if you do not need it anymore.
  • Pasting is very quick as the file content is embedded with the phrase file and loaded during initial PhraseExpress StartUp.


  • As the file contents is copied into the phrase file, the phrase file size can increase significantly which slows 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.


  • The macro function does not require much space in the PhraseExpress phrase file.
  • As the external file is loaded at the time of the insertion, you always get the latest contents (if the external file has been modified in the meantime).


  • 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

Eventually, you need to tweak the raw data of your text file to meet the requirements to allow PhraseExpress to import the file line-per-line:

  • 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.
  • The separator must be identical for each line.
  • The separator (as a whole) must not be contained in any phrase text or Autotext in that file.

If all requirements are met, PhraseExpress can determine the separator automatically. You can manually correct the separator in the import dialog if the automatic detection failed.

Text data from other applications can also be dynamically embedded into a phrase using a variety of macro functions, such as {#ENVIRONMENT …}, {#ADLDAP …} or {#INSERTFILE …}.

Importing Microsoft Word AutoCorrect/Autotext entries

You can also import your existing MS Office AutoCorrect and Autotext entries into PhraseExpress. Doubles of misspelled entries in the current phrase file will be removed from the imported items.

PhraseExpress also offers to disable the AutoCorrect function in MS Word. This is strongly recommended to avoid double triggering.

If you use a PhraseExpress Server, the imported folder will be set to private, as the user's AutoCorrect files are most likely used solely by the user and not to be shared with all users.

Export of Autotext and AutoCorrect is limited to 255 characters per item. This seems to be a limitation introduced by Microsoft.

Importing TextExpander phrases

PhraseExpress can import your SmileOnMyMac TextExpander snippets in three easy steps:

  1. Locate your TextExpander snippets on your 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. Transfer the TextExpander phrase file(s) to your Windows PC:
    • Copy the *.textexpander snippet file(s) from your Mac to a USB flash drive, burnable CD or DVD, and then copy them to your Windows PC.
    • E-mail them as an attachment to yourself.
    • Establish a network connection between both PCs
    • Use an online file sharing application such as DropBox.
  3. Import your transferred TextExpander phrase file(s) into PhraseExpress:
    • right (!)-Click on the TextExpander phrase file and select Import into PhraseExpress from the context menu.
    • Alternatively, open the PhraseExpress main program window and right-click the desired phrase folder where you would like to import the snippet group into, and select Import from the context menu.

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

PhraseExpress currently supports unformatted text and most of TextExpander own macro functions (except Apple Scripting as this is not available on Windows platforms).

Exporting Phrases

To export any phrase file folder just drag the phrase folder out of the phrase tree onto the Windows desktop to export the folder.

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

Data Backup

PhraseExpress automatically creates up to 99 backup copies each time you modify local phrase files.

You can recover an earlier version of your phrase with following procedure:

  1. Highlight the local phrase file node in the tree view of the main program window.
  2. Select the command File » Restore from backup.
  3. Select the desired version of the phrase file.

PhraseExpress will replace the currently loaded phrase file with the selected archived version. You can undo this action with the same procedure.

The backup feature can be configured in the backup settings.

The PhraseExpress Server uses a separate backup system.

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


The backup restore option may be grayed out 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.

Important Notes

  • Frequently backup your phrase file to an external storage media to eliminate the slightest 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) and for SQL databases.

Keep PhraseExpress up-to-date

We continuously improve PhraseExpress and we strongly recommend keeping the program up-to-date with the conveniently provided built-in internet update check.

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

Here you can also 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.

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.

Uninstall PhraseExpress

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 above).

To permanently remove PhraseExpress from your computer:

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

Before removing PhraseExpress from your computer, make sure to deregister your license key from the installation which allows you reusing the license key for another installation.

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

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

PhraseExpress Troubleshooting

If PhraseExpress does not work properly, check these steps first:

  • 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 program 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 basic 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 basic 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 basic 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 basic 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.


Program States

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

Color Explanation


PhraseExpress is ready to use.


PhraseExpress is currently executing a phrase or a macro automation.


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.


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


PhraseExpress is ready to use, but hotkeys, Autotext and the AutoSuggest feature are temporarily disabled (see chapter "Temporarily deactivate PhraseExpress").

Hotkeys used in PhraseExpress

PhraseExpress temporarily uses a few hotkeys when the program window is open:

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 while keeping 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.

Default location of PhraseExpress relevant files:

File Purpose Location


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.



Contains floating menu sizes and coordinate information.

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


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!


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.



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.

Secure PhraseExpress against operating errors

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.

Program file command line parameters

Video tutorial

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

Command line parameter Explanation


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).


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


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


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


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".


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 command line parameters

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



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.



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:




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:



/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:



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.