PhraseExpress v8 Documentation

What can PhraseExpress do for you?

New features in version 8

System requirements

Software installation

Using PhraseExpress on USB flash drives

How do I…

…store a new phrase?

…paste a phrase into a document?

…edit a phrase?

…find a certain phrase?

…delete an unwanted phrase?

Additional functions

Place phrase menus on the desktop

How to use Hotkeys

How to use Autotext

Restrict PhraseExpress to certain programs

Text Prediction feature

Clipboard Cache

Last used phrases

Spelling Correction

Autolearning Spelling Mistakes

SmartSearch

Perform Calculations As-You-Type

Using PhraseExpress in a Network

Access right configuration

Macro functions

Overview

How do I…

…add the current date to a phrase?

…link a phrase with another phrase?

…add manual text input to a phrase?

…Create an input form?

…create a predefined email?

…launch an application?

…open a file folder?

…open a file?

…open a web page?

Miscellaneous

Program settings

Expert Mode

Program States

Hotkeys used in PhraseExpress

Disable PhraseExpress temporarily

Register for Commercial Use

Remove license from PhraseExpress

Launch PhraseExpress automatically with the Computer

General Tips & Tricks

Time Saving Calculations

Changing the phrase file location

Import/Export Data

Data Backup

Keep PhraseExpress Up-To-Date

Command-Line Parameters

Uninstall PhraseExpress

Trouble-shooting

Are unsuitable Autotext phrases triggered?

Does a certain Autotext/Hotkey not work?

Do Autotexts/Hotkeys not work in particular programs?

Is text incorrectly or incompletely inserted?

Are you not receiving text suggestions?

Is Phrase editing disabled?

Technical Support


Never read manuals?

No problem, PhraseExpress can be explored without additional instructions, up to a certain degree. However, you will certainly miss a many features that will not be revealed by simply trying out the software!

At the very least, we strongly recommend you read the tips & tricks section!

Document Conventions

You are currently reading this manual in your browser program. This allows you to jump between sections, set bookmarks or to print this manual.

  • Bold, italic type in this documentation indicates either a procedure or menu item.
  • Filenames are printed in italic letters.
  • Text input is represented in courier script.
  • Hotkeys are shown like this example: CTRL-A
  • All PhraseExpress settings are created from the task-bar icon. To open the program menu, "right-click" the Icon icon and select Settings from the popup menu.

This symbol indicates a useful hint.

Tips & Tricks are marked with this icon. These hints simplify the use of PhraseExpress by explaining procedures which you may not discover through simple use of the software.

This symbol indicates very important notes.

What can PhraseExpress do for you

Video introduction

PhraseExpress will increase your productivity while working on your computer:

  • Quick access to frequently used phrases will save you from repetitive typing.
  • Less typing means fewer typos.
  • System-wide spelling correction in 8 languages with 1,000s of common misspellings.
  • Common text templates enable consistent and friendly communication throughout an organization.
  • Helps to prevent the RSI syndrome.
  • PhraseExpress can also launch programs and automate tasks triggered by text shortcuts or Hotkeys.

Special PhraseExpress benefits

PhraseExpress does everything that you could possibly expect from a text snippet organizer program but also offers quite a few unique extras:

A complete feature list is available online at http://www.phraseexpress.com/features.htm

New features in Version 8

Check out the new features online at http://new.phraseexpress.com.

Software Installation

Video Tutorial

PhraseExpress is installed like any other normal Windows software in following easy steps:

  1. Download the program installation file from /download.php.
  2. Double-click the installation program to launch the installation procedure.
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions during the installation procedure.
  4. If you purchased a license, you need to register your license key (see chapter "Registering your license").

Very important notes

  • Windows 7 hides task tray icons by default. Please make sure to change the task tray icon setting so that the PhraseExpress icon is always shown in the tray as it displays important program status information (video tutorial).
  • The PhraseExpress Autotext feature will interfere with the MS Office AutoCorrect function as both programs are triggered by your text input. You will recognize that abbreviations are expanded twice. We strongly recommend that you import the MS Word AutoCorrect entries into PhraseExpress and disable the function in MS Word (see Microsoft help).

 

If you want to share a common phrase file with multiple users in a network, please install the separate PhraseExpress Server from the Network Edition.

Additional information about remote installations can be found in the manual of the PhraseExpress Network Edition at http://netman.phraseexpress.com#distribution.

PhraseExpress will install a phrase file containing some usage examples and common spelling corrections. You can easily delete the sample phrases if you do not need them. You can also download additional contents from our web site at /download.php.

PhraseExpress on USB flash drives

Video Tutorial

PhraseExpress must not necessarily be installed on a computer. You can alternatively run PhraseExpress directly from a USB memory stick:

  1. Download the USB program files from /download.php#usb.
  2. Extract the contents of the ZIP archive file to any file directory on your USB stick.
  3. Launch PhraseExpress.exe from there.

PhraseExpress recognizes automatically if it is running from a USB memory device and switches to a special USB mode. This is indicated by either the word 'USB' in the title bar of the main program window.

In USB mode, PhraseExpress stores user and application data into the same directory the program is running from. The program will not write any data on the host PC while in USB mode.

The USB mode allows you to use a single license on any computer wherever you insert the USB stick.

Important Note

  • Always shut-down PhraseExpress before unplugging the USB stick in order to prevent data loss!
  • Please read the very important notes when registering your license key for use on a USB device in chapter "Register PhraseExpress".
  • The phrase file must be located on the USB drive from which the program is running.
  • In USB mode, you can also connect to the PhraseExpress Server of the PhraseExpress Network Edition.
  • You can enforce the USB mode in PhraseExpress even if you do not run the program from a USB stick by launching the program with the command-line parameter -portable. Please find more information in chapter "Command line parameters".

Upgrade from previous versions

We recommend that you remove any older version before upgrading to the latest version. PhraseExpress will convert the phrase file to a new format that supports the new features.

Backup your current phrase file before upgrading! Previous PhraseExpress versions will not be able to read the new phrase file format.

If using the PhraseExpress Network Edition, you must upgrade all PhraseExpress client installations on the network. You cannot mix old and new versions.

Privacy information

PhraseExpress is designed to react to your keyboard input. This may sound obvious but unfortunately some Antivirus/Antispyware utilities may misidentify PhraseExpress as a Key logger or spyware.

Such 'security' software often cannot distinguish between harmless and potentially dangerous programs, as they are triggered by any application that processes keyboard input.

You can safely use PhraseExpress. PhraseExpress never sends any personal information over the internet. Period.

  • PhraseExpress is digitally signed by an official trusted certificate authority. This allows you to verify the program's origin.
  • Our company has existed since 1998 and German piracy laws are among the strictest worldwide.
  • On request, we will gladly fax or mail customers a written confirmation that PhraseExpress does not send out any personal information.

When and why does PhraseExpress access the Internet?

  • PhraseExpress accesses the network if the networking function is enabled. In such a case, PhraseExpress searches its Server in intervals on the local network. This may trigger your firewall, but the network access is local only (certain firewalls cannot distinguish between local and remote network access).
  • PhraseExpress accesses the Internet only if the option to automatically check for software updates is enabled.

You can disable both options in the PhraseExpress settings. However, we strongly recommend that you allow PhraseExpress to check for updates as we continuously improve the program and add new features.

The First Steps

After launching PhraseExpress the program icon appears in the lower right of the Windows system tray:

Startleistensymbol

From now on, PhraseExpress will save you from typing the same phrases over and over again.

Actually, you do not need to do anything special after installing and launching PhraseExpress:

But you can also store text snippets manually. The first few text phrases you may want to create could be your name that can be triggered by your initials, or a shortcut to your email or mailing address, bank account information, telephone number, etc.

How to store a new phrase

Video instruction

  1. Highlight the desired text and/or bitmap in any application.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress system tray icon Icon and select Create new phrase. Alternatively, press the hotkey CTRL-ALT-C
  3. A dialog window allows you to enter additional information for the phrase:
    Phrasendetails
    • The Description is used to identify the phrase in the PhraseExpress popup menu. By default, PhraseExpress uses the beginning of the phrase for the description.
    • The optional Hotkey allows you to paste the phrase by just pressing the keyboard combination you define here. Further information can be found in the "Hotkeys" chapter.
    • Whenever you type what you have defined as Autotext, it will be replaced with the Phrase you have created (Also see the "Autotext" chapter). For example, defining the Autotext 'kr' would be suitable for the valedictory phrase 'Kind Regards'.

      Autotexts can be configured in three variations:
      • If the option Execute immediately is selected, Autotext will be is executed immediately after typing the last letter of the Autotext.
      • The setting Execute after default delimiter The Autotext is executed after pressing ENTER, TAB, SPACE or any default trailing delimiter such as punctuation marks.
      • When choosing Execute after manual confirmation, PhraseExpress will offer the phrase in a popup menu next to the cursor. You can then either accept the phrase by hitting the confirmation key or you can ignore the offer to insert by continuing to type.
      • The Expert Mode offers additional configuration options for Autotexts that are explained in chapter "Using Autotext".

The phrase is added to PhraseExpress by selecting OK or discarded by selecting Cancel.

If you check the option "Do now show again", PhraseExpress will store new phrases directly without showing above input dialog. This is only recommended if you would like to quickly store a large number of phrases and want to configure them later in a separate session.

 

When using the task tray icon menu command Create New Phrase, the phrase is always stored in the top (root) level of your phrase folder structure.

However, you can also store a new phrase directly into a specific folder if you have set up a folder structure: Simply assign a Hotkey to the folder. When you later open this folder by entering the hotkey and hit the Arrow-Up key one time, you gain instant access to the Create New Phrase command and the new phrase will be stored directly in this particular folder.

Save text formatting

PhraseExpress analyzes the contents of the new phrase and may offer additional options. If the text is formatted or contains a web link or pictures, you can select any of the following formatting options.

Formatting Benefits Limitations
  • Efficient and memory resource friendly
  • Support for all macro functions
  • This is the recommended default setting.
  • Phrases are stored without any formatting information and without bitmaps.
  • This format preserves specific Microsoft Word formatting, dynamic place holders, pagination, embedded contents (such as Excel spread sheets), etc.
  • Requires more file space
  • No support of PhraseExpress related macro functions
  • Only works with Microsoft Word.
  • Recommended for text which include bitmaps.
  • Especially recommended for web page snippets.
  • Very efficient storage of bitmaps in their native format.
  • Requires more file space
  • Limited support of macro functions
  • The text formatting appearance may vary depending on the target application.
  • Recommended for formatted text without bitmaps.
  • Exact reproduction of text formatting
  • Recommended for MS Office or Outlook
  • Only recommended for special purposes.
  • Significant file space requirement
  • No macro support
  • Limited support by target applications.

If the phrase consists of a URL only, PhraseExpress can open the web site in your browser rather than pasting the URL as text.

Use formatted text phrases and/or bitmaps with care as they require a lot more space in the phrase file compared to unformatted phrases.

Unformatted phrases support all PhraseExpress macro commands while formatted phrases only have limited or in the case of Word-formatted text snippets no support for macro functions.

You can always remove any text formatting for any phrases by right-clicking into the phrase contents in the main program window.

Word-formatted text is only supported by the PhraseExpress Professional Edition. HTML/RTF formatting is not available in the Easy Edition. You can upgrade your license at /upgrade.php

Restrict the phrase to individual programs

Video Tutorial

PhraseExpress identifies the source program in which you create the new phrase. Optionally, you can restrict recognition of any defined Autotext/Hotkey to the program from where you have created the phrase.

Additional settings are described in chapter "Restrict phrases to certain programs".

This option is only available in Expert mode.

How to insert a phrase into a document

  1. Place the cursor in the target application where you would like to paste the text phrase.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress system tray icon Icon and select the desired phrase from the popup menu.
  3. Once you release the mouse button, the phrase will be pasted.

You can also insert a phrase with the following methods:

  • Press the Hotkey which you may have assigned for the desired text phrase or phrase folder (learn more in chapter "Hotkeys").
  • Type the letter sequence which matches the Autotext you have defined for the desired phrase (see chapter "Autotext").
  • Click the desired phrase in a floating menu into the desired target application (see chapter "Floating Menus").

If text is not inserted properly, please check the chapter "Trouble-Shooting".

Phrase selection popup menu

Video Tutorial

PhraseExpress opens a popup menu next to the cursor in one of the following cases:

  • You have entered an Autotext or Hotkey that is assigned to a phrase folder or to multiple phrases.

    Examples:
    • The Autotext "wbr" may have been assigned to the two phrases "With best regards" and "Warner Brothers Records"
    • The same Hotkey CTRL-ALT-B may be assigned to the phrase "Bank account information" and to the phrase containing the address of your Office in Berlin.
    • The Hotkey CTRL-ALT-B may be assigned to a phrase folder holding different phrases with all your bank account information.

      In all of these cases, PhraseExpress does not know which item you would like to insert, thus it displays a popup menu that offers you to choose the desired item.
  • You have triggered an item that you configured not to be inserted automatically. Instead, you can either choose case-by-case whether the item shall be inserted. The popup will disappear if you ignore it and continue to type (see chapter "Optional Autotext execution").
  • You have entered the same text multiple times and the text prediction feature is offering you to auto-complete the phrase (see chapter "Text Prediction Feature").
  • The popup combines pre-defined text phrases and Auto-Complete suggestions generated by the text prediction feature in the menu. You may want to define a slightly different color for text prediction items to allow you to easily distinguish them (see chapter "Settings - Popup menu - Colors").

Selecting an item from the popup menu

The popup window allows you to select the desired phrase using any of the following methods:

  • Click the desired phrase using your mouse.
  • Use the Arrow Up/Arrow Down keys to navigate through the items. You can move quicker through many items by holding the CTRL-key.
  • Press the Page Up- or Page Down-key to move to the top/bottom of the currently shown list of items in the popup menu (without scrolling).
  • Press the Home- or End-key to move to the very first or very last item in the popup menu.
  • When pressing the Arrow Right-key, PhraseExpress jumps straight to the first sub folder (if there is any). You can return to the previous folder level by pressing the Arrow Left-key.
  • If the menu has been triggered by a Hotkey, then you can jump to a particular phrase by entering the beginning letter key of the phrase's description. PhraseExpress will cycle through all items if you enter the same letter multiple times.

The selected phrase is then pasted into the target application with the confirmation hotkey TAB. You can change this confirmation hotkey in the settings (see chapter "Settings - Popup - Hotkeys").

The appearance of the popup menu and the Hotkeys can be customized in PhraseExpress (see chapter "Popup menu settings").

The popup menu can be closed by hitting the ESC key or clicking outside the menu with the mouse.

If you click on any phrase item in the popup menu while holding the CTRL-key, the phrase contents is copied to the Windows clipboard rather than pasted into the target application.

If you hit the Arrow Up / Arrow Down-key, you can also trigger the phrase by pressing ENTER instead of the confirmation key.

You can instantly edit any phrase by clicking the item with the right mouse button in the popup menu.

Place phrase menus on the desktop

Video demo

The phrase popup menu normally disappears automatically after you have selected an item. For further text insertion, you would need to manually open the popup menu again.

However, you can also pin any phrase folder on the Desktop as a 'floating menu'.

Floating menus provide quick access to the phrases. You can drag & drop phrases out of the floating menu into the desired target program or also create a new phrase by selecting any text and dragging it into the floating menu floating.

The float collapses if you double-click the title bar in order to save desktop space. It expands if you double-click again.

You can place multiple phrase folders on the desktop and sub-folders of the floating menu are still accessible. PhraseExpress remembers the location of any floating menu individually for each user even after a computer restart.

You can remove a floating menu from the desktop by simply X-ing out. This action will only remove the popup from the desktop but will not delete the phrases themselves.

You can create a new phrase by highlighting any text portion in any program and dragging it into the floating menu while holding the mouse button.

This feature is not available in the free version but only in the Pro Edition. You can upgrade your license at /upgrade.php

Floating menus are also 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 with a certain phrase or folder.

For example, hold down any of the ALT and/or SHIFT and/or CTRL "modifier" keys and then press and release a single other regular key, and lastly release the CTRL- , ALT-, SHIFT- key(s). This distinction is important because it is easy to miss some of the keys or cause an unwanted auto-repeat when trying to press all the keys simultaneously. In PhraseExpress, you can even use mouse buttons as a Hotkey.

PhraseExpress can insert a phrase by pressing its associated Hotkey. E.g., your signature can be pasted if you press the Hotkey CTRL-ALT-S.

This is useful but you would quickly run out of Hotkey as you assign more and more phrases to individual Hotkeys.

For this reason, PhraseExpress allows you to re-use the same Hotkey for multiple phrases.

Alternatively, you can assign a Hotkey to a phrase folder that may contain multiple phrases. E.g. you could use the Hotkey CTRL-ALT-B for a phrase folder that contains phrases with information of all your bank accounts.

If you enter such Hotkey, a popup-menu opens near the cursor where you can choose the desired phrase using the mouse or the Arrow Up / Arrow Down-keys of your keyboard (also see chapter "Popup menu").

Hotkeys defined in PhraseExpress can conflict with Hotkeys reserved by other programs. Avoid frequently used Hotkeys and rather use combinations with the CTRL- , ALT-, WIN-, SHIFT- key and a letter. Many Hotkeys are firmly reserved by Windows (see list) and cannot be assigned in PhraseExpress. Especially, the WIN-key is almost exclusively reserved by Windows Vista and should not be used without a combination of additional modifier keys.

If Hotkeys do not work, please see the chapter "trouble-shooting".

How to use Autotext

Autotext is a feature similar to MS Office's 'AutoCorrect' feature, but pushed to new limits by PhraseExpress. Autotext automatically replaces text shortcuts (the Autotext) with text phrases defined for the trigger phrase while you type.

General Autotext video tutorial

Sample applications:

  • Abbreviations such as 'FBI' will be automatically expanded to 'Federal Bureau of Investigation'
  • Typing mistakes are corrected while you are typing: 'tpyo' » 'typo'
  • Entering short keywords can launch applications. For instance, typing 'calc' can launch the Windows calculator.

If the Autotext feature does not work as expected, please see the chapter "trouble-shooting".

If you experience unwanted text replacements, please read chapter "Unwanted text replacements".

If Autotext settings are grayed out, the Autotext feature may be disable in the containing/parent folder or you have no editing permissions.

Configure Autotext

Autotexts can be configured in PhraseExpress in great detail. Here are some example applications:

  • Do you want the space character to not be output after triggering a phrase?
  • Do you want to trigger phrases without the space bar or only by special characters?
  • Do you want to confirm text insertions vs. having them pasted automatically?
  • 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 Autotexts?

The following information is of technical nature. You can safely ignore this chapter if above applications are of no interest.

Following options are only available in Expert mode:

Leading and trailing delimiters

Video Tutorial

PhraseExpress continuously monitors what you type and scans words to determine whether your keyboard input matches any Autotext you have defined. Whenever your input matches any Autotext, the program replaces the Autotext with the corresponding text phrase.

By default, PhraseExpress detects an Autotext if it is typed as a separate word.

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, semicolon, TAB or ENTER.

The characters which must be entered before an Autotext (leading delimiter) are called Prefix. The characters which must follow the Autotext (trailing delimiter) in order to trigger an action are called Postfix.

You can define the required prefix and postfix separately for each phrase and PhraseExpress offers a few presets:

Prefix/Postfix Explanation

None (available for postfix only)

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

There is any character required before/after the Autotext.

The Autotext must follow/be followed by the default characters as defined as "default leading/trailing delimiters" in the Expert options.

The Autotext must follow/be followed by the ENTER-key.

The Autotext must follow/be followed by the SPACE-key.

The Autotext must follow/be followed by the TAB-key.

The Autotext must follow/be followed by any letter from a-z/A-Z.

The Autotext must follow/be followed by any number from 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)

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 are narrowed down as you continue to type the Autotext.

Video demonstration and tutorial

The minimum number of letters required to trigger the popup menu can be configured at Tools » Settings » Expert Options » Incremental Autotext suggested after x characters.

Incremental Autotext is quite a special feature and you should completely understand the effects, otherwise you may receive many unnecessary popup menus that may distract your workflow.

Incremental Autotext should be assigned to phrase folders and you should make sure to inherit the Autotext options for that folder to all containing items. You may also activate the option Manual confirmation. Of course, Autotexts should be defined for all items in the folder.

 

Example uses of custom prefix/postfix settings:

Prefix Postfix Explanation Notes

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

This is the default setting and recommended for most purposes.

The Autotext example 'eth' isrecognized 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.

This special configuration causes the Autotext to be recognized only if it appears right after any number and if it is finalized by hitting ENTER.

Example: The Autotext 'test' would be recognized if you type '34testENTER'. The number, however, is not part of the Autotext itself. The number is only required in order to trigger the phrase associated with the Autotext.

This is a special application for custom purposes.

You can set any character as a trailing delimiter. For example, if you were to define '#' symbol as the trailing delimiter, the Autotext is only recognized if '#' follows the entered Autotext.

This is also a special application.

Manual phrase confirmation

Video Tutorial

By default, phrases are inserted automatically if you trigger the phrase by entering its associated Autotext. However, sometimes you may want to decide whether a phrase shall be executed on a case-by-case basis.

If you activate the Manual confirmation option for a particular phrase, PhraseExpress will not automatically insert the phrase but opens a small popup menu prompting you to insert the phrase:

  • The phrase will be inserted if you press the confirmation key TAB.
  • If you continue to type a few letters and ignore the popup menu, it will disappear automatically.

This option is only visible in Expert Mode (see chapter "Expert Mode").

You can customize the confirmation hotkey by right-clicking on that option in the main program window (also see chapter "Settings - Popup - Hotkeys").

The number of required letters to hide the popup menu can be configured in the Settings under Popups » Behavior » Close Popup after entering x characters.

Remove trailing delimiter

Video Tutorial

If you do not want to output the trailing delimiter after phrase insertion, please select this option.

This option is not available if the Autotext Postfix is set to None or Incremental.

This option is only visible in Expert Mode (see chapter "Expert Mode").

Automatic CAPS detection

Video Tutorial

If the first letter of a phrase content is not a capital letter, PhraseExpress will automatically set the first letter of your phrase to a capital letter when you type the first letter of the Autotext in caps lock.

If you type at least the first two letters of an Autotext in caps lock, then the complete phrase will be pasted in caps capital letters.

Examples for the Autotext 'max':
Keyboard input Phrase contents Pasted text
max maximum maximum
Max maximum Maximum
max Maximum Maximum
Max Maximum Maximum
MAx or MAX Maximum MAXIMUM

You can disable this automatic system by activating the Autotext option "Case sensitive Autotext".

This option is only visible in Expert Mode (see chapter "Expert Mode").

Restrict Autotext and Hotkeys to certain programs

Video Tutorial

Autotext and Hotkeys are normally recognized system-wide in any application. You can, however, define the scope of each phrase where the Autotext and Hotkey can be recognized.

Sample applications:

  • An Autotext or Hotkey shall only be recognized in a certain program.
  • An Autotext or Hotkey must not be recognized in a certain program.
  • An Autotext or Hotkey shall cause different actions depending on the target application.
  • Hotkeys shall be excluded from applications that already use such Hotkeys for a different task.

Restrict to certain programs

  • Launch all programs where the Autotext and Hotkey shall be recognized by PhraseExpress
  • Click the triangle button and check the desired program(s) in the list of running programs.
  • Confirm your selection with the OK button.

The Autotext/Hotkey will then only be recognized in the select program(s). If no program is selected, then the Autotext/Hotkey will work in any program.

Exclude from certain programs

  • Launch all programs that shall be exempted by PhraseExpress.
  • Click the triangle button and check the desired program(s) in the list of running programs.
  • Confirm your selection with the OK button.

If no program is selected, no program will be excluded.

If you wish to restrict all phrases to certain programs, highlight the very first item in the phrase tree structure and apply the setting to all elements including sub folders when being prompted for.

You can also restrict the text prediction feature to certain programs (See chapter "Restrict text prediction feature to certain programs").

This option is only visible in Expert Mode (see chapter "Expert Mode").

How to edit a phrase

Click the PhraseExpress icon Icon in the lower right of the system tray and select the Settings menu item.

Alternatively, click the PhraseExpress tray icon while holding the SHIFT-key to open the editor with the most recently inserted phrase. You can also define a hotkey for this task at Tools » Settings » Hotkeys.

You can also open any phrase for editing in the phrase selection popup menu by right-clicking the item in the popup menu.

The left-hand tree view allows you to review and manage your phrases and organize them in folders. You can move items within the tree structure by selecting them and clicking the up/down buttons or with drag & drop.

Phrase folders allow you to organize your phrases into categories such as different languages, phrases for certain departments or for different tasks. A thoughtful folder structure design provides easy access to a large number of phrases.

  • Click an item in the phrase tree view to edit it on the right side of the main program window.
  • Right-click an item in the phrase tree view to access additional editing options such as duplicate, sort, find & replace, move or delete the selected object.

Multiple objects can be edited simultaneously by pressing and holding CTRL and/or SHIFT while selecting the desired objects.

Video demo

You can import external files such bitmaps, text files or program executables by dragging them to the desired position in the phrase tree structure (also see chapter "Importing data").

If using the Network Edition, you can restrict read and write access to individual folders (see chapter "Define access rights").

If settings are grayed out, they are disabled. The status bar of the main program window provides more information In most cases.

If you click the OK button while holding the CTRL-key, you can save the phrase file and the main program window will keep open.

Phrase Settings

Select the desired phrase in the tree view to display the phrase in the right window.

A phrase consists of the following elements:

  • Description: The description represents the actual text phrase in the phrase popup window. By default, the first 64 characters of the text phrases are used.
  • Phrase contents: The phrase text can contain up to approx. 64,000 characters. If you leave it empty, PhraseExpress adopts the description as the phrase contents. Macro functions can be typed manually or added when clicking the Add Macro button.

    Long text phrases can be wrapped inside the input field by right-clicking in the input field and enabling the word-wrap option.

    Formatted text requires more disk space. You can remove any text formatting by right-clicking into the input field and selecting Remove text formatting.

    Unformatted text phrases can be converted in the HTML or RTF format by right-clicking in the phrase contents field and selecting Convert to HTML/RTF format.
  • Hotkey: You can instantly paste a text phrase or open a folder by pressing the Hotkey you define here (e.g. CTRL-SHIFT-A). Please learn more in the chapter 'Using Hotkeys'.
  • Whenever you type a sequence matching the specified Autotext, your input will be replaced with the text phrase. Please find more information in the chapter 'Using Autotext'.

More options become visible if you enable the "Expert Mode".

Folder Settings

Select the desired folder in the tree view to display the folder options in the right window:

  • Description: The description represents the folder in the phrase popup window.
  • Hotkey for this folder: You can also define a Hotkey for folders. If you hit the Hotkey (e.g. CTRL-SHIFT-A) you can define that the phrase folder contents open directly next to the mouse cursor. Please learn more about Hotkeys in the chapter 'Using Hotkeys'.
  • Whenever you type a sequence matching the specified Autotext, a popup window displaying the folder's contents will be opened directly next to the mouse cursor. You can then choose the desired phrase. Please find more information in the 'Using Autotext' chapter.
  • The text field Information can be used for custom notes such as copyright information. You can permanently write-protect such note by beginning with "$$$" (without quotations).

More options become visible if you enable the "Expert Mode".

Folder settings become the default for any new phrase you create in that folder. Of course, you can still change the settings for any element in the folder.

If the Autotext/hotkey input field is missing, it has been deactivated in any parent folder.

Editing options in the phrase tree context menu

PhraseExpress offers additional functions if you right-click any item in the phrase tree view. Different editing commands show up for folders vs. phrases.

  • Autotexts and Hotkeys can be disabled separately for each folder by unchecking the option Enable Autotext and Hotkeys. Disabled folders are displayed in gray in the tree view.
  • Individual folders can be hidden from the phrase popup menu by deselecting the option Show in Popup menu. This is useful for folders containing long word lists that will never be chosen from a popup but only used with Autotexts. Excluding unnecessary folders from the popup significantly speeds up the menu display performance.
  • The Extended functions for folders offer rich batch editing features that will take effect for any item in that folder.
  • The command Combine identical Autotexts and remove duplicates deletes any identical phrase in that folder. If the phrase content is identical but the Autotext differs, this function merges different Autotexts into one instance of the phrase.

Some editing commands are only available in Expert Mode.

Hotkeys used in the Phrase Tree View

Hotkeys allow you to quickly navigate through your phrase library:

Hotkey Function
Arrow Up/Down Moves the selection cursor to the previous/next item in the tree.
Home/End Jumps to the first/last item of the current phrase folder level.
Page Up/Down Jumps to the first/last currently visible item of the current phrase folder level.
CTRL-Home/End Jumps to the very first/last item of your entire phrase librabry.
SHIFT-Arrow Up/Down Extends the current selection to the previous/next element.
SHIFT-Page Up/Down Extends the current selection to all currently visible previous/next elements of the current phrase folder level.
CTRL-Arrow Up/Down Shifts the current tree view within the viewport by one item to the top/bottom.
CTRL-Page Up/Down Shifts the current tree view within the viewport to the top/bottom currently visible item.
Arrow Right Expands the currently selected phrase folder level. If press multiple times, the selection advances to the parent folder.
Arrow Left Collapses the currently selected phrase folder level. If press multiple times, the selection advances to the first sub-folder.
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Right Expands all phrase folders.
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Left Collapses all phrase folders.
CTRL-A Selects all items of the current phrase folder level.
CTRL-F Opens the QuickSearch below the tree view.
CTRL-H Opens the Search & Replace dialog.
CTRL-I Opens the Import dialog.
CTRL-D Duplicates all selected items.
CTRL-N Creates a new phrase below the currently selected element.
CTRL-O Creates a new phrase folder below the currently selected element.
DEL Deletes the currently selected elements.

How to find a phrase

Video Tutorial

PhraseExpress offers two options to locate a certain phrase based on its description, phrase contents, Autotext or Hotkey:

QuickSearch

Open the main program window and click the magnifying glass button below the tree view. A query input field will open below the phrase tree and you can configure the search options.

PhraseExpress will jump to the first match after you start typing the query string. If multiple hits are found then you can jump to the next entry by hitting ENTER or pressing the Next button.

You can jump back to any previous entry by entering CTRL-ENTER or pressing the Next-button together with the CTRL-key

You can also select whether you would like to see the search result within the phrase tree structure or in a flat list view. When hovering over a phrase in the list, the full path within the phrase tree is shown.

Right-clicking the magnifying glass button toggles the display of the search input field.

Find & Replace

If you would like to find a phrase within a certain folder (including sub-folders) or if you want to replace a string with another, right-click the desired phrase folder from the phrase tree view and select Find & Replace from the context popup menu.

Search & Replace only works for unformatted phrases. PhraseExpress will ask you whether to permanently(!) remove the text formatting if any formatted phrase is matching the search term.

CTRL-clicking the magnifying glass button or pressing the hotkey CTRL-ALT-H opens the Find & Replace window.

How to delete a phrase

Video demo

To delete a phrase or folder, open it in the editing windows first:

  • Open the last used phrase by clicking the PhraseExpress task tray icon while holding the SHIFT-key.
  • Or select Settings from the tray icon popup menu to open the editing window.
  • Or right-click the desired item from the phrase popup menu.

Then click the item in the tree view on the left and either hit the Delete-key on your keyboard or click the red-colored trash bin icon below the tree view.

The item will be deleted after confirmation by clicking OK.

For your safety, PhraseExpress checks whether the phrase you are about to delete is linked from another phrase by using the #insert macro function. In such case, it offers you to review those linking phrases before deletion.

The Text Prediction Feature

The text prediction feature saves you from repetitive text input and can be enabled at Settings » Features » Text Prediction.

PhraseExpress analyzes your text input during your normal work and recognizes repeatedly entered sentences. After a short learning period, PhraseExpress will start to offer to auto-complete such frequently used phrases.

Smart algorithms determine the phrase suggestions depending on the following parameters:

  • How often has the phrase been entered?
  • How often have you accepted/ignored particular suggestions?
  • Does the phrase exceed the minimum required length (as short text completions would not save you time)?
  • Text prediction related settings (see chapter "Settings - Text prediction feature").
  • A magic formula which cost us countless nights of programming.

Please just make sure to type repetitive sentences identically to allow PhraseExpress to identify them as a repetitive input. The text prediction feature is caps-sensitive and distinguishes sentences by their punctuation.

If you start entering a phrase of a minimum length for the third time, it will start to offer to auto-complete that phrase. The required minimum length is determined by the parameter "Minimum input savings" as described in chapter "Settings - Popup menus - Behavior").

If multiple Auto-completions may fit you can select the desired auto-completion from the popup menu using the mouse or Arrow Up/Arrow Down-keys (learn more). The menu automatically disappears if you ignore the suggestion and continue to type a few letters.

You can also train PhraseExpress with your Word documents or Outlook emails to get instant suggestion based on what you have written earlier (learn more). It will be as PhraseExpress known you forever.

The Text Prediction feature is integrated into PhraseExpress but uses a dictionary which is separate from the phrases, which you have manually defined (see chapter "Storage location of your personal data").

You can transfer any phrase suggested by the Text Prediction feature into your library of phrases via the special phrase folder named Last Used Items in the phrase tree (Learn more). This special phrase folder acts as a bridge between the text prediction feature and your phrase library.

Unwanted text suggestions can be quickly deleted from PhraseExpress by right-clicking the unwanted item in the popup menu.

The text prediction feature can be temporarily disabled by clicking the PhraseExpress tray icon while pressing the CTRL-key.

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

The text prediction feature uses sophisticated analyzing algorithms in order to find suitable text suggestions and may cause moderate CPU load. You may want to disable the text prediction feature if working on a battery-powered Laptop to increase battery runtime.

The text prediction feature is automatically disabled if using an Asian language.

PhraseExpress generally does not process or store text input consisting of a single word (e.g. input of a password).

The Clipboard Cache

Video Tutorial

Windows normally overwrites any contents you have copied to the Clipboard. The Clipboard Cache feature now caches previous clipboard contents and provides quick access via a special phrase folder.

This feature also allows you to save multiple phrases in a batch if you simply copy multiple strings to the clipboard and organize the snippets in PhraseExpress later.

The Clipboard Cache can be disabled by simply deleting the special folder from the phrase tree in the main program window. You can enable the function in Tools » Settings » Features » Clipboard Cache.

You can configure the Clipboard Cache by highlighting the folder in the phrase tree view of the PhraseExpress main program:

  • The Clipboard Cache can be flushed when PhraseExpress is closed.
  • The maximum number of items in the cache can be limited.
  • Any text formatting and bitmaps can optionally automatically be stripped from the clipboard contents. This allows you to quickly copy & paste text contents without formatting via the PhraseExpress Clipboard Cache.
  • You can also restrict the Clipboard Cache to certain programs (see chapter "Restrict to Programs").

As the hotkey CTRL-V is the system hotkey to paste the current clipboard content we recommend to choose CTRL-ALT-V for the clipboard cache folder.

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.

How to access the last used phrases

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

This feature is useful if you need to expedite access to a limited set of phrases for repetitive insertion, e.g. when filling a batch of similar forms. We recommend setting a Hotkey or Autotext for this system phrase folder.

This folder also serves as a data 'bridge' between the text suggestion feature and your phrase library. Any accepted text suggestion is copied to the Last Used folder.

You can disable this system folder by simply deleting it from within the phrase tree in phrases. 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 actually is no specialized function in PhraseExpress but realized with the regular Autotext feature. The PhraseExpress sample phrase file contains spelling correction items that replaces misspelled words with the correct form.

Example:

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

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

We offer spelling correction phrase files user interfacin several languages in our download section at: /download.php

TypoLearn

Video introduction

PhraseExpress recognizes if you manually correct a spelling mistake. If you correct the same typo several times, a bubble notification in the task tray icon tells you that PhraseExpress created an automatic spelling correction item in the "TypoLearn" system folder. From then on, PhraseExpress offers you to correct this spelling mistake if it occurs again.

PhraseExpress can only learn spelling mistakes for single words that are finished with a space, removed by using the backspace key, manually corrected and finished by a space. It is very important not to leave out the space character.

The TypoLearn feature can be activated under Tools » Settings » Features » TypoLearn. To disable the feature, you can simply delete the TypoLearn system folder.

You can configure TypoLearn settings by highlighting the system folder in the phrase tree view.

It makes sense to exclude very short words from the TypoLearn folder. We recommend a minimum length of 4..8 characters for spelling mistakes.

You can also configure how often you would need to correct a spelling mistake manually, before it is added to the TypoLearn folder. We recommend 2..3 repetitions.

Make sure to move spelling corrections from the TypoLearn system folder to your personal phrases as PhraseExpress may replace them with new spelling corrections if the maximum number of allowed items is reached in that folder.

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.

This feature is not included in the Easy Edition. You can upgrade your license at /upgrade.php

The SmartSearch

Video demo

The SmartSearch provides a very useful tool to perform queries on your computer:

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

PhraseExpress will then open the selected web page with the search results. This even works for addresses in Google Maps.

This useful function is actually not an additional feature of PhraseExpress but just uses various existing PhraseExpress macro functions for this task. Download and import the special functions phrase file from http://www.phraseexpress.com/phrases.php in order to use the SmartSearch feature.

You can change the hotkey to trigger the SmartSearch just like you can do with any other phrase. You can even assign a mouse button to this useful function for quicker access.

You can add additional search engines to the SmartSearch as shown in this video.

Calculate-As-You-Type

Video demo

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

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

This feature is not included in the Easy Edition.

Using PhraseExpress in a network

You can share phrases with others in the network by installing the separate PhraseExpress Server of the Network Edition. Please learn more about how to install the Network Edition in the PhraseExpress manual of the Network Edition at http://netman.phraseexpress.com

By using the Network Edition, you can configure read/write access rights for each phrase folder (see chapter "Restricting phrase access in the network").

Important

If using the Network Edition, make sure to have the network function enabled in Settings » Network.

If the client is connected to the PhraseExpress Server, the exclamation mark in the task tray icon turns green and the program title bar bears the word 'Network' (also see the chapter 'Program States').

Automatic Server Search

Video Tutorial

You can enable the automatic server search via Settings » Connect to a 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. Only if the server cannot be found anymore will the client start sending broadcast polls again.

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 manual of the Network Edition at http://netman.phraseexpress.com.

Configure access rights to individual phrase folders

Video Tutorial

If you are using the PhraseExpress Network Edition you might want to have phrases that are exclusively visible to you or restrict a certain phrase folder to a particular workgroup.

Usage examples:

  • Only a particular user shall have access to a particular phrase folder.
  • A particular folder shall only be edited by accredited staff but visible for all members of a specific work group.

Ensure that you are running PhraseExpress in Expert Mode (see chapter "Expert Mode"), then open the PhraseExpress main program window and right-click the desired phrase folder from the phrase tree view. Now, click Define network access rights from the context popup menu. The fly-out menu offers additional options.

If you click More… you can precisely define access rights based on the domain, work groups, user groups or individual users.

to configure multiple folders at a time, highlight them by click on the desired folders while pressing the SHIFT- and/or CTRL-key.

PhraseExpress identify users by their Windows login user name. This means that if you log onto a different PC in the network, you can see your private phrases there as well.

Important notes:

  • User rights are combined using 'Or'-logic. Example: If you grant access to Mydomain and to UserA, then either all members or MyDomain or UserA may access the particular folder.
  • Separate multiple items by commas.
  • An asterisk '*' means that everybody can access the folder.
  • If any field is empty, then nobody can access the folder.
  • Your private phrases are still stored on the central Server PC but they are only visible to you.
  • The original owner/creator of the folder can always see that folder and its contents.
  • Users with write access also, always, have read access.
  • Read access can only be reduced in subsequent folders while write access rights can be freely assigned in subsequent folders.

Macro functions

PhraseExpress offers powerful macro functions to add dynamic text to your phrases (e.g. adding the current date, time or counting variables, etc.), to launch applications, documents or to open programs.

Video Tutorial

List of macro functions

Click any macro function name in the below list to get detailed information:

Macro name Purpose RTF/HTML
{#date} inserts the current date into a phrase. The output format corresponds to your current Windows regional settings. Ja
{#time} inserts the current time into a phrase. The output format corresponds to your current Windows regional settings. Ja
{#datetime ..} inserts the current date or time into a phrase. Ja
{#calendar ..} opens a date selection window to insert the current date. Ja
{#insert ..} pastes a text phrase from another phrase. Nein
{#cursor} places the cursor at the macro's position within a phrase. Nein
{#input ..} opens a text input window to allow manual addition of text to a phrase. Ja
{#form ..} creates an input form that can collect various information before inserting the phrase. Nein
{#msgbox ..} opens a message window with customizable buttons. Ja
{#env ..} pastes a Windows environment variable. Ja
{#adldap ..} pastes an ActiveDirectory LDAP variable. Ja
{#asc ..} pastes a special character. Ja
{#rnd ..} pastes a random value. Ja
{#mail ..} creates a email message with filled recipient address, subject and message body. Nein
{#run ..} launches an application. Nein
{#open ..} opens a file. Nein
{#openfolder ..} opens a file folder in Windows Explorer. Nein
{#url ..} opens a web page. Nein
{#focus ..} changes the focus to a running application. Nein
{#sleep ..} inserts a delay before continuing to paste a phrase. Nein
{#calc ..} outputs the result of a mathematical calculation as text. Ja
{#simkey ..} simulates entering a special key. Nein
{#loop ..} repeat function. Nein
{#clipboard ..} copy/pastes the current clipboard. Nein
{#insertclipboard} pastes the current clipboard contents. This macro is suitable if you need to nest this feature in other macro functions. Nein
{#setclipboard ..} fills the Windows clipboard with the defined contents. Nein
{#setphrase ..} creates or alters a phrase with custom content. Nein
{#var ..} outputs current value of a counter variable. Ja
{#setvar ..} defines the value and increment of a counter variable. Nein
{#insertfile …} Inserts the contents of an external text/bitmap file. Ja
{#pasteoptions ..} overrides the automatically defined paste method. Nein
{#setlayout ..} changes the current Windows keyboard language scheme. Nein
{#getlayout ..} retrieves the current Windows keyboard language scheme. Ja
String operations… provides several string operation functions for programmers. Ja

Certain macros are not compatible with HTML/RTF formatted phrases as indicated in the above table.

Macro functions are generally not supported by MS Word-formatted phrases. However, you can use Word macros in such phrases.

Entering macro functions

Macro functions can be added to phrase text as normal text in the input field Phrase contents or by clicking the Add Macro button. When you use the phrase later, PhraseExpress will replace the macros with the desired dynamic content.

Macro functions are colored to make it easier to identify them within the phrase. You can double-click a highlighted macro function name to edit it.

Example of a phrase containing macro functions:

Today is {#date}. The time now is {#time}.

In this example, the macro functions {#time} and {#date} will be replaced by the actual time and date.

Nesting macro functions

You can also nest macros into each other for powerful and flexible tasks.

Video Tutorial

In most cases, the nested macro functions are processed first (From the inside to the outside).

Example of a nested macro:

{#rnd {#input Max value?}}

Above macro example opens a text input box and outputs a random number between zero and the value you have entered.

If a macro function is not executed, please carefully check for typos and syntax.

Certain macros can only be used in phrases without text formatting. If required, divide formatted phrases into two separate formatted phrases. Then create a new unformatted phrase, retrieve the first formatted phrase using the #insert macro, add the desired macro function(s) and finally retrieve the second half of the formatted phrase using #insert.

Adding the current date to a phrase

Video demonstration

PhraseExpress includes macro commands to add dynamic contents to your text phrases.

Create a phrase and add the macro function {#date}, {#time} or {#datetime} at the desired position:

Today is {#date}. The current time is {#time}.

Whenever you use this text phrase, the macro commands in {} will be replaced with the current date and/or time:

Today is 03/12/2007. The current time is 10:34.

The output format of the date and time will be taken from the regional settings as listed in MS Windows.

Formatting of the date and time

The more powerful macro function {#datetime -f format -s shift} 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".

As the parameter syntax for the macro function {#datetime..} is quite complex, we strongly recommend to use the Add macro button to configure the macro properly.

Parameter reference for the date/time formatting:

Examples Output
{#datetime -f mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm} 03/16/2007 10:47
{#datetime -f dd.mm.yy} 16.03.2007
{#datetime -f dddd dd.mm.yy} Thursday 16.03.07
{#datetime -f hh:mm am/pm} 10:47 am

Overview about the date/time parameters:

Unit Meaning
d Displays the day without a leading zero (1-31)
dd Displays the day including a leading zero (01-31)
ddd Displays the abbreviated weekday (Sun-Sat)
dddd Displays the weekday (Sunday-Saturday)
dddddd Displays the date in standard format
m Displays the 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 Displays the 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 Displays the abbreviated month (Jan-Dec)
mmmm Displays the month (January-December)
yy Displays the year with two digits (00-99)
yyyy Displays the year with four digits (0000-9999)
h Displays the hour without a leading zero (0-23)
hh Displays the hour including a leading zero (00-23)
n Displays the minute without a leading zero (0-59)
nn Displays the minute including a leading zero (00-59)
s Displays the second without a leading zero (0-59)
ss Displays the second including a leading zero (00-59)
tt Displays the time in the format as defined in the global variable LongDateFormat
am/pm Displays the 12-hour time prefix am or pm

Time shift

You can also shift the current date and time output by using 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} 03/16/2007 10:47
{#datetime -s 1d} 03/17/2007 10:47
{#datetime -s -2h} 03/16/2007 08:47
{#datetime -f mm/yyyy -s 5y} 03/2012

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-based calculations with any given date

You can provide any custom date via the parameter -value to perform date-/timeshift calculations on the provided date/time

This example takes the current date via the parameter -value and performs a shift of +14 workdays:

{#datetime -value {#date} -s 14w}

Open Calendar Popup

Video Tutorial

The 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.

Example:

Please choose a date: {#calendar -head Select a date!}

You can use the same date formatting options as in the macro #datetime.

By default, the current date is highlighted in the calendar. You can however either enter a fixed default date or a dynamic date shift relative to the current date.

The optional parameter -manual adds a manual input field underneath the calendar.

If you require the selected date in various places within a phrase, simply use the identical window title for 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.

Link a phrase with another phrase

Video Tutorial

A very powerful function is the ability to nest phrases by retrieving phrases out of another phrase.

This is useful, for example, to create an email signature which is used by multiple phrases.

To do that, place the macro function {#insert Autotext} where you would like to have the other phrase which is defined by its Autotext.

Let's assume, you have created this text phrase:

Hello,

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

{#insert footer_jon}

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

Kind regards,
Jon Donson

The above rendered text phrase would look like this when being pasted:

Hello,

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.

When using the optional parameter -random, PhraseExpress will paste a random phrase from within the corresponding folder. Example: {#insert Autotext -random}

You can also drag & drop phrases from the phrase tree directly into the phrase contents field of 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 the required Autotext, then PhraseExpress creates one for you based on the description beginning with '##' plus 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.

We strongly recommend that you try using nested phrases. They are extremely useful and you will really appreciate this feature.

Adding a counter variable in a phrase

PhraseExpress allows you to create an unlimited number of counter variables with custom start values and an incrementor/decrementor.

Creating a variable

Variables are handled just like usual phrases. Open the Settings and right-click the location in the tree view where you would like to create the variable and select New variable from the popup menu.

Alternatively, create a new standard phrase and enter a number as the description. PhraseExpress will then ask you if the phrase should be converted into a variable.

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

If you do not enter a variable name, PhraseExpress will take the description as the variable name.

If you set the incrementor to zero, the variable keeps the static value.

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:

Hello,

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

Kind regards,
Ben Dover

Each time you use this phrase, the current variable value will be inserted and increased/decreased as specified for this variable.

Placing the cursor within a phrase

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

Example:

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

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

Adding a manual text input into a phrase

Video Tutorial

The 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.

Example:

Dear {#input -head Recipient's name?}!

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

Best regards,
Marc A. Roni

Whenever you retrieve this phrase, PhraseExpress opens the following dialog window with the window title as specified in the macro function ("Recipient's name?" in this example) and allows you to enter additional text before the phrase is actually pasted:

Manual input dialog

After clicking OK (or hitting CTRL-ENTER), the entered text will replace the macro function in the phrase and the output would look like:

Dear Frank Harris!

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

Best regards,
Marc A. Roni

Additional parameters for {#input}

  • The parameter -single opens a single line input field. The advantage is that you can finish your input with ENTER (rather than using the combination CTRL-ENTER). Example: {#input -head MyInput -single}
  • The parameter -def allows you to define a default preset (which, of course can be edited by the user). Example: {#input -head MyInput -def AnyDefaultText}

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

Create an input form

Video demo

PhraseExpress can open a custom input form that retrieves multiple text entries before a phrase is inserted. The collected information is then inserted into the phrase at the positions of the corresponding form macro functions.

We recommend this procedure to create an online form:

  1. Create the text phrase that will later include a form.
  2. The form is automatically created for this phrase if you add form related 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, click the Add macro button and select the desired form macro function from the popup menu.

List of form macro functions.

Form macro name Description

{#form -text Window title -width 450}

Defines the appearance of the form window. The default width is 450 pixels.

This macro function is optional. If used, it must be in the very beginning of the phrase.

{#formtext -text Description -link http://www.webpage.com -hint description}

 

Adds a text label to the form that can be used to describe the form.

It does not generate any output to the phrase and serves a cosmetic purpose.

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

{#formseparator}

Inserts a horizontal line that visually separates form contents.

{#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.

  • The optional parameter -def populates the input field with a custom default value that can be changed by the user.
  • The parameter -single turns the input field into a single line input field.
  • User input becomes mandatory if you add the 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.
  • The parameter -hidden hides the user input with **** characters (as known from password input dialogs).
  • The optional 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 'True' or 'False' will be inserted into the phrase.
  • The check box will be ticked by default in the form if you add the parameter -def True.
  • The optional parameter -hint can define an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.

{#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 line character. 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" will be added to the text description and the user can only click the OK button of the form if the input field has any contents.

  • The optional parameter -hint can define an additional description that appears if you hover over the text with the mouse cursor.
Sample application:

{#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}.

If you trigger above phrase, PhraseExpress will not insert the phrase directly but opens a form first that collects all required data first.

After you filled the form and clicked the OK button, PhraseExpress will replace 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.

Form macros can be used in any combination and number.

The maximum text description length is 256 characters. If text is cut by the form, you may want to increase the form window width with the {#form} macro function.

The form height is automatically determined by the number of controls in the form.

Normally, macro functions are processed recursively, starting with inner nested macros to outer macros. Form macros are an exception as they are sequentially processed. Only macro functions that are 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. You can upgrade your license at /upgrade.php

Output a message window

The macro function {#msgbox -head window title -text message text -yes Autotext -no Autotext -cancel Autotext -defaultno} interrupts the phrase output and opens a standard message window with the given message text.

The message window may have one of these button combinations:

  • OK
  • OK / Cancel
  • Yes / No

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.

If the user clicks Cancel, then the phrase insertion will be cancelled at the position of the #msgbox macro function.

The optional parameter -defaultno opens the message box with input focus on the No/Cancel button.

Adding a Windows environment variable to a phrase

The macro function {#env %variable%} inserts the specified Windows environment variable into the phrase.

Example:

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

The above phrase is rendered at the time of execution as follows:

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

Adding a ActiveDirectory LDAP variable to a phrase

The macro function {#adldap variable name} inserts the specified LDAP variable into the phrase.

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

Example:

Kind regards,

{#adldap Name}

Phone {#adldap Phone}

Above phrase is rendered at the time of its execution as follows:

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

Adding a random value into a phrase

The macro function {#rnd maximum} pastes a random value between 0 and the specified maximum value.

Example:

This is a random value: {#rnd 100}

The output would be:

This is a random value: 23

Creating an email

Video Tutorial

The macro function {#email -to recipient -cc cc-recipients -bcc bcc-recipients -subject subject text -body body text -attach file path(s)} creates a new Email with your standard email client and fills the fields as specified.

Example:

{#email -to holly@would.net -subject News for you -body {#insert examplephrase}}

The macro will launch your default email client, fill the form of the new email and paste the phrase with the Autotext example phrase as the email body:

Dear Holly,

Please check your post mailbox at home.

Sincerely,
Earl E. Bird

The composed email would look like this:

Email

When strange characters appear in the mail body, it may be because you are using an email program with UTF-8 character encoding (e.g. Outlook 2007). In such a case, please enable UTF-8 support in the PhraseExpress expert settings

You can define multiple files as an attachment by listing the file locations 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

Video instruction

The macro function {#run -file "program name" -params "optional parameters" -workdir "working directory"} launches the specified program.

Example:

{#run -file "notepad.exe"}

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

Open a file folder

Video Tutorial

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

Example:

{#openfolder "C:\Windows"}

This example opens the folder c:/Windows.

If you add the parameter -select, Windows Explorer opens the above folder and highlights the specified folder.

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

Open a file from a phrase

The macro function {#open file} opens the specified file with the application which is associated with the file.

Example:

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

Open a web page from a phrase

Video Tutorial

The macro function {#url web page} opens the specified web page in your default internet browser.

Example:

{#url http://www.phraseexpress.com}

Adding special keys into a phrase

Special keys on your keyboard can be added as macro functions to your phrase:

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

jondoe{#TAB}password{#ENTER}

Above example outputs "jondoe", followed by the TAB-key, the text "password" and the ENTER-key. This is useful to automate the login procedure at web site logins (video tutorial).

List of keywords for all supported special keys:

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

Notes for certain special keys:

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

{#ADD}, {#MULTIPLY}, {#SEPARATOR}, {#SUBTRACT}, {#DIVIDE}9

 

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).

Adding a special character into a phrase

The 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 offers you an overview of the special characters including their code number.

Performing a calculation

The macro function {#CALC formula} calculates a formula and outputs the result as text.

Example:

{#CALC 4+5}

This example would output the result 9.

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

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

The #input macro of this example will first prompt the user to input a number and then will multiply this input by 45 and output the result. Instead of the fixed 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}

For date or time based calculations, please rather use the macro function {#datetime}.

Switching the focus to another application

The macro function {#FOCUS window title} changes the focus to the specified running Windows application based on its windows title (e.g. "calculator"). If the specified application is not running, the current focus remains on the active application.

Example:

{#FOCUS Calculator}

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

You can also use a wildcard * for the windows title

Adding a delay

{#SLEEP nnnn}

This function lets PhraseExpress wait for a specified amount of milliseconds. This is useful, if another application involved requires a certain amount of time to be launched or a web site takes time to be loaded.

Loop Function

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

Example:

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

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

Example

Example

Example

Clipboard

Video demo

{#CLIPBOARD -copy}

This macro copies the currently highlighted text into the Windows clipboard.

{#CLIPBOARD -paste}

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

Other clipboard related macro functions

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

{#INPUT -head Input? -def {#INSERTCLIPBOARD}}

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

Example:

{#SETCLIPBOARD {#INPUT Text?}}

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

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

Video tutorial

{#SETPHRASE -description phrase description -content phrase contents -autotext phrase autotext -folder folder autotext }

This powerful macro function can create a new phrase with the given phrase description name and custom contents in any existing folder as defined with the -folder parameter.

If you use this macro with an existing phrase Autotext, then the existing phrase's contents will be overwritten with the new provided contents.

This macro can be used to create a text variable that can be embedded into other phrases using the {#INSERT ..} macro.

Please note that the phrase file is stored after each execution of a phrase which contains this macro. If you use the PhraseExpress Network Edition, then all clients are updated in this case. Please use this macro function with care.

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

Define counter variable and its increment

The macro function #setvar can change the value and increment of a counter variable which is identified via 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

Please note that the phrase file is stored after each execution of a phrase which contains this macro. If you use the PhraseExpress Network Edition, then all clients are updated in this case. Please use this macro function with care.

Embed contents of an external file

{#INSERTFILE file path}

The #insertfile macro function loads the contents of the defined 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

.BMP, .JPG, .TIFF, .PNG

Microsoft Word files are supported by the Professional Edition only.

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

Define 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 positioned at the beginning of a phrase.

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.
{#trimright Text}

Removes any trailing space characters of the provided text.

{#pos Text -substr Substring} Outputs the position as a number of the position of the first occurrence of Substring within Text.
{#replace Text -oldtext OldText -newtext NewText} Replaces the text in Text as provided in -oldtext with the text as provided in -newtext.
{#substr Text -from x -count y} Extracts the partial string beginning at the position as defined in -from with the length -count.

Sample Application:

Dear Mr.{#uppercasefirst{#trim {#input -head Name? -def {#insertclipboard} -single}}}

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

At first, #input prompts the user to enter a name. The current clipboard contents is offered as a default to the user by the macro function #insertclipboard. The macro #trim then removes any unwanted spaces before and after the manual input. Finally, #upperfirstcase assures that the first letter of the entered name is in caps.

Changing the Keyboard Language

The macro function {#SETLAYOUT Language-ID} allows the user to change the Windows keyboard layout to the defined language.

Example:

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

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

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

This macro changes the Windows keyboard settings permanently.

The additional macro {#GETLAYOUT} retrieves the language scheme which is currently set in Windows. This macro together with the macro {#SETPHRASE ..}allows you to temporarily override the current settings, change it to any custom keyboard layout and afterwards reset the layout to its original setting:

{#SETPHRASE -description Current Layout -content {#GETLAYOUT} -autotext currentkeyboardscheme}

This macro saves the keyboard layout into a new phrase 'Current Layout" which is identified by its Autotext "currentkeyboardscheme". After any custom changes of the keyboard layout, you can retrieve the original settings with this macro phrase:

{#SETLAYOUT {#INSERT currentkeyboardscheme}}{#SETPHRASE -content -autotext currentkeyboardscheme}

The final {#SETPHRASE ..} macro with its empty -content parameter deletes the temporarily used phrase.

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

Program Settings

To change the PhraseExpress program settings, click the PhraseExpress system tray icon icon , select Settings from the popup menu and click Tools » Settings.

Smart guys can also access the settings dialog directly by clicking the PhraseExpress task tray icon while holding a combination of the SHIFT-/CTRL- or ALT-key:

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

If the menu item is missing, please contact your system administrator, who may have disabled the option to avoid operating errors

Most settings provide additional information if you hover over a program settings item.

Settings - Features

Most settings here are self-explanatory and we would like to avoid redundant descriptions such as "The Option Activate Autotext activates Autotext".

If you feel stuck with the settings, you can always revert the options to default values by clicking the button Revert to defaults.

Easy vs. Expert Mode

Video Tutorial

New users can be easily overwhelmed by the many features that are offered by PhraseExpress. That is why PhraseExpress has a very clean and reduced user interface, only offering basic features by default.

However, advanced users can 'unleash a beast' by enabling the Expert Mode with the corresponding button in the PhraseExpress main program window.

The Expert Mode reveals additional options and features which are intentionally hidden by default in order to provide an easy entry for beginner users:

ModeExplanation
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.

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

You can also switch between these two modes by right-clicking into any Autotext input field.

The Expert Mode is not available in the Easy Edition. You can upgrade your license at /upgrade.php.

Settings - Hotkeys

You can access frequently used program functions by pressing Hotkeys or mouse buttons (Open this setting now)

Please also see chapter "Settings - Popup Menu - Hotkeys" which describes how you can define additional hotkeys for phrase popup menu related tasks.

General information about hotkeys are available in the chapter "Hotkeys".

Settings - Display

Here you can instantly change the PhraseExpress user interface language and customize the behavior of the main program window.

The option Open dialog to enter additional information(..) enables a dialog window that appears directly after you have created a new phrase. It allows you to define an Autotext and Hotkey for the new phrase. We recommend that you keep this dialog enabled.

If don't get any tray balloon tips even if you enabled the balloon tips in PhraseExpress, they may have been generally disabled on your computer. In such case, please watch this video to learn how to enable balloon tips on your computer.

Settings - Sounds

The phrase selection menu can be overseen easily. That is why you can configure sounds for a few events in PhraseExpress (Open this setting now).

PhraseExpress supports .wav and .mp3 sound files. We recommend to use short and unobtrusive sounds.

Settings - Network

If you are using the PhraseExpress Network Edition you must enable the Network Support. Otherwise, PhraseExpress cannot connect to the PhraseExpress Server.

The communications ports should only be changed if they are used by another program on your individual network.

Please find additional information in the PhraseExpress Network Edition manual at http://netman.phraseexpress.com

Settings - Proxy

If your computer is connected to the network through a proxy server you can enter the corresponding settings here (Open this setting now). These Proxy settings are also used for the software update check.

By default, PhraseExpress uses the proxy server settings as configured in the Internet Explorer.

Settings - Software Update Check

PhraseExpress can check whether you are using the latest version and install an update if it becomes available (Open this setting now).

SettingDescription 

The automatic update check is disabled.

This setting is not recommended as you will not be informed about newer versions and important bug fixes! Technical support can only be provided if you are using the latest version.

 

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.

This setting is recommended for personal users.

 

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.

The chapter "Keep PhraseExpress up-to-date" provides additional information about updates.

Settings - Popup menus - Behavior

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

Minimum input savings

The parameter Minimum input savings means the difference between what you have already entered and the total length of a text suggestion. Consequently, this parameter defines how many keystrokes you would save if you accept a text suggestion.

Example:

You have typed "thank yo" and the suggestion would be "thank you for your email.":

Input saving

Accepting the suggestion at this time would save you entering the remaining "u for your email." which equals 17 keystrokes.

We recommend that you change this setting value to at least 15-20 for sentences as there is little benefit of saving 3-5 characters. The time to evaluate the text suggestions would exceed the time required to finish the last 3-5 characters of the sentence. For single word predictions, we recommend something like 5..10 characters.

Just keep in mind that the higher the Minimum input savings parameter, the longer the sentences that are suggested.

This parameter works against the precision parameter: If you set a high precision value, then PhraseExpress waits with suggestions until you have entered a few words. Therefore if you also define a high Minimum input savings parameter then the sentence must be really long in order to be suggested.

Settings - Popup menu - Position

Phrase popup menus open next to the input caret by default. You can fine-tune the positioning as follows (Open this setting now):

PositioningDescription

The popup menu opens above the current line of text input.

The popup menu opens below the current line of text input.

If the current text input line is above the middle of the screen, then the popup will open below the current text line.

Otherwise, it will open above the text input line.

Trigger a popup menu with a hotkey and you can define a permanent and fixed position of the phrase popup by moving it to the desired position by clicking on the separator line (above the menu command "Create new phrase").

This setting can be reset by right-clicking the separator line.

The popup menu opens directly next to the current's mouse cursor position.

Fall-back in case of false cursor coordinates

Some programs such as Mozilla Firefox or Thunderbird send false cursor coordinates to the operating system. The developer team is well aware for ages about this ugly design flaw but decided to ignore this shortcoming so far. Please help us to wake them up!

PhraseExpress automatically recognizes invalid coordinates and defaults the popup menu to your choice of following alternative positions (Open this setting now):

  • Next to the PhraseExpress task tray icon
  • Centered in the primary monitor
  • Centered in the monitor that displays the current target application (useful and applicable if using multiple monitors)
  • Centered in the target application window
  • Next to the mouse pointer

The Microsoft Active Accessibility function can provide a more precise cursor location. However, it may be incompatible with certain programs which may crash. If you experience such incompatibility, disable this option.

Settings - Popup menu - Colors

Text and background colors of the phrase description, its associated Hotkey and Autotext and quick keys in the popup menu can be configured separately (Open this setting now).

We recommend that you choose a slightly different color for text suggestions. This will allow you to distinguish the text suggestion coming from the text prediction feature from the phrases of your phrase library.

If you activate the Windows Vista design scheme, a few colors cannot be customized as they are defined by the Vista design.

Make sure to choose colors with high contrast between text and background to ensure good readability.

Right-click a color to transfer the color setting to the complete row.

Settings - Popup menu - Key Combinations 

Confirmation Hotkey

The confirmation hotkey confirms the phrase insertion that is currently highlighted in a phrase popup menu.

You may want to select a hotkey that can be easily reached during your normal typing flow. However, you should make sure that it will not be pressed accidentally, to avoid triggering unwanted phrases.

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

Quick Keys

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

You can choose one of the following sets of keys as 'Quick Keys':

Quick keys Description

Numbers allow you to choose the first nine entries in a popup by pressing one of the number keys of the upper row of your keyboard.

Always use numbers in conjunction with CTRL, ALT, SHIFT or WIN. Otherwise you would not be able to enter a number with the number keys (You can still use the numpad keys though).

Numpad - These are the numbers of the Number pad on the right side of a full size keyboard. These may not be available on a laptop.

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

Make sure to have 'NumLock' activated which is indicated by a lamp on your keyboard.

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

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

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

Always 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.

Hotkeys for the Text Prediction Feature

You can insert just the next word of the suggested sentence by pressing a customizable hotkey, such as CTRL- Arrow Right (Open this setting now).

If you get multiple suggestions that all have the same beginning, then you can define a separate hotkey (e.g. CTRL- ALT-Arrow Right) to insert the beginning of the text up to the word where multiple suggestions start to differ (Open this setting now).

Settings - Text Prediction feature

As you have probably learned from your cell phone, the text prediction function is a compromise between productivity increase and distraction caused by inappropriate/useless suggestions.

PhraseExpress cannot beat this natural law but allows you to adjust the accuracy, amount and frequency of text suggestions (Open this setting now).

We have chosen very conservative default settings, which generate only occasional but highly accurate/likely text suggestions.

Precision

The Precision affects how well a phrase fits into the gathered text information stored by the text prediction feature:

  • If you choose a low precision value, many suggestions will come rapidly after just typing just a few characters of a sentence. You might find such a parameter will cause rather distracting text suggestions. This setting is only recommended if you use a small set of very repetitive text phrases with little variation or if you want to explore the text prediction feature.
  • A higher precision value is recommended as it makes PhraseExpress wait until you have typed a few words in order to limit the amount of alternatives. The downside is that the longer PhraseExpress has to hesitate to make a suggestion, the less typing you save.

We recommend enabling the Determine automatically option: PhraseExpress will automatically increase the precision step-by-step if you ignore too many suggestions and lower the parameter if no suggestions are made anymore.

If you are satisfied with the results after using PhraseExpress for a while, you can disable the automatic precision determination to make the setting permanent.

Single words vs. full sentences

You can configure PhraseExpress to suggest single words and/or full sentences.

Example:

The text prediction feature is very useful.

The text prediction feature has many options.

prediction

The word 'prediction' in the above example is a single word suggestion which appears when typing 'The text pre'(..).

Please note that enabling the text prediction of single words will cause a large number of suggestions, which may be distracting.

Settings - Text Prediction - Advanced

Learn function

The Text Prediction feature is fully automatic and the phrase suggestions become more and more accurate by just using PhraseExpress.

You can, however, drastically shorten the learning curve by letting PhraseExpress look into the past: The Learn function can read your sent Outlook emails, your stored phrases, plain text or MS Word documents to get accustomed to your writing style.

Open the Settings » Text Prediction » Advanced » Learn text and follow the directions.

Word expiration

The text suggestion feature is based on an encrypted dictionary file (word.pal) which continuously stores any word you enter while PhraseExpress is running. To prevent data overload, PhraseExpress automatically removes unused words after the customizable expiration term.

If you set a short expiration term of just a few days, the dictionary becomes smaller and unused words disappear quickly. The downside is, that PhraseExpress will not offer rarely used text snippets that may otherwise have been useful.

You can freeze a certain state of the text prediction dictionary by setting the dictionary file (/My Documents/PhraseExpress/words.pal) access rights to read-only.

The command-line parameter "-dictionary=filepath" allows you to launch PhraseExpress with a certain dictionary at start-up (See here). This provides quick access to dictionaries for different tasks or languages. Exit PhraseExpress first before loading a new dictionary.

Restrict the text prediction feature to certain programs

The text prediction feature normally makes text suggestions  in any application. You can, however, restrict the text prediction feature to particular programs (Open this setting now).

Restrict the text prediction feature to certain programs

Start all programs where you want to receive text suggestions by PhraseExpress, click the magnifying glass button and select the desired programs.

No text suggestions will be made in programs not listed here.

If no program is selected, then text suggestions will be made in any program.

Exclude the text prediction feature from certain programs

Select the programs where no text suggestions shall be made. If no program is selected, no program will be excluded.

You can alternatively enter the names of the program executables, separated by a vertical line. Do not use space characters. This method is not recommended as you probably do not know the exact name of the program executable in most cases.

Expert Options

The following expert options are only available in Expert Mode (see chapter "Expert Mode").

Important Note

The Expert options are reserved for advanced users who need to adapt PhraseExpress to special use scenarios. In most cases, we will provide instructions upon request.

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

  • Default leading- and trailing delimiter are the standard delimiters, which allow 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.
  • If you prefer to have a fixed prefix for any Autotext then you can define it as a Global Autotext prefix. Example: When entering '#' here, you will need to type #kr to trigger the Autotext 'kr'. This setting is global for all phrases and folders.
    • The AutoCorrect functionality will not work anymore when using a Global Autotext prefix.
  • 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.
  • PhraseExpress can treat text pasted using the clipboard as if it were manually entered in order to recognize it for the text prediction feature and Autotext.

Delays

The key-by-key pasting speed configures a short delay between each key that is pressed. You should keep this setting on maximal speed unless you want to slow down the text insertion, e.g. for presentation purposes. An additional Random Variation can simulate manual text input at uneven speeds as if entered by a human.

Generally, if an Autotext is entered in any program, PhraseExpress needs to change the program focus away from the target program, process the input and switch back to the target program to insert the text phrase.

PhraseExpress has a short delay to allow older computers to switch focus.

If you encounter problems with text insertions, experiment with the Delay Settings:

  • The general Paste Delay allows certain 3rd party keyboard drivers to process the pasted text data. E.g., IBM/Lenovo keyboard drivers may require a little more delay. You may also increase the delay if the entered Autotext is not fully replaced by the actual phrase.
  • The Delay for focus change allows the system to switch focus from PhraseExpress to the actual target application and depends on the CPU performance. Increase this delay if sent keyboard strokes are pasted in wrong applications or 'into Nirvana'. Older PCs may require a little more delay.

Paste Method

PhraseExpress uses two different methods to paste contents into the target application (Open this setting now):

  • Long phrases should be pasted using the Windows Clipboard with a 'single strike'. However, this method causes a delay by the system, as the Clipboard needs to be cleared, filled, pasted and released. Thus this paste method is not suitable for the quick corrections of typos, etc.
  • Short phrases are ideally pasted by simulating individual keystrokes 'key-by-key'.
  • The additional option Automatically close popup menu after x chars, automatically determines the suitable paste method depending on the phrase length.
  • The macro function {#pasteoptions …} allows the user to override the general paste method settings for individual phrases.
  • PhraseExpress can Restore previous clipboard contents after use by the program. Please note that this causes an extra delay, as the original clipboard contents need to be cached and restored.

PhraseExpress can use one of three internal mechanisms for the key-by-key paste method:

Paste methodPros & Cons

 

Advantage: Supports most international (including Asian) character sets and keyboard language layouts.

Disadvantage: Text may not properly be inserted in a few target applications that do not support this method.

 

Advantage: Maximum program compatibility (including Java applets).

Disadvantage: Does not work with special keyboard layouts or special characters.

Required setting if you use PhraseExpress with the browser Apple Safari v5.1.

 

This is still experimental.

We cannot provide a recommendation for any particular paste method. Please try and experiment with the settings if you experience difficulties with the text insertion.

Miscellaneous

  • PhraseExpress can store special meta data along with formatted phrases. Activate this option only, if you experience problems with certain target applications which may require this meta data. Note that this significantly increases phrase file size.
    • If you disable this option, all exiting meta data can be, optionally, permanently removed from the current phrase file in order to reduce its size.
  • If using an email client with UTF-8 character encoding, you may need to enable the corresponding option in PhraseExpress if you use the {#mail} macro in your phrases.
  • If sending emails via 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.

Program States

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

ColorExplanation

white - white

PhraseExpress is currently busy with loading/processing the phrase file. If using the Network Edition, the program searches for the PhraseExpress Server on the network.

grey - gray

PhraseExpress is ready to use, but Hotkeys, Autotext and the text prediction feature is temporarily disabled (see chapter "Temporarily deactivate PhraseExpress").

red - red

PhraseExpress is ready to use and uses the local phrase file.

green - green

PhraseExpress is ready to use and is connected to the PhraseExpress Server of the Network Edition.

Hotkeys used in PhraseExpress

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

HotkeyPurpose
ALT-P 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
Delete-key Deletes the currently selected item
F1-key Opens this documentation
ALT-F4 Minimizes/exits PhraseExpress
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Up Jump to the first item in the phrase tree
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Down Jump to the last item in the phrase tree
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Left Collapse all folders in the phrase tree
CTRL-SHIFT-Arrow Right Open all folders in the phrase tree
Arrow keys Used for the navigation in the phrase tree

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.

Temporarily disable PhraseExpress

Video Tutorial

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

Simply click the PhraseExpress task 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 task 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 for commercial use

If you are using PhraseExpress in a commercial environment, you must purchase a license and register your PhraseExpress installation which is a one-time procedure:

  1. Purchase a license at /docs9/09/shop.php
  2. Copy the license key into the Windows clipboard that you will receive via email.
  3. Click the PhraseExpress system tray icon and select Register for commercial use.
  4. The license key should appear in the input field and will be registered after you click the button Register.

The license key registration requires an internet connection to store association between your hardware and the license key association in our license database.

After successful registration, the program title bar contains either "PhraseExpress Easy", "PhraseExpress Standard" or "PhraseExpress Pro" and you can now use PhraseExpress for commercial purposes.

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

Important notes 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.
  • Shut-down PhraseExpress bevor you pull 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 as described in the very next chapter.

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 Help » 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 commercial 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.

General Hints

Of course, we have used PhraseExpress since its first version in 2002 and collected a few hints to help you to get the maximum benefits out of PhraseExpress:

  • Organize phrases in folders. Structure your phrases in folders with subjects reflecting the purpose of your tasks. E.g. create individual folders for English, German or French phrases, phrases used for different products. Create another folder for your frequently used abbreviations, chat phrases, signatures, Internet links, bank accounts, coding fragments, letter templates, etc.
  • Use nested phrases. PhraseExpress allows you to embed a phrase in another phrase. Create a phrase containing your signature only once and refer to it from all other email/letter templates where you use this signature (More info…)
  • Use Hotkeys for folders rather than phrases. The number of available Hotkeys is rather limited. It is also easier to memorize a few folder Hotkeys that allow access to multiple phrases easily, literally at your fingertips.
  • Use Autotext or Snippets extensively. It is just too useful to be ignored. Use it to extend abbreviations, to correct misspellings, to extend Internet addresses, etc. If you type 'hp.' PhraseExpress can open the web page 'http://www.mygreathomepage.com' in your browser. What a time saver!
  • Bitmaps in your phrases take a lot of disk space and you may decide to link bitmaps into a phrase using macro functions to embed external data.

"Undocumented" Hacks

PhraseExpress includes some hidden pearls and useful tricks for motivated users:

  • Activate the Expert Mode under Settings » Features to reveal additional options and features.
  • Edit phrases quickly by right-clicking them in the phrase popup.
  • Frequently used functions and setting windows can be assigned to Hotkeys at Settings » Hotkey for quick access.
  • Edit the latest pasted phrase with a SHIFT-Click on the PhraseExpress task tray icon. Alternatively, you can also configure a Hotkey for this action in the Settings.
  • You can quickly open the PhraseExpress Settings by clicking the task tray icon while holding the ALT-key. If you hold CTRL-ALT the settings for the text prediction feature will open.
  • Temporarily disable Hotkeys, Autotexts and the text prediction feature by clicking the task tray icon while holding the CTRL-key.
  • Add separator lines between phrases in the phrase tree by creating a new phrase and simply entering a few minus symbols "---" as the phrase description. PhraseExpress will then automatically convert such phrase into a horizontal separating line.
  • If you create a new phrase and input a number as the phrase description, PhraseExpress will let you to convert such a phrase into a counter variable which can be used in other phrases.
  • CTRL-Clicking the Search button opens the Search & Replace dialog.
  • CTRL-Clicking the OK button saves any changes of the phrase file while keeping the main program window open.

Time savings calculation

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

Video demo

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.

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

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.

Calculation example

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 savings 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).

PhraseExpress uses the currency as defined in the Windows regional settings.

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 » Statistics.

If using the PhraseExpress Network Edition, 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.

Storage Location of Your Personal Data

Video Tutorial

To retrieve the current storage location, open the main program window, highlight the very first root element in the phrase tree and select File » Properties.

The following storage locations are available:

ExampleExplanation

\My Documents\PhraseExpress\phrases.pxp

The phrase file is stored on a local hard disk.

192.168.123.144:1025

If you use the Network Edition, then you will find the IP address of the PhraseExpress Server as the phrase file location.

If the client temporarily loses the network connection, PhraseExpress uses a local copy of the latest network phrase file version.

The cached network file is set to read-only to avoid version conflicts with the network phrase file.

PhraseExpress automatically reverts to the network phrase file when the client reconnects to the network.

Open an existing phrase file

Video Tutorial

To open a specific local phrase file, open the main program window and click File » Open.

Save phrase file to a new location

To save the current local phrase file to a new destination, click File » Save As. To create a new phrase file, choose New.

The phrase file must reside on a local hard disk. The separate Network Edition allows the user to access a phrase file over a network connection and sharing phrases with multiple users on multiple computers.

If the phrase file has read-only access rights, PhraseExpress removes all menu options to create or edit phrases.

The phrase contents, Autotexts and descriptions are ZIP compressed and AES encrypted.

 

PhraseExpress saves data in the following locations:

FilePurposeLocation

phrases.pxp

The phrase file keeps all your text snippets including the phrase folder structure, Autotext and Hotkey definitions.

If using the Network Edition, this file also stores all folder access permission information.

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 by default:

  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\PhraseExpress\.
  • Windows Vista/7: 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, autocorrect.pxp

This temporary phrase file stores the dynamically generated contents of the special phrase folders used for the clipboard cache and the last used phrases. Usually, there is no need to touch or backup these files.

User data folder:

  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Documents\PhraseExpress\)
  • Windows Vista/7: 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.

 

words.pal

This file contains the dynamic dictionary used for the text prediction feature.

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

config6.ini

All program settings are stored in this file.

User Application data folder:

  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\ApplicationData\PhraseExpress)
  • Windows Vista/7: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\PhraseExpress\
  • The installation file copies a default config file into the Common User Application data folder:
    • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\PhraseExpress\.
    • Windows Vista/7: C:\ProgramData\PhraseExpress\

    If PhraseExpress is launched for the first time from a new user account, it will copy this common config file into the User Application data folder.

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

network.pxp

If you are using the PhraseExpress Network Edition 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.

User Application data folder:

  • Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\ApplicationData\PhraseExpress)
  • Windows Vista/7: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\PhraseExpress\

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

Phrase file structure

PhraseExpress uses an UTF-8 encoded XML file with the file extension .pxp, which is then AES encrypted and ZIP compressed. The resulting ZIP file also has the file extension .pxp. The ZIP file may also contain any bitmaps stored within the phrase file.

PhraseExpress can also load XML files directly and you can use your own XML files, e.g. created from your database application and rendered as XML in the following format:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<phrases>
<version>0</version>
<folder>
<description>Folder name</description>
<phrase>
<description>Phrase description</description>
<text>phrase text</text>
<autotext>phrase Autotext</autotext>
</phrase>
</folder>
</phrases>

If your XML file contains characters that are also part of the XML syntax, you need to 'escape' these characters as follows:

Character Encoded character

& (ampersand)

&amp

< (lower than)

&lt

> (greater than)

&gt

" (double quote)

&quot

' (quote)

&apos

Separator lines are created with the code <separator><description>-</description></separator>

Importing External Files

Video instruction

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

If you import a .pxp phrase file, its 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.

Benefits:

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

Disadvantage:

  • 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.

Benefits:

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

Disadvantages:

  • As the external file is loaded at the time of the insertion, the phrase is inserted with a small delay.
  • You must not move or delete the linked file in order to keep the link. Links to external files are ignored by PhraseExpress if missing.
  • If you are using the phrase file on another PC you must make sure that the external file is also accessible via the same link. If using the Network Edition, 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 an 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.

Video introduction

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

PhraseExpress___pex

MaxiVista___mv

MultiMouse___mm

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:

Importierte Textliste

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 chars.
  • The order phrase <-> Autotext doesn't 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.

This import feature replaces the Importer Utility that was available as an extra download for earlier PhraseExpress versions.

Text data from other applications can also be dynamically embedded into a phrase using a variety of macro functions, such as {#env}, {#adldap} or {#insertfile}.

Importing Microsoft Word AutoCorrect/Autotext entries

Video Tutorial

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 the Network Edition, 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.

Importing TextExpander phrases

Video Tutorial

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

Video instruction

To export any phrase file folder including its content as a phrase file, open the main program window and perform one of the following actions:

  • Right-click the desired phrase folder, select Export from the context menu and define the phrase file target directory.
  • Alternatively, 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 a backup of the phrase file each time you save changes to the phrase file. The backup file is located in the same folder as the main phrase file and has the file extension .bak. Changes to the phrase file are saved when you close the program or when you click the OK button in the setting window.

The Backup-file is a copy of the original phrase file before the changes are made.

If you would like to discard accidental changes to your phrase file or if the original phrase file cannot be read anymore, please do the following:

  1. Close the PhraseExpress program window by clicking the "Cancel"(!) button and exit the program.
  2. Move the current phrase file with the file extension .pxp to another folder.
  3. Remove the file extension .bak from the backup file. It should then have the extension .pxp.
  4. Launch PhraseExpress again and the backup file will now be used as the new phrase file. A new backup file will be automatically be created when you save any changes to your phrase file.

Important Note

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.

Keep PhraseExpress Up-to-Date

Video Tutorial

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, connect your computer to the internet and click the PhraseExpress system tray icon icon » Tools » Settings » Network » Online Updates » Check for Updates.

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

The online update is deactivated while PhraseExpress is connected to the PhraseExpress Server of the Network Edition. In this case, you can use the Client Manager to check for updates.

PhraseExpress can only run the update function if the user is logged in with administrative privileges.

Command line parameters for the PhraseExpress program file

PhraseExpress can be launched with command-line parameter in order to activate additional functions. This information has no use for normal, everyday users and can be safely disregarded.

Command line parameter Explanation

-DEBUG

Creates a debug file in 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.

-DICTIONARY=file path

Launches PhraseExpress with a custom text prediction dictionary file. You can optionally set this .pal file to read-only in order to use it as a pre-defined set of text suggestions.

-CONFIGFILE=file path

Launches PhraseExpress with a custom configuration file.

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

When closing PhraseExpress, the program will save the configuration to the default position again (User Application data folder, e.g. \Users\John Doe\AppData\Roaming\PhraseExpress\config6.ini).

-PORTABLE

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

-CERTCHECK

Checks the digital signatures of all program files on startup for extra security.

Startup time may slow down significantly when using this command-line parameter.

Additional command-line parameters for the installation file can be found in the PhraseExpress Network Edition manual. These are useful for remote installations when using the PhraseExpress Network Edition.

Uninstalling PhraseExpress

Video instruction

Important note for users of a licensed PhraseExpress installation

Before removing PhraseExpress from your computer, make sure to unbind your license from the installation you are planning to remove. This will allow you to re-use the license key for another installation. Please find more information in the chapter "Remove license".

 

PhraseExpress can be uninstalled via Start » Programs » PhraseExpress » Uninstall PhraseExpress

To avoid data loss, the phrase file is not deleted when uninstalling PhraseExpress. You can safely delete this file manually if you do not need your personal phrase file anymore.

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

For general technical reasons, PhraseExpress cannot delete any data that is located in User folders, as Windows prevents access to them.

If running PhraseExpress from a USB stick, simply delete the program folder that holds all PhraseExpress program files.

Troubleshooter

Please check these basic steps first if PhraseExpress does not seem to work at all:

  • Is PhraseExpress actually running? Check if the program icon 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 task tray icon, it may be hidden by Windows. Unfortunately, Windows 7 hides task tray icons by default. Please make sure to change the task tray icon setting so that the PhraseExpress icon is always shown in the tray as it displays important program status information (video tutorial).
  • If the system tray icon is gray-colored, PhraseExpress is temporarily disabled. Click the program icon while holding the CTRL-key to toggle between the disabled/enabled states. Also see chapter "Temporarily disable PhraseExpress" and chapter "Program states".
  • Minimize the PhraseExpress main program window as PhraseExpress only works if the main program is not visible.
  • Check whether there is be any dialog window opened by PhraseExpress that may be hidden under other windows. You need to close any such dialog.
  • Close any program that may process keyboard input or the clipboard (other Clipboard Managers, Autotext utilities or special Multimedia keyboard drivers) to isolate incompatibility issues with other programs.
  • Make sure that no "security" program such "Antivirus/AntiSpyware"-software is blocking the keyboard hook of PhraseExpress.
  • Test PhraseExpress in Windows Notepad or Wordpad as the most basic target application to isolate any issue with any particular target program.
  • Beginning with Windows Vista (or later), Microsoft introduced new security mechanisms that allow to launch programs as a "normal user" and with "admin privileges". Such programs cannot "see" each other and PhraseExpress could not paste text if launched with only 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 wish to insert the phrases. You can launch programs with admin privilegs by clicking the program icon with the right mouse button and select "Run as Administrator".

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

Undo unwanted Autotext replacements

Video Tutorial

If you do not wish to have a certain Autotext replaced by its associated phrase, simply undo the replaced string by deleting it with Backspaces and PhraseExpress will ignore the reverted Autotext the next time you enter it.

If you do this multiple times, PhraseExpress assumes that the text replacement is generally unwanted and will offer to edit/delete the Autotext.

Alternatively, you can click the PhraseExpress task tray icon while holding the SHIFT-key. This will open the unwanted text replacement in PhraseExpress to allow you to edit or delete the item.

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?

Trouble-shooting video tutorial

  • 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 certain 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 certain 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 certain 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 certain programs".
  • PhraseExpress can't 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. Wordpad or Notepad, for example, cannot receive html-formatted phrases.

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-/HTML-/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 the text prediction feature is enabled in Tools »Settings » Features »Text prediction.
  • 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. The minimum length is defined by the two parameters Precision and Minimum input savings. If you want suggestions for short sentences, then lower both parameters. Be warned that this will trigger many suggestions which might distract you.
  • If many alternative suggestions exist in the suggestion database, PhraseExpress may wait for further input to narrow down the possible suggestions before displaying them. You may increase the maximum number of items in the Popup menu settings to increase the allowed number of alternative suggestions.
  • Is the Text prediction feature configured to work in certain applications only? You can check this under Tools »Settings » Features »Text prediction »Advanced.
  • If the dictionary file words.pal has been set as read-only, then PhraseExpress does not learn new sentences and naturally cannot suggest unknown phrases.
  • The text prediction 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).
  • A particular phrase file provided by us may be internally set to read-only.
  • If using the PhraseExpress Network Edition:
    • 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.

Technical Support

If you have any technical problem that cannot be solved by above tips, please visit: /support.htm