PhraseExpress for iOS - Manual

Table of Contents

Introduction

PhraseExpress organizes frequently used phrases and inserts them in every app.

Demo video

Features:

By the way, PhraseExpress is available for Apple Mac, Microsoft Windows and Android smartphones and tablets, too!

Special features:

  • Phrases cannot just be grouped but organized in a multi-level folder structure.
  • Autotext abbreviations can be re-used for multiple phrases.
  • Autotext can be assigned to a phrase folder containing multiple phrases.
  • Custom keyboard with cool extra features and a popup menu allows you to access phrases without the need to memorize abbreviations.
  • Advanced autotext trigger options: Phrases can expand immediately, after manual confirmation or after typing a delimiter, such as space or a punctuation mark.

Installation

PhraseExpress for iOS consists of the App and the optional PhraseExpress keyboard.

App Installation

Download the PhraseExpress iOS App from the Apple AppStore.

Keyboard Installation

The PhraseExpress App can be used with any keyboard but its custom keyboard offers some nice extra features:

  • Presse the special PhraseExpress key provides instant access to your phrases in a handy popup menu.
  • Enter autotext to expand abbreviations into longer phrases.
  • Swipe-up letters for uppercase letters. No need to tap SHIFT anymore!
  • Insert number directly with a long-press without the need to switch to the number keyboard!

The Siri dictation, swipe and other features are not available in the PhraseExpress keyboard. The PhraseExpress keyboard does not aim to replace the original Apple keyboard. It is designed to be used as an auxiliary option. You can quickly switch between keyboards with the globe key.

To install the PhraseExpress keyboard:

Video instructions

  1. Open the iOS Settings
  2. Select General » Keyboard » Keyboards » Add New Keyboard
  3. Under Third party keyboards, tap "Add new keyboards…".
  4. Select PhraseExpress and choose the desired keyboard language layout.
  5. Tap the PhraseExpress keyboard entry you have just added.
  6. Enable "Allow Full Access" and confirm the security reminder. PhraseExpress requires this option to be allowed to insert your text snippets into the target application (privacy statement).

Getting started

Launching the App

On the home screen, tap the PhraseExpress icon to launch the App:

PhraseExpress on the home screen

The PhraseExpress App allows you to create and organize phrases in a folder structure. The App can also send phrases to the clipboard for use in other Apps.

The optional PhraseExpress keyboard enables you to insert phrases into any target App directly, without the need to use the App.

Activate the PhraseExpress keyboard

Press the globe key to switch between the installed keyboards:

Globe key

You can identify the PhraseExpress keyboard by its beautiful speech bubble left to the space bar.

If the PhraseExpress keyboard is missing, you may need to install it.

Store new phrases

Video instructions

To save a new phrase into PhraseExpress:

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App
  2. Navigate to the desired target phrase folder.
  3. Tap the Plus icon to create a new phrase. You can optionally create a new phrase which is pre-filled with the current clipboard contents.
  4. Edit the phrase details.
  5. Tap "Done" to save the phrase.
Phrase Settings:
  • The description represents the actual text phrase in the phrase menu. It must not be empty.
  • Entering the specified Autotext into the PhraseExpress keyboard replaces the autotext input with the phrase contents.

An "InApp purchase" extends the freeware to allows storing more than 10 items.

Use autotext

Autotext are text shortcuts (autotext) that are replaced with the associated larger text phrases. The autotext feature only works with the PhraseExpress keyboard.

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 'eng' offers a selection of phrases beginning with 'eng…' for insertion.
  • The autotext '@mark' could create a pre-filled email with the help of PhraseExpress' macro functions.

Autotext options

Option Description

Executes a phrase after entering the autotext followed by either RETURN, SPACE or any default trailing delimiter such as punctuation marks:

Default delimiter

This is the recommended default setting.

Triggers a phrase immediately after typing the last letter of the autotext:

Execute immediately

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

After entering the autotext, the phrase is offered in the smart bar on top of the PhraseExpress keyboard instead of being inserted automatically:

Execute Optionally

You can either tap the suggestion or dismiss it and just continue to type.

Phrase are suggested in the smart bar of the PhraseExpress keyboard if you enter the beginning of its description:

SmartComplete

You do not need to define an Autotext.

Smart Complete is case-sensitive.

Advanced Autotext settings that are supported by the iOS device but can only be edited on a PhraseExpress Windows client.

Spelling correction

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

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

Macro functions

Powerful macro functions of the Pro Edition allows you to add dynamic contents in your phrases, such as customizable time/date stamp, date math, fill-ins, custom forms consisting of input boxes, check boxes, radio buttons, drop-down selections, etc.

You can generate pre-filled emails, link or nest phrases, alternate or randomize phrases, perform calculations and string operations, compute conditional statements and much more.

The PhraseExpress Pro App supports a selection of the PhraseExpress Mac client macro functions (Mac client manual).

Supported macro functions:

#insert, #calc, #date, #time, #datetime, #rnd, #sleep, #insertclipboard, #setclipboard, #input, #settemp, #gettemp, #loop, #check, #randomtext, #cond, #asc, #setphrase, #length, #substr, #trim, #trimleft, #trimright, #replace, #pos, #lowercase, #uppercase, #lowercasefirst, #uppercasefirst, #lowercaseword, #uppercaseword, #autotext, #prefix, #postfix, #lastpos.

Following macro functions must be executed through the App (vs. PhraseExpress keyboard):

#form, #formtext, #formeditbox, #formcheckbox, #formcombobox, #formcalendar, #formphrasecombo, #formnum, #formslider, #formradiogroup, #formgroup, #formcheckcombo, #url.

We strongly recommend to create and edit macro functions in the Mac/Windows client.

Some macro functions are adapted for use with mobile devices and may not have the entire feature set of the Mac/Windows version.

Insert phrases

Video instructions

Phrases can be inserted via the phrase menu, by entering an autotext text abbreviation, using the PhraseExpress App or SplitView.

  1. Switch to any app that can receive text.
  2. Tap the globe key to switch to the PhraseExpress keyboard.
  3. Tap the PhraseExpress speech bubble symbol and select the desired phrase from the phrase menu. Tap or swipe back & forth between multi-level folders.
  4. Once you release the finger, the phrase will be pasted into the app.

The PhraseExpress keyboard is disabled in password input dialogs, Apple login, or phone related input dialogs. 3rd party apps may reject custom keyboards for security reasons, such as banking apps.

Autotext

  1. Tap the globe key to switch to the PhraseExpress keyboard.
  2. Tap into the target App and enter the Autotext of the desired phrase. Alternatively, enter the Autotext of a phrase folder and select the desired phrase from the phrase menu.

PhraseExpress App

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the desired phrase and tap the Share icon to copy the phrase into the clipboard.
  3. If the phrase contains macro functions prompting for user input, enter corresponding information.
  4. Switch to the target App and paste the clipboard contents.

Split View

Modern iPads can show the PhraseExpress App next to another App in "SplitView", making it easy to paste phrases:

  1. Open to the target App you want to insert a phrase.
  2. Swipe from right to the left to activate "SplitView".
  3. Select the PhraseExpress App as the secondary App.
  4. Navigate to desired phrase and tap the Share icon to copy the phrase into the clipboard.
  5. Paste the clipboard into the target app.

Check Apple help for more information about "SplitView".

Edit phrases

Video instructions

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the desired phrase.
  3. Tap the phrase description to edit the phrase.
  4. Tap "Done" to confirm changes.

Phrases with a Link symbol are links to original phrases (analog to a file alias).

Manage phrases

Instead of memorizing numerous autotext abbreviations, PhraseExpress allows you to pick a phrases from a descriptive folder structure. This even takes less taps than typing an autotext in many cases.

Organizing phrases into folders also help keeping overview about a large number of phrases.

Examples:
  • Sort phrases in language folders.
  • Separate between personal vs business templates.
  • Organize snippets in individual folders for different products.
  • Split text snippets depending on the task (support, sales, accounting, chat).

You can create, edit and move folders, and edit, search and delete phrases in the App.

Create phrase folders

To create a new folder:
  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the desired sub-folder if you wish to create a sub-folder.
  3. Tap the plus icon and select "New folder".
  4. Enter the folder details.
  5. Tap "Done" to save the new folder.
Folder Settings:
  • The description represents the folder in the phrase menu.
  • If your text input on the PhraseExpress keyboard matches a specified Autotext, a popup window allows you to choose the desired phrase.
  • Option "Show in phrase menu" allows to hide the phrase folder and its content in the popup menu. This is useful for phrase folders containing phrases, that are triggered by autotext but not by selecting them form the phrase menu, e.g. spelling correction items or acronym phrases.

Edit phrase folders

To edit a phrase folder:
  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the folder that contains the folder you wish to edit.
  3. Tap the "Edit" command.
  4. Select the folder you wish to edit and tap "Edit". To change its background color, tap the paste icon.
  5. Make the desired changes.
  6. Save any changes by tapping "Done".

Phrase folders with a Link symbol are links to original phrase folders (analog to a file alias).

Move phrases

Video instructions

To move phrases between different folders of your phrase library:

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the desired folder and tap "Edit".
  3. Select the items you wish to move and tap "Move".
  4. Select the target folder.
  5. Tap "Done" to finish editing.

To change the order of items within a folder level:

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the desired folder and tap "Edit".
  3. Rearrange items by vertically dragging them by their handles (three lines) to the desired position.
  4. Tap "Done" to finish editing.

Video instructions

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the folder you wish to search for a phrase.
  3. If the search box is not visible, scroll down.
  4. Enter the search term.

Delete phrases

Video instructions

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Navigate to the folder, that holds the items to delete
  3. Tap "Edit" and select the items to delete.
  4. Tap the Delete icon.
  5. Tap "Done" to finish editing.

Storage location

PhraseExpress saves all phrases and the folder structure including autotext settings in the phrase file "phrases.pxi":

  • If iCloudDrive is enabled for PhraseExpress (default), the phrase file is stored in the iCloud Drive directory /PhraseExpress/phrases.pxi
  • If iCloud Drive is disabled, the phrase file is stored in an isolated storage area.

You cannot access or edit the phrase file directly. Always use the PhraseExpress App to edit phrases.

Back up your iOS device to external storage media to prevent data loss!

Enable iCloud Drive

Video instructions

To enable iCloud Drive for use with PhraseExpress:
  1. On your iPhone/iPad, tap Settings » iCloud » iCloud Drive » Enable iCloud Drive.
  2. Scroll down to the PhraseExpress entry in the App list.
  3. Enable PhraseExpress to use iCloud Drive.

To synchronize phrases via the cellular network when local wireless network is not available, enable the option "Mobile data" in the PhraseExpress App settings. If this option is missing , enable PhraseExpress in "iOS Settings » Cellular".

  • Don't change above settings while editing phrases.
  • Restart PhraseExpress or the iPhone/iPad if iCloud Drive is not enabled properly.

Synchronization

The PhraseExpress App uses iCloud Drive to sync phrases with other iPhones/iPads, PhraseExpress for Mac or PhraseExpress for Windows.

  • You must use the same iCloud Drive account for all devices. You cannot sync across different iCloud accounts. Read this twice.
  • Do not edit phrases on multiple devices simultaneously to prevent access collisions and version conflicts.
  • Online cloud synchronization services require some time to distribute the phrase file over the internet. Sync issues may occur if multiple users are editing the file while the cloud synchronization server is still distributing the update.
  • Restart the PhraseExpress App or the device if you experience sync issues. If problems still persist, consider disabling and reenabling iCloud Drive on your device and/or uninstall and reinstall the App.
  • Very important: Synchronization between devices is solely provided by Apple iCloud Drive. PhraseExpress utilizes iCloud Drive but does not enhance iCloud Drive. If the PhraseExpress folder appears on one device, PhraseExpress has done everything required to allow iCloud Drive synchronizing the phrase file to other devices. PhraseExpress has no way of doing it iself. It is like a car maker won't fix road bumps. In case of iCloud Drive sync issues, please contact the maker of iCloud Drive, Apple support for assistance.

Sync multiple iPhones/iPads

Sync between multiple iOS devices requires iCloud Drive. It is enabled by default and must be configured only, if iCloud Drive is disabled.

Video tutorial

To manually configure phrase synchronization:
  1. Enable iCloud Drive for PhraseExpress on all iPhones/iPads. Make sure to use the same iCloud Drive account.
  2. Wait until iCloud Drive distributed the phrase file to all other devices. This can take some time.

Done! All iPhones/iPads now share the same phrase file.

To disable phrase file synchronization, disable iCloud Drive for PhraseExpress.

Sync with Mac

Syncing with a Mac requires iCloud Drive. It is enabled by default and must be configured only, if iCloud Drive is disabled or if the phrase file has been stored in a non-default location on the Mac.

To manually configure phrase synchronization:
  1. Enable iCloud Drive for PhraseExpress on your iPhone/iPad
  2. Make sure, that iCloud Drive is enabled with the same user account on your Mac(s) (check mark under "System preferences » iCloud » iCloud Drive"). Make sure to use the same iCloud Drive on Mac and iOS. The iCloud Drive account is not necessarily the account used to log into your Mac!
  3. Wait, until iCloud Drive distributed the phrase file to all computers. This can take some time.
  4. Open the main program window of the PhraseExpress Mac client.
  5. Use command File » Synchronize with iOS devices".

Done! PhraseExpress for Mac loads the iPhone/iPad phrase file from "/iCloud Drive/PhraseExpress/phrases.pxi" and your Mac and iPhone/iPad are now sharing and syncing phrases. This is indicated in the phrase tree by a cloud symbol root.

If the phrase file is missing in iCloud Drive, double-check if iCloud Drive is enabled on your iPhone/iPad.

To disable phrase file synchronization, disable iCloud Drive for PhraseExpress.

The iOS App creates a special folder "PhraseExpress" in your iCloud Drive folder which is indicated by a PhraseExpress speech bubble logo within the folder icon as shown here:

PhraseExpress iCloud Drive folder on macOS

Do not use Finder to manually create this folder. The iOS App would not recognize such manually created folder. If no special folder is created, restart the iOS device and/or try reinstalling the iOS App.

Sync with Windows

Video tutorial

The iOS App cannot directly sync Windows .pxp phrase files, because the iPhone/iPad .pxi phrase file format differs due to the different features set. To sync with Windows, you need to initiate the connection from the iPhone/iPad.

To sync phrases with a Windows PC:
  1. Enable iCloud Drive for PhraseExpress on your iPhone/iPad.
  2. Create a phrase on your iPhone/iPad to make the App saving the phrase file in iCloud Drive.
  3. Download & install Apple iCloud Drive for Windows on your Windows PC. Make sure to use the same iCloud Drive account you are using on your iPhone/iPad. The iCloud Drive account is not the account used to log into Windows!
  4. Wait, until iCloud Drive has distributed the phrase file to all computers. This can take some time.
  5. Open the PhraseExpress main program window on your Windows PC. PhraseExpress will automatically detect the phrase file in the local iCloud Drive sync folder and prompts you to add the phrase file to your phrase library as a separate phrase root node.

    Alternatively, select File » Open » Cloud phrase file or manually load the phrase file from the cloud sync directory (default location: /iCloudDrive/PhraseExpress/phrases.pxi)

PhraseExpress for Windows adds the iPhone/iPad phrase file as an additional phrase file node into the tree view of the main program window.

PhraseExpress now syncs the iPhone/iPad phrase file node with the iPhone/iPad. However, it does not sync the Windows phrase file.

You can now drag & drop phrases in the Windows client to move them from the Windows to the iPhone/iPad phrase file node for use and synchronization with your iPhone/iPad.

Do not save any phrase file into iCloud Drive with the Windows client on your own. The iOS App itself must create its special app data storage folder "PhraseExpress" on its own and save the phrase file "phrases.pxi" into it. This special folder must bear the PhraseExpress logo as shown here:

PhraseExpress iCloud Drive folder on Windows

If the folder does not show the PhraseExpress logo, iCloud Drive has not recognized the folder as being created by the PhraseExpress App and synchronisation will fail. Solution: Uninstall the App, remove any PhraseExpress related folder from iCloud Drive, reboot the iOS device and reinstall the App again.

Some settings will be removed if you move phrases created in Windows into the iPhone/iPad phrase file node (Text formatting, bitmaps, program restrictions, access right settings, etc.)!

If you want to keep taking advantage of the Windows version's full feature potential while still be able to sync with iPhone/iPad, copy (instead of move) the desired phrases into the iPhone/iPad phrase file node. You will then have one version in the Windows phrase file node with full functionality and a second version in the iPhone/iPad phrase file node with the stripped down duplicate.

As this creates phrase duplicates on the Windows client, you may want to disable autotext for the copied items: Right-click the phrase folders or mobile phrase file node and uncheck the context menu option "Autotext/hotkeys active" (Only the Windows client recognizes this setting. The iPhone/iPad App ignores it).

Usage statistics

PhraseExpress can estimate how much time and money it saves by inserting phrases for you.

Example: Given a 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).

This calculation is based on the typing speed and hour rate you can optionally enter in the App settings. Of course, no such data is transmitted to us and the configuration is optional. The input doesn't not affect the App's general functionality.

The statistic feature is for entertainment only and not suitable for accurate productivity measurement.

Gathering information about user performance statistics may violate employee privacy protection laws in your country. The feature can be disabled in the settings of a licensed App

Settings

Video instructions

To open the PhraseExpress App settings:

  1. Launch the PhraseExpress App.
  2. Tap the PhraseExpress logo.
  3. Select "Program Settings".

Alternatively, open the iOS settings and scroll down to the PhraseExpress settings.

  • Mobile Data: If enabled, PhraseExpress also uses the cellular network to sync phrases between devices.
  • Sounds: If enabled, you will here a click sounds with every key press and phrase insertion.
  • Diacritic characters: If enabled, diacritic characters are offered when you long-press certain keys on the PhraseExpress keyboard.
  • Productivity statistics settings.

Setting changes take effect after an App restart.

Privacy information

The PhraseExpress custom keyboard requires "Full access" to access the file that stores your phrases on your device. It also enables PhraseExpress to access the clipboard for corresponding clipboard related macro functions.

We designed the PhraseExpress App to minimize access to the iOS operating system. PhraseExpress never sends any keyboard input or phrases to us.

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