PhraseExpress for Mac - Documentation

Table of Contents

Installation

To install PhraseExpress on your Mac:
  1. Download the PhraseExpress client.
  2. Double-click the downloaded file and drag its contents into the Mac application folder.
  3. In the Mac application folder, double-click the PhraseExpress icon to launch the program.
  4. IMPORTANT: Add PhraseExpress to the Mac System Preferences » Security & Privacy » Privacy » Accessibility (Video tutorial).
  5. If you have purchased a license, register the license key in PhraseExpress.
  • The MacOS autotext feature will collide with PhraseExpress if you use the same autotext abbreviations. Do not to use the same abbreviations on either system or consider removing any autotext definitions in System Preferences » Keyboard » Text.
  • Apple macOS can be configured to ignore focus to radio buttons, check boxes and a few other input controls. In this case, such controls cannot be used with the keyboard but with the mouse only.

    To change this setting, open the System Preferences » Keyboard » Shortcuts und set option "Full keyboard access" to "All Controls".

Getting started

After launching PhraseExpress, a speech bubble icon is shown in the top-right menu bar:

PhraseExpress menu bar icon

This icon is your main access to PhraseExpress:

What to do next:

Managing phrases

In PhraseExpress you can create, edit, import, search and delete phrases.

Store new phrases

To save a new phrase in PhraseExpress:
  1. Highlight the desired text in any application.
  2. Right-Click the PhraseExpress icon and select "New phrase…".
    Alternatively, press the customizable hotkey CMD-ALT-C.
  3. Enter additional information for the new phrase.
  • The Description identifies the phrase in the phrase menu.
  • Hotkeys insert the phrases by pressing a keyboard combination (learn more).
  • An Autotext is a text abbreviation which is replaced with a longer text snippet. For example, entering the autotext 'kr' would insert the phrase 'Kind Regards' (learn more).

To create a new phrase, you can also drag the highlighted text onto the PhraseExpress dock or menu bar icon. Or right-click the hightlighted text and select the context menu option to save it as a new phrase.

Insert phrases

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

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

The phrase menu provides instant access to your phrases:

The phrase menu appears next to your cursor if triggered by autotext or by hotkey.

Alternatively you can always reach your phrases from the PhraseExpress system menu bar icon in the upper right of your desktop.

To insert a phrase from a popup:
  • To open a phrase menu, click the PhraseExpress menu bar icon, enter an autotext or press a hotkey.
  • Navigate to the desired phrase with the Up/Down/Right keys.
  • Super tip! Type any part of the description to narrow down the menu task tray icon matching items.

Press the customizable confirmation hotkey to insert the selected phrase.

The optional phrase preview can be a disabled in the program settings.

If the phrases does not show up in the phrase menu:
  • Try scrolling down in the phrase menu
  • Check in PhraseExpress settings, if PhraseExpress is excluded to work in the active target program.
  • Check if option "Show in popup" is disabled for the folder containing the desired phrase.

Edit phrases

Phrase are managed in the PhraseExpress main program window.

  • To open the main program window, right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select Edit phrases:

    Tray menu
  • Alternatively, click the PhraseExpress dock icon.
  • Or press a customizable hotkey to open the main program window.

The main program window

Your phrases are organized in a customizable folder tree structure:

Main program window

 

  • Drag & drop phrases and folders to rearrange them in the tree structure. Tip: Use the CMD and/or SHIFT keys to select multiple objects in the tree.
  • Click any phrase on the left to edit it on the right pane of the main program window.

Hotkeys

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

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

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

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

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

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

Autotext

Autotexts are text abbreviations, that are replaced with longer text. In PhraseExpress, autotext works in most Mac program and offers much more functionality.

Sample applications:
  • Enter 'FBI' to replace it with 'Federal Bureau of Investigation'.
  • Typing mistakes are corrected as you type: 'tpyo' » 'typo'.
  • Enter an autotext to launch an application. For instance, typing 'calc' can launch the Mac calculator.
  • Re-use the same abbreviation to select the desired phrase from a multiple-choice menu.
  • Trigger phrase menus by entering an autotext for quick access to your whole phrase library.

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

 

Autotext options

Video demo

Option Description

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

Default delimiter

This is the recommended default setting.

Autotext is recognized immediately after typing the last character 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.

The phrase is offered in a popup menu instead of being inserted automatically:

Execute Optionally

You can either accept the phrase by pressing the confirmation key or you can ignore the offer to insert by continuing to type.

Phrase are suggested in a popup menu if you enter the beginning of its description:

SmartComplete

You do not need to define an Autotext.

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

Selecting SmartComplete automatically enables caps sensitivity and manual confirmation option.

Advanced Autotext settings provide granular configuration of the autotext behavior as described in the following chapter:

Expert autotext options

Example applications
  • Do you want to abandon the trailing autotext delimiter after pasting a phrase?
  • Do you want to define specific leading/trailing autotext delimiters?
  • Shall autotexts only be recognized within a word or only following a number?
  • Do you want different text insertions depending on upper vs. lower case autotext?
Autotext delimiters

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

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

Expert autotext settings

Prefix/Postfix Explanation

None (available for postfix only)

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

There is any character required before/after the autotext.

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

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

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

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

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

Example prefix/postfix settings:
Prefix Postfix Explanation Notes

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

This is the default setting and recommended for most purposes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manual confirmation

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

Execute Optionally

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

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

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

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

Phrase menu search

  1. Open a phrase menu.
  2. Start typing any part of the phrase description you wish to find.
  3. Click the phrase to insert it.

Program window search

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click into the search box above the tree view (or press CMD-F).
  3. Enter the search term.
  4. Click the desired item to edit it.

Delete phrases

To delete a phrase or folder:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select the items you wish to delete in the left tree view.
  3. Press DELETE or click the trash bin button.

Working with phrase files

You can load, save, move, import, export, create new phrase files in PhraseExpress or review the storage location of the phrase file currently in use.

Open a phrase file

To load a phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » Open in the main menu.
  3. Select the desired phrase file.

The current phrase file will be unloaded (but not deleted), the selected phrase file will be loaded and used from this new location from now on.

If you want to add phrases of another phrase file to your current phrase file, rather import the phrase file.

PhraseExpress for Mac cannot load phrase files of PhraseExpress for Windows. Use the cloud sync feature to share/use phrases of the Windows version.

Import a phrase file

PhraseExpress can import Mac/Windows phrase files and TextExpander snippet files.

To import a PhraseExpress phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired target destination folder in the phrase tree.
  3. Click File » Import and select the desired phrase file.

The phrase file be added to your existing phrase library and will be saved in the currently loaded phrase file.

Alternatively, drag the phrase file into the desired folder of the phrase tree.

 

If you import a phrase file of the Windows version, information for advanced features (phrase with bitmaps, bitmaps, counters, Microsoft Word formatted phrases, program and access restrictions, etc.) will be stripped. Review the imported phrases and keep a copy of the source phrase file.

Import from TextExpander

To import text snippets from SmileOnMyMac TextExpander:
  1. Open TextExpander and right-click the snippet group, that you wish to transfer to PhraseExpress.
  2. Choose "Save a Copy Of Group…" from the context menu and select the file destination, e.g. the Desktop.
  3. Exit TextExpander.
  4. In PhraseExpress, Import the TextExpander snippet file you just have created.

PhraseExpress for Mac supports unformatted text snippets and a selection of TextExpander macro functions. Those are converted to the PhraseExpress syntax.

Apple-/Javascript is not supported. PhraseExpress provides its own powerful cross-platform macro language.

Do not run PhraseExpress and TextExpander simultaneously as this may create autotext detection conflicts.

"TextExpander" is a product of the independent company SmileOnMyMac.

Export a phrase file

To export a phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired target destination folder in the phrase tree.
  3. Click File » Export and specify the desired destination and file name.

Exporting a phrase file creates a copy of the selected contents but does not change the storage location of the currently loaded phrase file.

PhraseExpress for Mac exports the phrases into its own file format (file extension .pxi). You can import or load the exported phrase file into PhraseExpress for Mac or PhraseExpress for Windows.

Save a phrase file

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

The phrase file will be saved and used from this new location from now on. Only use this option if you wish to change the storage location or change the name of the phrase file. The phrase file stored in the previous location will not be deleted and remains unused in the old location.

If you do not want to change the phrase file location, rather export the phrase file.

Phrase files saved by PhraseExpress for Mac can be loaded in PhraseExpress for Windows.

Create a new phrase file

To create a new empty phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » New.
  3. Choose the storage location and enter the desired file name for the new phrase file.

PhraseExpress creates a new and empty phrase file at the selected location. You can now create phrases, import PhraseExpress phrase files or TextExpander snippet files.

The phrase file used before will not be deleted but remain on the hard disk.

Review storage location

To review the storage location of the phrase file currently in use:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » Properties for detailed information about the current phrase file.

Move a phrase file

To move a phrase file:
  1. Export the current phrase file.
  2. Transfer the exported file to the new destination (e.g. another computer).
  3. Load the phrase file in the other PhraseExpress installation.

The phrase file contains all phrases, the folder structure, descriptions, autotexts and hotkey associations. It does not contain program settings.

Data Backup

PhraseExpress automatically creates a backup each time you save a change to the phrase file:

Backup restore

To restore an earlier phrase file version:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » Restore from backup.
  3. Choose the desired version.

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

The backup feature can be configured in the backup settings.

Backups may not be available in following cases:
  • The corresponding phrase file is set to read-only.
  • The phrase file is missing.
  • The backup folder path as specified in the settings is not accessible or invalid.
  • The phrase file has not been changed yet.
  • The backup feature is disabled in the program settings.

Backup your phrase file to external storage media by using the file export feature.

Sharing phrases in a team

PhraseExpress can share phrases with multiple users by loading the same phrase file from a network shared file (NAS) or by using a cloud synchronization service.

Phrase file sharing

Multiple PhraseExpress clients can load the same phrase file from a network drive to share a common phrase file.

To share a phrase file with other clients:
  1. Open the main program window of the PhraseExpress Mac(!) client, that holds the phrase file you wish to share with other users.
  2. Click the menu command File » Save As… and save the file to a network share storage path (NAS).
  3. On all other PhraseExpress clients, select File » Open local phrase file and select the phrase file you just saved to the network share.

That's it! All users now share a common phrase file.

Phrase file sharing also works between PhraseExpress for Mac and Windows. Just start from the Mac versions as PhraseExpress for Windows can read PhraseExpress for Mac files (but not vice versa).

Data loss may occur if multiple users edit phrases at the same time. PhraseExpress for Mac does not merge simultaneous edits.

Cloud synchronization

PhraseExpress for Mac can utilize cloud services to sync phrases over the internet with other Macs, iPhone/iPad or PhraseExpress for Windows.

  • Most popular cloud sync services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive is supported. Synchronization with iPhone/iPad requries Apple iCloud Drive which is pre-installed on Mac and iPhone/iPad.
  • The phrase file must not be edited simultaneously on different devices. Data loss can occur if multiple users edit phrases at the same time. PhraseExpress for Mac does not merge simultaneous edits.
  • 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.

Sync between Macs

Sync between Macs 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.

To sync phrases with other Macs:
  1. Install a cloud sync service an all computers and use the same cloud service account on all Macs. Read this twice. If you also want to sync with iPhone/iPad, use iCloud Drive and read important notes below.
  2. Open the main program window of the PhraseExpress Mac client, that holds the phrase file you wish to share with others.
  3. Click File » Save As… and select the cloud sync folder as the file destination.
  4. Close the PhraseExpress main program window and wait until the cloud service has distributed the phrase file to all computers. This can take a while.
  5. Open the PhraseExpress main program window on all other computers and load the phrase file from the cloud sync directory.

Done! All Macs are now syncing phrases.

Sync with iPhone/iPad

Please find step-by-step instructions in the PhraseExpress for iOS manual.

Sync with Windows

Video tutorial

PhraseExpress for Mac cannot sync Windows .pxp phrase files, because the Mac .pxi phrase file format varies due to the different features set. To sync with Windows, you need to initiate the connection from the Mac client.

To sync with Windows PCs:
  1. Install a cloud sync service an all computers and use the same cloud service account on all computers. Use iCloud Drive if you also want to sync with iPhone/iPad.
  2. On the Mac client, open the main program window.
  3. Click File » Save As… and select the desired cloud sync folder as the file destination.
  4. Close the PhraseExpress for Mac main program window and wait until the cloud service has distributed the phrase file to all computers. This can take a while.
  5. The PhraseExpress for Windows client will detect the Mac phrase file (file extension .pxi) if you open its main program window and offers to include it into the phrase library.

    If cloud file detection has been disabled, use command File » Open » Cloud phrase file. If the file is not detected, use command File » Open » Local phrase file. and point to the Mac phrase file (extension .pxi) manually.

Done!

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

PhraseExpress now syncs the Mac-phrase file node with the Mac. 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 Mac phrase file node for use and synchronization with your Mac.

Some settings will be removed if you move phrases created in Windows into the Mac 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 Mac, copy (instead of move) the desired phrases into the Mac phrase file node. You will then have one version in the Windows phrase file node with full functionality and a second version in the Mac 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 Mac phrase file node and uncheck the context menu option "Autotext/hotkeys active" (Only the Windows client recognizes this setting. The Mac App ignores it).

License Registration

To use advanced features, you must purchase a license and register your PhraseExpress installation.

You can register your Mac with a license, remove the registration and review the license status.

Register license key

This is a one-time procedure.

  1. Purchase a license.
  2. You will receive license keys by email. License keys begin with "PEM…".
  3. Highlight the entire license key and press keyboard shortcut CMD-C to copy it into the clipboard.
  4. Open the PhraseExpress main program window and select PhraseExpress » Register license in the main menu.
  5. Click into the license key input field and press the keyboard shortcut CMDV to paste the license key from the clipboard.
  6. Press the Register button to register the license key.

An internet connection is required for the short time of registration. The license key and an ID is transmitted on our authorization server.

The license is tied to your user name you use to log-onto your Mac. You can register the license to all Macs where you log-in with the same user name.

Deregister license key

A license key is tied to a user account. If you wish to use a license key for another user, de-register the license association from the current user first:

Open the PhraseExpress program window and select About PhraseExpress » Release license key

This operation requires an internet connection in order to delete the license key association from our authorization server.

License status

To review the current license status of the PhraseExpress installation, open the PhraseExpress main program window and select PhraseExpress » About PhraseExpress in the main menu:

Uninstallation

To permanently remove PhraseExpress:

  1. Deregister any license key, allowing you to use the license key for another installation.
  2. Right-click the PhraseExpress icon and select Exit.
  3. Move the PhraseExpress program from the application folder to the trash bin.

Uninstalling the program does not delete phrase files. If you do not need the phrase file anymore, delete them in Finder.

Macro functions

See Macro functions section.

Program settings

See Settings section.

Troubleshooting

See Troubleshooting section.

Table of Contents