PhraseExpress for Mac - Documentation BETA

The software and documentation are beta - Specifications may change.

Table of Contents


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

Your Mac must be configured for use with PhraseExpress:

  • Add PhraseExpress to the list of assistive devices in macOS System Preferences » Security & Privacy » Privacy.

    Video tutorial
  • 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 macOS under 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 Mac System Preferences » Keyboard » Shortcuts und set option "Full keyboard access" to "All Controls".

IMPORTANT: Do not ignore above configuration requirements!

Getting started

After launching PhraseExpress, a speech bubble icon is shown in the top 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 a new phrase

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 your 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). 

Insert phrases

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

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

The phrase menu provides instant access to your phrases.

To insert a phrase:
  • Click the phrase with the mouse.
  • Navigate with the Up/Down keys or start typing any part of the description of the desired phrase.
  • Press the customizable confirmation hotkey to insert the selected phrase.
  • Phrase contents are shown in a preview that can be a disabled in the program settings.

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.
  • Alternatively, click the PhraseExpress dock icon.

Your phrases are organized in the customizable folder structure on the left of the main program window.

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

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


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.


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.

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


Autotext options
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:


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

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

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

Prefix/Postfix Explanation

None (available for postfix only)

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

There is any character required before/after the autotext.

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

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

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

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

Do not 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. Select any matching 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 unload (but not deleted) and the selected phrase file will be loaded and used from this new location from now on.

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

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

Import a phrase file

To import a phrase file to your existing phrase library:
  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.

Alternatively, just drag the phrase file into the desired location of the phrase tree. How cool is that!

The phrase file be added to your existing phrase library.

PhraseExpress for Mac can import its own phrase files (file extension .pxi) and TextExpander snippet files. To import from Windows, see here.

Export a phrase file

To export a phrase files:
  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 the phrases creates a copy of the exported data and does not change the storage location of the phrase in use by PhraseExpress.

PhraseExpress for Mac exports the phrases into its own file format (file extension .pxi) in order to support the advanced features provided by PhraseExpress. 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.

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

Phrase files saved by PhraseExpress for Mac can also 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 new 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 phrase 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 for Mac does not create backups. Make sure, that your backup solution, such as TimeMachine, includes the PhraseExpress phrase file in the back up.

Use the export feature to make frequent backups to external storage media to prevent data loss.

Import from Windows

PhraseExpress for Mac cannot import .pxp phrases files of the Windows version, but the other way around.

We recommend to use the cloud sync feature to share phrases between Mac and Windows.

Alternatively, load the Mac .pxi phrase file in PhraseExpress for Windows as an additional file, copy/move phrases from your Windows phrase library to the Mac phrase file and then copy the Mac file back to the Mac.

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 support at this time. However, PhraseExpress includes its own powerful cross-platform macro language.

Do not run PhraseExpress for Mac simultaneously with TextExpander as autotext detection will most likely cause interferences.

Sharing phrases in 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).

The phrase file must not be edited simultaneously. Data loss can occur if multiple users edit phrases at the same time. PhraseExpress for Mac does not merge simultaneous edits.

Cloud synchronization

PhraseExpress supports cloud file sync services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple iCloudDrive, to share a common phrase file with other PhraseExpress clients for Mac/Windows or the PhraseExpress iPhone/iPad App (Apple iCloud Drive required).

To sync phrases using a cloud service:
  1. Install a cloud sync service an all computers and use the same cloud service account on all computers.
  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.

To share phrase with PhraseExpress for Windows, synchronization must be initiated on the Mac client as the Windows version can read Mac phrase file, but not vice versa (Video tutorial).

To sync with iPhone/iPad App, Apple iCloud Drive is required (learn more)

The phrase file must not be edited simultaneously. 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.

License Registration

Ignore this - The beta version cannot be registered yet.

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

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

Remove license

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

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

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

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

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

Launch with Login

To launch PhraseExpress with your Mac:
  1. Right-click the PhraseExpress dock icon
  2. Select Options
  3. Make sure, that "Open at Login" is checked.

Open at login


To permanently remove PhraseExpress:

  1. Deregister any license key, allowing you to reuse 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.

Uninstallation the app does not delete phrase files to prevent accidental data loss. If you do not need the phrase file anymore, delete them in the finder.

Macro functions

See Macro functions section.

Program settings

See Settings section.


See Troubleshooting section.

Table of Contents