This documentation refers to PhraseExpress v17 beta. The documentation for the production version 16 is available here.

Edit phrases

To edit a phrase:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select the phrase in the tree view on the left.
  3. Edit the phrase properties in the right window pane.

SHIFT-click the task tray icon to edit the last inserted phrase.

Phrases cannot be edited in following situations:
  • You do not have edit permissions.
  • The phrase file is write-protected on OS level.
  • Another user is currently editing the same phrase (if using a SQL server).
  • The administrator has disabled editing for a selection of users in the PhraseExpress SQL Client Manager.
  • PhraseExpress client is temporarily caching the SQL server database.

Phrase properties

Phrases have following properties:


The description is used to identify the phrase in the phrase menu:

Use short and distinctive descriptions.

Descriptions should begin with the most distinctive text part as narrow phrase menus may not show the entire description.

Phrase content

The phrase content consists of text and bitmaps that can be inserted into any target application.

Phrases can have text formatting (italic, bold, etc.). To remove text formatting, right-click into the phrase content box and select "Remove Formatting".

The formatting status is indicated by the phrase icon in the phrase tree:


  • Phrase without text formatting and without bitmaps.
  • Phrase formatting adapts current formatting of the target document/application.
  • Efficient and memory resource friendly.
  • The text formatting automatically adapts to the formatting in the target application.

We recommend to prefer unformatted over formatted text for maximum flexibility and compatibility.

  • Phrases with formatted text, tables and/or bitmaps.
  • Requires more space in the phrase file.

Use only, if text formatting, tables or bitmaps are required.

  • Support for Microsoft Word specific text formatting, Word macro placeholders and embedded contents (such as Excel spreadsheets), etc.
  • Requires more file space. Slower operation as Microsoft Word is launched in the background to insert or edit Microsoft Word formatted phrases.
  • No support of PhraseExpress macro functions or functions that alter the phrase contents (e.g. duplicate search, search & replace, bulk editing features).

Requires locally installed Microsoft Word.

We recommend to avoid this formatting option unless the specific Microsoft Word formatting is essentially required.

Press CTRL-ENTER for a page break or SHIFT-ENTER for a line-break. To enter a non-breaking space, press CTRL-SPACE

A few characters cannot be used in the phrase content directly. For example, the character sequence {# must be entered with three leading backslahses \\\{#. Those three backslashes will not be output but just used internally by PhraseExpress. Following characters must be "escaped" with leading backslashes:

Desired characterRequired escape sequence






Triggers execute a phrase or open a phrase menu. For example, the autotext trigger "asap" may execute the phrase "as soon as possible".

You can assign multiple triggers of any type to a phrase and multiple phrases can have the same trigger.

Some triggers have an option to execute a phrase immediately, if the trigger condition is met if button is pressed. Otherwise, the phrase is offered to be executed which can be accepted or dismissed on a case-by-case basis.

If settings are mising, click the arrow up icon below the phrase contents field to expand the trigger/target section:


A hotkey (or "keyboard shortcut", "key combo", etc.) is a combination of multiple simultaneous keypresses (or mouse clicks) to execute a phrases or to open phrase menus:

Hotkey example

PhraseExpress inserts a phrase if you press its associated hotkey. For example, pressing CTRL+ALT+S can be assigned to insert your signature:

hotkey input

To assign a hotkey to a phrase:
  1. Select "hotkey" as the trigger type and click the desired combination of CTRL, ALT, WIN and/or SHIFT buttons.
  2. Click onto the little triangle next to the hotkey input box.
  3. Select the desired letter (or mouse button) from the popup menu. Alternatively, simply click into the input box and press the entire key combination.

PhraseExpress shows a warning symbol if a hotkey is likely to interfere with other programs. We recommend to use combinations of at least two of the CTRL, ALT,WIN, SHIFT 'modifier' keys plus an additional character.

Reuse hotkeys

As available hotkeys are limited, the same hotkey can be assigned to multiple phrases. For example, you can use the same hotkey CTRL+ALT+S for a variety of email signatures.

If you press such hotkey, PhraseExpress collects all phrases with the same hotkey in a phrase menu:

Phrase menu

You can then select the desired phrase.

Benefit: You only need to memorize a single hotkey but get quick access to a larger number of phrases.

Hotkeys for phrase folders

Hotkeys can also be assigned to a phrase folder.

For example, you could use the hotkey CTRL+ALT+F to access a phrase folder holding all your finance related phrases. Another hotkey CTRL+ALT+P may show product related phrases.


Autotexts are text abbreviations that trigger a phrase stored in PhraseExpress. The autotext input is removed and the phrase input is inserted. Autotexts can also trigger macro automations.

  • Entering the abbreviation 'FBI' can be automatically be expanded to 'Federal Bureau of Investigation'.
  • Typing mistakes are corrected as you type: 'tpyo' » 'typo'.
  • Enter an autotext to launch an application. For instance, typing 'calc' can launch the Windows calculator.

In PhraseExpress, autotext works in most programs and offers significantly more functionality.

To assign an autotext to a phrase (folder):
  1. Select the desired phrase in the main program window.
  2. Select the trigger type "Autotext" and enter the desired text abbreviation.
  3. Select an autotext option from the drop-down next to the autotext input box:

A warning symbol is shown for autotexts that are likely to interfere with your typing.

An autotext associated to a phrase executes that phrase. If the autotext is assigned to a phrase folder, PhraseExpress displays the contents of that phrase folder in a phrase menu, allowing you to select the desired phrase.

Autotext options


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.

The expert options allow advanced users to configure autotext in detail on a PhraseExpress desktop version.

The expert options are – really – only suitable for experts.

If configuring the autotext option for a phrase folder, PhraseExpress offers to apply that setting to all elements within that folder. The selected autotext option also becomes the default for new items created in that phrase folder. This allows you to elegantly define different autotext preferences for different phrase folders.

Expert options

Expert settings provide extra flexibility for special applications:

  • Do you want to suppress 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) to trigger an action is called Postfix:


None (available for postfix only)

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

There is any character required before/after the autotext.

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

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

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

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

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

You cannot enter the ENTER- or Tab-key here. Instead use #13 for ENTER and #9 for the TAB-key.

Incremental (for postfix only)

This option is deprecated.

Incremental autotext has no particular postfix that would trigger a phrase. If Incremental autotext is selected as a postfix, all matching items are offered in a popup menu after you begin typing the first letters of a matching autotext. The choices narrow down as you continue typing the autotext.

Example prefix/postfix settings:

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

This is the default setting and recommended for most purposes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case sensitive autotext

If the SmartCaps option (or "Case sensitive autotext" in Expert options) is unset, PhraseExpress automatically adapts the letter case of the output depending on the first entered autotext letter:

  • Enter the first letter of the autotext lower case, to insert a phrase beginning with lower case.
  • Begin the autotext with upper case and PhraseExpress will insert the phrase beginning with upper case.
Keyboard inputPhrase contentsPasted text
SmartCaps feature requirements:
  • Phrases must begin with lower case.
  • Autotext must be lower case.
  • Autotext must not exist in a separate lower and upper-case variation.
  • Autotext option "Case sensitive autotext" must be disabled.
Manual confirmation

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

If you activate option "Manual confirmation", phrases are offered in a popup menu:

Execute Optionally

Press the customizable hotkey TAB to insert the phrase or continue typing to make the menu disappear automatically.

Remove trailing delimiter

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

Reuse autotext

To reduce the number of autotext to be memorized, the same autotext shortcut can be assigned to multiple phrases.

If you type such autotext, PhraseExpress presents all matching phrases in a phrase menu:

Phrase menu

You can then select the desired phrase.

Autotext, that are associated to multiple phrases are indicated in the autotext input box of the main program window with the icon .

RegEx Autotext

This trigger option executes a phrase if your text input matches the specified regular expression.

A regular expression (shortened as "regex") is a sophisticated text matching system. PhraseExpress provides a selection of RegEx autotext examples if you click the triangle icon witihin the input box.

For example, a phrase folder can automatically be shown if you enter any email address. This is different from regular autotext where you could only define a specific email address which wouldn't make much sense.

Stay clear if you don't know how to use RegEx. It's for experts only!


This trigger executes a phrase if the focus switches to the program window with the specified program name and window title.

For example, you can automatically show a specific phrase folder whenever you launch or switch to a specific program window.


This trigger executes a phrase every day at the time specified.


This trigger executes a phrase if the Windows clipboard is filled with the text string specified for this trigger.

Application example: When copying a specific email address into the clipboarad, PhraseExpress offers a choice of actions (for example, sending a predefined email to this very email address).

RegEx Clipboard

"RegEx clipboard" triggers a phrase if the clipboard contents matches the specified regular expression.

Application example: When copying any internet address to the clipboard, PhraseExpress can show a phrase menu to offer different actions for the copied URL (for example, opening it in the browser, sending the URL with an additional text by e-mail, etc.).

A regular expression (shortened as "regex") is a sophisticated text matching system. PhraseExpress provides a selection of RegEx autotext examples if you click the triangle icon of the input box.

Stay clear if you don't know how to use RegEx. It's for experts only!

Output target

Phrases are pasted into the program window that has focus. The output target property allows you to override the default and force the phrase to be output into the specified target:

If these settings are missing, click the arrow up icon below the phrase contents field to expand the trigger/target section:

Current application

This is the default setting.

If you encounter issues where PhraseExpress fails to restore the correct focus, such as after selecting a phrase from the menu or after completing a PhraseExpress form, you may want to configure the settings for the specific program, as described in the following section.

Specific program

The phrase content will be pasted into a specific program. To select the program from the menu, the desired program must be running.

Additionally, you can define a window title to further specify the output target. In the input field, you can use "*" as a wildcard placeholder:

Window TitleNotes
OttoThe window title must be exactly "Otto". Note: Keep in mind that the window title is often dynamic and, for example, may include the name of the currently edited file. Some programs add an asterisk to indicate that the file has been edited. In these cases, an exact match is not suitable.
Otto*The window title must start with "Otto" and can include any subsequent text.
*OttoThe window title can start with any text and must end with "Otto".

The window title must contain the word "Otto" somewhere.

If the program is not running when the text snippet is executed, you will receive a notification offering to revise the output target setting (provided you have write permissions for the text snippet).


The phrase will be pasted into the clipboard.

Text file

The phrase contents will be written into a text file (*.txt, *.rtf, *.doc (if Microsoft Word is installed)).

  • If only the path is specified, PhraseExpress prompts you to enter the file name.
  • If only the file name is specified, PhraseExpress prompts you to select the desired file directory.
  • If no file/path is specified, PhraseExpress prompts you to enter the desired file location.
  • If no file extension is specified, PhraseExpress automatically adds *.rtf for formatted text or *.txt for unformatted text.

Windows environment variables and PhraseExpress macros and variables are supported in the file name/path.

PhraseExpress tries to create the directories if the specified path does not exist.

Existing files will be silently overwritten with the new content.


PhraseExpress generates an email with the phrase contents as the email body and the phrase description as the email subject.

If no email address is specified, PhraseExpress prompts you to enter the email address.

If the flash button is pressed, the email will be dispatched immediately (use with caution!).

The email input field supports macros and variables.

PhraseExpress uses the email delivery method as specified in the program settings.

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