PhraseExpress v12 - Program Settings

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Easy vs. Expert Mode

New users can be easily overwhelmed by all the options and features while advanced users may want to tweak features in detail.

To suite both user types, PhraseExpress offers two user interface options:

Mode Explanation
Simplified User interface to allows new users an easy start.
Provides expert users the full range of features and functions. If you should find this mode confusing, you can switch back to Easy Mode at any time.

You can switch between modes at any time by pressing the Easy/Expert mode button in the main program window.

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

Program Settings

To configure PhraseExpress, right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon, select Edit phrases from the popup menu and click Tools » Settings.

Smart people click the tray icon while holding a modifier key:

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

The menu item Settings is not available in following cases:

  • The PhraseExpress configuration file config.xml is write-protected.
  • PhraseExpress has been launched with the command-line parameter -nosettings.
  • Setting permissions have been excluded in the Client Manager (no checkmark in column "S") of the PhraseExpress Server.


Enable/disable specific features:

  • Clipboard Cache
  • A special phrase folder containing a copy of the last used phrases.
  • Usage statistics
  • Automatic detection of unwanted Autotexts.
  • Ignore the CAPS-Lock key to prevent unintended activation.
  • Launch PhraseExpress on system start.

Capitalize first letter of sentences

If enabled, PhraseExpress automatically capitalizes the first word of a new sentence.

Example: "This is a sentence. this is another sentence." will be corrected to "This is a sentence. This is another sentence.".

This feature starts working after you typed a sentence. It does not work right after switching to, or clicking into a program window, as it would prevent you from entering any lower case text at all.

  • Autotexts, beginning with lower case, will not be detected if this feature corrects your input.
  • Prevent collision of this feature with other programs, e.g. MS Word, which has a similar feature.
  • This feaure is not fault-proof and may unwantedly kick in, e.g. after abbreviations within a sentence.

COrrect TWo INitial CApitals

If enabled, PhraseExpress corrects the second capital letter of each word into lower case after entering the third letter in lower case.

Example: "INput" will be corrected into "Input".

  • Prevent collision of this feature with other programs, e.g. MS Word, which has a similar feature.
  • Autotexts, beginning with two capital letters, will not be detected if this feature corrects your input.

Start with Windows

During installation you can configure PhraseExpress to launch every time the computer starts. If enabeld, a program link will be added to the Windows Startup folder.

You can configure this setting at any time in the settings under Tools » Settings » Features » Autostart.

PhraseExpress can only configure the startup behavior for the current user. To auto-start PhraseExpress for all users, place a PhraseExpress shortcut into the common users startup folder (default path: C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp)


Access frequently used program functions by pressing hotkeys or mouse buttons.

We recommend to use combinations with the CTRL and ALT key.

Section "Settings - Popup Menu - Hotkeys" offers additional hotkey settings.


Change the PhraseExpress user interface language and customize notifications.

Section "Settings - Popup Menu - Appearance" offers additional settings to change the phrase menu appearance.

If no tray notifications appear regardless of the configuration in PhraseExpress, tray notifications may have been generally disabled in the Windows configuration.


Specify sounds for different events in PhraseExpress. For example, the the popup menu can be easily missed and a sound reminds you if it shows up.

Phrase File/Database

Phrase File Synchronization

PhraseExpress checks for changes made by other users of the same phrase file any time you save the phrase file.

Changes can be merged with the local file or remote/local changes can be dismissed.

If multiple users share the same phrase file and if you deactivate synchronization, any other user's changes will be overwritten. Data loss will occur!

If PhraseExpress shall not automatically detect phrase file stored in sync folders of popular cloud storage services like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc., uncheck option "Scan cloud synchronization folders".


PhraseExpress can be configured to create a phrase file backup with each change to the phrase file.

The backup storage location should differ from the phrase file storage location. PhraseExpress merges backups if multiple client installations can share the same backup storage path.

  • Make sure to have sufficient disk space. Example: If your phrase file size is 3MB you may need at least up to 300MB free disk space if you wish to keep a history of the last 100 versions.
  • Backup your phrase file to multiple different (external) storage media. Hard disk can break and they do so when you rely on them the most!
  • PhraseExpress does not create backups for system phrase files (clipboard cache, etc.) and for SQL databases.
  • The PhraseExpress Server uses a separate backup system.

SQL databases

Phrase contents are loaded from the SQL database in the moment of insertion to ensure getting up-to-date contents. Enable "Cache SQL phrases" to reduce network traffic and to speed up text insertion.

Caching increases client memory consumption and phrase contents are updated only once on program launch.

"Record phrase usage statistics" saves the number of phrase executions and date of last use into the SQL database. This is information can be used to sort phrases by usage.


Network Support must be enabled for use with a PhraseExpress or SQL server and to check for software updates.

Change network ports only if they are used by another program in your network.

Proxy servers

Proxy server settings are aquired from Internet Explorer settings by default. Alternatively specify a proxy server of your choice.

Software update check

PhraseExpress can optionally check for updates and major new versions:

Setting Description  

Disables the automatic update check.

This setting is not recommended as you will not be informed about newer versions and important bug fixes! We provide technical support for the latest software version only.


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 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.


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 beta versions

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.

See chapter "Keep PhraseExpress up-to-date" for additional information about updates.

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

Phrases can be sorted by usage or by last access. Usage statistics will be dismissed if PhraseExpress is shut-down and kept only for phrases stored on a SQL server.

Enable "Hide program-restricted phrases" if you wish to filter phrases that have been excluded from the currently active target program.

Phrase menus open next to the input caret as specified. If Fixed position is selected, phrase menus are shown at the position where a phrase menu has been dragged to by its title bar.

Some programs such as Mozilla Firefox or Thunderbird may send invalid cursor coordinates to the operating system. PhraseExpress automatically recognizes invalid coordinates and defaults the popup menu to the specified fallback position.

The Microsoft Active Accessibility feature can provide more precise cursor information. Disable this option If it causes incompatible 3rd party programs to crash.

Click any element in the preview area to edit its appearance.

Choose a different color for text suggestions to enable you distinguishing suggestions from the phrases of your phrase library.

Very large fonts are shown in default size to fit into preview space.

The phrase confirmation hotkey confirms execution of a highlighted phrase in the phrase menu.

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

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

Quick keys Description

Select one of the first nine phrase menu entries by pressing a number of the upper keyboard row.

Use numbers in conjunction with CTRL, ALT, SHIFT or WIN. Otherwise you would not be able to enter a number with the number keys.

Numpad are the numbers of the Number pad on the right side of a full size keyboard.

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

Activate 'NumLock' on your keyboard to enable numbers on the numpad.

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

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

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

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.

The QuickSearch provides instant access to a specific phrase in phrase menus containing many phrases.

Matching items are narrowed down as you type into the search box.

Enable "QuickJump" to find matches based on discontiguous search terms: You only need to enter the beginning of a phrase description and any part within the phrase.


Configure the AutoSuggest feature to learn and show full sentences suggestions, single words suggestions, or frequently made spelling corrections.

Expert Options

Expert options are reserved for advanced users who need to adapt PhraseExpress to special use scenarios based on our instructions.

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


Default leading- and trailing delimiter are the standard delimiters, allowing 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.

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.

Global application restriction

The detection of Autotext, hotkeys and the AutoSuggest feature can be restricted on a global level. This configuration is stored in the local configuration file of the user's computer and overrides any phrase program restriction. Global program restrictions are not shared with other users sharing a common phrase file/database.

E-Mail Delivery Method

Experiment with the email delivery method setting if you experience difficulties with the {#MAIL …} macro function.

Enable UTF-8 character encoding if your email client uses such encoding.

If 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.

Text Insertion

Paste Method

Windows offers several methods to paste text into a target application:

  • The 'Key-by-Key' simulation of individual key strokes is suitable for short text without formatting. Simulating keystrokes begins instantly without delay but each keystroke takes a little time. You can actually watch how PhraseExpress "enters" the text for you. The longer the text, the longer it takes to insert it. PhraseExpress supports two keystroke simulation methods:
    Keystroke Simulation Pros & Cons
    • Supports most international (including Asian) character sets and keyboard language layouts.
    • Not supported by a few target applications.
    • Maximum program compatibility (including Java applets, Safari browser, Pidgin).
    • May not work with special keyboard layouts or special characters.
  • The Windows clipboard must be used for formatted text or bitmaps. PhraseExpress copies the phrase into the clipboard, switches to the target application and triggers the clipboard to paste its contents into the target application. The clipboard can paste large chunks of text very fast but requires some time to be filled with contents.

Enabling option "Automatically Paste text via clipboard if length exceeds x characters" chooses the recommended paste method based on the phrase length.

  • The paste method can be configured separately for specific target program (video tutorial). Some programs work better with VK_Packet and others may be fine with SendKey (JAVA programs and the popular chat client Pidgin for example).
  • PhraseExpress can optionally "Restore previous clipboard contents" after phrase insertion. This causes a little extra delay, as the original clipboard contents need to be cached and restored.
  • After selecting a phrase from a popup menu, Windows automatically changes the focus back from the popup menu to the target program. If you experience that text is not inserted properly into the target application, you may try the option "Force focus change". PhraseExpress will then explicitly sets the program focus.
  • Linked/Nested phrases are rendered to a complete phrase which is output in one single step. You can optionally let the phrases step-by-step by checking the option "Output linked phrases phrase-by-phrase".

PhraseExpress stores formatted phrases in RTF format and can be configured to derive a HTML version from the RTF source to maximize compatibility with target appliations:

Option Description

PhraseExpress uses RTF and HTML except in specific target applications that are known to have difficulties with HTML. Then, only RTF is used.

Recommended default setting

PhraseExpress always uses RTF and HTML format. The target application has to pick the preferred from the provided formats.

Only RTF is used. This setting may be required if the target applications struggles with HTML contents in the clipboard.

Only HTML is output. Use this setting if the target applications cannot process RTF properly.

There is no golden rule which paste method works best with specific target programs. Please experiment with the settings.


PhraseExpress can insert text and automate procedures much faster than the target program could actually handle.

If you experience text insertion problems (only partial text insertion, insertion of the clipboard instead the phrase or no insertion at all), you may need to increase the delays to match PhraseExpress' speed with your system's performance:

Delay Description


PhraseExpress changes the program focus from the target application to the phrase menu and back to the target program.

A customizable delay allows slower or busy computers to follow these focus changes.

Increase this delay if text is pasted into the wrong target application.


PhraseExpress adds this delay after a special keystroke to allow the target app to process the automation.

Increment this value if keystrokes are not processed properly by the target application.


Formatted phrases are inserted by using the clipboard.

As the Windows operating system handles clipboard operations with low priority, PhraseExpress needs to wait a little extra time.

This delay specifies the time that is given to Windows OS to load the clipboard with the text contents sent by PhraseExpress.

Increment this value if text is not copied correctly to the target application (for example, any old contents of the clipboard are pasted instead of the desired phrase).


PhraseExpress waits this delay to give slow clipboard operations enough time.

Increment this value if the clipboard is not restored with its original content after phrase insertion.

Delay parameters heavily depend on the system CPU power and CPU load at the time of phrase insertion. If you feel lost with the parameters, revert to default values and experiment from there.

You can add extra delays within your automation phrases with the macro function {#SLEEP …}.

Phrase Format

The default font format for new formatted phrase can be predefined.

The HTML phrase formatting output can be configured:

Option Description


HTML output contains font formatting tags only, if the phrase uses formatting different from the Default phrase format setting.

If the phrase font formatting has not been altered, no extra font formatting is added to the HTML output.


HTML output always includes font-family & font-size information and overrides formatting currently specified in the target application.


PhraseExpress never adds font-family & font-size tags to the HTML output. The phrase formatting adapts to the current formatting as specified in the target application.

Reset to default configuration

If you feel lost with the settings, you can reset PhraseExpress to "factory defaults":

  1. Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select Exit.
  2. Press and hold the CTRL and ALT key and launch PhraseExpress (you may need to right-click the program link and select "Open").

Reverting to default settings also resets the phrase file location to the default storage location. You may need to load your phrase file from the custom location again.

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