PhraseExpress v12 - Troubleshooting

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General Troubleshooting

  • Is PhraseExpress actually running? Check if the program icon is visible in the lower right of the Windows system tray. If not, click the Windows Start button in the lower left of your task tray » Programs » PhraseExpress » PhraseExpress.
  • If you still cannot find a tray icon, it may be hidden by Windows. Windows 7 introduced a feature that hides tray icons by default. Change the tray icon setting so that the PhraseExpress icon is always shown in the tray as it displays important program status information.
  • If the PhraseExpress tray icon is gray-colored, it is temporarily disabled (see chapter "Temporarily disable PhraseExpress").
  • PhraseExpress only works properly, if it is minimized to the tray. Check if any PhraseExpress program or dialog window is hidden under any other window. Close any such dialog.
  • Very important: Close any program that also may process keyboard input or the clipboard (other Clipboard Managers, Autotext utilities or special Multimedia keyboard drivers, e.g. AutoHotkey, Synergy, Microsoft Intellipoint or browser autocomplete or password filling addons/features) to isolate incompatibility issues.
  • If the ENTER or TAB key is blocked on your computer, disable the expert option "Route ENTER and TAB through PhraseExpress" (more info).
  • Very important: Make sure that no "security" program such "Antivirus/AntiSpyware"-software is blocking the keyboard hook of PhraseExpress. We have learned, that such programs have become quite aggressive and may especially locking up browsers.
  • Test PhraseExpress in Windows Editor or Wordpad to isolate any issue with any particular target program.
  • Windows Vista/7/8/10 includes security mechanisms that allow you to launch programs as a "normal user" or with "admin privileges". Programs of different privileges cannot "see" each other and PhraseExpress cannot paste text if it is launched with user rights while the target application is launched with admin privileges. Please make sure that PhraseExpress is running with the same privileges as the target application. You can launch programs with admin privileges by clicking the program icon with the right mouse button and select "Run as Administrator".
  • Reset the PhraseExpress configuration to system defaults if you are afraid having messed with the settings.

If above suggestions do not help to resolve the issue, please check one of the following hints covering common issues:

Clipboard content is inserted instead of phrase

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Depending on the text insertion settings, PhraseExpress may use the Windows clipboard function as a vehicle to insert phrases into a target application. As Windows generally provides less CPU power to clipboard operations, those are relatively sluggish. Clipboard operations tend to lag and PhraseExpress always waits a certain period of time to allow the clipboard to be filled with the phrase contents. The default delay setting should give the clipboard enough time on most computers.

    On slow or busy computers, however, the clipboard insertion may be triggered too fast before the clipboard has been populated with the actual phrase. Solution: Increase the paste delays (See chapter "Paste Delays").
  • Make sure that no other clipboard related software is accessing/blocking the clipboard. Close any other software in the background to isolate potential incompatibilities or interferences.

Text is not inserted or into the wrong program

Allow PhraseExpress in your programs

Check if any “security” program (such as an “Antivirus” or “AntiSpyware” software, that is marketed to give you the warm feeling of safety) is blocking PhraseExpress from working properly:

If using Webroot SecureAnywhere:
  1. Right-click the SecureAnywhere task tray icon and select "View Status".
  2. Click the grey cog wheel near the menu item "Identity Protection"
  3. Consider disabling "Identity Shield".
If using "Zemana Antilogger":
  1. Click "Settings" in the Zemana Antilogger main program window.
  2. Switch to the tab "Security Settings".
  3. Consider disabling "Enable keystroke detection"
If using "G-Data Internet Security":
  1. Open the main program window
  2. Click "Webprotection" » "More settings…".
  3. Click "Advanced" and consider unchecking the browsers you wish to use with PhraseExpress.

Check for incompatibilities

If using the Microsoft Edge browser, disable option “Force focus change” in the PhraseExpress Settings » Expert options » Text Output".

Generally, text input is interpreted by the program window with "input focus". If a PhraseExpress phrase menu is triggered, the program focus switches from the current program to PhraseExpress, enabling you to select the desired phrase. After selecting the phrase, the focus is then switched back to the actual target program to ultimately paste the phrase.

If text is not inserted but you hear beeps or random actions on your desktop, the focus was not switched back to the intended target program.

Potential focus switch problems:
  • 3rd party programs may accidentally step in between the very short moment of switching focus and pasting the phrase into the target program. Examples: Notification popups of 3rd party applications, transparent full-screen overlay windows or poorly programmed background tasks may "steal" the focus. This may cause the text insertion being redirected into "Nirvana".
    Solution: Close any other software in the background to isolate potential incompatibilities or interferences.
  • PhraseExpress may be too fast to paste the text than Windows is able to switch the focus back to the target application, if the PC is slow or under heavy load.
    Solution: Increase the PhraseExpress focus delay setting (See chapter "Paste Delays").
  • By default, PhraseExpress relies on Windows to switch the focus back to the last known program before PhraseExpress had focus. You may try and enabling the option Settings » Text Output » "Force focus change" to make PhraseExpress explicitly set the program focus. If this option was set, try and disable it for testing.
General work around in case of focus issues:
  1. CTRL-click a phrase to copy the it into the clipboard, instead of the target application.
  2. Point the input cursor into the target application.
  3. Use CTRL-V to manually paste the clipboard contents.

Text is inserted but incomplete/erratic

Please check the following if text is text inserted incompletely or with wrong characters:

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Applications and web browser input forms may use Javascript to process your input which may interfere with the PhraseExpress text insertion. For example, Adobe Dreamweaver or software development software ("IDEs") can perform heavy text input processing. You may need to change the paste method to clipboard paste in such cases (See chapter "Paste Method"). If you use the browser Apple Safari v5.1, you need to configure the paste method to "SendKey".
  • If the first few letters of a text insertion are doubled in any Office program (such as Word, Excel or Outlook), then most likely  the AutoCorrect feature of MS Office is enabled and interferes with the AutoCorrect feature of PhraseExpress. We strongly recommend disabling the AutoCorrect function in MS Word. You can import your MS Word AutoCorrect entries into PhraseExpress for use in any application anyway.
  • If text is inserted only partially or broken, then your computer perhaps is slower than PhraseExpress trying to insert the text. In such case, increase the paste delays (See chapter "Paste Delays").
  • If scrambled text is inserted, please verify if a suitable keyboard language is enabled. Also make sure to use the clipboard paste method if using Asian languages (See chapter "Paste Method"). If inserting RTF- or Word formatted text, make sure that the computer has all required fonts installed that you have used in the phrase.
  • If the insertion of any phrase into a target program still fails, try this workaround: Press and hold the CTRL-key while selecting the phrase from the popup menu. PhraseExpress will copy the phrase contents into the clipboard instead pasting it. You can then paste the phrase manually by using the clipboard.

I get unwanted text replacements

PhraseExpress offers several options if you experience unwanted text replacements:

  • Delete the text replacement with Backspaces. PhraseExpress will detect the deletion and will not recognize the Autotext the very next time you enter it again.
    If you undo multiple times, PhraseExpress will offer you to edit the Autotext. You can then alter the Autotext settings or delete phrase.
  • Alternatively, hold the SHIFT-key and click the PhraseExpress tray icon to open the unwanted phrase in PhraseExpress. You can then edit or delete that item.
  • Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon to get additional options to prevent unwanted text replacements. You can exclude that phrase or PhraseExpress in general from particular programs for example.
  • Exit PhraseExpress to verify if another software may cause the text replacement (e.g. Microsoft Office AutoCorrect).

If you get an unwanted popup menu with text suggestions or phrases, you can right-click such entry in the popup menu to get options to prevent future suggestions.

You can additionally define a custom hotkey to open the last executed phrase in the PhraseExpress settings at Tools » Settings » hotkeys.

A specific autotext/hotkey doesn't work

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Does the Autotext exist at all in the currently used phrase file? Open PhraseExpress, click the magnifying glass button and select only the Autotext and Exact match option from the popup menu. Enter the Autotext into the Find input field. Does the intended phrase show up? If not, there is no phrase defined yet for the desired Autotext. Check the Autotext entry for accidental typos or leading/trailing spaces.
  • Is the phrase content for the defined Autotext empty? Does it contain an erroneous macro function?
  • Is the Autotext restricted to specific applications only? Make sure that the Autotext is not excluded from the application in which you are trying to use it. See chapter "Restrict Autotext and hotkeys to specific programs".
  • Check whether the Autotext option is enabled for the folder that contains the Autotext phrase. If disabled, the folder is gray-colored. In this case right-click the folder and activate the Autotext/Hotkey feature.
  • Have you altered any of the expert options? In this case, try to resolve the issue by reverting the options to their default settings. Right-click into the Autotext input field in PhraseExpress and select Revert to default settings.
  • Create a new phrase and define an Autotext for it. If this phrase is executed then it seems that the Autotext configuration of the non-working phrase is not correct.

An autotext/hotkey doesn't not work in a particular program

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Is the Autotext restricted in PhraseExpress to work in specific applications only? Make sure that the Autotext is not excluded from the application in which you are trying to use it. See chapter "Restrict Autotext and hotkeys to specific programs".
  • PhraseExpress cannot insert text into target programs that have been launched with Administrative privileges. In such, also launch PhraseExpress with Administrative privileges by right-clicking the PhraseExpress program icon and selecting "Run as Administrator" from the context menu.
  • Some target groups may have non-standard input fields that may prevent external text injection, e.g. programs with high security requirements such as banking software or password depository utilities. Please consult the make of the program to check whether they intentionally blocked text insertion.
  • PhraseExpress supports many text insertion methods. Please experiment with the paste method settings (See chapter "Paste Method").
  • Check, whether the phrase you want to insert is not formatted if the target programs do not understand formatted text.

I don't get any autocomplete text suggestions

  • Check the general trouble-shooting tips first.
  • Check whether AutoSuggest features are enabled in Tools » Settings »AutoSuggest.
  • Sentences must be entered identically at least three times before they are suggested. Make sure that you enter sentences without making typos to let PhraseExpress identify them as repetitive input.
  • Sentences must have a certain minimum length to be suggested.
  • Is the Text prediction feature configured to work in only specific applications?
  • The AutoSuggest feature is generally disabled for Asian languages.

Phrase editing is disabled

There are a few situations where PhraseExpress disables editing of phrases:

  • The local phrase file may be set to read-only (file attribute "read-only" is set).
  • PhraseExpress was launched with the command-line parameter -readonly that disables any editing functions. See chapter "Command line parameters".
  • You are trying to load a phrase file saved by later PhraseExpress version that is incompatible with the version you are currently using.
  • A particular phrase file provided by us may be internally set to read-only.
  • If using a PhraseExpress Server:
    • Editing is locked while the PhraseExpress window of another user on the network is opened to prevent simultaneous write collisions and synchronization issues. The status column of the Client Manager's monitor can show who is currently editing the phrases on the network.
    • You may not have write access rights granted for a particular phrase folder. See chapter "Phrase Access Restriction in the network".
    • If the network connection is interrupted, PhraseExpress temporarily falls back to a write-protected cache file. Editing is disabled as any change would be lost after PhraseExpress switches back to the network phrase file if the network connection is re-established again.
    • Make sure that all PhraseExpress clients on the network have the same version number. Editing may be disabled as older clients may not support features of a newer phrase file on the network.

Bitmaps and text formatting

Formatted phrases are a complex topic as it involves multiple different factors:

  • The source program, that provides the formatted text.
  • In case of a HTML source, the way, bitmaps are referenced (embedded, linked per URL or linked to a local file).
  • The target program (and its settings), that receives the formatted phrase.
  • The phrase format (HTML, RTF, Word) selected in PhraseExpress to store the phrase.
  • Phrase formatting output settings as defined in the PhraseExpress settings.

Saving a formatting phrase

If you highlight a phrase in the source program and create a new phrase in PhraseExpress, the following happens:

  1. PhraseExpress triggers a "coyp to clipboard" action with the highlighted text.
  2. The source program fills the clipboard with the text contents, eventually in multiple formatting variations (HTML, RTF, plain text).
  3. PhraseExpress analyses the clipboard and uses RTF if provided by the source program as phrases are internally stored as RTF in PhraseExpress. If only HTML is available, PhraseExpress converts the HTML into RTF which may change text formatting appearance.

Avoid conversions from HTML to RTF by using a source applications that fill the clipboard with RTF.

  • Microsoft Word fills the clipboard with native Word formatting, HTML, RTF and plain text.
  • Microsoft Outlook sends RTF or HTML based on the email settings.
  • Microsoft Wordpad provides RTF and plain text.
  • Microsoft Notepad provides plain text only.
  • Browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Edge, Safari, etc.) and the E-Mail client Thunderbird provides HTML and plain text.

Please contact the vendor of the source application for information about supported formats.

You may also consider to create the phrase directly with the built-in PhraseExpress editor.

PhraseExpress embeds bitmaps into formatted phrases, regardless if they are linked to a local file or URL in any HTML formatted phrase.

Inserting formatted phrases

PhraseExpress sends formatted phrase to the clipboard in RTF, plain text and a dynamically generated HTML version of the RTF contents.

The target app selects the preferred formatting variation. If the target application prefers HTML over RTF, the phrase may have a changed appearance due to the RTF to HTML conversion.

PhraseExpress has no influence in the target application's formatting choice. However, you can configure PhraseExpress to output phrases in a specific format (Settings » Expert Options » Text insertion » Phrase output format).

if choosing "Automatic", PhraseExpress outputs in plain text, RTF and HTML in all target application but Microsoft Office. In this case, no HTML is output as Microsoft Office, unfortunately, prefers HTML over RTF for unknown reasons.

Review the target program clipboard paste settings, if available. For example, Microsoft Word has detailed clipboard paste conversion settings.

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