if PhraseExpress doesn't work at all, shows the spinning rainbow wheel (busy indicator) or even crashes all the time, macOS security & privacy settings may block PhraseExpress if you skipped to make the essential important security settings in macOS for PhraseExpress.

Solution: Configure PhraseExpress in the macOS security settings as described in chapter "Installation".

Important: Apple seem to have decided that you must reconfirm these security settings after each PhraseExpress update. Unfortunately, it seems that there is nothing we can do about this inconvenience.

Please find the system requirements on the download pages of the Windows or Mac version.

  • Check if PhraseExpress is actually running. The speech bubble program icon must be visible in the Windows system tray near the time and date info. If it is not running, click the Windows Start button » type "PhraseExpress" and press ENTER .

    If you still don't see the task tray icon, Windows may hide it in a popup menu. Click the task bar triangle icon and drag the PhraseExpress icon onto the task bar for quick access:

  • If the PhraseExpress tray icon is gray-colored, PhraseExpress is temporarily disabled (see chapter "Temporarily disable PhraseExpress").
  • Make sure that no "security" program such "Antivirus/AntiSpyware"-software is blocking the keyboard hook of PhraseExpress. Such programs have become quite aggressive and may especially locking up browsers from receiving automated text input. Look for options called "keylogger protection" or "sandboxing".
  • The PhraseExpress main program window must be minimized. Click the X button in the upper right of the program window to minimize the PhraseExpress program. If this fails, check, if any PhraseExpress dialog window is hidden under any other program window.
  • If you have multiple PhraseExpress installations on different computers, try reproducing the issue on another computer. If it works on the other computer, it is very likely, that the configuration on the malfunctioning computer is the cause for the issue as PhraseExpress does not discriminate particular computers.
  • It seems, that browser videos running in a window-less picture-in-picture mode moves away input focus from the actual target application, so PhraseExpress cannot insert text into the target applications. Solution: Close the window-less video.
  • To isolate incompatibility issues, close any program that 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).
  • Reset the PhraseExpress configuration to system defaults to resolve any configuration mistakes.

Autotext trouble-shooting video

Please check the following:
  • Does the desired phrase exist and is an autotext associated to the phrase?
  • Does an unsuitable auto-text option prevent recognition?
  • Text programs such as Microsoft Word may have an optional feature to automatically capitalize text at the beginning of a sentence. As a result, PhraseExpress cannot recognize autotext that starts with a lowercase letter, as it may be altered by the text program. Solution: Define another autotext in PhraseExpress that starts with uppercase letters or disable the uppercase automatic in the text program.
  • Text input-aware applications detect keyboard input through a daisy-chain of "keyboard hooks". Some applications may break this chain and programs later in the queue are cut off from the text input; known programs include "Microsoft Powertoys Keyboard Manager", "VDOS", "Microsoft Intellitype".

    Solution: Close and restart PhraseExpress to re-arrange the chain of keyboard hooks. Alternatively, exit any other application, that may listen for keyboard input to check for interferences.
  • Microsoft Windows 10/11 introduced a text suggestion feature that interferes with any application that insert text into an application.

    Solution: Consider disabling text suggestions in the Windows settings » Time & Language » Typing
  • "Security" software ("antimalware" or "antivirus" programs that promise you security on the PC for money) my include features called "keyboard logger protection" or "keyboard hook detection" which puts itself before PhraseExpress and scrambles your keyboard input. Solution: Test whether deactivating any "security" functions restores compatibility. This may require a system restart after deactivation.

If a hotkey does not work as expected, please check if you accidentally removed the hotkey definition:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click the magnifying glass above the phrase tree and in the popup, select to search for hotkeys.
  3. Click into the search text box and press the actual hotkey.

If no phrase shows up in the phrase, the hotkey is not associated to any phrase and you may need to assign the hotkey.

If you expect the hotkey to trigger action in a program other than PhraseExpress and if you find a phrase, you may want to remove/change the hotkey association.

  • If using the Microsoft Edge browser, toggle the option "PhraseExpress Settings » Expert Options » Force focus change".
  • Phrases can be restricted to specific applications. Make sure, that the Autotext is not excluded from the application in which you are trying to use it.
  • PhraseExpress cannot insert text into target programs which have been launched with Administrative privileges. In such case, launch PhraseExpress with Administrative privileges as well by right-clicking the PhraseExpress tray icon:
  • Some target applications may have non-standard text 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 maker of the program to check whether they intentionally blocked text insertion.
  • PhraseExpress supports a variety of text insertion methods. Please experiment with the paste method settings.
  • Insert the phrase in Windows Notepad or Wordpad. These programs are quite basic with any known interference and a good way to verify, if the target application causes the issue. If PhraseExpress works in Notepad/Wordpad but doesn't work in your target application, it is very likely, that a feature or behavior of the target application is causing the malfunction as PhraseExpress does not discriminate particular applications.

We are aware of incompatibility issues with Edge which seem to have been introduced by Microsoft with a recent Windows 10 "Creators" upgrade.

Work around: Disable Option in PhraseExpress Settings » Expert options » Text output » Force focus change.

Alternatively, consider using another browser, such as FireFox.

Remote Desktop may not properly tunnel the output of PhraseExpress running on the host computer into the Remote Desktop session. PhraseExpress has no measure to fix limitations in the Host <-> RDP communication.

Solution: Install and run within the Remote Desktop session.

Don't panic! It is very unlikely, that your phrases are gone - PhraseExpress does not have any function to delete your current phrase file.

Solution for local phrase files:
  • Tell PhraseExpress the phrase file location by loading the phrase file. The default phrase file name is "phrases.pexdb". The default phrase file path is described in manual chapter "Storage locations". Please note, that the default path changed with PhraseExpress v16.
  • Microsoft Windows update may offer you to switch from local user accounts to a "Microsoft Account". This change may change the file directories where your user data is stored. Search the new location of your phrase file and load it in PhraseExpress.
  • Deleted phrases can be restored from the recycle bin.
  • Phrases may be hidden because of access right restrictions. E.g. if you restricted access to phrases to you only and then log onto your computer with a different user account, you won't be able to see your phrases.
  • If the recycle bin is empty, try to restore an earlier phrase file from the backup.
  • If option "File » Restore" is disabled, experienced Windows users can manually restore a backup from the back repository.

If you miss items in the phrase menu, please check following settings:

  • The phrase may exist in a phrase menu but the menu may be to small. Press Arrow-Down or Page-Down to scroll through the menu or drag the menu window edges to resize it.
  • Have you configured the item to be hidden from the phrase menu?
  • Have you restricted the item to specific programs? In such case, the item is filtered from the phrase menu if necessary.
  • Have access restrictions been applied to the item? Perhaps another user has withdrawn your read rights in the meantime?
  • Check in the phrase tree view of the main program window, whether the phrase file/database containing the missing item is loaded at all. Use the search to find the element you are looking for.

If the first few letters of a text insertion are doubled in any Office program (such as Word, Excel, Outlook or OneNote), then most likely the AutoCorrect feature of MS Office is enabled and interferes with the AutoCorrect feature of PhraseExpress.

Solution: Delete the conflicting item either in PhraseExpress or in the target program.

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

  • 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 case. If you use the browser Apple Safari v5.1, you need to configure the paste method to "SendKey".
  • If phrases are output with scrambled letters or special characters in a browser (Microsoft Windows "Edge" or Google "Chrome"), then this is most likely due to "security" software ("antimalware" or "antivirus" programs that promise you security on the PC for money). Solution: Test whether deactivating any "security" functions restores compatibility. This may require a system restart after deactivation.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If the first character(s) of the autotext is not removed when inserting the phrase, most probably the auto-capitalization feature of the target application interferes and prevents PhraseExpress from fully removing the typed autotext before the phrase is inserted.

    Workaround: Do not trigger phrases by autotext but by hotkey. For example, you could use the default PhraseExpress hotkey ALT + SPACE to trigger the general phrase menu. Then type the beginning of the description of the phrase you wish to insert and confirm with the confirmation key ( TAB by default).

Bitmaps and text formatting

Formatted phrases are a complex topic as multiple different factors are involved:

  • The source program from which you create a phrase from.
  • In case of a HTML source, the way, bitmaps are referenced (embedded, linked per URL or linked to a local file).
  • The settings of the target program that receives the formatted phrase. Example Microsoft Word:

  • The phrase format (Plain Text, RTF, Word) selected in PhraseExpress to store the phrase.
  • Varying font sets installed on the source and the destination computer.
  • Phrase formatting output settings as defined in the PhraseExpress settings.

Saving a formatted phrase

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

  1. PhraseExpress triggers a "copy 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 and eventually custom formats, such as native Microsoft Word formatting).
  3. PhraseExpress analyses the clipboard and prefers to use 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 a formatted phrase to the clipboard in RTF, plain text and HTML, which is a dynamically generated version of the RTF contents.

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

PhraseExpress has no influence in the target application's formatting choice. However, you can configure PhraseExpress which format to use to output phrases (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.

Please note, that phrases with bitmaps cannot be synchronized between Windows and Mac due to different storage technologies of either operating system.

  • Depending on the text insertion settings, PhraseExpress may use the Windows clipboard as a vehicle to insert phrases into a target application.

    As clipboard operations tend to lag, PhraseExpress waits a certain period of time allowing the clipboard to be filled with the phrase contents. If the default delay doesn't give the clipboard enough time, the clipboard insertion may be triggered too fast before the clipboard has been populated with the actual phrase.

    Solution: Increase the paste delays. On Mac, you can find the setting here.
  • 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.
  • The autocomplete feature is disabled by default. You can enable the feature in PhraseExpress Settings » AutoSuggest.
  • Sentences must be entered identically at least three times before they are considered by PhraseExpress for suggestion. 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.

After selecting a phrase from a phrase menu, PhraseExpress does the following:

  1. Copy the contents of the selected phrase into the clipboard (any other clipboard content will be buffered).
  2. Set the system focus from the phrase menu back to the last active program which should be the target application.
  3. Wait for a customizable delay time to allow the operating system to perform the focus change.
  4. Paste the clipboard contents into the target application and restores the earlier clipboard content.

Step 2 can fail for several reasons:

  • A “security” program may prevent PhraseExpress from switching back the focus as a "text injection prevention measure".
  • When PhraseExpress tries to set the focus, a 3rd party app may coincidentally take the focus right in the moment before switching. Some programs running in the background may do that without you noticing it. If such application cannot accept the clipboard paste, you may hear the same system sound as you would hear if you try pasting the clipboard manually into application that doesn't understand the contents or if there is no input focus.
  • The target application itself may change the input focus elsewhere in that program when getting back window focus. In such case, the input cursor is missing from the input box you intended to insert the phrase. You can investigate this by manually changing focus away and back to the by using the TAB key and then trying to paste the clipboard. PhraseExpress cannot do anything against it. JAVA browser applets are notorious for this behavior.
  • Your own macro programming may switch the input focus away from the expected target application (e.g. by mouse clicks into other performed by a Macro Recorder script, etc.).

Also, the default focus switch delay may be set too fast for your specific computer. Please experiment with the delay setting.

Work around: Instead of selecting the phrase in the phrase menu, right-click the item in the phrase menu ot copy its content into the clipboard (PhraseExpress won't change focus and auto-paste). Then, manually switch to the target program and paste the clipboard into the desired text box of the target application.

Generally, text input is always received by the program window with active "input focus". Whenever the PhraseExpress phrase menu is triggered, the input focus switches away from the current program to PhraseExpress, enabling you to select the desired phrase. After phrase selection, the focus is switched back to the target program to 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 in pasting 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.
  • 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.

After your phrase selection, PhraseExpress needs to put the input focus back to the target program. Unfortunately, some programs change the input focus into a different input box, other than the input box before activating application fokus.

You can easily test it yourself by manually switching the focus into the target application with the hotkey ALT+TAB and checking the input focus.

  • Add PhraseExpress keypress simulation macros in the beginning of the phrase that navigate the input cursor to the desired input box. E.g., TAB jumps from input box to input box (SHIFT+TAB jumps in reverse order).
  • Contact the maker of the application and ask for correction. It is out of our reach to change any such 3rd party application behavior.
General work around in case of focus issues:
  1. In the phrase menu, CTRL-click a phrase to copy the the phrase contents into the clipboard, instead of pasting it into the target application.
  2. Place the input cursor at the desired position in the target application.
  3. Use CTRL+V to manually paste the clipboard contents.
If the first letter of any inserted phrase is capitalized unwantedly:
  • Check the phrase contents in PhraseExpress if the phrase begins with upper case.
  • If the autotext case sensitivity option is disabled, the phrase output is automatically capitalized if you enter an autotext with the first letter in upper case:

  • In rare cases, 3rd party software with a keyboard hook may interfere with PhraseExpress in a way that the SHIFT key gets stuck, thus PhraseExpress auto-capitalize feature may be triggered.
  • Please check if your Word processing software may have a feature that capitalizes the first letter of each new sentence (such as Microsoft Word).

This can happen in text input boxes, when renaming a file or in some applications.

Background: When you select a phrase, the input focus moves away from the input box. When the input focus returns to the target app, some programs highlight the entire text of the input box.

Windows has the behavior to delete any highlighted text if you make any input and this is exactly what happens, if PhraseExpress wants to insert the text.

To test & replicate this phenomen without any influence by PhraseExpress:

  1. Place the cursor in the input box which already contains some text.
  2. Press ALT-TAB to switch focus to any other app.
  3. Press ALT-TAB again until the focus is back to the actual target application.

If the focus anywhere else in that program or if the text highlighted, then the text insertion issue is not PhraseExpress related.

Work around: Usually, such text highlighting goes away if you press the ArrowRight-key. Adding such keypress at the beginning of your phrase may solve the issue.

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

  • PhraseExpress was launched with the command-line parameter -readonly which disables editing functions.
  • You are trying to load a phrase file with an older PhraseExpress version. If the phrase file has been touched by any new PhraseExpress version client, it becomes write-protected for older versions which have become incompatible with the new phrase file format. Solution: Install the latest PhraseExpress version.
  • PhraseExpress uses a locally cached SQL database which cannot be edited. Solution: Connect PhraseExpress to the SQL server.

Please also check if the phrase file is write-protected (file attribute "read-only" is set).

PhraseExpress should launch in about 10 seconds with approx. 10k phrases.

The loading time depend on following parameters:
  • Phrase file location
  • Network speed
  • Number of phrases
  • Phrase contents
  • Computer performance (barely relevant for modern PCs)
Optimization tips:
  • Minimize redundancy: If you use the same phrase multiple times in different phrase folders in your library, don't copy the phrase but use phrase links.
  • Remove formatting from formatted text phrases wherever possible.
  • The obvious: Remove contents, that is not required.
  • Review bitmaps embedded in phrases: A bitmap, that may look stamp-sized in editor can have a 300MB uncompressed source. Consider linking bitmap files into a phrases rather than embedding the bitmap file itself into the phrase file. If you need to embed bitmaps, make sure that you embed the bitmap in the size you actually need.
  • Review the clipboard cache contents and consider restricting the max number items in this folders. You many also enable the option to clear the cache on program shutdown.
To resolve unwanted text replacements:
  • If you delete the text replacement with Backspaces, PhraseExpress will suppress the text replacement for the very next time you enter it's associated autotext abbreviation. This unwanted autotext detection can be configured in the program settings under "Settings » Features".
  • Assign and use the hotkey to temporarily disable PhraseExpress for 5 seconds. This allows you to type a text without triggering a phrase unwantedly.
  • Or, right-click the PhraseExpress task bar icon to get additional options to exclude that phrase or PhraseExpress in general from particular programs by unchecking the context menu option "Detect typing in [program xyz]".
  • Perhaps, it's not PhraseExpress, doing the text replacement: Exit PhraseExpress and repeat entering the text, that triggered the unwanted text replacement. PhraseExpress can't replace text if it is not running. If the text replacement still occurs, you would need to investigate which other application may cause the unwanted behavior (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.

To identify an autotext that interferes with your regular typing:

Press & hold the SHIFT-key and click the PhraseExpress tray icon right after an unwanted text replacement occurred. PhraseExpress will open the edit window of the unwanted text replacement, allowing you to edit the autotext or hotkey association. You can also restrict the detection of the autotext to specific programs.

You can define a custom hotkey to open the last executed phrase in the PhraseExpress settings in the program setttings under "Settings » Hotkeys".

To resolve unwanted phrase menus or suggestions:

If you get an unwanted popup menu with text suggestions or phrases, right-click any entry in the unwanted popup menu and select "Edit" from the context menu.

This will open the PhraseExpress main program:

  • Configure the trigger that triggered the unwanted phrase (folder), or
  • Exclude the phrase folder that contain the unwanted items from the program you are working in, or
  • Delete items not needed.
If an imported phrase file has no contents:
  • Check the phrase file size in Windows Explorer. If it shows 0 KB, it really may be empty. It either never had contents or the phrase file has been exported by user who had no read access permission.
  • You may not have such read access permissions to the contents within the phrase file. Contact the user who exported the phrase file and let him add read permission to your user name.
  • The contents may accidentally be deleted and reside in the recycle bin. Click the recycle bin to expand any content (if any).

If an e-mail is currently marked in your inbox and you press the Backspace key, the marked e-mail will be put into the mailbox recycle bin.

When entering an autotext, PhraseExpress also simulates pressing the delete key to remove the typed autotext and replace it with the desired text module.

Solution: Do not use autotexts that you type whily you have marked but not opened e-mails in your mail program.

Yes, we have successfully tested PhraseExpress v3 with macOS "Mojave".

After upgrading to macOS "Mojave" you may need to perform the following steps:

  1. Open the macOS System Preferences » Security & Privacy.
  2. Go to the section Privacy " Accessibility.
  3. To make changes, open the padlock at the bottom left of the window (requires entering the administrator password).
  4. Remove the check mark from the PhraseExpress entry and then set it again.
If this does not help:
  1. Remove the PhraseExpress entry from the list by clicking the "-" button.
  2. Click the + button and add PhraseExpress again.
  3. Restart your Mac.

PhraseExpress supports formatted text and bitmaps in phrases. To turn an unformatted phrase into a formatted phrase, simply start apply formatting, like bold, italic, font changes or adding a table or bitmap.

You can export a phrase into a phrase file or as a txt/rtf/doc text file.

Like most software, PhraseExpress includes a software update check to inform you about newer versions.

Newer versions may include critical adjustments, that maybe required because of changes in the operating system or other software.

As updates may be required to prevent data loss, we are obliged by liability laws to inform you about software updates.

If you insist not to update your software at your own risk, you can disable the update check and notification feature in the PhraseExpress settings.

By disabling the update notification, you will not be notified about any critical update anymore.

We strongly recommend to keep your software up-to-date to maintain its operability with future OS updates.

The macOS system function "Secure Input" protects sensitive text input (such as password input) from being spied out by malicious programs.

This feature is activated by the program, that receives the text input and it has to be disabled by the same program after data entry. For example, the Safari browser is enabling "Secure Input" in password input fields. Unfortunately, some applications do not to seem to release the "Secure Input" mode which makes any subsequent text input invisible for 3rd party apps, including PhraseExpress.

To review, which application has enabled "Secure Input", open the Terminal App and enter the command "ioreg -l -w 0 | grep SecureInput" (without ""), followed by ENTER.

This not an error in PhraseExpress and it has no way to remotely disable "Secure Input". If this would be possible, also malware would make use of such remote disabling, making the security feature "Secure Input" obsolete.

Resolving Secure Input Issues

Disable "auto-submit" feature of any auto-login feature and/or close and restart the application, that caused the interference.

Sometimes, Secure Input remains active when it shouldn't, such as after sensitive data entry or when switching applications. This prevents PhraseExpress usage until Secure Input is disabled. PhraseExpress notifies you of Secure Input activation via its menu bar and Dock icons, indicating which application has enabled it. Exiting that application will deactivate Secure Input, allowing PhraseExpress to function.

Workarounds for Secure Input

Avoiding persistent Secure Input activation may be possible by deactivating auto-submit features in auto-logins. Instead, manually click "Login" or "Submit" after password entry. Different applications may require unique solutions. If encountering issues, check if the problematic app is listed below or inform us for further investigation. Applications Known for Secure Input Issues

  • Firefox: Update Firefox to the latest version to avoid Secure Input issues in older versions.
  • Chrome: Chrome may fail to deactivate Secure Input after password entry. Restarting Chrome should fix this.
  • Box: Box Sync keeps Secure Input active post-login. Restarting the app may resolve this.
  • loginwindow: When PhraseExpress identifies "login window" as the source of Secure Input, it's often an approximation. This can occur when OS X leaves Secure Input active after login or password entry. Restarting the Mac or closing other apps can help re-enable PhraseExpress.
  • Terminal: Use "Secure Keyboard Entry" to toggle Secure Input in Terminal, especially for password entry. Similar settings exist in other terminal applications like iTerm2.
  • Webroot SecureAnywhere: Secure Input is always on by default. To disable, select "Pause Secure Keyboard Entry" from its menu.

These workarounds can help manage Secure Input issues, ensuring PhraseExpress functions effectively.

"G-Data Internet Security" can prevent PhraseExpress to detect abbreviations in browsers like Chrome or Firefox and other applications, like Microsoft Word.

This will cause PhraseExpress not to expand autotext abbreviations or to show the phrase menu.

To configure "G-Data Internet Security" for use with PhraseExpress:
  1. Open "G-Data Internet Security" by right-clicking on its tray icon and select Start G-DATA INTERNET SECURITY.

  2. Click Web protection / More settings…

  3. Click on Advanced in the browser protection section.

  4. Uncheck all desired browsers.

After following above steps, PhraseExpress shall detect your autotext input reliably.

"ESET Security" can prevent PhraseExpress to detect abbreviations or cause scrambled text output in in browsers like Chrome or Firefox and other applications, like Microsoft Word.

To configure "ESET Internet Security" for use with PhraseExpress:
  1. Open "ESETSecurity" settings.

  2. Under "Setup » Web and EMail", consider disabling "Secure Browser".

Eventually, there might be an option in ESET to exclude PhraseExpress from being blocked by ESET. Please consult the maker for more info.

Webroot Secure Anywhere can prevent PhraseExpress from detecting abbreviations in browsers like Chrome or Firefox and other applications, like Microsoft Word.

This will cause PhraseExpress not to expand autotext abbreviations or to show the phrase menu.

To configure Webroot SecureAnywhere for use with with PhraseExpress:
  1. Open Secure Anywhere Setting, by right-clicking its tray icon and choosing "View Status".
  2. Click the cog wheel icon near "Identity Protection".
  3. Disable "the Identity Shield".

After following above steps, PhraseExpress shall detect your autotext input reliably.

Zemana Antilogger is an anti-keylogger application, that prevents malicious software from capturing keyboard input to sneak passwords or sensitive data that you may type into your browser or other applications.

Unfortunately, in its default configuration, its keystroke encryption prevents PhraseExpress from detecting entered autotext abbreviations. Unfortunately, this occurs without Zemana reporting any blocked application.

To configure Zemana Antilogger for use with with PhraseExpress:
  1. Click on the Settings button in the Zemana main window.

  2. Change to tab Security Settings.

  3. Uncheck Enable keystroke encryption.

After following above steps, PhraseExpress shall detect your autotext input reliably.

Yes, if you generate the email with the mail macro, you can directly configure a file to be attached to the email.

To attach a file to an email you are replying to, use the macro "paste file".

If the ENTER or TAB key is blocked on your computer, disable the PhraseExpress option "Route ENTER and TAB through PhraseExpress".

If the keys U, I,O, J, K, L and M are not working on a Mac, you may accidentally have enabled keyboard mouse simulation in the macOS System Preferences » Acccessibility » Mouse & Trackpad » Enable Mouse keys.

Solution: Disable mouse keys.

Older versions cannot read phrase file saved by newer versions as new features may require to store additional information unknown at the time of development of the older version.

Of course, PhraseExpress can import/load phrase files saved by the predecessor version. We recommend not to skip multiple major versions to prevent a compatibility break.

You may get license reminders in following cases:

  • The software is not yet registered with a license key.
  • If using a SQL Server: The PhraseExpress client may not have received from the SQL server or it is in offline-mode for too long. Solution: Connect the PhraseExpress client to the SQL server to obtain a license.
  • You are using a newer software version with expired maintenance. Your license can be used with all PhraseExpress versions which have been released within your maintenance term. Later versions require a maintenance renewal.
  • PhraseExpress allows you to try out features of all product editions, even if you purchased a smaller edition. If using features, that are not included in your product edition (see comparison), occasional license reminders are shown or license notifications are inserted in the text output. Please either upgrade to the product edition, that includes the feature or discontinue using those features. When such license reminder is shown, you can opt to disable features, that are not included in your license to avoid such reminders. This can also be configured in the program settings under Settings » Features.

Microsoft itself discontinued Windows XP/7 long time ago, Windows 8 in January 2023 and strongly recommends to upgrade to the current version.

We do not test PhraseExpress with discontinued operating systems, thus can not make any compatibility statement.

Troubleshooting video

Make sure to enable the option to have PhraseExpress launched with the system:

Toggle the setting off and back on to make sure that Windows apply the setting and press the OK button.

If PhraseExpress doesn't launch regardless of this option, it could be that a “security” program (such as an “Antivirus” or “AntiSpyware” software) may block PhraseExpress from launching as it may misinterpret it as a "keylogger". Please check the setting of any such "security" software.

Check general tips to solve problems with starting applications under Windows 10 (Google search).

To resolve Microsoft Excel issuing the error message "Picture is too large and will be truncated" on clipboard operations, configure the PhraseExpress Clipboard Manager to "remove text formatting":

If you receive the error "pexkey.dll too old" on program launch, a software update or a re-installation over an existing PhraseExpress installation seem to have gone wrong.

  1. Uninstall PhraseExpress (No worries. Phrases won't be deleted and you can keep your settings).
  2. Reboot computer. Don't miss this step.
  3. Reinstall PhraseExpress

The Variable Manager introduced in PhraseExpress v14 has been removed in PhraseExpress v15 to provide more functionality.

Info video

When the phrase file is loaded for the first time, PhraseExpress v15 converts your global variables into regular phrases, which are stored in a new phrase folder "Variables".

You can then drag these phrases into any phrase for use as before.

  • Previously, any user could modify or even delete the global variables without access rights restrictions. The earlier variables now stored as regular phrases can now be access restricted.
  • Variables can now also be restricted to certain programs.
  • The variables now stored as text blocks can be used with all other PhraseExpress functions (Search, Find and Replace, etc.)

The PhraseExpress client stores the settings in the user application data folder "%appdata%\PhraseExpress\" in file "config.xml"

Potential issues if settings are reset to default values or altered:
  • PhraseExpress was not properly shut-down after settings change. To make sure, that settings are written to the computer storage, exit the PhraseExpress client after making the setting change or license key registration.
  • PhraseExpress could not save or load file onto the hard disk because of access restriction applied to the config file.
  • A 3rd party backup solution blocked access to the file at the time of writing or reading the file.
  • A 3rd party sync service restored an earlier version of the configuration file (that doesn’t carry the settings change).
  • The config file is not available at startup of PhraseExpress, e.g. if your Windows application data folders are not stored locally but on a network drive which may not be not present at the time PhraseExpress is started.
  • You have changed your Windows user name or you switched to a Microsoft Account based identification for Windows log-on.

Please monitor the modified date stamp of above configuration files to investigate the potential cause.

Solution: In "PhraseExpress Settings » Expert Settings » Text Insertion" set "phrase output format" to "HTML" to keep the transparency.

Autotext replacements are suppressed if you press a specific hotkey directly after typing an autotext.

For example, the autotext "FBI" wouldn't be expanded to "Federal Bureau of Investigation" if you press the autotext suppression hotkey directly after entering the autotext. This gives you a case-by-case choice to have the autotext being executed as needed.

The (customizable) default hotkey is pressing 2x SHIFT. Unfortunately, it seems to be easily entered by accident.

Solution: Open PhraseExpress settings, switch to section "hotkeys" and select another hotkey or delete the hotkey association if you don't need this feature:

PhraseExpress doesn't launch with the window open by default. It only shows the program window, if you run the program again while it is already running in the background. If PhraseExpress shows up on Windows startup, you seem to have multiple PhraseExpress entries in your startup configuration.


Try cleanup the Windows startup section by unchecking and re-checking the autostart option in PhraseExpress settings:

If this doesn't solve the issue, review your autostart entries with the original Microsoft tool "Sysinternal Autoruns" and delete any abaondoned or duplicate PhraseExpress entry. This tools generally gives you great insight what is launched on your computer.

Alternatively, use the Windows File Explorer to manually clean up the StartUp folders:

  1. Remove all(!) PhraseExpress entries from both folders "%appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\" and "%programdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp\"
  2. Open PhraseExpress Preferences " Features and uncheck "Start PhraseExpress automatically with the system" and check it it again (if desired).

If PhraseExpress prompts for a password and if you are 100% sure, that you never applied a password protection, either someone else entered a password or the phrase file may be corrupt.

In most cases, this can happen, if the computer has been reset, switched off or crashed while PhraseExpress was still busy writing the file.

Don't panic! PhraseExpress creates backups and you can easily restore previous versions of your phrase file.

To avoid this situation in the future:
  • Make sure, that PhraseExpress can finish writing all files when the program is shut-down.
  • Never switch off the computer while it is powering down.

If the Outlook Add-In cannot be installed:

  • The Outlook Add-In expects a local(!) Microsoft Outlook installation. It does not work with the online version of Microsoft Office.
  • Please use the PhraseExpress installation file with the file extension *.exe for the Outlook Add-In installation. The MSI installation file does not contain Outlook Add-In.
  • If the Add-In option is not offered during the installation, PhraseExpress cannot find the installation. The PhraseExpress installation routine looks for the Windows Registry key "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Office\X.0\Outlook", where X is a version number from 10-15

Phrases with WYSIWYG form controls contain the display resolution information (DPI) which may be incompatible for modern high-resolution displays.

Solution: You would need to re-create the WYSIWYG form elements to have them auto-adapt with your actual display resolution.

  • Use the clipboard to copy the license key from the license key delivery email to PhraseExpress to prevent typos. Remove any excess space.
  • Your license must have valid maintenance for the installed software version. The maintenance expiration date is written in the license key in the 1st 4-digit section of the license key, e.g. "0123" would mean a maintenance expiration in January 2023. You cannot register a software version that has been released after maintenance expiration. The release dates are listed in the software version history which can be reached on the download page.
  • PhraseExpress requires an online connection for the short time of license authorization. You can disconnect PhraseExpress from the internet after the short and one-time registration procedure.

    PhraseExpress must be able to access our license authorization server at https://www.bartelsmedia.com/license/authorize.php using port 443 (default https port).

    PhraseExpress may not necessarily have internet access just because you can browse the internet or receive email. For example, application-aware firewalls or security software may allow the browser but block PhraseExpress.

    Please make sure that no firewall is preventing PhraseExpress from accessing the internet. If using a proxy server, you need to configure it in the PhraseExpress Settings » Network » Proxy Server”.

If you cannot establish an internet connection for single license use, we suggest to run PhraseExpress from an USB stick. You can plug in the USB stick to any other computer that has an internet connection and register the license from there. Your license is then tied to the USB device and you can use PhraseExpress from the USB device from the computer without internet connection.

If using PhraseExpress with a SQL Server, the licenses are centrally registered, using the PhraseExpress SQL Client Manager.

Possible causes:
  • Clipboard memory has been deactivated. Solution: Activate the clipboard memory.
  • The Clipboard Manager is restricted to specific programs. Solution: Adjust the program restriction settings
  • The shortcut key assignment has been removed/deleted/changed. Solution: Assign the desired key combination to the clipboard memory:
  • The clipboard is empty. Then it is not displayed. Solution: Fill the clipboard with text.
  • Another application is using the key combination for other purposes. Solution: Resolve the conflict.

Accented characters are letters that are entered by sequentially pressing multiple keys on your keyboard, such as á, é, í, ó, ú, ü, ñ, ¿, ¡

If setting the OS to a specific language, make sure that the keyboard settings matches the input language. For example, if the language is set to Dutch, then configure the keyboard setting to "United States-International keyboard for Dutch".

If using PhraseExpress along with other applications with keyboard input detection (called "keyboard hooks"), such as AutoHotkey, Intellitype, etc, accented characters cannot be processed correctly because of interference of those programs.

Solution: Do not run multiple such programs simultaneously.

PhraseExpress provides integration with the 3rd party service, OpenAI. It sends your prompts to OpenAI and retrieves the responses for use within PhraseExpress.

Please make sure that your internet connection allows our software to connect to https://api.openai.com/v1
and https://api.openai.com/v1/chat via standard https port 443.

Please check your firewall configuration and the OpenAI web page for more info about their service availability.

We do not operate the OpenAI/ChatGPT service. It is an independent 3rd party provider, and we have no insight about their service availability. Our software just integrates a user interface that passes your input to their service. It's crucial to note that we neither operate nor maintain the OpenAI service. OpenAI's service is exclusively managed by OpenAI.com, independent of us.

Due to OpenAI's immense popularity, there may be times when their servers experience high traffic and become temporarily overloaded. If you encounter any issues, we recommend trying their service later. Also, review your account status and API key in the user control panel on OpenAI.com.

For technical support related to OpenAI, please consult their documentation or contact OpenAI customer service. We will not be able to assist you with OpenAI service issues.

If you suspect an error with OpenAI's integration in PhraseExpress, first verify that there's a green check mark in the OpenAI API key input box within PhraseExpress settings. If this green check mark is missing, please review your OpenAI account status at OpenAI. We cannot assist with OpenAI account matters, as we don't have access to these details. PhraseExpress only interacts with your API key, which serves as an intermediary for authentication (e.g., facilitating billing by OpenAI for the services you use). We don't have knowledge of your specific OpenAI account details.

It seems that automatic billing may be disabled by default in the billing section of the OpenAI account. If your account runs dry, OpenAI stops working without any special error message visible to the customer. So, please review if your invoice are accidentally due/unpaid.

Every time you attempt to launch PhraseExpress again while it is already running, it opens the main program window.

If this happens on system startup, it seems that PhraseExpress is launched multiple times because of redundant multiple items in the startup folder.

Solution: Make sure to have one single PhraseExpress startup item in the Windows startup folder.

To clean up the startup folder, disable the PhraseExpress autostart in the PhraseExpress settings which will delete all items. Then enable it again.

In Windows 11, startup programs can be placed in two main locations:

  • Current User Startup Folder: This folder contains startup applications for the currently logged-in user. The path using environment variables is %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. This translates to a full path that typically looks like C:\Users\[YourUsername]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup, where [YourUsername] is the name of the current user profile.
  • All Users Startup Folder: This folder contains startup applications that will start for all users on the system. The path using environment variables is %ProgramData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp. This translates to a full path that typically looks like C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp.

If you are repeatedly prompted to grant "full access" for the PhraseExpress 3rd party keyboard, try following these steps:

  1. Remove PhraseExpress from your device.
  2. Reinstall the App: Go to the App Store, find the keyboard app, and reinstall it.
  3. Enable Full Access:
    1. Go to Settings » General » Keyboard » Keyboards
    2. Tap on the PhraseExpress keyboard you reinstalled.
    3. Toggle "Allow Full Access" to on.
  4. Ensure iOS is updated to the latest versions. Sometimes, updates contain bug fixes that can resolve such issues.
  5. After enabling full access, restart your iPhone or iPad.