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phraseexpress textexpanderIn my never-ending quest to find new ways to automate my activities in front of the keyboard, and to shave precious seconds off of my work schedule, I always appreciate new and creative technologies that serve that purpose.

Of course, computer automation is something we absolutely excel in here at MUO. Beyond my own article about using your Android to automate How To Automate Your Android Smartphone To Do Just About Anything How To Automate Your Android Smartphone To Do Just About Anything Having a smartphone can make your life a whole lot more convenient. When you're lost, it can help you find your way home. When you're in a strange town that you don't know and want... Read More your life, or using Windows Task Scheduler Send Automated Emails Using SendEmail & Windows Task Scheduler Send Automated Emails Using SendEmail & Windows Task Scheduler Read More to automatically send out emails, there are articles like Bakari’s series on AppleScript Learn to Automate Your Mac with AppleScript [Part 1: Introduction] Learn to Automate Your Mac with AppleScript [Part 1: Introduction] Read More  or Angela’s Facebook tips on IFTTT automation IFTTT Automation For Your Facebook Page [Weekly Facebook Tips] IFTTT Automation For Your Facebook Page [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Page administrators realise that it takes time and effort to create a vibrant, useful page for fans to enjoy. While some administrators are paid for their efforts, many more are merely volunteering their time... Read More . Then of course there are the MUO web automation manuals – a treasure trove of Internet automation tips and tricks that you have to check out if you’re into automation and time management.

As I was saying above – that never-ending question has led me to a lot of applications and tools that have the potential to save a lot of time if used creatively. Sometimes, it’s the simplest-looking app that can make the biggest difference. Oddly enough, it was during a question of mine to find a spell auto-correction app for Windows that I stumbled across a cool app called PhraseExpress TextExpander. We briefly covered PhraseExpress Type Faster & Autocomplete Text with PhraseExpress Type Faster & Autocomplete Text with PhraseExpress Read More here at MUO a while back, but my impression from Kaly’s coverage was that it was simply an auto-correction app.

Boy, was I ever wrong. Phrase Express is actually a fully-loaded text expander app  that certainly does automatic spell correction very well, but beyond that it goes into areas that cross over into the embedded automation apps that I’m always looking for.

Automate Your Typing & Browsing With PhraseExpress TextExpander

When you first install PhraseExpress, it will show up with the exclamation logo icon in your taskbar. Right click the icon and select “Edit phrases” to open up the main menu. In this window, you’ll find everything included within the PhraseExpress application for replacing text, auto-correcting and issuing commands to your computer just by typing in certain words or phrases. Each of these folders organize each of the features of PhraseExpress.

There is one caveat. It works in every application where you type, because it essentially works as a sort of keyboard keylogger, and interprets and responds to whatever you type on your keyboard, regardless of what app you’re  using. So, if you’re the type of person that doesn’t want any app installed whatsoever that collects your keyboard entries – even if it’s an app that can be trusted – then turn back now. For the rest of you – read on and get ready to become much more productive.

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phraseexpress textexpander

Instantly Launch Web Search On Highlighted Text

For example, the “SmartSearch” folder under “Misc” is where you’ll find the Search Pages listing, which is a feature in PhraseExpress that lets you highlight a word anywhere at all on your computer – in a word document, on a web page, in an IM chat, and then select from a list of search websites that you want to use to look up that word or phrase.

phraseexpress text prediction

Whether you’re reading an email from someone, reading a post on someone’s Facebook wall, or reading an article on the web, you can simply highlight any word that you want to search on, hit Cntrl-F8 and a list of search sites will come up in a dropdown menu.

phraseexpress text prediction

This list is fully customizable by adding other search websites under the “Search Pages” section in the application. You can also call up the same list of search pages right from any browser location field by typing in the command “##searchpages“.  

phraseexpress text prediction

Actually, this command doesn’t have to be typed in the location bar. It can actually be typed in anywhere at all – in the middle of an article, in notepad, whatever. It gives you instant access to call up your favorite search engine to do some quick research without the need to manually launch the browser first.

Intelligent Text Recognition

If you work at a job that requires a lot of repetitive typing of the same text over and over, PhraseExpress will start to learn from your typing behavior and will actually start suggesting the remaining segment of sentence that it believes you are about to type.

This is similar to the sort of auto-complete feature that you find in applications like Word or Excel, except PhraseExpress works everywhere that you  need to type, regardless of application.

Auto-complete Abbreviated Phrases

My favorite feature of PhraseExpress is definitely its ability to automatically auto-complete abbreviations for you, like fyi, imho, afaik, and all of the other quick, abbreviated text that you’ve learned over the years while texting. Well, imagine how fast you can type up emails and articles by typing it all “shorthand”, and having your computer type out the full text for you.

PhraseExpress comes pre-loaded with a long list of well-known abbreviations.

phreaseexpress review

You can also add as many more as you like. For example, maybe you have to send staff emails often and generally tend to use the same phrases in those emails. You might make “hiev” stand for “Hello Everyone”.

phreaseexpress review

Even if you type at breakneck speed, you can improve your typing speed even further (thereby reducing the time it takes you to send emails), but using as many abbreviated commands as you possibly can. As you type, the full text will show up and you just tap the tab button to use the phrase and continue typing.

phreaseexpress review

You can save a tremendous amount of time if you practice using abbreviated phrases. Just look through your past emails and look for phrases that you tend to use often. I may create two or three letter abbreviations for things like “however”, “on the other hand”, or “for example”, because I tend to use those often. Every character that you don’t have to type is that much less time it’ll take you to finish your work and move on to other things.

Spelling Correction Everywhere You Type

Of course, the main reason I even started using PhraseExpress was for the spelling autocorrect feature. The software comes with a long library of commonly misspelled words. You can also add as many more to the library as you like. Just put the correctly spelled word under the “Phrase content” field, and all of the misspellings under “Autotext” and each misspelling separated by a “|”.

This is huge for me, especially as I write so many articles for MakeUseOf, and can’t really afford to make a lot of spelling mistakes. It looks bad for our editor when such common mistakes make it through the editing filter. This app works very well in the WordPress editor.

It’ll catch every common misspelling that you make, such as my frequent mistaken spelling of the word “definitely”.

I will never make that mistake again, thanks to PhraseExpress.

Additional Autocorrections

Beyond spelling mistakes, PhraseExpress is also preloaded with other common typing mistakes, like the use of “doublettes”, contraction mistakes, and more. In every case, the setup is the same. The correct word goes under “Description” and the mistake goes in the “Autotext” field.

All of us make these sort of typing mistakes, and PhraseExpress is one of those rare apps that can catch them anywhere that you’re typing on your computer, not just in specific apps – so it’s much more useful than any typing correction tool you might have installed in your IM apps, in your browsers or anywhere else.

Quickly Launch Applications

Another cool thing you can do with PhraseExpress is use it to launch applications. I know that doesn’t sound quite like something a text auto-correct application could do, but it can, and it’s very cool.

For example, type in the word “calc” and the app will ask you whether or not you want to open the calculator. It’s as simple as that.

If you don’t, and you intended to use the world “calc”, then just keep on typing and the pop-up query will disappear.  Picture it like you’re in Star Trek and all you have to do is issue a command to the computer, and the computer will respond. The only difference is that this is in text rather than voice. You aren’t limited to the calculator either. Just like you can customize word corrections, you can also customize what applications you can launch using this application.

Insert Variables Into Your Writing

So, let’s say you’re writing an email and you want to write down the correct date or time that it is right this very moment. Well, PhraseExpress has a cool feature where you can embed variables into your text while you’re typing simply by preceding the command with a “#” character.

So, you can insert the date by typing in “#date”, and you can also do the same thing to insert the time. The app will automatically insert the current date or time into that spot in your writing.

You can also customize these as well – and this gets into some of the advanced features of the application that are beyond the scope of this article. Just know that you can create your own variables for all sorts of interesting macros. Other variables that are available to insert into your text are things like pre-written quotes. The application comes with a list of well known quotations, but you can also add your own favorites to the dropdown list.

phraseexpress textexpander

As you can see, PhraseExpress is much more than just a spell check tool or a typo-correction app. It has the flexibility available so that you can customize it to do all sorts of cool things that can save you a lot of time during your efforts to accomplish more work, so that you have more time to relax and play.

PhraseExpress TextExpander is one of those apps that – if used creatively – can do just that. So, try out the app and let us know how well it works for you. What other creative applications can you think up for it? Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Fast Typing on Laptop via Shutterstock

  1. Jack Morgan
    March 4, 2016 at 3:10 am

    it does not work at all. It has no effect or presence in any of my word processing progs - and I write code, know computers, etc etc etc. seems like junkware to me. Win 8 fwiw

  2. Rob
    December 7, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    The software looks good if it works. But the problem is that support i very poor, they do not read email properly and are overall very arrogant.

    Don't count on support to help you even if you paid for a licence

  3. paul
    June 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Extremely useful program that puts MSWORD autotext to shame. I use it for its easy ability to create phrases that I use over and over again in reports - its saves me heaps of time. I wish I had come across this years ago!

  4. DalSan M
    April 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I had used Phrase Express for a few years now and like the customizations one can make within the program for most commonly used words and phrases. It was recommended by medical transcription instructors at the University that I attend, which made it even more appealing for me to use. If medical transcription instructors as well as many transcriptionists recommend and use this program, then I would think this is a very safe program to use without any fear for privacy issues.

  5. Krsnendu
    April 16, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I tried using phrase express, but I found that there was a real lag when using in a web browswer. I would type the shortcut and then watch the program typing out the words about half my typing speed.

    I figure it must have a lot to do with the specs on my old windows PC.

    It is one of the reasons I have just bought a macbook... So I can use Textexpander, which works perfectly on my ipad and iphone as well as Mac. A bit pricey though at $45NZD.

  6. null
    April 12, 2013 at 2:55 am

    I have been using phrase express over 7 years now . You can also create a backup of the commonly used phrases to dropbox so you can then simply import the phrase file into another computer wherever you go . PhraseExpress also has a clipboard cache feature so it saves a set number of clipboard items - expands your windows clipboard automatically for you . You can also designate shortkeys to launch any website automatically and also create macros for variables like future date.current date etc .example You can say for example ## 11 h for good morning ( it will automatically calculate the time based on computer current time ).One of the most useful applications I have ever come across.

    • Gunnar B
      April 12, 2013 at 9:14 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience with features we added over the years.

      By the way, we are also proud about our "calc as you type" feature:
      http://www.phraseexpress.com/calc-as-you-type.htm

      No need anymore to grab a pocket calculator if you need a math result while typing in Word. ;-)

      • Ryan Dube
        April 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Very cool feature!

  7. suneo nobi
    April 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Pretty useful app;but I wonder if it has privacy concerns as it can detect anything you type and monitors your emails ............

    • Gunnar B
      April 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      Well, Microsoft Word "monitors" your text input, too. It displays it on your screen and it even saves your text input on your hard-disk.

      Of course, PhraseExpress needs to scan your keystrokes like all keyboard related programs, including your keyboard driver. This isn't necessarily bad. It would be bad if such information would be transferred over the internet. You can rest assured, that PhraseExpress doesn't do that. If you need extra confidence, you can block PhraseExpress in the firewall. PhraseExpress is available on the market for more than 10 years and it wouldn't be like that if we would spy out our users. As PhraseExpress is quite popular amongst many techies, It would have been revealed by use of forensic network scanner tools. Hope this helps.

      • suneo nobi
        April 12, 2013 at 6:26 am

        Thank you for your detailed reply!!

      • Ryan Dube
        April 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

        Great answer - a lot of people are very concerned about apps that "log" the keyboard. For good reason, because there's so much malware out there that does just that, just to capture and transmit personal information.

        I hesitated to cover this app for that reason, but searching the web for comments from other users, I discovered this app has a very good reputation, and hasn't been flagged on any blacklists as malware.

        After using it for a while - this one is definitely a keeper in my book. And I don't have many "keepers"!

  8. ASHOK KUMAR
    April 11, 2013 at 8:14 am

    very informative and must read indeed.

  9. PhraseExpress
    April 11, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Thank you for the awesome tips & tricks about our Text Expander PhraseExpress!

    By the way, at http://www.text-expander.com, we offer many step-by-step video tutorials to help getting the most out of PhraseExpress.

    We gladly add user contributions there, too.

    Greetings from the PhraseExpress Team

  10. Scott M
    April 10, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    A quick question seeing as the contact link doesn't work.How did someone get 8005 points in one week?The top ten ten list are all in the 1000's.I only made 8500 in several months.Is there a coding problem?

    • Ryan Dube
      April 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

      Not sure Scott - but I'll forward your question to our tech guys.

      • Scott M
        April 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm

        The 8005 has been adjusted I see but the top 3 are still 2000-4000 points for the week.Its a weird one.

    • James Bruce
      April 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      You're right. I think we got a cheat here, thanks Scott, I'll investigate and nuke their account if needed.

      • Scott M
        April 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm

        Thank you.

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