PhraseExpress – A Great Alternative Text Replacement Tool

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peHeadI wrote about a favorite application of mine called Texter last week. You can see that post here. A lot of readers wrote in asking about alternatives due to the fact that Texter sometimes interferes with people’s systems – especially when working with Portuguese and Japanese.

I guess I configured mine properly to stay out of my hair and not interfere with my other applications – and I do not work in Japanese, Portuguese or any other language other than English. But when I heard from Tamar Weinberg, she also expressed interest in a Texter alternative text replacement tool and MakeUseOf does not disappoint, so without further ado I bring you Phrase Express Beta 7.0.94 (for Windows). The download is available from their website at PhraseExpress.

For those of you who want to see it in action, there is an animated gif at the bottom of this post.

Text Replacement Tool


For those of you not familiar with the Texter text replacement tool, Phrase Express is a text replacement solution. It can replace phrases or keywords with canned text. This can be useful for replacing initials with a full signature or addr1 with your full mailing address. Trust you me you will find many uses for this application and it is free for personal use.

Once you arrive at their website you will see several versions – we will be working with the USB version. The network version is very nice with central server files for all workstations – but it is not free. So back to the USB version. Download, extract and run the executable to begin.

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Above you can see the main interface window. You can always bring up this screen by right clicking on the system tray icon and choosing Settings

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On the interface you can click New Phrase or right click on the system tray and choose New Phrase. You will need to fill in the Autotext, which is what you will type in. The phrase content is what your autotext will be replaced with and the description is to help you easily identify your rules. Make sure the autotext check box is selected on the left and you have options like match case, exact match and match whole word to help prevent accidents.

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Click OK at the bottom of the screen and you have created your first Phrase Express rule. When you type sig now it will automagically be replace by your signature.

Let’s try some more complex ones now:

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Now I can replace my initials with my full (real) signature. But that’s not all, this is not a one hit wonder. It can import all of your Microsoft Word autotext rules and bring them into every application by doing the following:

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Then once the import is complete you will see a new set of rules like so:

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So now when I type a R with an a after it – it will automatically write a Registered symbol like so: ® . It will also prompt you to disable Word’s similar feature so the applications will not be competing.

But there is still more!

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There are functions that are called macros and they can do tasks when you type in a keyword like to insert the current date, time or both. You can have the clipboard pasted, create an email, open a URL, execute a application, open a file or folder – even switch the focus to another application!

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This text replacement tool is very sweet and it did not interfere with any of my other hotkey programs – and as a bonus it works on Windows 7 and Vista!

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Do you have another favorite text replacement program that is free? We would love to hear about it in the comments!

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