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PhraseExpress

CNET Editors' review

PhraseExpress AutoText combines autocomplete with macros in one versatile free tool that can type phrases, sentences, and other text automatically when the program detects certain keystrokes or manually via hot keys. Its AutoText feature lets you designate abbreviations for frequently used words and phrases such as your address. When you type the abbreviation, PhraseExpress automatically enters the expanded text.

The central access point for PhraseExpress is the program's system tray icon. Here we could open the settings page as well as enter new phrases, access the last used entry, and clear the clipboard cache. We opened the settings, which actually consists of two pages: a main page for managing phrases and folders and a more detailed page of options that we could access via the Tools menu. On this second page, we could configure everything from pop-up behavior to expert options such as delays and advanced text prediction settings. We could also choose audio files for system sounds, configure network proxy settings, and set paste and e-mail delivery methods.

But we wanted to know how PhraseExpress worked, so we clicked New Phrase and entered a description, phrase, and hot key choice in the main Settings page. Our first hot key choice was taken by another program, but our second was accepted. We opened Word and started typing, and then pressed our hot key. PhraseExpress typed the full phrase quickly. In this way, we were able to configure a variety of commonly used phrases and data fields, like home and work addresses, phone numbers, and disclaimers. The AutoText feature will be familiar to anyone who has used autocomplete, but PhraseExpress offers several useful options, including manual confirmation, delimiters, and expert options. A Web-based manual offered detailed instructions as well as tips. All in all, PhraseExpress proved quite a useful and capable tool, and one that we're likely not only to keep but also to use.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews

Results 1-10 of 149

  • 1.0 stars

    "Many people are complaining it doesn't work"

    March 14, 2014  |   By Digidreams99

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.1.23

    Pros

    Potential very handy

    Cons

    Stops working all of a sudden, VERY regularly

    Summary

    This software is very erratic and stops working all of a sudden every few minutes. I have been trying to get it working on and off for over a year now. I've tried it on different PCs, with different operating systems and it's always the same issue.

    The PhraseExpress forums are full of complaints about other people suffering the same issues.

    However, bizarrely, the makers of the software are ruthless in deleting any commentary about the software that is to do with it being buggy. So the complaints and discussions about the software being buggy and erratic are removed after a few minutes or hours. My own posts were always censored too, where I asked for advice on getting the software working. I've never seen such ruthless and obsessive censorship take place on a single other forums I've used over the years!

    Terrible customer service as well - Bartels Media never reply to emails.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Saves time"

    March 3, 2014  |   By ChuckT

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.1.4

    Pros

    Easy keystroke macros

    Cons

    Very slight complaint. When installing over an existing install, I need to manually stop running the old, before I can install the new.

    Summary

    Get it. Got it? Good!

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Great time saver"

    February 12, 2014  |   By franklyray

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.1.1

    Pros

    Easy to use for repetitive email addresses and web sites. Often use the clipboard function for as many as a dozen temporary clips in my history.

    Cons

    You have to practice to get the best out of the program, but you will be rewarded.

    Summary

    Use cnet updater to keep the latest version active.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "For retired and novice"

    February 3, 2014  |   By franklyray

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.0.135

    Pros

    My memory on line

    Cons

    Better integration with Android apps

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Fantastic product, saves time and improves accuracy"

    January 24, 2014  |   By hilaryc01

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.0.135

    Pros

    Great that it works across all platforms, I use it all the time, particularly in Word and emails. I've found it much more user friendly than autocorrect in Word. Also, as an editor it's a great tool for improving accuracy and consistency (e.g. I put in the names of all the organisations I work with, so I can be confident I have the correct spelling, caps and hyphenation).
    I include a section on PhraseExpress when I'm running courses on working efficiently with Word, it's a really valuable tool for editors.

    Cons

    Make the interface a bit more user friend

    Summary

    It's a fantastic product, use it!

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  • 5.0 stars

    "An absolute necessity for writers."

    January 14, 2014  |   By clpix

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.0.133

    Pros

    Version 10 is feature-rich, highly adaptable, and, in my opinion, an essential fiction writer's tool.

    Cons

    I can't think of a negative.

    Summary

    Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of PhraseExpress version 10. This software has seriously evolved over the years. I have the Professional Version, which is in between Free and Enterprise. Just for the Floating Phrase Menu (you have to experience it to believe how handy this feature is) and MS Word-formatted Phrases (I write in Word), it is well worth the price of admission. I no longer use the archaic Microsoft program Outlook, so I have no need for the Enterprise version.

    Everything about PhraseExpress is designed to make your keyboard life efficient, productive, and time-saving.

    I am a fiction writer. All my character names are assigned a two-key shortcut. ALT-S reveals Suzanna faster than you can blink; ALT-C gives me Christopher, etc. On a Phrase Menu, which floats on the side of my screen above Word and beyond my right margin, myriad other time savers are instantly available: words and phrases; punctuation (an em dash, for example); and navigation phrases (which I use for Word's Navigation Pane). Finally, to have the last twenty items you've saved to your Clipboard always available is a boon to any writer.

    PhraesExpress' customer support is outstanding, although, you do need a license to participate.

    An ingenious test-replacement app. Highly recommended!

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Excellent and extremely useful program"

    January 10, 2014  |   By Lobo912

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.0.133

    Pros

    I used an old version of Phrase Express (probably no later than 3.0) for many years and loved it, but somehow got away from it. This version has tons more features and way more versatility, holds larger pieces of text (I use one that's almost 1,000 characters), and makes it easy to program hot keys. Autotext and spell correct can be helpful if you need those features.

    Cons

    Instructions are more complicated than the program. Launch is slow, about 30 seconds or so. Autotext is a little annoying when you're working on something unrelated (like this review), but program is easy to temporarily deactivate. I didn't find the videos all that helpful because they zip by very fast and the speaker is difficult to understand.

    Summary

    An outstanding program for anyone who uses repeat text, phrases or multiple signature versions. Especially valuable if you need a variety of customized or personalized canned responses. Be aware, some system cleaners might remove it from the program tray. Would be 5 stars except for the slow launch.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Awesome! It does more then you think."

    December 30, 2013  |   By mikejani

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.0.132

    Pros

    This program does more things for me then all the other utilities I have combined! Even after I bought it, I was doing things manually that PE does for you automatically.

    Cons

    Taking a few minutes to learn how to use it. Watch the Videos.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Works fine"

    December 28, 2013  |   By Tiesenhausen

    Version: PhraseExpress 10.0.132

    Pros

    Very powerful program.

    Cons

    Needs better help information.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Very good alternative for AutoHotKey"

    November 7, 2013  |   By Jumper25

    Version: PhraseExpress 9.1.46

    Pros

    Friendly GUI, no need to learn commands or scripts.
    TONS of options that covers just about everything.

    Cons

    Uninstall leaves too many leftovers, re-installation is never from clean.
    Hitting 'ESC' once by mistake will cancel all recent changes you made to the rules without warning.

    Summary

    For the kind of money they charge (zero), you can't ask for anything better.

    Good tool and easy to learn. Powerful for power users, simple for simple tasks.

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Results 1-10 of 149

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