PhraseExpress v14 - Client Documentation

Table of Contents


PhraseExpress can be installed on a Windows computer or run in portable mode from a USB thumb drive without installation.

Computer installation

To install PhraseExpress on your Windows computer:

  1. Download the PhraseExpress client installation file.
  2. Double-click the installation file and follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. If you have purchased a license, register the license key.

MS Office AutoCorrect may interfere with PhraseExpress as both programs compete to replace spelling mistakes. We recommend importing the MS Word AutoCorrect entries into PhraseExpress.

Installation requires admin rights. If you cannot obtain administrations rights on your computer, consider running PhraseExpress in portable mode from your hard drive.

For client deployment in large networks, check the PhraseExpress server manual or SQL Client Manager manual.

Portable Use

To run PhraseExpress from a USB thumb drive:

  1. Download the Portable Edition.
  2. Extract the folder /PhraseExpress of the ZIP archive "PhraseExpress_USB.exe" into any directory of your USB device.
  3. Launch "PhraseExpress.exe" from the USB device.
  4. Copy any existing phrase file onto the USB device and load it from there.
  5. If you have purchased a license key, register your USB thumb drive installation.

The portable mode is indicated in the PhraseExpress title bar. User and application data is stored into the program directory on the portable device. No data is written on the host computer.

Portable mode can be enforced by command-line parameter -portable.

Some functions may be unavailable in portable mode, e.g. phrase file sharing or the Outlook Add-In as it would require writing files onto the host computer.

  • Shutdown PhraseExpress before unplugging the USB drive to prevent data loss!
  • Read the license key registration notes if using PhraseExpress on a portable device.


To upgrade a stand-alone installation to a newer version:

  1. Backup your current phrases by exporting the phrase file in your current program installation.
  2. Download the latest version from
  3. Install the new version over the current installation.
  4. If you have purchased a maintenance renewal, you need to replace the expired license key with the new license key.

The new version automatically loads the phrase file of the previous installation. If this doesn't happen, manually load the phrase file again.

Major new versions may update the phrase file structure to support new features. Older PhraseExpress versions will not be able to read such new phrase file format.


Getting started

After launching the program, you should see the speech bubble icon in the Windows system tray:

tray menu icon

This icon is your main access to configure PhraseExpress:
  • Left-click the icon to access phrases in the phrase menu.
  • Right-click the icon to open the options menu.
  • Double-click the icon to open the main program window.

You can assign hotkeys for these actions for quicker access.

If the icon is missing, click the triangle icon in the task tray and drag the PhraseExpress icon from the popup into the system tray to make it permanently visible:
How to make the tray icon visible

What to do next?

Here are some suggestions what to do next right after installation:

Manage Phrases

PhraseExpress allows you to create, insert, edit, search, export, delete phrases and to manage them in multiple levels.

Video tutorial

Store a new phrase

To save a new phrase in PhraseExpress:
  1. Highlight the desired text in any application.
  2. Click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select "New phrase…".
    Alternatively, press customizable hotkey CTRL+ALT+C.
  3. Enter additional information for your new phrase:

phrase details

  • The Description identifies the phrase in the phrase menu.
  • Hotkeys insert the phrases by pressing a keyboard combination (learn more).
  • An Autotext is a text abbreviation which is replaced with a longer text snippet. For example, entering the autotext 'kr' would insert the phrase 'Kind Regards' (learn more). 
  • Phrases can be restricted to specific programs or specific users.
  • If the text is formatted, additional options become available for option "Save As":

    Formatting Description


    • Phrase without text formatting and without bitmaps.
    • Efficient and memory resource friendly.
    • Supports for all macro functions.

    Formatted text

    • Phrases with formatted text and/or bitmaps.
    • Requires more space in the phrase file.


    • Support for Microsoft Word specific text formatting, Word macro placeholders and embedded contents (such as Excel spreadsheets), etc.
    • Requires more file space. Slower operation as Microsoft Word is launched in the background to insert or edit Microsoft Word formatted phrases.
    • No support of PhraseExpress macro functions or functions that alter the phrase contents (e.g. duplicate search, search & replace, bulk editing features).
    • Requires installed Microsoft Word.

The option to create new phrases may have been disabled by the IT administrator to prevent operating errors or if you do not have write permission.

Insert phrases

To insert a phrase, place the cursor into the target application and perform any of the following actions:

  • Click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select the desired item from the phrase menu.
  • Press the hotkey you may have assigned to a phrase.
  • Enter the autotext you may have defined for the desired phrase.
  • Select the desired phrase from a desktop menu.

The phrase menu provides instant access to your phrases:

Phrase selection menu

To open the phrase menu:
  • Click the PhraseExpress task tray icon.
  • Press the customizable phrase menu hotkey ALT+SPACE.
  • Press the hotkey or enter the autotext, assigned to a phrase folder.
  • Press the hotkey or enter the autotext, assigned to multiple phrases (or folders).
  • If Autocomplete is enabled, start typing a frequently used word/sentence.

To discard the menu, press ESC or click anywhere outside the phrase menu.

To find an item in the phrase menu:
  • Without any additional click or action, just start typing any part of the description to narrow down the menu to the desired item.
  • Use the Arrow Down/Up keys to select the next/previous item.
  • Press Page Up/Down or the mouse scroll wheel to scroll through the menu in larger steps.
  • Press Home- or End to jump to the very first or very last item.
  • Press Arrow Right-key to jump into the first subfolder. To return to the parent level, press Arrow Left.

Program or user access restricted items may not be visible in the phrase menu.

A tiny black triangle in the top/bottom right of the phrase menu indicates, if not all items fit into the menu window. Scroll up/down to reach contents outside the viewport.

To resize the phrase menu, pull its borders to the desired height and width.

To position the phrase menu to a static position, drag it by its window title. To revert to dynamic positioning, drag the menu again and select "No" the confirmation dialog.

To execute the selected phrase:
  • Click the phrase with the mouse.
  • Press the customizable confirmation hotkey TAB.
  • Press the optional "quick key" to directly select and execute a phrase, e.g. Num1+Num9.
  • To insert a formatted phrase without formatting. SHIFT-click the phrase.
  • CTRL-click a phrase to copy its content into to the clipboard (vs. pasting it into the target application). This helps to insert a phrase in case of application focus problems.

If phrases are not inserted properly, check out the troubleshooting tips.

Content-sensitive options:

Right-click any phrase or folder for additional options depending on the content:

  • Insert text with or without formatting.
  • Fill the clipboard with the selected text.
  • Create a new email to the email address contained in the phrase.
  • Open web browser if the phrase contains any URL.
  • Open folder in Windows Explorer if the items contains any file path.

Desktop menus

Phrase menus disappear after you selected an item for insertion.

However, they can be made visible permanently as desktop menus:

Desktop menu

To place any phrase menu onto the desktop, click the pin symbol in the top right of any phrase menu.

Double-click the title bar to expand/collapse desktop menus. Resize desktop menus by dragging their margins.

Desktop menus can show/hide automatically together with specific programs.


A desktop menu may contain various bank account information and can optionally be displayed only, if you open a specific banking website or banking software. It automatically hides if you switch to another program. Program restricted desktop menus appear as they would be attached to specific programs and virtually become part of them.

To restrict a desktop menu to particular programs, right-click any desktop menu item or its title bar and select "Restrict to specific programs" (also see chapter "program restrictions").

Edit phrases

To edit a phrase in the main program window:

  • Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select "Open program window".
  • Or right-click an item in a phrase menu or desktop menu and select "Edit".
  • Or SHIFT-click the PhraseExpress tray icon to open the last used phrase.
  • Or press the hotkey to open the main program window, that you have specified in the program settings.

The main program window

The main program window allows you to organize and edit your phrases:

PhraseExpress main program window

Phrases and the folder structure of one or multiple phrase files/databases are shown in the left window pane.

The root items in the first level of the tree structure represent one or more phrase sources and their state.

Drag & drop items to rearrange them in the tree structure.

Use the CTRL and/or SHIFT keys to select multiple objects

Phrases and its parameters are edited in the right.

Display Options

The classic "Two columns view" shows your phrases organized in a customizable folder tree structure.

Enable option "View » Three column view" to visually take out the contents of any selected folder into a separate middle column. This allows you to navigate in large phrase libraries and to show additional phrase settings in a flat list:

Right-click a column header to enable additional or to remove unwanted columns. Click a column header to sort phrases and to toggle sort direction.

Sorting is only visible in the editor. To sort & rearrange phrases in a folder permanently, right-click the folder and select any of the sort options in the context menu.

If using a SQL server, additional columns "number of uses" and "last used" are available.

Option "View » Flat List" shows all elements of all subfolders, allowing you to view and sort phrases regardless of the folder structure.

Option "Flat list" changes the view only, but not the structure the phrases are saved in the phrase file/database.

You can't create phrases in flat list view.


A hotkey (or shortcut key, keyboard shortcut, key combo, etc.) is a set of keys associated to a specific phrase or folder.

For example, the very useful hotkey ALT+SPACE opens the main phrase menu.

PhraseExpress can insert a phrase by pressing its associated hotkey. Press CTRL+ALT+S could insert your signature for example.

PhraseExpress allows you to re-use the same hotkey for multiple phrases or for a phrase folder, containing multiple phrase. E.g. you could use the hotkey CTRL+ALT+B for a phrase folder containing several phrases with bank account information.

Hotkeys defined in PhraseExpress may conflict with other programs using the same hotkey. Avoid frequently used hotkeys and rather use combinations with the CTRL- , ALT-, WIN-, SHIFT- key and a letter. Many hotkeys are reserved by Windows and cannot be assigned in PhraseExpress. Especially, the WIN-key is almost exclusively reserved by the Windows OS and should not be used without a combination of additional modifier keys.

Please check section "trouble-shooting" if hotkeys do not work.

PhraseExpress shows a warning symbol if a hotkey is likely to interfere with other programs.


Autotexts are text abbreviations that are replaced with a longer phrase is a feature like MS Office's 'AutoCorrect', replacing text shortcuts (the autotext) with larger text phrases.

In PhraseExpress, autotext works in most Windows program and offers much more functionality.

Sample applications:
  • Enter 'FBI' to replace it with 'Federal Bureau of Investigation'.
  • Typing mistakes are corrected as you type: 'tpyo' » 'typo'.
  • Enter an autotext to launch an application. For instance, typing 'calc' can launch the Windows calculator.

If autotext does not work as expected, check the trouble-shooting section.

If you experience unwanted text replacements, chapter "Unwanted text replacements" may help.

If autotext are grayed-out, autotext may be disabled in the parent folder or you have no editing permissions.

Autotext options:

Option Description

The autotext is recognized after pressing ENTER, TAB, SPACE or any default trailing delimiter such as punctuation marks:

Default delimiter

This is the recommended default setting.

Autotext is recognized immediately after typing the last character of the autotext:

Execute immediately

Avoid this setting if the defined autotext can be part of a word. E.g., if you would choose the autotext "hav", it would unwantedly trigger a text replacement whenever you enter the regular words "have", "behave", etc.

The phrase is offered in a popup menu instead of being inserted automatically

Execute Optionally

You can either accept the phrase by pressing the confirmation key or you can ignore the offer to insert by continuing to type.

Phrase are suggested in a popup menu if you enter the beginning of its description


You do not need to define an Autotext.

Press the confirmation key to insert the phrase or continue to type and the menu will disappear.

Selecting SmartComplete automatically enables caps sensitivity and manual confirmation option.

PhraseExpress shows a warning symbol if a short autotext is likely to cause unwanted text replacements.

Expert Mode

The Expert Mode enables additional autotext options:

  • Do you want to abandon the trailing autotext delimiter after pasting a phrase?
  • Do you want to define specific leading/trailing autotext delimiters?
  • Shall autotexts only be recognized within a word or only following a number?
  • Do you want different text insertions depending on upper vs. lower case autotext?
Autotext delimiters

PhraseExpress monitors your keyboard input for any autotext matches. Technically, a 'separate word' is defined as entered text at the beginning of a sentence or text that follows or is followed by a space, punctuation mark, comma and semicolon, TAB or ENTER.

The character required before an autotext (leading delimiter) is called Prefix. The character which must follow the autotext (trailing delimiter) to trigger an action is called Postfix:

Prefix/Postfix Explanation

None (available for postfix only)

There is no character required following the autotext. An autotext is recognized immediately after entering the last character of the autotext.

There is any character required before/after the autotext.

The autotext must follow/be followed by the default characters as defined as "default leading/trailing delimiters" (as defined in the expert options).

The autotext must follow/be followed by the ENTER / SPACE / TAB-key.

The autotext must follow/be followed by any letter from a-z/A-Z or number 0-9

If you select this option, an input dialog allows you to define a custom set of delimiters.

Do not separate the characters with any other characters. Simply enter them one after another without any separator. Any separator, such as a comma or space, would itself be interpreted as a delimiter.

You cannot enter the ENTER- or Tab-key here. Instead use #13 for ENTER and #9 for the TAB-key.

Incremental (for postfix only)

This option is deprecated.

Incremental autotext has no particular postfix that would trigger a phrase. If Incremental autotext is selected as a postfix, all matching items are offered in a popup menu after you begin typing the first letters of a matching autotext. The choices narrow down as you continue typing the autotext.

Example prefix/postfix settings:
Prefix Postfix Explanation Notes

An autotext such as 'eth' is only recognized when entered as a separate word. It is ignored in 'Ethan', within 'methane' and in the end of the word 'Beth'.

This is the default setting and recommended for most purposes.

The autotext example 'eth' is recognized everywhere, e.g. in 'Ethan', within 'methane' and in the end of the word 'Beth'.

This option is suitable e.g. to correct mixed letters at any position of a word. Careful use is of this option is recommended as such autotext may be recognized inadvertently.

The autotext example 'eth' is only recognized in the beginning of a word such as 'Ethan' but ignored within 'methane' or 'Beth'.

This option is suitable e.g. to correct mixed letters at the beginning of a word only.

The autotext example 'eth' is only recognized in the end of a word such as 'Beth' but ignored within 'methane' or in the beginning of 'Ethan'.

This option is suitable e.g. to correct mixed letters at the end of a word.

Manual confirmation

Phrases are inserted automatically by default if you trigger the phrase by entering its associated autotext.

If you activate the Manual confirmation, phrases are offered in a popup menu:

Execute Optionally
  • Press the customizable hotkey TAB to insert the phrase.
  • The menu disappears automatically if you continue to type.
Remove trailing delimiter

If you do not want to output the trailing delimiter after phrase insertion, select "Remove trailing delimiter".

This option is only visible in Expert Mode.


PhraseExpress can automatically adapt the letter case of the output depending on the first letter of the autotext as entered:

  • Enter the first letter of the autotext lower case, to insert a phrase beginning with lower case.
  • Begin the autotext with upper case and PhraseExpress will insert the phrase beginning with upper case.
Keyboard input Phrase contents Pasted text
max maximum maximum
Max maximum Maximum
SmartCaps feature requirements:
  • Phrases must begin with lower case.
  • Autotext must be lower case.
  • Autotext must not exist in a separate lower and upper-case variation.
  • Autotext option "Case sensitive autotext" must be disabled.
  • The all caps feature must be configured under Expert Options » Text insertion.

Restrict to specific programs

Program restrictionEach phrase can be restricted to specific target applications:

Program restriction

Application examples:
  • The autotext "fyi" can expand into "for your information" when typing in an email while the same Autotext is replaced with "Fiscal Year Information" in a MS Word document.
  • The hotkey CTRL+ALT+B could open a phrase menu containing your bank account information while you are performing online banking in your browser but the same hotkey could turn any highlighted text into bold letters in OpenOffice.
  • Hotkeys can be excluded from applications that already use such hotkeys for a different task in that program.
  • Phrase menu contents can be custom-tailored to specific programs.
  • Desktop menus show up or hide together with specific programs.
To restrict a phrase (folder) to specific programs:
  1. Launch the program(s) you wish to define include/exclude from PhraseExpress.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase (folder) and click the main menu button Program restrictions.
  3. Select to restrict to vs. exclude from a specific program.
  4. Select the desired program from the drop-down list.
  5. Optionally define (parts of) the window title of the program to make the restriction more specific.
Click the +- button to add additional program restrictions. Remove entries with the - button.

To exclude a phrase from the current program, execute the phrase, right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and uncheck the corresponding option.

The program restriction feature explained here is valid for individual phrases/phrase folders and those settings are stored in the phrase file. If you share the phrase file with others, also the program restrictions are shared with all users.

You can restrict the entire PhraseExpress including the Autocomplete feature to specific programs on a global level. These "global program restrictions" are stored in the configuration file (vs. the phrase file) and take effect on the specific computer only. Global program restrictions do not roam with the phrase file.

If PhraseExpress cannot detect a window title, repeat switching focus from and back to the application.

PhraseExpress detects applications by their visible program window. Some programs may hide their program window (e.g. a few password managers), making them invisible for PhraseExpress. If possible, reverse program restrictions and allow to all programs except unwanted applications.

Programs or tasks, running in virtualized environments or encapsulating frameworks cannot be distinguished by PhraseExpress, such as Java applets or "metro-styled" Windows apps (Edge browser, etc.).

Access permissions

Video Tutorial

All users can uAcces restrictionse and edit all phrases by default.

Read/Write permissions for each phrase folder can be restricted to specific users, workgroups or domains:

Access permissions dialog

Use cases:

  • A specific phrase folder keeps your personal phrases which is accessible only for you.
  • Only a specific user shall have access to a particular phrase folder.
  • A particular folder shall only be edited by accredited editors but used by all members of a specific work group.
To configure access permissions:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select the phrase folder you wish to configure.
  3. Click the main menu button Access rights.
  4. Configure the read and write access permissions of the selected folder to specific users, workgroups, usergroups or domains.
  5. Confirm with OK.

Access restriced folderAccess restricted folders are indicated by a special folder with a user symbol overlay.

To configure access rights for multiple folders, highlight all the phrase folders in the tree view by clicking on the folders while pressing the SHIFT- and/or CTRL-key.

Users are identified by their Windows user name.

  • The original creator of a phrase folder is the "owner" and always has access rights.
  • Write permissions automatically grants read permissions.
  • The IT administrator can override access restrictions. Do not use access restrictions for sensitive information.
  • If you copy or move access restricted phrase folders into another directory, access restrictions will be carried with the phrases. If the target folder has access restrictions, carefully check for inconsistencies (e.g., if the target folder has bigger restrictions than the moved contents).

Hide phrases

Hidden folderIndividual phrase folders (and their contents) can be hidden from the phrase menu while autotext and hotkey detection remain active.

This is useful for phrase folders containing acronyms or spelling correction phrases which are triggered by autotext rather than being manually selected from the phrase menu.

To make a phrase folder invisible:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Right-click the phrase folder you wish to configure.
  3. Click option Show in popup in the context menu to toggle its state.

Phrase folder are only visually removed from the phrase menu but can still be edited in the main program window.

Disable Autotext/hotkeys

Paused phraseAutotext and hotkey detection for individual phrase folders (and their contents) can be disabled while the phrase is still accessible in the phrase menu.

This feature allows you to switch on/off detection of specific phrase sets of phrases. For example, you can enable legal phrases when working in legal documents and enable a phrase file with special acronyms when desired.

To disable autotext/hotkey detection for a phrase folder:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Right-click the phrase folder you wish to configure.
  3. Click option Autotext/hotkey detection active in the context menu to toggle its state.

To target sets of phrases to specific tasks, you may consider configuring autotext/hotkey detection of a phrase folder to specific programs.

Editing options

Right-click phrases or folders for additional functions:

  • The Extended functions for folders offer rich bulk-editing features that will take effect for any item in that folder.
  • The command Remove duplicates removes duplicates phrase and merges autotexts in the selected folder.

You can find a specific phrase either in a phrase menu or in the main program window tree view:

Phrase menu search

  1. Open a phrase menu.
  2. Start typing any part of the phrase description you wish to find.
  3. Click the phrase to insert it or right-click for additional options.

Right-click the magnifier icon to configure the search feature.

Program window search

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Right-click the magnifier icon to configure the search feature.
  3. Click into the search box below the tree view (or press CTRL+F).
  4. Enter the search term.
Matches are displayed in a flat list:
  • Click any phrase in the list to edit it.
  • Double-click any item to show it within the tree structure.
  • Click into the search input field to switch back to the flat list of search results.
  • Hover the results for additional information.

Begin the query with a double quote characters if matches must begin with the query term. For example, the search term "Beam would find the phrase 'Beam me' up (but not 'Jim Beam').

Enclose the query with double quote characters if you want to search for exact matches. For example, the search term "Tesla" would find phrase 'Tesla' (but skip the phrase 'Tesla is cool').

Two sequent double quote characters ("") help to find empty contents.

Find & replace search

  1. Right-click any phrase folder in the tree view.
  2. Select Find & Replace from the context popup menu (or press CTRL+H).
  3. Fill in the search & replace boxes.

PhraseExpress only searches in the selected folder (and optionally subfolders).

Export phrases

To export a phrase as a text file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select the phrase in the tree view you wish to export.
  3. Click the triangle of the main menu button "Export" and select "Text file".
  4. Choose the destination and text file format.
  • Export as a Microsoft Word document requires a Microsoft Word installation.
  • To export phrases as a phrase file, use the file export function.

Delete phrases

To delete a phrase or phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select the item in the left tree view.
  3. Press DELETE or click the main menu recycle bin button (not the icon in the phrase tree).

Deleted phrases are moved to the recycle bin. Each phrase file/database has its own recycle bin, residing at the bottom of the phrase file node in the tree view.

To empty the recycle bin, highlight the recycle bin in the phrase tree view and select "Empty" in the main menu.

To restore individual items from the recycle bin, drag & drop them from the recycle bin into the desired target folder or highlight items and select "Restore" in the main menu. The selected items will be placed back into their previous folder location. Original folders will be automatically recreated if missing.

To delete items without using the recycle bin, press the SHIFT-key while clicking the recycle bin button.

  • Phrase file versions created by the backup feature may still contain earlier recycle bin contents! To securely delete such contents, also delete any such backup.
  • Deleting phrases also delete any phrase links. Those will not be covered if restoring the phrase from the recycle bin. To restore phrase link, restore from a backup (if using a local phrase file).
  • Unloading a local phrase file does not remove it from the hard disk and can be loaded again.
Items cannot be deleted in following situations:
  • You do not have edit permissions (or any subfolder of that folder).
  • Another user is editing the element.
  • The phrase file is write-protected.

Undo accidental deletions with the backup restore feature.

See additional notes for deleting phrase files.

LinkPhrase Links allow you to re-use one phrase (folder) in multiple other folders and even other phrase files.

The phrase is only stored once and the links just point to the original phrase.

Links can be identified by a little chain symbol in the phrase/folder icon.

Sample applications

  • A selection of a mobile device phrases can be smoothly integrated in your Windows version phrase library without the need to duplicate phrases. Just keep the originals stored in the mobile device phrase file node and create links of a selected folders within your existing structure of your Windows version phrases.
  • Cross-topic phrases can be called from multiple phrase folders containing specific topics.
  • A selection of phrases of different phrase folders can be combined in another folder as links and can be individually sorted in that folder.
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight one or more phrase (folders).
  3. Right-click the highlighted items and select "Create link".
  4. Move the created link(s) into the desired folder in the tree view.

To create links even faster, just drag & drop phrases while pressing the ALT-key.

Deleting a phrase also deletes any link to it.

Deleting a link does not affect the original phrase.

If you edit a link, you edit the original in fact. The link is an alias and routes any change to the original phrase.

Phrase levels

LevelsPhraseExpress allows you to switch the phrase library between multiple levels, e.g. different languages.

The structure of the phrase tree structure, the autotext abbreviations, hotkeys and phrase related settings stay the same when switching between levels. Only the description and the phrase contents is being switched.

The phrase level feature requires using a SQL server.

Open level manager

The level manager allows you to create and delete levels.

To manage levels:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Select a SQL phrase database in the tree structure.
  3. Click the main menu button "Manage levels".

Create a level

Video tutorial

To create a new level:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click the Plus button in the lower left of the level manager.
  3. Click the new level you just created and give it a name, e.g. "Francais" for French phrases.
  4. Optionally, click next to the level name to define a hotkey used later to switch to that level.

Enable option "Highlight unedited items" in the "Display" section of the program settings to highlight unedited phrases of a new level.

Switch levels

Select the desired level in the ribbon menu section "Phrases" of the main program window or press the hotkey you may have defined for the level in the level manager.

Delete levels

Video tutorial

To delete a level:
  1. Highlight the level in the level manager you wish to delete.
  2. Click the recycle bin icon in the level manager.
  3. Make sure that you really want to delete all phrases in the level and confirm the action.

Deleting level deletes require "master user" rights (see SQL Client Manager documentation).

The bold-printed default level cannot be deleted.

General notes about levels:

  • The level feature requires use of a SQL database. Local phrase files or the PhraseExpress Server do not support the level feature.
  • Phrase file export, phrase search (and replace), moving phrases of contents of a level and other editing functions are limited to the contents of the level that is currently active!

Extra Features

PhraseExpress is not only a Text Expander but also includes useful extra features that seamlessly integrate into the existing program architecture, such as a document generator, MS Outlook Add-In, clipboard cache, autocomplete feature, spelling correction, calculations as you type and a browser search.

Clipboard Cache

Clipboard ManagerThe Clipboard Cache provides instant access to earlier Windows clipboard contents.

Open the clipboard cache popup menu by pressing hotkey CTRL+ALT+V.

The clipboard cache can enabled/disabled under Settings » Features » Clipboard Cache.

Highlight the clipboard cache folder in the phrase tree view for additional configuration options:

  • Specify a hotkey or autotext to open the clipboard cache popup menu.
  • The Clipboard Cache can optionally be flushed when the program is closed.
  • Text formatting and bitmaps can optionally automatically be stripped from the clipboard contents.
  • Exclude the Clipboard Cache from specific programs to prevent the Clipboard Cache from picking up sensitive information.
  • Duplicate entries can be filtered. If enabled, an existing item will be placed on top if copied again.

Create a desktop menu of the Clipboard Cache to gain instant access to your clipboard history on your desktop.

You can also add the Clipboard Cache to an input form (Video tutorial).

System folders are managed by the system and cannot be edited. You can only drag & drop items from such system folder into your phrase library.


Video Tutorial

AutocompleteThe Autocomplete feature creates phrases from any repetitive input you make during your daily routine.

The feature is disabled by default and must be enabled at Settings » Autocomplete.

Autocomplete recognizes repeatedly entered words, sentences and your manual spelling corrections text during your normal work. You need to type an entire sentence including a punctuation mark and either a space or carriage return.

After a short learning period, PhraseExpress will start offering to auto-complete such frequently used text.

Right-click unwanted suggestions to remove them.

You can also train PhraseExpress with existing Word documents or sent Outlook emails to get instant suggestions based on what you have written earlier. It will be as if PhraseExpress has known you forever.

To train the AutoComplete feature with your sent Outlook emails or written documents:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the AutoComplete folder in the tree view.
  3. Click on the "Learn text from…" button and follow the instructions.

Suggestions depend on following parameters:

  • Minimum text length, as specified in the Autocomplete folder settings.
  • Minimum number of entered letters, as defined under Settings » Popup menu.
  • Text filter, as configured under Settings » Autocomplete

Password input is not recorded if the password does not contain a space or punctuation mark. You can exclude PhraseExpress from individual programs if you enter confidential text in those programs. This feature is also available if you right-click a suggestion.

Autocomplete is not available with Asian languages.

If you do not get any suggestions check the trouble-shooting section.

Last used phrase

PhraseExpress can collect the last used phrases in the special phrase folder "Last used".

This feature comes in handy if you have varying but repetitive workflows and need small sub sets of the same few phrases. You can configure the folder as a floating menu for instant access.

This folder does not contain the original phrases but reference links.

The last used folder can be enabled under Settings » Features » Show last used phrases and can be disabled by deleting the folder.

Spelling correction

The spelling correction feature is realized with the regular autotext feature. The PhraseExpress sample phrase file contains spelling correction items that replace misspelled words with the correct form.


A phrase with the contents "word" is triggered by entering the associated autotext "wrod". This means if you enter "wrod", PhraseExpress will replace this auto-correct the misspelled word with the phrase contents.

If you experience unwanted text replacements, you can easily identify and modify/delete unwanted items. Please find more information in chapter "Unwanted text replacements".

PhraseExpress can import existing Microsoft AutoCorrect and autotext entries for use in any program.

We offer spelling databases in several languages as free add-ons.

If using a SQL server, consider storing AutoCorrect in a separate, local phrase file for fast access.

Capitalize first letter of sentences

If "Settings » Features »Capitalize first letter of sentences" is enabled, PhraseExpress automatically capitalizes the first word of a new sentence.

Example: "This is a sentence. this is another sentence." will be corrected to "This is a sentence. This is another sentence.".

Read the very important notes and warnings about this feature!

COrrect two initial capitals

If "Settings » Features » COrrect TWo INitial CApitals" is enabled, PhraseExpress corrects the second capital letter of each word into lower case after entering the third letter in lower case.

Example: "INput" will be corrected into "Input".

Read the very important notes and warnings about this feature!


PhraseExpress can offer to replace any entered calculation such as "10+5=" with the actual result of the equitation once you enter the equal sign.

This useful function is not an additional feature of PhraseExpress but just uses various existing PhraseExpress macro functions for this task. Download and import the special functions phrase file from to use the Calculate-As-You-Type feature.


The BrowserSearch is a powerful tool to perform web queries with any highlighted text:

  1. Highlight any text in any application.
  2. Press CTRL+F8 to open the BrowserSearch menu.
  3. Select the desired web page on which you would like to perform the query.

PhraseExpress will open the selected web page with the search results.

This function is part of the sample phrase file.

The BrowserSearch hotkey can be changed like any other phrase hotkey.

Sharing phrases

Video demonstration

PhraseExpress offers several options to share phrases with other users:

  • Multiple Windows and Mac PhraseExpress clients can share a common phrase file with a cloud synchronization service, such as DropBox, Google Drive, etc.
  • PhraseExpress clients can also simultaneously load the same phrase file, stored in a network shared file (Deprecated feature due to potential network related issues).
  • The free PhraseExpress server creates a client-/server architecture to share a phrase file in a local network with multiple Windows (only) PhraseExpress clients. The server prevents synchronization conflicts and write collisions, that can occur otherwise if a common phrase file is shared by a cloud service.
  • For 10 users or more, we recommend using a Microsoft SQL server, which is supported by Windows and Mac PhraseExpress clients.

Regardless of the selected phrase sharing method, access to phrases can be restricted to individual users. Users can have their individual phrases while sharing common phrases with others.

PhraseExpress cannot share phrases in portable mode as this special mode is designed to not write onto the host computer.

Cloud synchronization

CloudPhraseExpress supports cloud file sync services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Apple iCloudDrive to sync a common phrase file over the internet with other Windows clients, PhraseExpress for Apple Mac, PhraseExpress for iPhone/iPad or PhraseExpress for Android.

  • Use the same cloud service account for all computers! The cloud service account is not the same account used to log into the device!
  • Online cloud synchronization services require some time to distribute the phrase file over the internet. Sync issues can occur if multiple users are editing the file while Dropbox is still distributing the update. You can avoid such issues by restricting write permissions to only few or one single users.
  • Remote changes are detected on program launch and when saving local changes to the phrase file.


To sync with other Windows clients in the cloud:
  1. Install a cloud sync service such as DropBox, Google Drive, etc, on all computers and use the same cloud service account on all computers.
  2. Open the main program window of the PhraseExpress client, that holds the phrase file you wish to share with others.
  3. In the phrase tree, highlight the root node of the phrase file, you wish to share in the cloud, click the menu command File » Save As… and select the cloud sync folder, e.g. "/Dropbox/phrases.pxp" as the destination.
  4. Close the PhraseExpress main program window and wait until the cloud service has distributed the phrase file to all computers. This can take a while.
  5. Open the PhraseExpress main program window on all other computers. PhraseExpress automatically detects the synchronized phrase file in the local cloud sync folder and prompts you to add the phrase file to your phrase library.

    If auto-detection of cloud phrase files is disabled, use File » Open » Cloud phrase file or manually load the phrase file from the cloud sync directory.

PhraseExpress will load the cloud phrase file as a separate phrase file and it is visible as a separate root node in the phrase tree view:

You can now copy or move phrases of your local phrase file into the cloud phrase file node and optionally unload the old phrase file to only use the cloud phrase file.

You may set a password to encrypt your phrase file to secure it against unauthorized access (only supported by PhraseExpress for Windows).

Apple Mac

PhraseExpress for Windows can sync phrases with Apple Mac clients. Synchronization must be initiated by the Mac client as PhraseExpress for Windows can read phrase files of PhraseExpress for Mac (but not vice versa).

Step-by-step instructions for Apple Mac

Apple iPhone/iPad

PhraseExpress for Windows can sync phrases with iPhone/iPad by using the cloud service "Apple iCloud Drive" (required).

Synchronization must be initiated by the Apple device as PhraseExpress for Windows can read iPhone/iPad phrases file (but not vice versa).

Step-by-step instructions for iPhone/iPad


PhraseExpress for Windows can sync phrases with Android devices by using the cloud service "Google Drive" (required).

Synchronization must be initiated by the Android device as PhraseExpress for Windows can read Android phrase files (but not vice versa).

Step-by-step instructions for Android

Phrase file sharing

Multiple PhraseExpress clients can load the same phrase file from a network drive to share phrases in a peer-to-peer team environment.

To share a phrase file with other Windows clients:
  1. Open PhraseExpress main program window on the computer, that holds the phrase file you wish to share with other users.
  2. In the phrase tree, highlight the root node of the phrase file you wish to share.
  3. Click the menu command File » Save As… and select the desired network file path as the storage destination.
  4. On all other PhraseExpress clients, select File » Open local phrase file and select the phrase file you just saved to the network share.

That's it! All users share a common phrase file now.

PhraseExpress for Windows will detect remote changes made by any other user on program startup or if the phrase file is saved on the local client. PhraseExpress automatically merges changes into the common phrase file. If multiple users changed the same phrase at the same, you may be prompted to solve version conflicts.

Video demo

You can also share a phrase file with PhraseExpress for Mac if you start above procedure from the Mac (see PhraseExpress for Mac manual).

Accessing a phrase file from a network shared drive (NAS) is a deprecated feature, because instable network connection may cause issues. Additional issues may arise, if the network connection is not yet established on computer startup. File access through the network also is significantly slower than loading the phrase file from the local hard drive, affecting the performance.

Synchronization issues can occur if multiple users edit the phrase file simultaneously. Use the PhraseExpress server or a SQL server if you expect mutliple users editing the phrase file simultaneously to prevent such write collisions.

PhraseExpress Server

PhraseExpress ServerThe free PhraseExpress server provides central access to a shared phrase file.

  • The client-/server architecture prevents access collisions, that otherwise can happen, if multiple users edit phrases simultaneously. The server provides exclusive edit access to the central phrase file, preventing multiple users creating editing conflicts. After on editor finishes editing, another user can start editing. If you have many users editing the same database at the same time, then use a SQL server instead.
  • Users and licenses are centrally managed with the Client Manager.
  • If the network connection is interrupted, the phrase file is cached on the local client and can still be used, e.g. on a laptop when travelling.

PhraseExpress clients automatically detect a PhraseExpress server in the network by broadcasting UDP poll through customizable port 1036.

To manually connect a local client to the PhraseExpress server, open the local PhraseExpress main program window and select File » Open » Connect to a PhraseExpress server.

Make sure to have the network function enabled in Settings » Network

Find more information in the PhraseExpress server documentation.

SQL Server

SQL ServerPhraseExpress supports FireBird v2 or Microsoft SQL server connections to share phrases with a client-/server architecture in professional/enterprise networks.

  • Recommended for 25+ users
  • PhraseExpress loads the phrase contents on demand in the moment of text insertion to minimize memory consumption on the local clients.
  • The transaction based concept allows multiple users to simultaneously edit different phrases of the same database.
  • Use of a SQL server enables additional PhraseExpress client features, such as phrase version history, multiple phrase levels and usage counters for each phrase, allowing you to sort phrases by usage.
  • Make sure to have the network function enabled in Settings » Network

  • A "master user" can centrally configure client program settings of all users.
  • The database is not cached if the network connection is interrupted. You may drag & drop your SQL phrases to a local phrase file node if you need those phrases while you are on the road.

Clients automatically detect to a SQL server if the PhraseExpress SQL Client Manager is running in the background. The clients broadcast UDP polls which are answered by the SQL Client Manager with the SQL server connection details.

To manually connect the PhraseExpress client to a SQL server, open the main program window and select File » Open » Connect to a SQL server

Find more information in the SQL Client Manager documentation.

Phrase file caching is not available if using PhraseExpress with a SQL server.

Working with phrase files

PhraseExpress can load phrase files and databases from multiple locations simultaneously and combines all phrase files in the tree structure of the main program window.

You can load, save, unload, move, import, export and password-protect phrase files in PhraseExpress.

Most commands under the File menu refer to the currently highlighted phrase file node.

PhraseExpress supports a variety of different storage types for your phrases:

Symbol Explanation

Lokale Datei

Local Phrase File

Phrase files have the extension .pxp and contain the phrase folder structure, phrase contents, autotext and hotkey settings, program restrictions and access permissions.

The default name is phrases.pxp unless you saved your phrases under a new file name.

Phrase files can be stored on a local hard disk or network share.

Multiple users can now access the same phrase file. PhraseExpress will then synchronize and merge changes.

PhraseExpress Server

PhraseExpress server connection

Example: (IP address of the PhraseExpress server)

The phrase file is hosted by the PhraseExpress server.

SQL Server

SQL Server connection

Example: Computername:d:\data\phrases.pexsql

PhraseExpress loads the phrases from Firebird or Microsoft SQL servers.

Cloud synchronized file

Phrase file stored in a cloud storage sync folder

PhraseExpress automatically detects if the phrase file is in a folder synced by e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloudDrive, etc.

Open a phrase file

Video demo

To load one or multiple phrase files:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » Open and select a phrase file source.
  3. Navigate to the desired phrase file (See chapter "File locations" for the default file paths).
  4. Choose whether to add an additional file node or to replace any existing phrase file.

If you enter a phrase file name that does not exist, PhraseExpress will create a new phrase file.

If the phrase file is read-only, editing commands are hidden from user interface.

Import a phrase file

To import PhraseExpress phrase files to your existing phrase library:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired target folder in the phrase tree.
  3. Click the main menu button Import and specify the phrase file. Alternatively, drag the phrase file into the phrase tree structure to the desired location.

The phrase file will be imported and added to the existing phrase file.

To import external data files and phrase files of 3rd party programs, see "Import external data"

Save a phrase file

To save a phrase file to a new destination:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase file node in the root level of the phrase tree.
  3. Click File » Save As and choose the desired new storage location.

The phrase file will be saved to the new location and will be used from this new location.

File names must be unique if using multiple phrase files.

Password protection

To secure your phrase files against unauthorized access:
  1. Open the main program window
  2. Highlight the phrase file node in the phrase tree root
  3. Select File » Set password protection.

PhraseExpress uses AES "end-to-end" encryption. The password can be entered on program launch automatically. This option will not protect the phrases on the local computer but the phrase file cannot be opened on other computers without the password.

Password-protected phrases are also protected if using the PhraseExpress server or if you share phrase files with cloud synchronization services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. The phrase file is encrypted before it is saved to your hard disk or transmitted over the internet.

To remove the password protection:
  1. Open the main program window
  2. Highlight the password-protected phrase file node in the phrase tree root
  3. Select File » Remove password protection.

Export a phrase file

To export any phrase/folder/file, drag it out of the phrase tree onto the Windows desktop.

Alternatively, highlight the file or folder in the phrase tree and click File » Export.

The exported .pxp file can be imported or opened in PhraseExpress as an autonomous (stand-alone) phrase file.

Any password protection is still applied to the exported file!

To export phrases as a text file, use the phrase export function.

Create a new phrase file

Video tutorial

To create a new empty phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Click File » Open » Local phrase file, choose the storage location and enter the desired file name for the new phrase file.
  3. Select, if an additional file node shall be added or if any existing phrase file shall be replaced with the new file.

Replaced phrase files will not be deleted but remain on the hard disk.

Unload a phrase file

To remove a phrase file from PhraseExpress:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase file node in the root level of the phrase tree.
  3. Click the recycle bin button or press Delete.
  4. Decide if all backups created by PhraseExpress for this file shall be deleted as well.

After confirmation, the phrase file will be removed from PhraseExpress.

The phrase file will not be deleted from the hard-disk. Use the Windows File Explorer to delete the file from your hard disk.

Review storage location

To review the physical storage location of a phrase file:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired phrase file node in the root level of the phrase tree.
  3. Click File » Properties for detailed information about the highlighted phrase file.

Move a phrase file

To move a phrase file to a new computer:
  1. Export the phrase file.
  2. Transfer the phrase file to the new computer.
  3. Load the phrase file in the other PhraseExpress installation.

The phrase file contains all phrases with descriptions, Autotext and hotkey associations, program and access restrictions and the tree structure.

Data Backup

PhraseExpress automatically creates backups of your data, depending if you use a phrase file, the PhraseExpress server or a SQL server.

  • PhraseExpress does not create backups of the entire SQL database! Please use the back system provided with your SQL server.
  • Frequently backup your phrase file/databases to external storage media by using the file export feature.
  • PhraseExpress does not create backups for system phrase files (such as the Clipboard Cache).
  • Password protected phrase file backups are protected with the same password.

Local phrase file

If using PhraseExpress without a PhraseExpress/SQL server, it automatically creates a backup of each phrase file change, as configured in the PhraseExpress Settings » Phrase file.

To restore an earlier phrase file version :
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired local phrase file node in the tree view.
  3. Click File » Restore from backup.
  4. Select the desired archive.
  5. Confirm with OK.

PhraseExpress replaces the current phrase file with the selected archived file version.

Alternatively, beginning with v14.5 you can add specific contents of the selected archive to your phrase file by clicking "List of changes". Then select the items you wish to import to your current phrase file.

Backups may not be available in following cases:
  • The selected phrase tree node is a SQL/PhraseExpress server connection.
  • The corresponding phrase file is set to read-only.
  • The phrase file is missing or the file name has changed.
  • The backup folder path as specified in the settings is not accessible or invalid.
  • The backup folder does not contain any backup yet.
  • The backup feature is disabled in the program settings.

To delete one or multiple selected backup file click the recycle bin

If PhraseExpress hangs, check if this caused by any "ransomware" protection feature (e.g. Acronis Active Protection").

PhraseExpress Server

If using the PhraseExpress server, the server creates a backup of each phrase file change centrally as configured in the PhraseExpress Client Manager.

SQL Server

If using a SQL server, PhraseExpress itself does not backup SQL databases.

However, the PhraseExpress Enterprise Edition client keeps the history of each phrase change, including a time/datestamp and name of the editor.

To restore earlier phrase contents:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Right-click the desired phrase in the tree view and select command "Restore earlier version" from the context menu.
  3. Select from the desired archived versions and review the real-time preview in the main program window.
  4. Confirm the restore action with OK.

Import external data

PhraseExpress can import external text files, bitmaps, CSV and Excel spreadsheet files, entire file directories, Microsoft Word AutoCorrect and Autotext entries, emails sent with Microsoft Outlook and Text Expander text snippets.

To dynamically link external data (vs importing file contents into the phrase library), check out macro functions to link external data into phrases.

Text/bitmap/Excel/CSV files

To import external files into PhraseExpress:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired target folder in the phrase tree view.
  3. Click Import
  4. Selected the file to import.

Alternatively, just drag the file(s) into the desired phrase folder of the phrase tree view.

Or right-click the desired target phrase file (folder) and select Import

Depending on the import data type, PhraseExpress shows a selection of following options:

Import Option Description

A copy of the file contents will be stored within the phrase file.

  • The original file is not required anymore.
  • Pasting is very quick as the file content is embedded with the phrase file and loaded during initial PhraseExpress startup.
  • The phrase file size is increased which may slow down the PhraseExpress startup time. to keep the phrase file small, you should avoid embedding too many external files.

PhraseExpress creates a new phrase and links the external file with the {#INSERTFILE …} macro function. If you call the phrase, the macro will dynamically load the external file and inserts its contents into the target application.

  • The macro function does not require much space in the phrase file.
  • As the external file is loaded at the time of the insertion, you always get the latest contents.
  • As the external file is loaded at the time of the insertion, the phrase is inserted with a small delay.
  • You must not move or delete the linked file to keep the link. Links to external files are ignored by PhraseExpress if missing.
  • If you are using the phrase file on another PC, you must make sure that the external file is also accessible via the same link. If using a PhraseExpress server, this is not critical as the phrase file is centrally stored.

PhraseExpress creates a new phrase and opens the external file/program with the {#OPEN …} macro function.

Example: If you import a Microsoft Excel .XLS file this way, PhraseExpress will launch Excel and load the Excel spreadsheet.

PhraseExpress can split text or CSV/Excel files and generate a separate for each line. Each line may contain a phrase content and, optionally, an Autotext for that phrase.

Video tutorial

Example: A text file contains a list of words and their abbreviations, each separated by three by three underscore characters as a "separator".

After defining the order of the phrase <-> Autotext, PhraseExpress will create a phrase folder named with the imported text file name and generate a separate phrase per line.

Text file formatting requirements

You may need to tweak the raw data of your text file to allow PhraseExpress scanning the file line-per-line properly:

  • The file must be text without formatting.
  • Each line must consist of a phrase plus optionally an Autotext that is separated by one or more separating characters.
  • The order phrase <-> autotext does not matter but must be consistent for all lines.
  • All separators must be identical.
  • The separator must not be contained in any phrase text or autotext in that file.

PhraseExpress tries to auto-detect the separator. You can manually correct the separator.

MS AutoCorrect/Autotext

PhraseExpress can import MS Office AutoCorrect and Autotext for use in any Windows program:

  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired target folder in the phrase tree view.
  3. Click the triangle of the main menu button "Import" and select "Microsoft Office AutoCorrect"

If prompted, consider confirming to deactivate the MS AutoCorrect feature to avoid autotext/autocorrect double-triggering in PhraseExpress and Microsoft Office. Alternatively, exclude the imported autotext/AutoCorrect from Microsoft Office.

PhraseExpress sets imported autotext/AutoCorrect entries as private by default to avoid sharing personal spelling corrections by default.

Microsoft Autotext import is limited to 255 characters per entry which seems to be a limitation by Microsoft.

MS Outlook emails

PhraseExpress can extract full sentences from emails sent with Microsoft Outlook and import them as separate phrases into any target phrase folder.

To import sentences sent with Outlook:
  1. Open the main program window.
  2. Highlight the desired target folder in the phrase tree view.
  3. Click the triangle of the main menu button "Import" and select "Microsoft Outlook emails".
  4. Select the desired Outlook mail account.
  5. Grant PhraseExpress access if prompted by Microsoft Outlook.
  6. Configure the filter to reduce the import to a sub-set of all extracted sentences, e.g., if you only want to import sentences of a minimum length.

PhraseExpress imports the extracted and filtered sentences into a new folder within the selected target folder.

You can then revise the imported data, assign autotexts or hotkeys to most frequently used phrases.

Alternatively, you may consider applying the Autotext option SmartComplete to the imported phrase folder (including all phrases) to get autocomplete suggestions whenever you start typing the beginning of a frequently used sentence.

Mac TextExpander

PhraseExpress can import text snippets of the 3rd party software "TextExpander" for use with PhraseExpress for Windows, Mac, Android and iPhone/iPad.

To import from TextExpander:
  1. Open TextExpander and right-click the snippet group, that you wish to transfer to PhraseExpress.
  2. Choose "Save a Copy Of Group…" from the context menu and select the file destination, e.g. the Desktop.
  3. Exit TextExpander and copy the exported TextExpander snippets file to the Windows PC.
  4. Open the PhraseExpress main program window.
  5. Click the main menu button "Import" and select the text snippet file you just have exported from TextExpander.

PhraseExpress supports unformatted TextExpander text snippets and a selection of TextExpander macro functions. Those are converted to the PhraseExpress syntax. Apple-/Javascript is not support at this time. However, PhraseExpress includes its own powerful cross-platform macro language.


License registration

To use PhraseExpress for professional activities or with advanced features, you must purchase a license and register PhraseExpress in an one-time procedure.

If using a PhraseExpress/SQL server, do not register the license on individual clients but centrally in the PhraseExpress Client Manager of the PhraseExpress Server or in the PhraseExpress SQL Client Manager if using a SQL server.

To register a stand-alone installation or an USB stick:
  1. Highlight the entire license key (begins with "PEX…".) and press the keyboard shortcut CTRL+C to copy it into the clipboard.
  2. Open the PhraseExpress main program window and select Help » Register for professional use in the main menu.
  3. Click into the license key input field and press the keyboard shortcut CTRL+V to paste the license key from the clipboard.
  4. Press the Register button to register the license key.

After successful registration, the program window title changes to either "Standard", "Pro" or "Enterprise Edition" depending on your purchased license.

The registration ties your license key to your Windows user name. You can register the license on up to three Windows PCs on which you use the same Windows user name (more info).

  • If multiple persons share the same Windows user name, each person needs a separate license.
  • Licenses of the Mac version cannot be used for the Windows version.
  • The license registration requires a short-time internet connection (Privacy policy).

    USB stick registration notes

  • No PhraseExpress must be installed on the host PC if you want to register PhraseExpress running from a USB stick! Otherwise, the license key will be associated with the PhraseExpress installation on the host PC instead of the USB stick installation. If you have PhraseExpress installed on the host PC, please fully uninstall PhraseExpress from that computer if you wish to register PhraseExpress to the USB stick. Make sure to delete all settings as well when being prompted during the uninstallation sequence!
  • After registering the USB stick, exit PhraseExpress to make sure, that PhraseExpress writes the registration information on the USB stick.
  • In portable mode, the license key is not tied to your user name but to the USB hardware and you must not move the PhraseExpress program folder to any other USB stick without de-registering the license first.

License de-registration

If you wish to use a license key for another user name, you must unbind the license key from the current user name association first:

  1. Make sure to be logged in with the user name you have been logged in when you registered PhraseExpress earlier.
  2. Open the PhraseExpress program window.
  3. Select Help » About PhraseExpress » Remove license.

After successful deregitration, you can register the license key to another user name.

This operation requires an internet connection to remove the license key association (Privacy policy).

You must not continue to use a deregistered PhraseExpress installation for professional activities anymore.

About the user name

You can use the same license key on up to three computers on which you use the same Windows user name.

The "About PhraseExpress" shows the current user name. The user name is not your Microsoft account name.

If you experience difficulties to register multiple computers with the same license key:

  • Make sure, that all PhraseExpress client installations are updated to version 13. Earlier versions are not licensed per Windows user name.
  • Make sure, that you use the identical Windows user name on all computers. This is an essential requirement. If you have the user name "Freddie" on one computer and the user name "Fred" on another computer, the user name really is different and you cannot use the same license key to register PhraseExpress. The user name must be identical because PhraseExpress cannot recognize otherwise, whether you are the same use.
  • If you use different user names on different computers, you would either need to change the user name or use separate license keys for each different user name.

Changing the user name

To change the user name, used by the PhraseExpress registration for the user identification:

  1. Carefully read the warning below.
  2. Press the keyboard shortcut WIN+R.
  3. Enter "lusrmgr.msc" and confirm with OK.
  4. Open folder "Users".
  5. Right-click your account in the list and select command "Rename".
  6. Rename the account as desired and restart the computer.

Renaming the user account may cause unforeseeable side effects. This instruction is a complimentary service and we do not warrant for any damage or malfunction which this procedure may cause. Consult the maker of your operating system, Microsoft, if you need any further assistance how to configure and use Windows.

Maintenance renewal

To renew maintenance for an existing, registered installation:

  1. De-register the current license key.
  2. Register the new license key.

License status

To review the current license status and maintenance time left, select Help » About in the main program window.

Usage statistics

PhraseExpress measures your individual typing speed to calculate the time you save by inserting phrases instead of entering them manually.

Example: Given an average typing speed of 60 characters a minute, you would need approx. 2 minutes to enter a text containing 120 letters. When using PhraseExpress you would only require approximately 5 seconds to select the phrase or to trigger the Autotext. Thus, your time savings is 115 seconds for each phrase. Given an hourly rate of $20, PhraseExpress saved you 64 cent ($20 per hour * (120 seconds - 5 seconds) / (60 seconds * 60 minutes) = $.64).

The program can calculate the approximate money saving if you optionally enter your hour rate. Of course, no such information is transmitted to us.

To access statistics, open the main program window and select Help » Statistics.

PhraseExpress uses the currency as defined in the Windows regional settings. The statistics works only for unformatted phrases. Macro functions may reduce accuracy. The statistic feature is for entertainment only and not suitable for accurate productivity measurement.

Gathering user performance statistics may violate employee privacy laws in your country. The feature can be disabled at Settings » Features.

If using the PhraseExpress or SQL Server, you can disable the statistics function on all workstation installations by removing the statistic columns 'time saved' and 'money saved' in the Client Manager "Monitor" tab.

Launch with Windows

To launch PhraseExpress together with Windows , enable Settings » Features » Autostart.

Temporarily disable PhraseExpress

Click the PhraseExpress tray icon while holding the CTRL-key to temporarily disable PhraseExpress. This is indicated by a gray exclamation mark in the PhraseExpress icon. Simply click the tray icon again with the CTRL-key to re-activate PhraseExpress.

Update check

To check manually for updates, select Settings » Network » Online updates.

Disable or configure the update check to only notify you about critical, minor or experimental updates.

Online update check is disabled if PhraseExpress is connected to a PhraseExpress or SQL server to prevent software version mix-up in a network environment. Use the Client Manager to check for updates in this case.

UI restriction

PhraseExpress can be secured against operating errors by disabling menu options in the user interface:

Restriction Configuration

Prevent access to program settings

Prevent editing phrases

  • The restricted user interface increases ease-of-use and minimizes training and technical support by IT staff.



If you feel lost with the settings and just wish to reset PhraseExpress to a default state, you do not need to uninstall PhraseExpress. You can reset the configuration to system defaults (see here).

To permanently remove PhraseExpress:
  1. Deregister any license key, allowing you to reuse the license key for another installation.
  2. Right-click the PhraseExpress tray icon and select Exit.
  3. Press the Windows-key (which is left to the space bar) on your keyboard.
  4. Type "Program and Features" in the search box and select the corresponding entry from the list of found items.
  5. In "Program and Features", right-click PhraseExpress in the list of programs and select Uninstall.

If the Uninstaller tells that PhraseExpress is still running while there is no PhraseExpress tray icon visible, press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to open the task manager, click Details, switch to the tab Processes, select the process 'phraseexpress.exe' and end the process.

The uninstallation routine does not delete phrase files to prevent accidental data loss. If you do not need the phrase file anymore, delete them in the Windows file explorer.


Phrase file states

Icons in the first tree level of the main program window indicate the phrase source and current status:

Symbol Explanation


Default state - Everything is fine.


The phrase file is currently unavailable (offline) and a temporary local copy is used.


Access restriction have been applied.


Autotext and hotkeys are disabled for this element. Right-click and check "Enable autotext/hotkeys" in the context menu to change state.

Bearbeitung gesperrt

Another user is editing this element. Press F5 to update the status.

Keine Schreibrechte

The phrase file is write-protected or you do not have edit permissions.


The phrase file is password-protected.

Program states

PhraseExpress has different states which are indicated by its tray icon:

Icon Explanation


PhraseExpress is ready to use. A green colored exclamation mark indicates, that the client is loading a phrase file from a PhraseExpress server.


PhraseExpress is currently executing a phrase or a macro automation.


PhraseExpress is deactivated for the current application:

  • The current application has been launched with different user credentials than PhraseExpress (see Wikipedia). For security reasons, PhraseExpress cannot paste into programs launched with admin rights while itself is running with normal user rights (or vice-versa). Make sure to have PhraseExpress and the target app running with the same credentials (more info).
  • PhraseExpress has been excluded to work in the current target app.


PhraseExpress is currently busy with loading/processing a phrase file.


Hotkeys, Autotext and the Autocomplete feature are temporarily disabled (see chapter "Temporarily disable PhraseExpress").

Program hotkeys

PhraseExpress temporarily uses following hotkeys in the main program window:

Hotkey Purpose
CTRL+N Creates a new phrase at the current cursor's location in the tree view
CTRL+O Creates a new folder at the current cursor's location in the tree view
CTRL+F Opens the QuickSearch popup
CTRL+H Opens the Find&Replace dialog
CTRL+S Saves the current status of all phrase files and keeps the main program window open.
CTRL+A Selects all items in the current folder level in the tree view.
CTRL+2/3 Toggles between two vs three columns view.
CTRL+C, -X, -V Clipboard operations: Copy, Cut, Paste
Delete-key Deletes the currently selected item
ESC Minimizes the main program window.
F1-key Opens this documentation
F5-key Reloads the currently selected phrase file. This is also useful to check the current file status (online/offline, write protections, etc.).
ALT+F4 Minimizes/exits PhraseExpress
Arrow Left/Right Expands/Collapses the currently selected phrase folder level. If press multiple times, the selection advances to the parent folder.
CTRL+SHIFT+Arrow Left/Right Collapses/Expands all phrase folders.
Arrow Up/Down Moves the selection cursor to the previous/next item in the tree.
CTRL+SHIFT+Arrow Up/Down Jump to the first/last item in the phrase tree
SHIFT+Arrow Up/Down Extends the current selection to the previous/next element.
Page Up/Down Jumps to the first/last currently visible item of the current phrase folder level.
SHIFT+Page Up/Down Extends the current selection to all currently visible previous/next elements of the current phrase folder level.
CTRL+Page Up/Down Shifts the current tree view within the viewport to the top/bottom currently visible item.
Home/End Jumps to the first/last item of the current phrase folder level.
CTRL+Home/End Jumps to the very first/last item of your entire phrase library.

PhraseExpress hotkeys are temporarily disabled when the cursor is placed in the hotkey input field to allow you to enter/use above hotkeys for your phrases/folders.

File locations

In portable mode, all PhraseExpress related files are stored in the program directory on the portable storage device. No file is written onto the host PC.

In a regular computer installation, PhraseExpress stores files in following locations:

File Purpose Location


The phrase file keeps all your text snippets including the phrase folder structure, folder access permission information, Autotext and hotkey definitions.

If you want to move your phrases to another computer, copy this file to the new computer.

Backup this file frequently to an external storage media to prevent data loss of your personal phrases!

User documents folder: C:\Users\[Your user name]\Documents\PhraseExpress\

In earlier PhraseExpress versions (v12 or earlier), the phrase file was stored in the common user folder instead: C:\Users\Public\Documents\PhraseExpress\

The file path may be different if you have loaded another phrase file.

If running PhraseExpress from a USB drive, the phrase file must be located in any directory on that USB drive.

clipboard.pxp, lastused.pxp, autolearn.pxp

Stores the dynamically generated contents of the special phrase folders used for the clipboard cache, last used phrases and Autocomplete feature.

User data folder: C:\Users\UserName\Documents\PhraseExpress\


Contains desktop menu sizes and coordinate information.

If using a SQL server, desktop menu information is saved in the SQL database for each user instead.

customdic_en_US Custom spelling corrections added to the internal spelling checker.


This file contains the Autocomplete dictionary and must not be edited.

It does not contain human-readable information but only word lists and information about links between words.

If using the Autocomplete feature, backup this file frequently to an external storage media to prevent loss of your text predictions!


Contains program settings. It has an XML structure and can be edited by experienced IT administrators.

User Application data folder: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\PhraseExpress\

  • The installation file copies a default configuration file into the Common User Application data folder: C:\ProgramData\PhraseExpress\
    If PhraseExpress is launched for the first time from a new user account, it will copy this common configuration file into the User Application data folder.


If you are using the PhraseExpress server and if the network connection is interrupted, PhraseExpress uses this dynamically generated temporary copy of the latest version of the network phrase file as a cache while you are not connected to the Server.

Command line parameters

Video tutorial

Several command-line parameters are available for the program executable and for the installation file.

Program file

Advanced users can launch the PhraseExpress program file with command-line parameter to activate additional functions:

Command line parameter Explanation


Creates a debug file into a folder on the Windows desktop. This file is useful for our tech support for trouble-shooting purposes.

Do not use this command-line parameter as a default as PhraseExpress will slow down over time as the debug file can become very large and PhraseExpress may behave erratic while trying to handle the large file.

-CONFIGFILE=file path

Launches PhraseExpress with a custom configuration file.

Example: PhraseExpress.exe -configfile=c:/data/myconfig.xml

When closing PhraseExpress, the program will save the configuration to the default position (User Application data folder, e.g. \Users\John Doe\AppData\Roaming\ PhraseExpress\config.xml).


The phrase file will be treated as if the read-only file attribute would be set. Consequently, you cannot create or alter phrases.


Menu commands to change settings are hidden from the user interface.


The menu item "Exit PhraseExpress" is hidden from the tray icon popup.


Forces PhraseExpress to launch in the USB mode even if the program is not launched from a USB memory stick. Please find more information in the chapter "PhraseExpress on USB flash drives".


Exports the phrase folder, specified by its AUTOTEXT into the phrase file, specified by FILEPATH. Optional parameter TIMESTAMP appends a time stamp to the file name. Parameters are separate by pipe chars (vertical dash).

Example: PhraseExpress.exe -exportfile= "##MyFolderAutotext|d:\MyDirectory\MyFileName.pxp| timestamp"

This command-line parameter is useful to automate backups of specific phrase folders.


Allows to automate the license key registration on stand-alone installations. Do not use if using a PhraseExpress/SQL server!

Make sure to use individual license keys for each installation. We can replace multiple license keys (25+) with a single license key (valid for the equivalent number of installations) on request.

Do not use this command-line parameter if using a PhraseExpress or SQL server. In this case, license keys are centrally registered with the (SQL) Client Manager.

The license registration requires access to our authorization server (privacy policy).

Installation file

Following command-line parameter can be used with the standard PhraseExpress installation file (not the MSI installer and not the program file):


Instructs Setup to be silent or very silent. When Setup is silent the wizard and the background window are not displayed but the installation progress window is. When a setup is very silent this installation progress window is not displayed. Everything else is normal so for example error messages during installation are displayed.

Do NOT use following command-line parameter if using a PhraseExpress or SQL server as license keys are centrally configured in the PhraseExpress Client Manager:


Passes the license key to the Stand-Alone installation and automatically registers the license online. Use individual licenses key for each installation. We replace multiple license keys (25+) with a single license key (valid for the equivalent number of installations) on request.

The license registration requires access to our authorization server (privacy policy).

Video tutorial

Macro functions

See Macro functions section.

Program settings

See Settings section.


See troubleshooting section.

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