Many of you probably sit in front of a computer for much of the day, and type the same things over and over again. That’s why the free PhraseExpress for Windows has quickly become one of our favorite apps. With it you can designate abbreviations for text that you repeatedly type, and when the program recognizes that the abbreviation has been entered it will replace it with the text you’ve specified. Just think about how much time it can save just by filling out online forms that contain your name and address!
PhraseExpress is one of the most powerful automatic text replacements that I’ve come across, but it’s far from the only solution out there. Today we’re going to take a look at our favorite freeware apps that can cut back some of the typing you have to do, including PhraseExpress for those of you who haven’t heard about it before.
This is a lightweight text replacement utility that’s maintained by Lifehacker. What makes this so great is that it’s really a no-frills application that has features for both beginners and power users alike. You can create simple text replacement scripts just as you can with any of the apps we’re showing off today, but the advanced features are what I really love.
You can insert the date, time, clipboard contents, and more into the text snippets that you create. Plus you can simulate keystrokes, such as the Tab or Enter keys, which can be helpful when filling out forms. As Lifehacker points out the scripts that you can create using this technique can be taken to a new level with just a little creativity, but in the end they can save a bunch of time.
This program is incredibly powerful, and offers a variety of features that you won’t find in any similar applications. One such feature is the automatic text prediction, and is something that was just introduced a few months ago. With it PhraseExpress will watch for snippets of text that you are repeatedly typing, and then start suggesting the phrase in a drop-down menu as you type. You never have to predefine these phrases because the application is automatically keeping an eye out for the things you repeatedly type, which is what really makes this feature so useful.
When done right an automatic text replacement application also doubles as a spell checker, and PhraseExpress definitely excels in that area. It can serve as a system-wide spell checker that will automatically correct words that are often misspelled, just like Microsoft Office’s AutoCorrect feature. It will even import AutoCorrect entries from Microsoft Office if you want it to.
And we’ve just barely started to touch on some of PhraseExpress’ best features. There’s a host of other things it’s capable of doing including assigning keywords to launch applications, inserting images, and giving you access to more than just the last item on your clipboard. And like the Texter application mentioned above this is capable of simulating keystrokes, such as the Tab key, in any of the snippets you create. You’ll have to play around with the app for a little while just to get the hang of it all.
PhraseExpress comes equipped with dozens of different abbreviations and phrases so that you can start saving time right away. Here’s a quick look at what the management screen looks like:
RapidoWrite is about as simple as it gets when it comes to an automatic text replacement program, but it’s free unlike many of the other Mac utilities that are capable of doing this. The thing that I like is that the interface is extremely straightforward, and you can use the rich text editor to create snippets that aren’t just plain text.
The shining point of this app is that it gives a preview of the matching snippets as you’re typing. For example, if I have one abbreviation called “addr1″ and another called “addr2,” by the time I get a few letters of the abbreviation typed out it will begin showing both of the results in a menu underneath the cursor. You can see this in a video demonstration here, and I’m sure you’ll understand how that could help you remember those more complicated abbreviations that you come up with.
So those are my favorite freeware text replacement utilities, and there are a few more out there that aren’t free… especially on the Mac side. Let us know in the comments what you use (if anything) to do your automatic text replacements.