We have raved about the free PhraseExpress software before, and we are going to do it again! They recently released version 4 of their application, and the enhancements it has will make you so much more productive that you’ll be wondering how you got by without using it!
The concept behind PhraseExpress is extremely simple: you type some text in an application and PhraseExpress will automatically replace that text with something else. When would that be useful? Well, I’m sure you use abbreviations all of the time without even thinking about it. Take for example a chat conversation where you type messages like BRB (be right back) or TTYL (talk to you later). You probably use those abbreviations because they are faster to type, but you can setup PhraseExpress to automatically kick the habit of sending abbreviated phrases!
The newest version of PhraseExpress has all sorts of enhancements that take the program beyond just being a simple text replacement utility:
- Formatted text and bitmaps: This is great news for people who have signatures that they automatically want inserted when composing an email or document. I’ll explain more about this below.
- Automatic spelling corrections: This is just like Microsoft Word because PhraseExpress will automatically correct misspellings of thousands of the most common words. Having this feature when composing emails or typing comments in a browser is extremely handy!
- Assign multiple phrases to an Autotext: With this feature you can essentially have multiple phrases assigned to a single “keyword.” Whenever you type that keyword you will be presented with a drop-down menu for you to select which phrase you would like inserted:
- Assign multiple Autotexts to a phrase: This is the opposite of the previous bullet because this lets you setup multiple Autotexts (or keywords as I like to call them) for a single phrase. This is useful if you have a hard time remembering what Autotext you assigned to a phrase. An example of this is seen below with the default “.com” auto replacement that is setup. If you mistype “.com” with any of the variations listed it will automatically correct it for you.
There is a whole lot more that is new in PhraseExpress 4, but what I have listed above are the most beneficial for me. There are a few kinks that I have noticed with the formatted text and bitmaps addition though:
- To copy a Bitmap image or formatted text into a signature you actually need to highlight it in either a browser or in a document. Then click on the PhraseExpress icon in the System Tray and select the “Create new phrase” option. This will prompt you with a dialog box to save the highlighted text, but you need to make sure the “Save text formatting” box is checked. Click here for more detailed instructions.
- Saving formatting in Firefox doesn’t seem to work, so you’ll either need to use Internet Explorer or an application that supports text formatting/bitmaps if you want to save anything besides for a plain text phrase.
- When originally seeing the image support feature I must have bypassed the word “Bitmap” in the description. I spent about 15 minutes trying to get a JPEG image to be saved in an email signature, but it just wouldn’t work. I’m guessing that the image must be saved in the Bitmap format for this feature to work properly.
There’s a lot more that you can do in PhraseExpress, which are all explained more in the manual. Here are a few of the tips that might be the most helpful for you:
- Add the current date to a phrase
- Call a phrase within another phrase
- Add manual text input to a phrase
- Create an email from a phrase
- Launch an application from a phrase
- Open a file from a phrase
- Open a webpage from a phrase
- Add a special key into a phrase