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Type less, write more with PhraseExpress

Ian Harac | July 11, 2012
PhraseExpress is a utility ($50 for commercial use, free for personal use) that helps automate the typing of commonly-used text or phrases

Another feature of Phrase Express I found useful is the clipboard cache, which retains multiple recent clipboard items. The default number is 20, but this can be changed by the user.

There are a few minor issues with PhraseExpress. First, to get the most out of it, you need to configure it for your most commonly used text strings, quotes, and so on. This clearly isn't a bug; it's a necessity for this kind of software, but we live in a plug-and-play era where personalization of software is sometimes seen as a hurdle. Another aspect that is both a feature and occasionally an annoyance is that it works everywhere, by default, including places you might not want it to work. It's easy to fix this by excluding applications within the settings, but, again, it's something users need to think about.

The PhraseExpress license allows for free use for non-commercial purposes, and it defines "commercial" fairly broadly--basically, if you make money using any application PhraseExpress hooks into, that's commercial use, even if you're not doing so as your primary purpose. If I use PhraseExpress to help with PCWorld reviews, for example, including sending out boilerplate queries or correcting typos, this counts as commercial use, and I must pay the $50. An algorithm within PhraseExpress monitors usage and attempts to detect "commercial" behavior, such as the use of professional salutations.

There's also a $140 Professional version of PhraseExpress, which has some interesting extras. You can create a floating menu of phrases and then drag and drop them to your document. You can include fillable forms as part of phrases, with the form data then being entered into the text. And phrases in the Professional version can include Word formatting, not just the text.

PhraseExpress is a great tool that can save a lot of typing time, if the user makes a relatively small initial investment in time to set it up properly, and keeps this up by adding in phrases as the user discovers they are often typing the same text. The macro facility allows for some fairly sophisticated uses, as well. It's completely free for non-commercial purposes, and well worth checking out.


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