May 09 2010

AutoHotKey: Export PhraseExpress to CSV

yjqjxcni_thumb AutoHotKey: Export PhraseExpress to CSVPrograms can be so useful, but they also can be ‘traps’; traps to keep you tied in to them so you can’t leave, or change, or manage your data the way you want to.

I recently ran in to an issue with a program I use called PhraseExpress. It’s a text expander/hotkey/macro program that’s extremely useful and can save lots of time.

I love the concept of the program, but I was wanting to attempt another program and I needed to get my data out. While I’ve my golden rule about being able to export my data, I never checked with PhraseExpress; it didn’t offer this function natively- so I created an export function.

AutoHotKey is another program that can do many of the things PhraseExpress can do, but it’s not as refined as PhraseExpress, but AutoHotKey is more open to change flexibility and users requirements.

So, I was tinkering around with some things and I wanted the phrases from PhraseExpress in this other toy I was playing with. PhraseExpress doesn’t export to TXT or CSV; only their proprietary PXP [binary file] they offer.

Here’s a video Of what I did…



The PhraseExpress program has to be at its smallest window size, as the mouse is looking specific locations. I may revise the program to be more intelligent later; the video explains and shows some of this. The script goes and grabs the description, the content and the autotext; copies those and stores them and then exports them to the CSV file.

CSV file is TAB separated and Quotes around the exported text.

There should be nothing incorrect with the script since the data being exported is your data; you should be able to do with the data any way you please.

The PhraseExpress team may add this function later, but for now this is a down and dirty version.

This information is offered as an option to help to help others and to possibly offer an alternate method for backup for PhraseExpress data.

And this is just another way, and another reason why, I love AutoHotKey so much!


I hope this helps.

Until next time,


Support the site — Share this!

  • Mike Köhler

    Why all the scripting efforts? PhraseExpress has a automatic backup function. It also exports into plain text and HTML. At least in my corporate network version.

    I can see in the video that you are using an out-of-date version. Perhaps you are using an too old release.

    • Michael,
      Thanks for the inquiry.

      …I was tinkering around with some things and I wanted the phrases from PhraseExpress in this other toy I was playing with. PhraseExpress doesn’t export to TXT or CSV; only their proprietary PXP [binary file] they offer.

      I don't have a corporate version and I've version 7, but I'm not going to upgrade to another version just to be able to get my own data. That's why I don't like applications that attempt to lock you in to their program. It's a disservice to customers and users alike; It's a level of disrespect towards the customer audience.

      If a coder/company wants to write a program for users to use, and put their data in it, it should be just as easy to get it out [export]. Charging those same users, in any fashion, to get their own data out is extortion; any way you slice it- it's wrong. And users should beware of these applications for their own good.

      PhraseExpress does have a backup function, of sorts, but I make no complaints about it in my post. It's not where it needs to be, but it's there, and really wasn't added until I complained they didn't have one. Backups are very important and should be front stage, and not elusive on any level; it's a ubiquitous practice.

      The focus of this post is to EXPORT 'my data', which is a function that isn't available to all users of PhraseExpress- unless you pay a premium for the network version- and thanks for pointing that out, but I've already commented about data extortion.

      I still think PhraseExpress is a good product, I've never said otherwise; I still use it in a limited basis. But AutoHotKey is an outstanding free open source program with great flexibility. The user forums are teaming with people that are willing to help and provide example code/usage.

      For instance, with 7 lines of AHK code, I replaced 90 percent of the functions of PhraseExpress. I thought that was just amazing. I've already added functions to my script that PhraseExpress doesn't have. So now, I take joy in having control of what my autotext/text expander does and how it does it- and it's free.

      Have a nice day…
      and Vielen Dank!

      Until next time,

  • Wang

    Nice, but I do not want to export from Phrase Express because it is cool and I want to use it instead of ActiveWords. So I ask, do you know a way how to import from my ActiveWords. Actually, I would such cool macro in Activewords so I can import into Phrase Express. Can you help?

    • Well, the concept is the same. Use a macro like AutoHotKey; grab the data out and then paste it in to PhraseExpres. I've provide the AHK source code- you're welcome to adjust it as the need fits. On the basic levels, you need the description, content and autotext; from there everything should work – within reason.

      I hope this helps…


  • Pavel Litvinov

    Hi Larry,

    I would love to be able to get this to work. When I run the script the mouse jumps erratically and the snippets saved to the CSV are random. I think Phrase Express moved some of their buttons around in an update. Can you assist please. I would absolutely love to get this to work.


    • I haven’t ran it in a really long time. What version of PhraseExpress are you running? I’ll take a look at it.


  • Pavel Litvinov

    Thanks for the fast reply. I’m running v9.1.41f.

  • Pavel Litvinov

    Just tried it. I start it, press Ctrl-S and it goes erratik. Chrome in the background has tabs start opening.

    • I will look at it tomorrow. The script looks for the PhraseExpress window. If you have another PhraseExpress window open [any window with the word PhraseExpress] close it before running the script. I have to do this because the version of PhraseExpress is in the title of the window.

      try that and get back with me.


    • I updated it again; it’s working for me.

      let me know…


      • Pavel Litvinov

        Hi Larry,

        Thanks for being so speedy. I tried using the file from the same google docs hyperlink (didn’t see a new link). Didn’t have luck again. Did a quick screencast to show I’m doing it right (hopefully).I have a hundred entries. Really hoping this works. Kind of surprised nobody else has been pushing for this.

        • As I mentioned before, the script looks for any Windows that have the word PhraseExpress in it. Here’s another link where the script is going to look specifically for PhraseExpress Freeware v9.1.4f . Run the script again; CTRL S starts it and you can press X to stop it. Let me know…


        • Did it work?

  • If you opt to use a synthetic oil, the interval at which you need to
    get your oil changed jumps from every 3,000 miles
    to every 5,000 – 7,500 miles. Changing your own motor oil is easy
    and can save you money, but it can also be dangerous if you
    do not have the proper equipment or knowledge to do it correctly.
    The oil helps lubricate the moving parts, helps disperse the heat, improves sealing, and helps keep
    the inside of your engine clean.