Feb 17 2011

Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome

tgltplhd thumb Text Replacement/Expanders are AwesomeAnyone who knows me, knows that I’m a tech freak and that AutoHotKey is my passion for getting stuff done.

There’s nothing that AutoHotKey hasn’t been able to do at this point. I have found more ways to get stuff done, better and faster than anyone could imagine.

I like to sit back and smile at the fact others are doing things on a manual level while things that can be automated are completely scripted out. You can refer to them as scripts or macros; or what ever you want to call them, but they’re smart and they’re very productive.

And using these type of tools isn’t so much about being lazy, but recognizing that what you’re doing, the repetitive parts; the parts that make you want to pull your hair out on how monotonous it can be, can be scripted to run almost automatically.

Here’s a list of text expansion, or text replacement applications that I’ve used over the past couple of years that I think are very productive and deserve a careful review to decide which one works better for the environment you’re in.


AutoHotKey [FREE]

I have people that hate me for the things that I do with AutoHotKey. Mainly because they’re still doing stuff manually and I have scripted the same thing to happen, and I can do it in 15 seconds and it takes them 2-3 minutes. And I don’t see this as an unfair advantage, I see it as using my abilities to get my job done better, faster and more consistent.

From everything to words, phrases, dates, tasks and multi-action scripts; I use AutoHotKey to do lots of functions.

An AutoHotKey file looks like this on the inside… it’s very simple; and it’s just a text file. You can do all kind of things with it.

::shesaid::she said
::shortwhile::short while
::should of::should have

AutoHotKey is a scripting language pretty much to itself.  But AutoHotKey is not limited to strictly your PC, the information can be placed onto a jump drive and taken with you.

and I can also make AutoHotKey open outlook appointments, tasks and emails for me with just a keystroke.

;;--- Outlook Commands ---
    run, outlook.exe /c ipm.note
    run, outlook.exe /c task
    run, outlook.exe /c ipm.appointment

It’s really cool…

If not already, you should check it out.



Texter [FREE]

Texter is a derivative of AutoHotKey. the folks at Lifehacker, specifically Adam Pash, was working with AutoHotKey and then expanded upon the idea to create a very simplistic GUI to manage the hotkeys/text replacements that was being added to his ongoing library/collection.

rsmjdxju thumb Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome

Texture is a very simplistic application. It has continued to grow and evolve, but the overall function of the application is to simply do text corrections and canned responses.

It’s a free application, written with AutoHotKey, and then compiled to be distributed as an executable. and just recently Texter was included with the portable applications suite, from portableapps.

download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome 


download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome




PhraseExpress is shareware application and it’s another text expander.

This was one of my first applications on doing text expansion, it was really helpful, but I found some issues with it and also the fact the first year I owned the program the cost of the application doubled.

I’m not discounting the abilities of PhraseExpress; it’s a great program and the developers of the application seem to release a new version of the software around once a year.

From their website they have a nice example of how text replacement and stored snippets of text can really help the day.

pex comp ani en Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome

vqm4syb0 thumb Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome

But truthfully, this is only one aspect of the application, it can handle the text side, RTF, HTML, IMAGES and macros— It’s good.

Link to demo:


PhraseExpress offers a FREE version of the application for personal use, but also has checking processes in place to see if any of your phrases could be used for commercial purposes; if so, you be warned. Their website clearly states this…

And for those users who are constantly on the go, there is a portable version of PhraseExpress.

PhraseExpress is not solely for the individual, it’s actually geared more towards commercial customers.

Basically, any kind of company or corporation who deal with repetitive type information, PhraseExpress is looking for those types of customers. Because PhraseExpress has a enterprise version that can be used over the network with a ability to share the knowledge base that’s accumulated.

download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome 


download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome



Auspex [FREE]

If you like the cost of AutoHotKey, but don’t like text files; and you like the look and feel of PhraseExpress, but don’t like the cost… what you may be looking for is Auspex.

Auspex is another free application for doing text replacement. The user interface for this application is very similar to PhraseExpress, but it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. But this might actually be the application that you’re looking for, which provides a simple text replacement, canned responses or repetitive information.

arrln2mx thumb Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome

For the cost, presentation and function of this application, I think this is an excellent choice.

download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome 


download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome




Breevy is right in line with the other tech expansion applications. This application has been in production and distribution for a long time. I believe this application is in direct competition with PhraseExpress, and the pricing with Breevy is more competitive than that of PhraseExpress, but with some exceptions…

My personal opinion is that Breevy is an option for text replacement, but in the course of my testing and my evaluations, I found better options.

lmqs2un3 thumb Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome breevy anim Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome

I find that Breevy was good, and I also believe it’s more geared to the individual more than a larger company; not stating that it couldn’t.

download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome 


download Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome


This is just a list of applications that I’ve tried, there’s plenty of other applications on the Internet that basically do the same thing; but these are ultimately the applications that I chose to pick and to try out, to figure out which application was going to work best for my environment.

Ultimately, I chose AutoHotKey, because using AutoHotKey I have complete control over everything, every correction and every adjustment that’s made as I’m entering information. I enter stand that AutoHotKey may not be the choice for everyone, most people prefer a more simplified user interface, which Breevy, PhraseExpress or Auspex could provide.

These are just options, it’s on you to decide which one is going to work best for your environment, but rest assured; regardless of the selection that you make using an application that handles can responses, text replacement and/or text corrections, you’re going to be more productive and you’re going to get more done.

I hope this helps…


Thank you,
Larry Henry Jr.

pixel Text Replacement/Expanders are Awesome
  • http://twitter.com/PhraseExpander @PhraseExpander

    Please, add our new PhraseExpander http://www.phraseexpander.com to the list, we offer phrase and word autocompletion, phrases synchronization and the ability to launch applications, websites and easily perform web queries. We are a small company and offer excellent customer support (and 1 year of upgrades for free).

    • http://www.LEHSYS.com lehenryjr

      Awesome— I'll look in to your product. I love products that are time savers; text expanders do just that…
      I appreciate it…


  • billseymour

    Very helpful review. Before reading the review, I had just started using PhraseExpress, but as I began to accumulate abbreviations I became troubled by my inability to export them except as a proprietary file.

    I then found your review, and decided to give AutoHotKey a try based on your own choice. AutoHotKey is extremely powerful, and the databases being stored as simple Txt files is excellent (both for ability to export, and also for ease of editing). Because I also like to experiment and tinker with my programs, find the basic nature of the interface to be fine. The Help file seems quite complete, and I have found answers to every question.

    Thanks again. Good article.

    • http://www.LEHSYS.com lehenryjr

      Thanks; I really appreciate it…


    • http://www.LEHSYS.com lehenryjr

      I actually use PhraseExpress and AHK together; in tandem because I get more benefit from it. AHK can take less time to setup than PhraseExpress and PhraseExpress devs control every aspect of the program; so getting changes requires submitting support tickets, explaining why you need this or that, and then having to wait for the next version to have the function [or not]… where as AHK you can do a lot of stuff, right now, and the way you want it to… and it's free.
      It's a good duo…


  • billseymour

    In AHK, can a "cursor position"be marked in a hotstring, so that at the end of the hotstring the cursor ends up positioned at a specified point? I am aware of using {Left}, etc to walk the cursor to a position. But I am asking about a command like one that exists in many text expanders (including PhraseExpress) where one can have the expanded text read something like: Place cursor here$ rather than at the end of line. The $ sign is the marker for the cursor ending position. Thanks for any information.