Productivity tips

I had the privilege of participating in a webinar conducted by Pariah Burke recently. He focused on a number of applications he uses to increase his productivity. This inspired me to develop a series of short articles on various tools one can use to be more productive. I plan to focus on these tools individually over the coming weeks.

  • PhraseExpress [Win] and TextExpander [Mac] allow you to insert snippets of text which are then expanded (saving me a bunch of typing). Pariah focused on this one first. I like that it can be used across a number of applications. Yes, I can even create snippets of HTML to include in a file.

Since many students work mostly with Windows computers, this is where I plan to focus. Let’s learn a little more about PhraseExpress.


PhraseExpress [Win] is free for personal use. Otherwise, it costs $50 (one time charge). In its simplest terms, you create a set of code and when you type it, the code is automatically expanded into the larger version. This works in browsers (if you use webmail), desktop applications (such as MS-Word) and so forth. The biggest challenge is identifying what phrases you routinely type and then converting them into short codes.For example, if I type ;mdwow into a document or web page I am working with, the code is automatically expanded. I provide a screen capture below so you see the results. I find this to be a tremendous time saver. Some are likely thinking why don’t you set a signature in your eMail program. And, I could. But if I want to add my  signature in various spots and am not always using the same email client, it is much easier to include this short code. This is just one example of many different codes I use frequently. You can set any number of these short codes (for example you can create snippets of HTML that are automatically included regardless of the HTML editor you are using).

Screen capture of PhraseExpander

There are many other features. For example, I can set up codes to insert phrases, counters, pictures, links (the options you see below). For those who continually enter similar information, this can be a great time saver.

Inserting values into Phrase Expander

You can also many additional things (such as the current date/ time). Some of the options are shown below.

Inserting values in Phrase Expander

TextExpander is the Mac version and it works similarly. However, you do have to pay for it.

It does take time to set up all the capabilities, but you can then save a tremendous amount of time. You can also see statistics about the amount of time you have saved. As I type this article, I can see that I already saved 28 minutes of typing by entering various short codes instead today. I typically average between 40 minutes and 1 hour of typing savings per day.

PhraseExpander savings calculator

I hope you found this article useful. I am curious if you have used this application (and what you think of it). I do plan to cover many other tools in the coming weeks. As always, I look forward to your comments.

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