Job Hack Using Phrase Express

There’s a few software that I use every day as a developer.  The common ones are of course the web browser, code editor, a messenger app, and Microsoft Office (mainly for Outlook).  But one surprising app that I use that I don’t think is common is Phrase Express (, a text expander software.  A text expander allows me to quickly type in a few keystroke triggers and then it would expand the text.  This may not sound like a big deal, but trust me this is such a huge time saver on common things I do almost every day.  I can even set up Phrase Express to only trigger the keystroke in certain apps which is really nice for security or to prevent accidental triggers.  However, I have a fool-proof way that has not failed me yet in terms of accidental triggers.

Check out my video that demos my workflow that uses PhraseExpress at work.

I use PhraseExpress to enter long passwords (which I feel safe doing so in a controlled environment in the office).  Or common SQL lookup queries that require a bunch of inner joins, where clauses and order by’s that I’m too lazy to retype or open up my notes and copy and pasting.  So within SSMS, I can type in :

qqsqlprod  – and this would auto write my 4-5 line SQL query that will bring up all product and their metadata.

qqsqlprodavail – this would bring up all available products and their inventory information.

And then for username and passwords because some of these credentials are pretty ridiculous in terms of complexity I would do something like qq87u for the username and qq87p for the password.  87 is the last 2 digits in the IP address of the server.  Now, sometimes, PhraseExpress won’t work during a Windows prompt or within a remote desktop session.  So, the workaround for this is that since I always have a browser open, I’ll just go to the URL area and trigger the PhraseExpress there.

Finally, you may be wondering why I use qq as my trigger.  Well, I figure that there will never be a situation where I would legitimately type in qq in anything I do.  So it’s a safe initial trigger combination.  It’s also easy for me to rapid type so that helps with the efficiency.  And so far, for the past 5 years, I’ve been using PhraseExpress, I have never fat finger and trigger a PhraseExpress template by accident.  For SQL triggers, I just use “sql” for the same reason.

Let me know what you think?  I think it’s a fantastic tool and it doesn’t apply to developers.  I think this can easily be used in any occupation where a text template can be beneficial.