PhraseExpress and AutoHotKey: make your daily work easier with these automation tools

The team recently attended the 1st International Congress of Translation and Interpretation hosted by the Public Translators and Interpreters College of the Province of Buenos Aires (CTPIPBA). This groundbreaking event in La Plata brought together translators and interpreters from all generations, providing an invaluable platform for learning and networking.



A standout moment during the conference was the presentation by long-time member Nora Díaz, who also graced our 15th Annual International Translation Day Conference. Nora shared her expertise on automation tools for non-developers, shedding light on two powerful software solutions: PhraseExpress and AutoHotKey.

These two tools serve distinct purposes, but both are very useful for enhancing efficiency and reducing repetitive tasks. AutoHotKey specializes in automating various computer actions, while PhraseExpress primarily serves for text expansion and productivity enhancements. Depending on your needs, you may find one or both of these tools helpful for your daily work.

While there is an initial learning curve, both PhraseExpress and AutoHotKey can significantly boost a translator's productivity and efficiency by automating repetitive tasks. Interpreters can also benefit from these tools by automating tasks, gaining quick access to information, and reducing cognitive load during interpreting assignments. However, interpreters should exercise caution to ensure that automation tools do not interfere with the interpreting process or ethical guidelines.



PhraseExpress, a text expansion and productivity software, offers several advantages for translators and interpreters:

  • Faster typing and consistency: Translators often encounter repetitive phrases, terminology, or lengthy sentences. PhraseExpress enables you to create shortcuts or abbreviations for these elements, automatically expanding them into complete text. This significantly accelerates the typing process and maintains terminology consistency, and can be a great complement to your translation memories.
  • Streamlined client communication: PhraseExpress speeds up responses to potential clients by storing pre-defined boilerplates for different markets and services. It also saves time by handling common inquiries, instructions, and even the pleasantries you send your clients.
  • Instant access to phrases: Interpreters working with partners can store instructions, warnings, and suggestions used during assignments. PhraseExpress simplifies the process by allowing you to create shortcuts for frequently used phrases, making it easy to type or speak them when needed, particularly in consecutive interpreting scenarios.

On the other hand, AutoHotKey, a scripting language for automating Windows GUI, offers various benefits for translators:

  • Text manipulation: You can create scripts to automate text manipulation tasks such as formatting text, changing character encodings, or converting file formats.
  • Automate repetitive tasks: Save time and reduce errors by automating repetitive tasks like document formatting and file conversion, common in translation work.
  • Custom shortcuts and macros: You can also develop custom keyboard shortcuts for tasks like switching between applications, accessing reference materials, or managing microphone settings during online interpreting. AutoHotKey allows you to create macros for executing sequences of actions with a single keystroke, such as searching for selected words or phrases in online dictionaries or translation memory tools.



It's worth noting that AutoHotKey is a free, open-source scripting language. PhraseExpress offers a comprehensive free version, albeit with some feature restrictions for free users. 

If you're eager to explore these software tools further, Nora Díaz maintains a blog with detailed instructions on their usage and other helpful tools, and you can find it on her profile!

For those interested in delving deeper into CAT tools and other software options tailored for translators and interpreters, Training offers a wealth of resources and courses to enhance your skills and knowledge. Discover more about our training opportunities here » 

Topics: translation software

Andrea Capuselli

Written by Andrea Capuselli

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