Managing Phrase Express Macros


This is how I currently manage my phrase express macros on a systems / management level

I test out A LOT of macros (70 macros - about 5-15 being used daily) . A lot of them aren’t good enough for long term or to be integrated into my everyday workflow. Sometimes I find that a macro I wrote could be optimized, or a better one could be written, or I could completely just ignore the macro and do something with dynalist / stylish

In any case, I have to manage my macros in a workflow where I can do the following:

  • A place to deprecate old unused macros
  • Version history
  • A place to see my latest macros
  • Still be very simple and easy to understand
  • Linking between both PCs at home and work
  • A place to store other people’s macro file (so I can get ideas for future macros)

Linking macros between 2 computers

I currently only use 1 phraseexpress file that’s sitting inside dropbox

If you use macros between 2 PC’s, what you do is the following:

  1. Save the macro file in dropbox on HOME PC
  2. Open the macro file in dropbox on WORK PC

You open the files here:

This is good because:

  • you have version control of the file itself with dropbox
  • You can “push” and “pull” changes from either direction (work or home PC)

Managing Macro Assets

This is what my macro assets look like.

Essentially, each top level folder is someone elses macro for ideas. I use the direct phraseexpress manual to write my macros, but sometimes I pull ideas from other sources as well (Workflowy, Phraseexpress forums, Phrase Express youtube). If I get a .pxb file I’ll generally place it in here

Next, is to use PROGRAM ACCESS restrictions

Whenever you load someone else’s macro (to use as a reference library) , it might interfere with your own.

To combat this, what I do is the following:

Basically I give the entire folder some absurd restriction like “EXECUTE IN THIS PROGARM I NEVER USE”. In this case, its Origin, a gaming client for video games like Battlefield 1 which I don’t play. So its great, because I never even use this program ever, and I can still keep that person’s macro library for reference without changing anything

If you use folders nested inside folders, NOTE, you have to change access permissions PER folder.

Inside my folder, I have a “DEPRECATED FOLDER”, essentially a graveyard of macros that I no longer use. I restricted access to notepad.exe, since I just reinstall this PC recently and that’s all the programs I had on hand

Naming your macros

I would highly suggest you write the actual shortcut key name on the macro title itself and briefly describe what it is

For instance, I have my lowercase and ALLCAPS macros, should I need it. I wrote down exactly what the hotkey buttons are and what the macro does

This makes it easier to know what macro keys you are currently using and to organize things more efficiently

Second, you should also considering using “Seperators” and “Folders” to organize all your macros too

My general rule of thumb for newer macros I write up is that they sit at the very top of my stack. Since this is what I would see first when I go into phrase express

Other useful resources for writing macros → the manual → Programming functions → phrase express official youtube page → phrase express forums (I’m not a big fan of it honestly)


I forgot to clarify how exactly I merge other peoples files into dropbox

There’s two ways you can manage your files + other peoples files

  • Have one .pxb file that’s synced across all PC’s
  • Have multiple .pxb files sitting inside dropbox, so you can choose which ones you want to load up

Personally I like just having one file only, since its easier to manage things in my opinion. I dump all used and unused macros alike in that one file

There’s probably a better way to do this but this is how I do it

METHOD 1: Merging into one file from inside phrase-express

1. Download any external .PXB file into your PC somewhere

I use the special functions from phrase express website as an example:

2. Open the phrase file (sync with cloud).

3. Find file and open (my external file was in downloads folder)

4. Load as an additional phrase file

5. should look like this, newest .pxb file at bottom

6. Make new folder inside “sync with dropbox”

(this is your ONE main file inside dropbox)

7. Move folder contents inside new folder

8. Give absurd folder restrictions

Do this if your not going to use the macro for the time being, a lot of times I’ll dump them here then use it weeks later

9. Make it apply to subfolders

This might not be the most efficient way of “managing other people’s macro libraries” for ideas down the road. This method was for just maintaining one file in dropbox, and one file only

You could just have many indepdent .PXB files in dropbox. In next comment I outline this as well


METHOD 2: Merging into one file starting from external sources

The above outline I mentioned earlier in previous post is just one file.

This workflow is multiple files all being pushed into one central file

This is what my dropbox files look like

If you clicked one of the other files it gives you popup menu option

I suggest importing into existing phrase file

go ahead and exclude duplicates, it checks for similar file names inside main file

Newest file sits up top

You can then set ABSURD ACCESS PERMISSIONS so it doesn’t override with other hotkeys



Put all the .PXB files of interest you will be using and organize them in dropbox

Load it up as an additional “phrase file”

Newest file appears here:

You can’t control access permissions at the very top level. So if you had a phrase that wasn’t in a top level folder, it would be hard to maintain the macros


Tl;DR conclusion

If your going to maintain your macros for long term scalability, there’s two types:

  1. Merge everything into one file, from inside phrase-express to source files (METHOD 1) or source files directly (METHOD 2)

  2. Use separate files (METHOD 3)

I suggest using one main file for everything, here is the pros of it:


  • Easier to keep track and sync since its one file

Having looked into this now, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to just have one synced file for everything. I don’t recommend method 3

Also, I would recommend dumping all external files into dropbox anyhow as well (just the file by itself, not loaded into phrase express)

If you find your one main file has problems with it, you can always use dropbox’s built in file revision history to roll back changes anyways.

This is what my dropbox files look like now:


I think most of us need some clarifications before ALLL THAT.

what is a macro ?
what is needed for ?
how can be useful for dynalist users ?


oh sorry i forgot to cover that part

A macro basically automates a lot of repetitive tasks. Say you wanted to type “lol” as “LAUGH OUT LOUD”.

So you write a macro.

  • input: “lol”
  • output: “LAUGH OUT LOUD”

This is what it would look like set up in phrase-express

In action:

Macros can be based on a keyboard input or keyphrases like “lol” depending on how you set it.

phrase express is downloaded here:

What it does for dynalist is it speeds up a lot of things data-entry tasks that dynalist doens’t have. Think of it as an additional software you use with dynalist to make dynalist even more useful.

This is how I use it personally

UNICODE - i use macros to write my unicode symbols for better readability / flexibility of notes

lt# → generates this :zap:
s# → generates this ✪
a# → generates this ★
>> generates →
<< generates this ←

DATE MACRO. I use this on dynalists “!” date parameter. To automatically generate the date. E.G.

e# → generates !(5/22/2017 09:20) (the current time)

I wrote a short little guide with my macros as an example :slight_smile: