Breevy: A Text Expansion Utility for Windows

Breevy is a text expander, giving you the ability to automate repetitive keystrokes and phrases, and launch apps and websites. It’s an alternative to PhraseExpress, which we have covered before, and to TextExpander on the Mac. Breevy is available in a regular and portable version and is $34.95, but comes with a 30 day free trial.

Let’s find out whether Breevy is worth the price tag and how it stacks up as a text expansion app.

Getting Started

Head over to Breevy’s website and download the Windows installer or the portable version. Installing the software is easy, and I started with the portable version because I am using the free trial. I actually left the app in my Downloads folder while trying it out.

After launching Breevy for the first time, you are greeted with the main screen and some example abbreviations.

Getting Started With Breevy

Getting Started With Breevy

Setting up Abbreviations

Creating abbreviations in Breevy is incredibly easy. Simply click New Abbreviation and fill in the details. Abbreviation is the actual text you want replaced (such as eml), Replacement Text is what you want replaced (such as [email protected]), and Description is a label to explain what this abbreviation means to you.

You can set the text to be replaced immediately after typing the abbreviation, or after a trigger key is pressed (you can change this key in settings, we’ll get to that later), or after a word-ending character is typed (a space, period, comma, etc.) I migrated to Breevy after using Lifehacker’s Texter for a long time, so I’m used to typing a trigger after the abbreviation.

You can also choose case – whether the abbreviation is case sensitive or not, or whether Breevy should adapt the replacement text to match your case when typing the abbreviation.

Breevy gives each choice a different icon that you can easily see from the abbreviations window to tell at a glance what the parameters are. This is one of my favorite features because it makes it easy to see why an abbreviation isn’t working.

Creating an Abbreviation With Breevy

Creating an Abbreviation With Breevy

Launching a Website or Program

Breevy comes with an application or website launcher called the LaunchPad. You can either type hotkey Ctrl+Space to pull up the LaunchPad (that is the default trigger, but can be changed in preferences) and then type your abbreviation and Breevy will open your website or app.

Launch an App or Website With Breevy LaunchPad

Launch an App or Website With Breevy LaunchPad

However, you don’t have to open the LaunchPad to launch an app or website. You can simply type the abbreviation. I have Breevy set up to launch my favorite websites for easy access.

Creating a new launcher is very similar to creating a new abbreviation.

Organizing Your Abbreviations

You can create nested folders to organize your abbreviations. If you have more than a handful or you like to keep things neat and tidy, this is a very helpful feature.

I have only been using text expansion apps for the better part of a year and I’ve amassed a very large number of shortcuts. I have many for personal use, many for work, websites I frequently visit and often used information like my name, email and address.

Preferences

When you get into Breevy’s preferences, you have 7 tabs: General, Cool Stuff, Interface, Hotkeys, Dropbox Sync, Backups and Advanced.

You can choose the default case for new abbreviations, and the default to replace typed abbreviations (immediately, after a trigger, or after a word-ending character). You can also change your trigger key; mine is set to tab. And you can define the word-ending characters. By default, they are ,.?!()<>[]{}:;”/\-‘, space, tab and enter.

Change Breevy Preferences

Change Breevy Preferences

TextExpander Integration

TextExpander is the most popular text expansion app for Mac, and Breevy integrates very nicely with it. You can enable TextExpander mode to make Breevy easily work alongside its Mac counterpart. You can also import and export your TextExpander snippets, and even sync with TextExpander via Dropbox.

Sync with Dropbox

Another great feature Breevy has is the ability to sync your library over Dropbox. In addition to being able to sync with TextExpander on Mac, you can sync to multiple Windows computers.

If you’re like me and you use multiple machines, this feature is useful. Without it, I would constantly have to update my library manually on multiple computers, which almost defeats the purpose of automating your workflow with text expansion.

Breevy Portable

Instead of installing Breevy to your machine, you can use the portable version. Your preferences, abbreviations and app files are contained within the folder instead of being spread out through your computer.

Or instead of using a flash drive, store your portable Breevy on Google Drive or Dropbox and have access to it on all of your computers without having to sync with Dropbox.

Import Abbreviation Lists

Breevy comes with two included abbreviation sets: a 6500+ list of common spelling errors, and a 13,500+ set of medical transcription abbreviations.

You can also import your autocorrections from Microsoft Word.

To import these lists (and other file types), choose File > Import.

Insertion Macros

Breevy supports macros when replacing text. This lets you do things with the text like placing your cursor in a certain spot, or insert the contents of your clipboard, or insert the date and time. For more information supported macros, visit Breevy’s documentation.

Final Thoughts

While Breevy isn’t the only text expansion app available for Windows (there’s Texter, PhraseExpress and even AutoHotKey), it is a very sophisticated, easy to use app that does its job very well.

I had been using Texter exclusively, but since it’s a bit outdated, decided to try another app. One of the things that made me switch from Texter was how slow it could be at times, but Breevy is always fast when replacing text. Even if it’s a paragraph or two, Breevy gets the job done quickly, and with the ability to use your clipboard instead of keystrokes, long blocks of text are done even quicker. The only thing that is lacking is a better logo.

I am normally a fan of free software, but Breevy really takes the cake. It’s definitely worth the $34.95 price tag.


Summary

Breevy is a text expander, giving you the ability to automate repetitive keystrokes and phrases, and launch apps and websites.

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