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Friday Freebie: PhraseExpress automatically inserts and corrects text

This indispensable utility will save you tons of time. Plus: Get the horror co-op shooter Killing Floor absolutely free. Plus-plus: two other awesome bonus deals!

CNET's Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on PCs, phones, gadgets and much more. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page. Find more great buys on the CNET Deals page and follow the Cheapskate on Twitter!

Today I thought I'd spotlight a freebie. It's always free, at least for personal use, but I find it such an essential part of my daily work life, I want to make sure you know about it.

Think about what you type day after day. Do you frequently find yourself entering the same words and phrases? Your mailing address, for example? A reply to an email inquiry? Maybe even just the date and time? If there's any kind of repetition in your typing life, you seriously need Bartels Media's PhraseExpress.

PhraseExpress is a great tool for auto-inserting one or more email signatures.

Bartels Media

The program creates and manages macros: You can assign any word or phrase to just about any keystroke -- say, Ctrl-Shift-A for your mailing address. One press and presto: The info gets inserted in your browser, word processor or any other program.

It's not limited to raw text, either -- you can also create macros for images, HTML, even forms. There's a macro recorder as well, one that integrates with another Bartels Media freebie -- Mouse Recorder -- to record and play back mouse and keyboard actions.

PhraseExpress also offers robust auto-correct features, handy if you frequently misspell certain words.

The learning curve is a little steep, if only because it's not immediately clear how to get started, but it's worth the effort. And, thankfully, there are online manuals.

The software is available for Windows and Mac, and the Standard Edition ($49.95) reverts to the fully functional freeware version after your 30-day trial. The developer also offers Android and iOS versions, but the ratings aren't too favorable and I don't see much value in them, seeing as Android and iOS have basic text-expander features already built in.

But the desktop version? I use it all day, every day, and couldn't live without it.


Free for a limited time!

Tripwire Interactive

Bonus deal: Game time! Steam's annual Summer Sale kicked off yesterday, so keep your eyes out for especially good discounts -- starting with Half-Life Complete, a steal at $4.48, and Portal 2, the best $1.99 you'll ever spend. (Add games to your wish list if you want to get notified of price drops.) In the meantime, the Humble Bundle folks are offering the co-op horror survival FPS Killing Floor (Win/Mac/Linux) absolutely free. The giveaway ends tomorrow or whenever the licenses run out.

Currently on sale from Steam proper for $4.99 (but normally $19.99), the 2009 game puts you alongside up to five other players for some fast-paced zombie-whompin'. (There's also a solo mode for offline play.) Read GameSpot's mostly favorable review if you want to learn more... but did I mention the game is totally free? Grab it!

Bonus deal No. 2: Game time again! If you're an Android user, grab the awesome tile-based boardgame Carcassonne for 99 cents. Just be sure to read the details regarding the developer's license, which is apparently coming to an end (though you'll still be able to play online if you choose). Anyone with an iOS device should grab the awesome train-based boardgame Ticket to Ride for 99 cents. This is a Broida-family favorite, truly one of the all-time great strategy games and a steal at this price.

Bonus deal No. 3: Calling all Mac users! StackSocial is once again offering a huge Mac apps bundle for whatever price you want to pay. Well, sort of: You can pay what want to get two apps -- search/file-management utilities Dropzone 3 and Tembo -- or beat the average price (currently just under $14) to unlock the whole enchilada, which has a combined value of over $600. It's a collection of utilities and productivity tools, with an online class (Master Your Mac) and a game (Civilization 5) thrown in for good measure.