Damn You Buzz Bruggeman!

Recently I had a self imposed (or maybe a wife imposed) moratorium on purchasing new software. Some days I think I like to collect software as much as I do other gadgets. To that end, I download a lot of free trial software, play with it for a while, and then discard it when the trial period expires.

A little more than 60 days ago, I decided to download a free trial of ActiveWords, which was developed by Buzz Bruggeman. The principal behind ActiveWords is simple. You type in a few letters or a word and ActiveWords replaces what you typed either with other text, or by navigating to a website, or by launching a program, or by performing a set of actions.

I have heard of ActiveWords for years, but I had never tried it before, figuring that I don’t really do that many things that it would be useful for. Oh how I was wrong.

When I downloaded it, it took me a while to get things started. I quickly realized, however, that this program was designed for me. I am a minimalist when it comes to my desktop, my menus and my quick launch bar. I keep very few icons on my desktop and only my used programs on my quick launch bar. Additionally, I keep my menu very organized with folders and subfolders. This means that for programs I have to navigate through several submenus to launch a program I use infrequently.

With ActiveWords, however, I simply assign an active word to the program. So, for example, when I type CM, ActiveWords launches CaseMap for me. If I type GM, ActiveWords launches Firefox and navigates to my GMail account. Similarly, Lit, navigates to my Litigation folder in My Computer.

The program is easy to use. Adding new active words is easy and takes only a few seconds. Another great feature is that you can assign as many different words to perform the same function. For example, with the My Documents folder, depending on the day, I may think of it as mydocuments, docs, or mydocs. With ActiveWords I can associate each of these with the action of opening the My Documents folder. Thus, regardless of which word I type, the My Documents folder opens.

In a very sneaky move, ActiveWords gives you a 60 day free trial of the program. This means that it gives you plenty of time to learn to use the program and get hooked on it. Once you start using ActiveWords, my guess is that you will not give it up easily. On day 61 I tried to perform an ActiveWords function and it did not work. After checking a few things, quickly realized that my free trial had expired. I briefly considered bravely computing without ActiveWords. After about 15 seconds, I had shelved that idea and was on ActiveWords’ website buying a copy of the program.

Download this program and give it a whirl. If you start using, you will wonder how you lived without it. On day 61, I predict that you too will be taking Buzz’s name in vain and pulling out your credit card.

One of the goals I have with this blog is to discuss the ways in which we can leverage technology to practice law more effectively. I know of no other utility that allows you to do this more efficiently and effectively than ActiveWords.

Update: I wanted to add a couple of updates to this post. First, as alluded to in the comments below, ActiveWords installs a monitor bar that stretches across the top of you monitor. This bar allows easy access to ActiveWords and its features. It also shows when you are entering an active word. Personally, I hate when programs install monitor bars like this. I want to control my own desktop. Fortunately, the monitor bar is easily disabled. Had I not been able to disable the monitor bar, I would have uninstalled the program.

Second, I do have one minor quibble with the program that I forgot to mention. When you are adding a command to navigate to a website or to open a particular folder, ActiveWords has a “Use Current” button that allows you to designate the open folder or website as the location to navigate to. My problem is that I use Firefox for web browsing and the Use Current button does not pull the address from the Firefox window.

Update #2: The scripts that Buzz refers to below (that would not show up in the comments) are:

To add an internet site:

<alt>d</alt><ctrl>c</ctrl><ADD WIZARD:INTERNET><wait for window:title=Add New ActiveWord><ctrl>v</ctrl><tab><alt>n</alt>

To toggle the Monitor Bar:


Thanks to Buzz for sharing these.

5 thoughts on “Damn You Buzz Bruggeman!

  1. Hi Bryan,

    the launcher capabilities are really useful but if you like a clean desktop I seriously wonder why you installed this Windows 98 fashioned ActiveWords.

    It is several years old, barely received an overhaul since then, has a cluttered user interface, permanently occupies desktop space and can do nothing which a truckload of other launchers or text replacement utilities could not do better and free of charge.

    Google AutoHotkey, PhraseExpress or Launchy.



  2. Actually, if you turn off the monitor bar (as I did) it takes up no desktop space at all. I have also found the pre-created active words to be very helpful.

  3. Hi Bryan:

    Two little scripts below. The first allows you to add websites on the fly in either I.E. or F.F.


    I call it “addis” as in add internet site.

    The second,

    Allows you to toggle the monitor bar on/off.

    As for Blagor’s comments, we are more than aware of the need to “Vistaize” the look/feel of our UI. We have been working ideas, and are hopeful we will have something really dazzling in the next few months.



  4. To take your example of adding a program in order to be launched by a text shortcut, this video shows you, how easy it could be:

    http://www.bartelsmedia.com/vid/Launch_programs.swf (taken from the manual of PhraseExpress).

    Launchy even automatically browses the program folders and generators a keyword database.

    AutoHotkey has the biggest Windows automatisation department imaginable.

    Please do not take it personal, Buzz. I just don’t get where ActiveWords would stand out. I can’t see a single feature which is not done by freebies in an even better way.


Comments are closed.