Use shortcuts for faster typing on the iPhone

The software keyboard that’s a part of the iPhone and iPad is divisive. Some are happy to use it while others find it frustrating. The best advice I have for those after improved speed and accuracy is to simply type and trust the results. If that’s not enough, consider the keyboard shortcuts feature.

Shortcuts let you create short combinations of letters that will produce a larger word or phrase when typed on your iPhone or iPad. Think of it as TextExpander lite. For example, you could type “omw” and have your device replace it with “On my way!” (Incidentally, that one is enabled by default. Try it.). Here’s how to create typing shortcuts on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Keyboard.
  4. Tap Add A New Shortcut…
  5. The shortcut creation page appears. Type the complete word or phrase you’re after in the Phrase field, and the short abbreviation in the Shortcut field (note that a shortcut cannot contain spaces).
  6. Tap Save and you’re done.

You can view the list of available shortcuts at any time by navigating to the keyboard settings in the Settings app. To edit or delete a shortcut, just tap it in the list.

While this little feature is handy, it’s no match for the full-featured TextExpander. However, since TextExpander isn’t system-wide, meaning you must be in the app to use it, shortcuts are useful for lengthy, common phrases in apps like Mail, Safari, Notes and so on. Plus, it could reduce frustration for those who loathe time spent with Apple’s software keyboard.

Here’s a final tip: use a shortcut to replace a common spelling error. For some reason, I tend to type “iPHone” instead of “iPhone.” The built-in spelling correction usually gets it, but not always. This is also useful if you’ve got to remember an unusual proper name that isn’t in the iOS dictionary. For instance, I have a friend named Jutta and my brain loves to subconsciously type “Jetta” instead. A shortcut takes care of that.

Thanks to Brett Kelly for inspiring this post.

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