Dis­cover iOS’s hid­den speed typ­ing tools

THE PRO­DUC­TIV­ITY-BOOST­ING TRICKS CON­CEALED UN­DER YOUR KEY­BOARD.

TechLife Australia - - CONTENTS - [ CHRISTO­PHER PHIN ] [ iOS ]

YOU MIGHT THINK that you need to use an ex­ter­nal key­board to get any se­ri­ous typ­ing done on an iPhone or iPad. While it’s true that you can do that — over Blue­tooth, us­ing a Smart Key­board or us­ing Ap­ple’s Light­ning to USB adapter — if you learn the lit­tle tips and tricks Ap­ple has baked into the on-screen key­board, ev­ery­thing from a tweet to the next great novel is well within the reach of your fin­ger­tips. Let’s get typ­ing!

We’ll start with some­thing fun­da­men­tal. Most peo­ple will only re­ally use one key­board for typ­ing, but you can set up sev­eral. One main use for this is for typ­ing in dif­fer­ent lan­guages; adding other key­boards in ‘Set­tings > Gen­eral > Key­board > Key­boards’ doesn’t just change the lay­out of the keys to match con­ven­tions in that coun­try (AZERTY rather than QWERTY in France, for ex­am­ple), or even the in­put method en­tirely, but it changes the au­to­cor­rect dic­tio­nary, too. (Here’s a re­ally hid­den fea­ture: you can over­ride the key­board lay­out change — to re­tain the ben­e­fits of the au­to­cor­rect change with­out the con­fu­sion of let­ters mov­ing around — by tap­ping the name of the key­board you’ve added in this list.)

If you do type in more than one lan­guage, there­fore, and have been curs­ing au­to­cor­rect for man­gling your words, here’s the so­lu­tion, and it even works for dif­fer­ent ver­sions of English; handy if you some­times need to ‘hu­mor’ our ‘neigh­bors’ in Amer­ica with­out caus­ing ‘of­fense’. To switch be­tween the key­boards you add (in the or­der you set them in ‘Set­tings > Gen­eral > Key­board > Key­boards’), tap the globe icon at the bot­tom left of the key­board. If you only have one main key­board in­stalled, this will in­stead be a smiley face, as it tog­gles to the emoji key­board.

EMOJI AND SPE­CIAL CHAR­AC­TERS

So long as you have the Pre­dic­tive bar turned on, though, it can act like emoji search, and you don’t even have to switch to that key­board; type “chips”, say, and the op­tion in the pre­dic­tive bar is the French fries emoji. Tap it to re­place the word with the emoji. (This will work for the UK key­board, too, although not the US English ver­sion, since ‘chips’ are crisps in over there! Watch out when or­der­ing take­away, from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence...)

You might be used to tap­ping ‘123’ to switch to the num­bers, but if you only need to type a sin­gle char­ac­ter from this key­board, it can be more ef­fi­cient just to drag your fin­ger from the ‘123’ to the de­sired num­ber key — the key­board will tem­po­rar­ily switch lay­out in be­tween — then re­lease to get back to the usual key­board.

If you’re on any iPad ex­cept the 12.9-inch (and only then when us­ing op­ti­mised apps),

you also see se­condary char­ac­ters on the keys; just flick down on the key to type them. Hold a fin­ger on a key to see al­ter­nate char­ac­ters, and voilà — you can type “voilà”! It works for less well-known things, too; hold on the $ sign, for ex­am­ple, and you get other cur­rency sym­bols, or on the full­stop when en­ter­ing a web ad­dress in Sa­fari to see other do­mains, such as .com.au, .com and more.

MOVE THE IN­SER­TION POINT

The tra­di­tional way to move the in­ser­tion point, or caret, around on iOS is to hold a fin­ger on the text you were writ­ing, and then use the mag­ni­fy­ing glass pop-up to get it into the right place. That’s a lit­tle fid­dly and prone to er­ror around the edges of the screen, and there is a bet­ter way on iPad, and iPhones with 3D Touch — the pres­sure-sen­si­tive dis­play tech­nol­ogy that was in­tro­duced on the iPhone 6s.

On an iPad, you can just slide two fin­gers around the key­board to move the caret, and on an iPhone with 3D Touch, just press firmly on the key­board with one fin­ger to switch to this mode, then slide your fin­ger around. Once you’ve moved the caret to where you want it on iPad, lift your two fin­gers, set them down again, wait a beat, then move; you’ll then be se­lect­ing text.

On iPhones equipped with 3D Touch, you have ex­tra op­tions for text se­lec­tion, though they take some trial and er­ror to learn. Once you’ve pressed firmly on the screen to move the caret, you can re­po­si­tion the caret over a word and then press even harder to se­lect just that word. That bit’s easy enough, but with prac­tice, you can also dou­ble-press to se­lect the whole sen­tence at once, or triple-press to se­lect the whole para­graph.

MOST PEO­PLE WILL ONLY RE­ALLY USE ONE KEY­BOARD FOR TYP­ING, BUT YOU CAN SET UP SEV­ERAL.

You can com­bine the two-fin­ger and 3D Touch short­cuts with drag­ging. Let’s say you have a three-sen­tence para­graph and want to copy only the first two sen­tences; press firmly to start mov­ing the caret, po­si­tion it any­where over the first sen­tence, dou­ble-press to se­lect that sen­tence, then drag to the sec­ond, which will be se­lected in its en­tirety — though the para­graph’s fi­nal sen­tence will be left out.

In ei­ther sce­nario, you can grab the lit­tle han­dles that ap­pear at each end of your se­lected text to fine-tune what you’re pick­ing up, if nec­es­sary, and you can also tap ei­ther of these han­dles to bring up the op­tions bar, with cut, copy, paste and other op­tions, if they aren’t al­ready vis­i­ble.

CAP­I­TALS AND SPE­CIAL CHAR­AC­TERS

Let’s go back to some­thing eas­ier: switch­ing to cap­i­tal let­ters. This can be as sim­ple as tap­ping the Shift key to switch only the very next char­ac­ter you type to up­per­case, or dou­ble­tap­ping it to turn on Caps Lock. Note that you can use the same slide tech­nique we men­tioned for the ‘123’ key­board switch; slide from the Shift key to a let­ter and it will be cap­i­talised with­out the need to dis­miss the caps key­board af­ter­wards. iOS will try to be help­ful in cap­i­tal­is­ing new sen­tences, but if you don’t like this, you can turn off Auto‑Cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion in ‘Set­tings > Gen­eral > Key­board’. Here, you’ll also see a tog­gle for the full­stop short­cut; in case you aren’t fa­mil­iar, that en­ables you to dou­ble-tap

the space bar to get a full stop, a space and the next let­ter cap­i­talised.

We men­tioned hold­ing a fin­ger on some keys to get ac­cented forms and al­ter­na­tive char­ac­ters. On some iPads run­ning iOS 11, keys may dis­play a sec­ond char­ac­ter. Rather than us­ing Shift or hold­ing the key, flick up­wards from the key to type the sec­ond char­ac­ter more quickly. (‘Set­tings > Gen­eral > Key­boards > En­able Key Flicks’ must be switched on.)

KEY­BOARD SIZE & PO­SI­TION

There are a cou­ple of things you can do to change the size and po­si­tion of the key­board. On an iPad, ei­ther drag the left and right of the key­board apart with your fin­gers, or hold a fin­ger on the key­board icon (bot­tom right) and tap Split in the menu that ap­pears; this sep­a­rates the key­board at the sides of the screen so it’s eas­ier to type with your thumbs when hold­ing your iPad. Ad­just their ver­ti­cal po­si­tion by drag­ging the icon at its bot­tom right. Drag all the way to the bot­tom to re­turn to a sin­gle, large key­board. On an iPhone run­ning iOS 11, ex­cept for the 5s and SE, you can make the key­board eas­ier to use one-handed by hold­ing on the emoji/globe icon (bot­tom left) and choos­ing to shunt the key­board over to the left or right side of the screen. The keys be­come nar­rower, like on pre-iPhone 6 de­vices, but are eas­ier to reach with your thumb.

Don’t feel this has to be a per­ma­nent de­ci­sion; it makes sense to tog­gle it when you’re try­ing to type while walk­ing, say, even mov­ing from right to left as you swap hands, but then switch­ing back to the full-width key­board once you get where you’re go­ing; tap the large ar­row next to the key­board.

SPEED UP YOUR TYP­ING

As well as all this, iOS pro­vides some very help­ful ways to ac­tu­ally speed up what you type. Text re­place­ment is a great one, with three com­mon ap­pli­ca­tions. First, to re­place clus­ters of char­ac­ters with short phrases (such as typ­ing “omw” be­ing re­placed with ‘On my way!’), and even ‘cor­rect­ing’ weird iOS auto-corrections. Sec­ond, to type char­ac­ters that would oth­er­wise re­quire la­bo­ri­ous search­ing/copy­ing/past­ing — to have “cprt” be­come ©, say.

The third ma­jor use is to type phrases or longer pas­sages of text that you write of­ten. For ex­am­ple, you might type “re­ply7” and have iOS re­place that with a cou­ple of para­graphs of text that are your stan­dard re­sponse to a ques­tion you’re fre­quently asked by email. Or if you of­ten search Ap­ple Sup­port ar­ti­cles in Sa­fari, set up a short­cut to re­place “#spt” with ‘site:sup­port.ap­ple.com’ so that you only get Google search re­sults from that part of Ap­ple’s site. Set up text re­place­ments in ‘Set­tings > Gen­eral > Key­board > Text Re­place­ment’ on iOS, or in ‘ > Sys­tem Pref­er­ences Key­board > Text’ on a Mac. Which­ever de­vice you do this on, your text re­place­ments will sync to your other Macs and iOS de­vices signed in to the same iCloud ac­count.

USE YOUR WORDS

Fi­nally, don’t for­get about dic­ta­tion, which you’ll find at the bot­tom of ‘Set­tings > Gen­eral > Key­boards’. It works for English even when your de­vice is of­fline, and though you might feel weird do­ing it in a shared of­fice or class­room, these days, it’s highly ac­cu­rate — and usu­ally much faster than typ­ing, if you can think and talk in com­plete sen­tences. You can even dic­tate punc­tu­a­tion and is­sue ‘com­mands’, such as “full­stop” and “new line”.

In iOS’s Ac­ces­si­bil­ity set­tings are help­ful op­tions to al­ter the sen­si­tiv­ity of the key­board and 3D Touch.

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