Get more from Gboard key­board

Trans­late as you type, call up the nu­meric key­pad when­ever you want, and more. Ben Pat­ter­son re­ports

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS - 4. Get the nu­meric key­pad when­ever you want

The only prob­lem with Google’s Gboard key­board for An­droid is that we’re to­tally hooked on its best fea­tures. Num­ber and sym­bol short­cuts above each key? Got to have them. One-handed mode? Ditto. Trans­late as you type? Love it, need it. Read on for the nifti­est fea­tures, from ded­i­cated num­ber rows and an on-de­mand nu­meric key­pad to ‘neu­ral’ trans­la­tions and a long-press short­cut for oft-used sym­bols. Note, there’s also an iOS ver­sion, but most of our favourite Gboard tricks only work on the An­droid edi­tion.

1. Type with one hand

Tap­ping a vir­tual key­pad with a sin­gle thumb can be some­thing of a stretch if your phone has a mas­sive screen. Luck­ily, Gboard has a clever fea­ture that makes it eas­ier to tap with just one hand.

Tap the lit­tle caret sit­ting in the top-left cor­ner of Gboard, then tap the one-handed mode but­ton (the one that looks like a square with a thumb on top). When you do, the key­board will squeeze in a bit to­ward the right side of the screen, mak­ing it eas­ier for your thumb to reach ev­ery key.

If you’d rather type with your left thumb, tap the ar­row on the left side of the key­pad, or tap the ex­pand but­ton to turn off one-handed mode.

2. Trans­late as you type

Thanks to its new, sen­tence-level ‘neu­ral ma­chine’ trans­la­tions, Google’s trans­la­tion abil­i­ties have mor­phed from un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­i­ously to scary good. In just a few taps, you can com­pose, email, or even chat in an­other lan­guage, with a re­spectable de­gree of flu­ency.

Again, tap the caret in the top-left cor­ner of Gboard, tap the Google Trans­late but­ton, pick the lan­guage you’d like your words trans­lated into from the drop-down menu on the right, then start typ­ing. Google Trans­late will work its magic as you type, past­ing your trans­lated words di­rectly into what­ever doc­u­ment, web page, email or chat win­dow you’re us­ing.

3. Get a ded­i­cated num­ber row

It can get pretty an­noy­ing hav­ing to tap the sym­bols but­ton when­ever you want to type a num­ber. If you’d rather save your­self a key­stroke, there’s a time­sav­ing Gboard set­ting you need to try.

Tap the caret in the cor­ner to re­veal the Gboard menu, tap the Set­tings but­ton, tap Pref­er­ences, then tog­gle on the Num­ber row set­ting.

Head back to Gboard, and you’ll now see a ded­i­cated row of num­ber keys sit­ting at the top of the key­pad, no sym­bols but­ton re­quired. A ded­i­cated row of num­ber keys is nice, but in some case – for ex­am­ple, when you’re typ­ing phone or credit card num­bers into an on­line form – a nu­meric key­pad is even bet­ter.

Ide­ally, Gboard should au­to­mat­i­cally switch on its nu­meric key­pad when you’re fill­ing in a num­bers-only form. But if you find your­self stuck with the stan­dard key­board when you just want to type num­bers, there’s a way to man­u­ally en­able Gboard’s nu­meric key­pad.

First, tap the sym­bols but­ton in the bot­tom-left cor­ner of the Gboard key­pad. Then, just to the left of the space bar, you’ll see a 1 2 3 4 but­ton, with the four num­bers ar­ranged two on top of the other. Tap it, and voilà – there’s your nu­meric key­pad.

If you need to type a pound sign, a paren­the­sis, a dash or an­other com­mon sym­bol, there’s an eas­ier way to do it with Gboard than tap­ping the sym­bols key. Tap and hold the full stop key, and you’ll get a pop-up with more than a dozen sym­bols – ev­ery­thing from an am­per­sand to a ques­tion mark. Just slide your fin­ger­tip over the sym­bol you want to type, then re­lease.

6. Re­veal short­cuts for each key

Head for the Gboard set­tings screen, tap Pref­er­ences, then en­able the Long-press for sym­bols set­ting. Once you do, you’ll see short­cuts for sym­bols and num­bers in the cor­ner of ev­ery let­ter key; just long-press a key to type the short­cut in the cor­ner of the key. Putting the An­droid cur­sor in just the right place can be tricky if you’re try­ing to drag it with your fin­ger­tip. Luck­ily, Gboard boasts a fea­ture that’ll let you move the cur­sor with much more pre­ci­sion.

Just swipe left or right on the Gboard space bar – and as you do, the cur­sor will move in the cor­re­spond­ing di­rec­tion, per­fect for nudg­ing the cur­sor ex­actly where you want it.

Your thumb will have an eas­ier time stretch­ing across the key­board if you en­able Gboard’s one-handed mode

You can get quicker ac­cess to the num­ber keys by tog­gling on Gboard’s ‘Num­ber row’ set­ting

Tap the ‘1 2 3 4’ but­ton to call up Gboard’s nu­meric key­pad when­ever you want

Gboard will trans­late your words as you type with help from Google Trans­late’s new ‘neu­ral’ trans­la­tion abil­i­ties

Put the cur­sor pre­cisely where you want by swip­ing Gboard’s space bar

Gboard’s ‘Long-press for sym­bols’ set­ting puts short­cuts for sym­bols on each let­ter key

Gboard’s most-used sym­bols are just a long-press away

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