iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts: Simplify Your Typing Experience

For those who frequently type on devices like the iPhone or iPad, the touchscreen keyboard can sometimes be a challenge, especially for typing complex strings like “Wi-Fi + 3G” or lengthy email addresses. This can become quite frustrating if such typing is a frequent necessity.

Thankfully, with the introduction of iOS 5, a solution is at hand through the use of custom keyboard shortcuts. Found under General > Keyboard > Shortcuts in the Settings app, this feature allows users to create and customize their own shortcuts.

This functionality mirrors the capabilities of TextExpander for Mac users.

Initially, iOS 5 includes a single preset shortcut where typing “omw” will automatically expand to “On my way!” Users can modify this or add new shortcuts. The key is to create shortcuts that are both easy to remember and to type, which can significantly enhance typing speed for frequently used phrases.

By selecting the “+” icon within the Shortcuts menu, users are prompted to enter a “Phrase” and a corresponding “Shortcut.” For instance, I have programmed “Wi-Fi + 3G” to expand from the shortcut “wifiggg,” simplifying what would otherwise be a cumbersome input on my iPhone.

Moreover, I often discuss Apple-related topics on Twitter and have created a shortcut that replaces “applogo” with the Apple logo symbol () to save space within Twitter’s character limit. This feature is also useful for inserting special characters that are not readily available on the iPhone’s default keyboard.

Another practical use of this feature is to override certain autocorrect settings.

For example, I frequently found myself frustrated when typing “hell” only to have it autocorrected to “he’ll.” While I haven’t completely solved all autocorrect issues—such as “its” always changing to “it’s” despite my efforts with shortcuts—I’ve managed to reduce many such annoyances.

As highlighted by PC World, the shortcuts feature in iOS 5 also allows users to set up multiple email signatures, catering to different contexts. There seems to be no limit to the length of phrases you can create; I even tried inputting half the lyrics to “Yellow Submarine” with a shortcut “yllwsub,” and it worked without issue. This suggests the potential for creating shortcuts for extensive blocks of text, enabling quick inputs with minimal keystrokes.

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Christopher is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing readers the latest updates and insights on all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail, Christopher covers everything from the newest iPhone releases to the latest macOS updates. His articles are a go-to source for Apple enthusiasts looking to stay informed about their favorite products, including the iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. Christopher’s commitment to delivering accurate and engaging content makes him a valued member of the TUAW team.