Select Paragraphs & Large Text Block Easily in iOS with a Two-Finger Tap
Most iPhone and iPad users know that you can tap and hold onto any text within iOS to select it, then by using the little draggable bars, you can adjust the size of the text selection rather easily too. While this is great for selecting a single word, a sentence, and even a small block of text, it’s not so great for choosing to highlight large groups of words like a lengthy paragraph, or just a generally large block of text. But not to worry, it turns out that iOS has a much better way of selecting large text blocks in one fell swoop, and it uses an easy to remember tap gesture that seems to be so little known that it’d almost qualify as a secret.
Note: This paragraph selection trick is limited to some apps, and not every iOS app supports the feature. Let us know in the comments which ones work for you, and which ones don’t!
To follow along and try this out yourself, start in any iOS app that has a fairly large block of text written or typed out. We’re going to use the Notes app in this example, with a document that has several paragraphs of varying lengths.
- Navigate on screen to the large continuous text block to highlight all together, typically a paragraph
- Use a two-finger tap directly onto the paragraph to instantly select the entire paragraph or group of contiguous words
If you’re having difficulty with this initially, it’s likely just the result of needing some practice and learning how it works. For best results, you’ll generally want to keep the two fingers right next to each other when tapping on the text:
Now that the initial large word block or paragraph has been selected, you can then go a step further and use this as a quick way to select all text on the page with a simple two-finger tap then hitting the “Select All” option in the pop-up menus.
Or just quickly copy the text from that same hover menu, use the fantastic iOS Text-To-Speech feature, or whatever else you’re looking to do with the selected paragraph or word block.
I use this frequently when replying to emails with Smart Quotes in Mail app for iOS, since it’s much faster to select a paragraph and reply to it with a two-finger gesture than tapping and holding, then squirming around with the little draggable selector bars to try and get the block you’re replying to. If you do a lot of email on your iPhone or iPad, I’d highly recommend mastering this combination, it’s very effective for quick replies.
It’s worth pointing out that this great two-finger tap-to-select-a-block trick works best with iOS devices with larger screens, so while it’s incredibly effective on the iPad and bigger screen iPhone models, it can be a challenge on older devices with smaller screen space, where tap targets are less precise due to their smaller size, which can be even more true when text on the device is displayed in small sizes.