8 Typing Tips for iPad and iPhone That Everyone Should Know and Use

Jun 28, 2012 - 18 Comments

iPad and iPhone typing tips

Learning to type well on the touchscreen keyboards in iOS that we all use on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch can take some time. To speed that process up and improve touch typing, here are a handful of great tips to make typing on iOS virtual keys much easier and faster. Some of these you’ll probably know and perhaps already use, and some you probably won’t, but all are very worthwhile to learn and master.

1. Access Special Characters

Tapping and holding on many normal letters will reveal their special character versions instead.
Type special characters in iOS

2. Create Typing Shortcuts for Frequently Used Phrases

iOS lets you set shortcuts to automatically expand to larger blocks of text or words. If you frequently type things like “on my way” or “I’m sorry I forgot your birthday can I come home now”, you can set a shortcut like ‘omw’ or ‘srybday’ and it’ll expand to the full phrase. Here is how to create and set shortcuts:

  • Open Settings and tap “General” followed by “Keyboard”
  • Tap “Add New Shortcut” and enter the full phrase and then the shortcut, followed by “Save”

iOS typing shortcuts for common phrases

3. Type Clumsy and Rely on Software

Unlike a traditional keyboard, the iOS virtual keyboards are very forgiving. Between auto-correct and the hidden keys, you can get away with being quite clumsy with your typing and the words will usually still end up accurate and spelled correctly thanks to the intelligent software. Those who are the quickest at typing on virtual keyboards use this in their favor, and it works.
Hidden keys in iPad split keyboard

4. Tap, Hold, and Drag

This is a sequence that makes typing in iOS so much easier that it should be required learning for all iPhone and iPad users. It goes like this; instead of tapping in a sequence, tap once and hold, drag to the character, then release. Here’s an example for when you want to type a special character or a number:

  • Tap and hold on the “.?123” button, continue to hold on the new screen and drag over to the character you wish to type, release when you are hovered over that character to type it

5. Quick Apostrophes with Tap and Hold

Similar to the previous tip, you can access two hidden apostrophes on iPad keyboards by tapping and holding on the ! and ? keys, the ,! key reveals a single apostrophe ‘ and the .? key reveals the double apostrophe ”
Quickly type apostrophes in iOS

6. Double-Tap Spacebar to Insert a Period

Instead of manually tapping the period key, just hit spacebar twice at the end of a sentence. Everyone knows this already, right? If not, get used to it, it makes a big difference typing on the virtual keys.
Double-tap spacebar for a period

7. Caps Lock

Double-tap the shift key to enable CAPS LOCK. Prior to iOS 5, this needed to be enabled separately.
Caps Lock in iOS

8. Split the iPad Keyboard

Arguably the single best tip for typing on the iPad keyboard while holding the device with two hands, just tap and hold on the keyboard icon in the lower right and drag up to split the keys. Do the same but drag down to join the keyboard again. We have covered this before and will remind everyone again, it’s that good.
Split keyboard for iPad

Have any other typing tips for the iOS keyboards? Let us know in the comments, and check out a few more tips to improve writing on the iPad using things like an external keyboard and Dictation.


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Marilyn says:

    Any suggestions to keep me from typing “s” instead of “a”?

    • Jonathon W says:

      I came here to find a solution for the “s” substitution for “a.” I have to correct this constantly.

  2. Ann says:

    Wow! I feel like I stumbled onto another planet! Thx for all tips! Yea, Mike, why the heck would apple put this cool stuff in and not tell us? Not nice to keep us ‘reg folk’ out of the secret ‘techie boys club’! By the way, I
    Accidentally found put that my apple devices can make the degree symbol, when I verbally dictated 32°!

  3. gaïa says:

    Here is a QUOTE symbol ”

    It is not called a double apostrophe


  4. Alicia Garbelman says:

    How do I add bold, underlines, and italics?

  5. I have been looking a long time to find out how easily type the degree sign on an iPad. It is hidden under the o in the French keyboard.

  6. Mike says:

    Does apple actually issue a list of all these brilliant hidden features? If so where can it be found? If not it seems strange to design them in and have people just discover and share them as is happening here. Or maybe it’s just a subtle ploy to keep apple users entertained and stop them from getting bored?

  7. Liz says:

    My biggest issue is that my right thumb on the iphone keyboard always hits return when I want an “m” or a space. Its so frustrating. short of retraining myself where to tap for an “m” and where to tap for a space (and retraining I am trying to do!), does anyone have this issue and if so, any tips to cure it?

  8. Jorian85 says:

    Spread your thumbs on the iPad spacebar up and toward the edges of the screen to split the keyboard.

  9. DD says:

    The tap and hold for special characters also works on my MacBook Pro. comes in handy when typing my name:


    • lws says:

      You can also use a gesture like the zoom gesture, with two fingers, to split the keyboard and snap it back together :)

  10. Tijarmin says:

    About quick apostrophes on the iPad, you don’t even have to hold the ,! key. Just tap and wipe upward to make it appear in your text. Same thing for the double apostrophe and all the special characters assigned to a key. For example, in French, I can type an ‘é’ wiping the ‘e’ upward, but slanting to the left. And I can also type an ‘è’ if my wipe slant slightly to the right. Very smart and usefull. I wonder how many guys have worked on the development of these features. This is so intuitive.

  11. Joel Mearig says:

    Tap the space bar with three fingers gives three spaces, four fingers gives four spaces, five five, six six. I don’t know the limit.

  12. Orchis says:

    I didn’t know a few of these, great tips keep them coming!

  13. Bartek says:

    Another great yet not mentioned tip is with the special characters being entered with the angled finger hit instead of vertical ( it works on Polish keyboard layout and maybe other international doesn’t work when I switch into EN US keybaord layout).
    In my case it works with the diacritical characters in Polish. If my finger hits the character that has a diacritic symbol vertically down the iPad keyboard enters regular character as marked on the keystroke but if my finger hits the letter at a 45 deg angle with a smal slide on the keystroke the the keyboard enters the most common diacritic symbol available normally after holding the finger as described in the tip 1 of the article. This method is much faster for diacritic characters on international keyboards.

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