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Recently switched to Windows Phone but found it heavy going entering text into messages, emails, Facebook or even typing a URL? These five tips are here to help.

Find Your Preferred Orientation

Probably the most important thing to do when entering text on a Windows Phone is to find a phone orientation that you’re comfortable with.

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Although the Start screen is fixed in portrait mode, most native apps will let you turn the phone onto its side and view in landscape, and this can be of particular help when entering text, as the keyboard is naturally wider.

muo-wp-keyboard-landscape

So, when you want to type, turn your phone so you can easily enter text with two hands.

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(Having said that, beware of apps that don’t allow landscape typing. Several exist, and they can make things difficult for the sausage-thumbed among you.)

Word Flow Predictions For Fast Sentences

Android and iOS have word prediction tools to help you quickly build sentences with the minimum of typing, and Windows Phone is no different.

muo-wp-keyboard-predictive

The Word Flow system works in two stages: first, it displays suggestions for the words you’re entering and all you need to do is tap the word to complete it.

As a more advanced option, if you’re tapping out a common or easily-to-predict sentence, you could complete it just by tapping sequential words as they are displayed.

While there may be no Android Swype-style keyboard for Windows Phone, this method ensures you can quickly enter text and send a message single-handed regardless.

Red Wavy Lines Mean A Typo!

When you’re typing on your Windows Phone, a red wavy line – like the one you would find in Microsoft Word (or other Microsoft Office app on your desktop or even on Windows Phone itself Mobile Working with Windows Phone - Microsoft Office Mobile 2013 Mobile Working with Windows Phone - Microsoft Office Mobile 2013 Since its initial release in 2010, Windows Phone has generally had a reputation as the "other". Neither iOS nor Android but something else entirely, its curious and fast user interface has led to it experiencing... Read More ) will appear. To resolve this, tap the word in question to display a list of suggestions which can be scrolled through, left-to-right, much as the Word Flow predicted words can be.

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If the word doesn’t exist in your phone’s dictionary you can add it by choosing the option that repeats the spelling, but is preceded by a + symbol.

Note that Word Flow is often ignored by third party apps. For instance, it is virtually impossible to type a message in the eBay app as there is no Word Flow or dictionary.

Dual Functions For Shift & Space

Several keys have dual functions. While the &123 button will swap you through to the numerical keyboard and punctuation keys (three screens are provided in total), the Space and Shift keys are arguably more powerful.

muo-wp-keyboard-caps

To capitalise the first letter of a word, tap the Shift key first; to enter the entire sentence in caps, double-tap Shift to activate Caps Lock mode (a third tap will disable this). Note that the Shift key will remain highlighted with your Windows Phone accent colour while it is active.

Meanwhile, double-tapping the Space bar at the end of a sentence will automatically add the full stop (period).

Other keys have dual functions too, hiding additional characters.

Swipe for Numbers, Punctuation and Website Suffixes

You’ll notice that the Windows Phone software keyboard doesn’t have any numbers. In order to view these, you’ll need to tap &123, then the number(s) you want.

This process can be speeded up by tapping &123 and swiping your finger up to the number you want to add to your message or document, rather than tapping again.

muo-wp-keyboard-punctuation

Looking for the question mark or exclamation point? The dash and the colon are also well hidden, again in the &123 layout, but you don’t need to open that view to use them – instead, hold the full stop/period key to expand the full set of punctuation options.

muo-wp-keyboard-tld

Finally, when entering a website URL in Internet Explorer on Windows Phone, you can save time by tap and holding the .com button to reveal other options such as .net and .org.

A Simple Software Keyboard

Switching to any new mobile platform can be tricky, and Windows Phone 8’s keyboard should be simple enough for you to get the hang of.

If anything, the operative word is “simple”, but it has been improved since its first iteration and can be surprisingly effective.

Anyone experiencing problems, meanwhile, will be interested to know that Windows Phone has a good speech-to-text option Windows Phone 8 Voice Recognition Tips and Tricks Windows Phone 8 Voice Recognition Tips and Tricks Why would you pick up your phone if you could just tell it what to do? Windows Phone 8 has several very good speech recognition options. Give laziness and productivity a boost with our tips... Read More

Further steps and tutorials on using Windows Phone can be found in our free eBook.

  1. Randall L Braun
    February 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    In addition to the aforementioned tips, I USE A STYLUS in place of my sausages. It's always faster for me. I just wish there were better insertion/ deletion and more reliable text copy functions.

  2. JamesSB
    January 30, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I have a Windows Phone and I use the word prediction tool a lot. I'm a lazy typist, so I try to use the prediction tool as much as I can. I often text the same messages. I'm a smoker and I have to go to the park a block away to smoke. So I often text, "I'm going to the park." Since I've typed it before, now the only letter I type is 'I.' The predictive tool will pop-up with the rest of the words.

  3. likefunbutnot
    January 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    I don't have a Windows Phone, but I do have a Surface Pro and Surface 2, which use more or less the same crummy touch keyboard. I found that my typing is faster on those devices when I hold them in portrait orientation.

    The lack of a swipable keyboard replacement is one of my biggest frustrations with current mobile Windows.

    • Christian C
      January 30, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      While I appreciate that the UI design is similar, the smartphone version of the keyboard is far better than what is on offer in Windows 8/8.1.

      Having said that, I agree that the current inability to switch to a third party keyboard is a drag.

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