iPhone and iPad Productivity

11 Essential Keyboard Tips and Tricks for iPhone and iPad

Khamosh Pathak 22-06-2017

Apple’s mobile devices are great productivity machines, brimming with apps for getting work done on the go. You might be using intelligent email apps and smart task management apps, but have you considered upgrading your iOS keyboard game?


There are small things you can do using the keyboard that will end up saving you a lot of time, taps and frustration. If you type a lot on your iPhone, you need to master these tips.

1. 3D Touch for Trackpad Mode

If you’re using an iPhone 6s or higher, just press deeper anywhere on the keyboard (to engage 3D Touch Everything You Can Do With 3D Touch on Your iPhone 3D touch is really just a fancy name for a pressure-sensitive screen, but adds a whole array of extra input options to iOS. Read More ) and watch the keyboard transform into a makeshift trackpad. Now as you move your finger left, right, up, or down, so will the cursor.

3d touch keyboard trackpad mode

This little feature solves a big problem with touchscreens: precision cursor control. On Macs, it’s easy to put the cursor right between a word. Without the trackpad mode on iOS, this task is frustrating.

This secret feature is actually two levels deep. Once you’re used to moving the cursor using 3D Touch, you’ll want to level up. After engaging the trackpad mode, press deeper once again while moving your finger and you’ll be selecting words as you move.

2. Swipe the Keyboard on iPad

ipad trackpad mode

There’s no hardware 3D Touch feature on the iPad. But the iPad does have a similar trackpad mode (although it’s limited to the first level, cursor movement feature). When the keyboard is open, swipe left or right with two fingers to move the cursor.

3. Text Expansion Shortcuts

text replacement

If you use your iPhone or iPad for work communication, you end up typing a lot. Typing on glass isn’t always efficient, but there’s a way to speed things up. Using the Text Replacement feature, you’ll be able to expand text shortcuts into complete phrases, words or sentences. This is really useful when you’re typing the same thing over and over again. Your address, a canned message and so on.

essential ios keyboard tips and tricks 6

To set it up, open the Settings app on your iPhone and go to General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. Tap the + button to add a new shortcut. Type the phrase, the shortcut and hit Save.

Now when you’ve got the keyboard open, just type the shortcut, hit Space and watch it expand to the configured phrase.

4. Shake to Undo

shake to undo

One of the hidden 10 Hidden iPhone Features That Will Make You More Productive You're probably not using some of Apple's most useful iOS features. Read More , and not so intuitive features in iOS is the Shake to Undo feature. If you’ve made a mistake, like accidentally deleted a paragraph, all you have to do is shake your entire iPhone or iPad, a bit violently, to get a popup asking you if you’d like to undo the last step.

Yes, it is barbaric but it works and can save your bun at just the right time. So remember, when things go wrong, channel your inner Taylor Swift and shake it off!

5. Disable Predictive Text

essential ios keyboard tips and tricks 5

Other than the auto correct feature, iOS keyboard also has predictive text that Apple calls QuickType. It shows up at the top of the keyboard. To disable this feature, go to Settings > General > Keyboard and disable Predictive.

You can also just close the predictions area by swiping down on it while typing a message.

6. Try Speaking Instead

essential ios keyboard tips and tricks 3

Why type when you can speak to your iOS device instead? iOS has a sweet dictation feature built-in and it even works when you’re not connected to the internet. For English speakers, the dictation engine is surprisingly good at converting speech to text.

With the keyboard propped up, tap on the Microphone icon and start speaking.

7. The Shifty Shift Key

shifty key gesture

There’s no caps lock key on iOS. To turn on caps lock, tap on the Shift key twice. There’s also a hidden gesture for the Shift key. Instead of tapping the Shift key once and then tapping on the letter you want to capitalize, next time tap on the Shift key, swipe over to the letter and lift your finger for the same result, only faster.

You can also use the shift key as you would on a regular keyboard, by holding Shift and tapping the letter you want to capitalize.

8. Swipe on Numbers Key

numeric key swipe gesture

The same trick also works for the numeric alternate keyboard. Tap on the 123 button and swipe. You’ll see that the keyboard will change to the numeric keyboard which gives you access to the numbers row, along with regularly used punctuation marks.

9. Dealing With Intentional and Unintentional Typos

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When you misspell words, iOS will either underline them in red or just replace the word with what it thinks is the correct spelling when you hit the space bar. But if iOS autocorrect got it wrong (as it usually does Fix Bad Autocorrect Entries & Train Your iPhone to Spell Properly Is your AutoCorrect a piece of ducking shiv? That's probably because your iPhone dictionary is full of misspelled corrections and words that make no sense. Read More ), you can undo the damage.

You can either backspace till you reach the end of the word and tap on the word to see a popup which contains the word you originally wrote. Tap on it to replace it.

10. Look for Dictionary Definition

essential ios keyboard tips and tricks 1

You can look up the definition of a word you’ve just typed without going to Safari 15 Essential Safari iOS Tips & Tricks for iPhone Users A surprising number of useful actions in Safari on iOS are hidden behind long presses, gestures, and 3D Touch. Read More . As a non-native English speaker, I sometimes have to double check the meaning of the word before I’m confident to hit send. After you’ve typed the word, double-tap the word in the text box and select Look Up.

11. On Plus Models, Try Landscape Mode

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If you’re using an iPhone 6s Plus or iPhone 7 Plus, just turn your iPhone sideways to engage the keyboard in landscape mode. Along with the regular set of keys, you’ll also have access to cut, copy, paste, formatting and arrow keys.

This can make typing a long passage of text on your iPhone How You Can Type Easier and Faster on Your iPhone This isn’t the first thing I’ve written on an iDevice, but it’s the first time I’ve chosen to do it when I’ve had other options. Read More a more pleasant experience.

Or Try Another Keyboard

gboard emoji gif search

Yes, the iOS keyboard is pretty awesome, but it’s not the only option. iOS now supports third party keyboards and some of them are actually worth trying. I would recommend you start with Google’s Gboard keyboard that has an integrated Google search bar, GIF support, and Emoji search.

Download a keyboard app from App Store and go to Settings > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add a Keyboard to enable them. Then tap on the Globe icon from the keyboard to switch a keyboard.

And don’t forget about other iPhone tricks. Do you know how to record calls on your iPhone How to Record a Phone Call on an iPhone Wondering how to record a phone call on iPhone? Here's four methods to record phone conversations on iPhone. Read More ?

Explore more about: Keyboard, Keyboard Shortcuts, Productivity.

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  1. David Martchouk
    June 22, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    # 9. "You can either backspace till you reach the end of the word and tap on the word to see a popup which contains the word you originally wrote. Tap on it to replace it." > There is no other option in that sentence, so either makes no sense. Either requires 2 options. either blah blah blah or blah blah blah.....