How-To Geek

12 Tricks for Typing Faster on Your iPhone or iPad’s Keyboard

Your iPhone’s keyboard offers some hidden tricks that can help you type faster. iPads offer some hidden tricks, too — did you know you can split your iPad’s keyboard and move it around the screen?

Some of these tricks are well hidden. You may never discover them until someone tells you — or you read about them in an article like this one.

Double Tap the Space Bar to Type a Period

When tapping out a sentence, you tap the large space bar in between each word. When you reach the end of a sentence, you don’t have to reach for that small period button button. Just double-tap the space bar to insert a period and a space so you can start typing your next sentence.

Quickly Type .com, .net, .org, and More

Speed up typing web addresses by long-pressing the period key. You can quickly insert common suffixes like .com, .net, .org, and .edu. Move your finger to the suffix you want to type and lift to enter it.

This may not work in every application, but it certainly works in the Safari web browser.

Type a Number, Symbol, or Capital Letter With a Single Tap

Most people probably type a number or a symbol by tapping the 123 button, tapping the number or symbol you want to type, and then tapping 123 again to go back to the letter keyboard. But there’s a much faster way. Instead, touch the 123 key and hold your finger down on the screen. Without lifting your finger, move it to the symbol or number you want to type and then lift it from the screen.

This trick also works for the Shift key — touch your finger to the Shift key, move it to a letter, and you’ll quickly get the appropriate capital letter.

Split Your iPad’s Keyboard in Half

if you’d like to more easily type with your thumbs on your iPad, you can place two fingers on your iPad’s keyboard and spread them apart. Half of the keyboard will appear at the left side of the screen, and half at the right — perfect for gripping your iPad in two hands and using thumb-typing. Place a finger on each side of the keyboard and move them together to switch back to the larger, full-width keyboard.

There’s some leeway at the sides of each keyboard to help you type faster. For example, tap the empty space to the right of the T and you’ll get a Y. Or, tap the empty space to the left of the Y and you’ll get a T.

With the keyboard split, you can move it up or down to reposition it on the screen and see the app behind it.

Move Your iPad’s Keyboard Around

You can move your iPad’s keyboard up or down on the screen to see what’s behind it. Just touch the button at the bottom-right corner of the keyboard that normally hides the keyboard and move your finger up or down to move it around. You can also long-press this symbol to get options for docking, undocking, merging, and splitting the keyboard.

This works whether you’re using the full-width keyboard or the split, thumb-optimized keyboard.

Insert Other Symbols

The keyboard contains many symbols that don’t actually appear unless you know to look for them. For example, let’s say you wanted to type a cent sign — that’s a ¢ — instead of a dollar sign. Just long-press the $ key on the keyboard and you’ll see other related symbols you can type by moving your finger to them and then lifting it up.

Many of the symbol keys have related symbols you can type in this way.

Type Accented Letters

You can type accented letters in the same way you’d type those hidden symbols. Simply long-press a letter and select the accented letter you’d like. For example, if you want to type “touché” properly, you can type “touch,” and then long-press the “e” key and select the é.

Toggle Caps Lock

Caps Lock is generally a terrible feature most people don’t need. But, if you do want to type all caps — maybe you want to yell at someone on the Internet or just type an abbreviation — you can tap the Shift key twice. It’ll stay on until you tap it again.

Shake to Undo

Whether you’ve typed some text, deleted some text, pasted some text, or cut some text, you can shake your iPhone or iPad to get an “Undo” option. This option doesn’t appear on the keyboard, so you’d have to shake your iPhone with frustration to stumble upon it.

Use (or Hide) QuickType

Apple’s iOS 8 brought the “QuickType” keyboard, which tries to automatically predict the word you’ll type next. It predicts the word you’re typing while you type it — so if you type “ambas,” it’ll suggest “ambassador,” It also predicts the next word you’ll type from the words you previously typed, so if you type “HI, how are,” it’ll suggest “you.”

Just tap a word on the bar above the keyboard to use QuickType. If you don’t find it useful — or it’s just taking up an unnecessary amount of screen space — you can touch the QuickType bar and slide it down with your finger to hide it. Touch the little bar above the keyboard and slide it back up to reveal it.

Create Text-Expansion Shortcuts

Use the “Shortcuts” feature in the keyboard’s Settings to create shortcuts that automatically expand little bits of text to longer bits of text. These can make it easier to type your email address, for example — set up a shortcut that automatically expands @@ to your full email address of

You can do a lot with these shortcuts, and they can save you a massive amount of time if you regularly find yourself typing the same thing over and over. For example, if you often send a form response to emails, you can set up a shortcut that will expand a few characters to entire paragraphs. Then, you can quickly send those responses from your phone or tablet without all the typing.

Install Third-Party Keyboards

Apple hasn’t attempted to take all the features from third-party keyboards, especially the “swipe-to-type” feature that’s so popular among Android users.

To get these features, you can now install third-party keyboards like SwiftKey and Swipe on iOS 8 and greater. You’ll find these keyboards in the app store. Enable them in the Settings app. With multiple keyboards enabled, you can switch between them by tapping a button on the keyboard itself.

Feel free to customize your keyboard’s settings by opening the Settings app, tapping General, and tapping Keyboard. If you’d like to stop those annoying keyboard click sounds that play while typing, you’ll need to tap the Sounds category on the Settings screen, scroll down, and disable the Keyboard Clicks option at the bottom.

And, if none of these tips can help you type quite fast enough, you can always connect a Bluetooth keyboard to your iPhone or iPad and type the old fashioned way.

Image Credit: Tommy Lu on Flickr

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 02/16/15

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