A swipe-type pattern in QuickPath on iOS.

Did you know you can now swipe type on your iPhone or iPad keyboard? This feature is enabled by default, but if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot! You might be surprised how much easier (and faster) it allows you to type.

Let’s take a look at QuickPath, Apple’s fancy name for its version of the swipe-to-type keyboards Android owners have been using for the better part of a decade. Some people may call this glide typing or slide typing—it’s all the same thing.

Why Bother?

Apple first allowed third-party keyboards in the App Store with the release of iOS 8 in 2014. Swipe-to-type keyboards were available from the outset, so iPhone and iPad owners have been able to use this style of typing for almost a decade.

With the arrival of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple finally added this functionality to its native iOS keyboard. The feature is enabled the second you upgrade to iOS 13.

When you swipe type, you don’t have to lift your finger from the keyboard between key presses. It’s especially helpful when you’re typing one-handed. It’s also usually faster than two-handed typing due to the much higher error rate when you use your thumbs.

People prefer to type in different ways. Swipe typing is pretty nice in practice, but you might have to go back and correct what you swipe.

Give it a try and see which you prefer. The nice thing is, you can now use both methods of typing and switch back and forth as often as you like.

How to Type by Swiping on Your iPhone

Using QuickPath might take some practice, but it’s very intuitive once you get up to speed. To get started, grab your iPhone and type a few simple words or sentences.

Let’s say you want to type the word “iPhone.” Put your finger on the “I,” and then swipe over to “P,” “H,” and the rest of the letters in sequence, without lifting your finger from the screen. When you’re finished, your device should capitalize the “P” for you, too, thanks to autocorrect.

When you swipe type, you create a pattern your device will recognize and rely on in the future. To test this, type “iPhone” again, but this time, do it much faster. You don’t have to pause on any letters; go as fast as you like.

After each word, iOS also inserts a space for you, so you can get on with swiping your next word.

How to Use Swipe to Type on Your iPad

You can’t use QuickPath by default on the full-width iPad keyboard. Dragging your finger across the entire width of the iPad wouldn’t be very convenient, anyway. You can, however, use QuickPath if you enable the miniature floating iPad keyboard, which you can drag to reposition.

To do this, pinch inward (as if you’re zooming in) on the default, full-width iPad keyboard. You’ll see a smaller keyboard that you can then drag around your screen and swipe type on.

To return to the larger keyboard, just pinch outward (as if you were zooming out) on the smaller keyboard.

RELATED: How to Use Text Editing Gestures on Your iPhone and iPad

Words with Double Letters

When you use QuickPath, you treat double letters (like the two P’s in “Apple,” or the two T’s in “Letter”) as one letter. For example, to swipe type “Apple,” you would start on the “A,” swipe to the “P,” and then skip to the “L” and finish with “E.”

The predictive engine at the heart of QuickPath adds the extra letter (in most cases). “Too” is an obvious exception; QuickPath often uses “to” instead. It’s context-dependent, though, so it often corrects itself as you continue typing.

For example, if you type “it hurts to” and your next word is “much,” iOS will use “too” instead and correct the entire sentence. If your next word is “walk,” though, no correction is made.

Most of the time, you should be able to just type naturally and trust your device to get it right.

What if QuickPath Gets a Word Wrong?

If you anticipate QuickPath will get a word wrong, you can always pause after you type it and glance at the QuickType suggestion box (the three suggested words that appear above the keyboard based on what your phone thinks you mean).

Usually, the right word will appear in the QuickType field. To switch a word out, though, just tap it. Your iPhone will learn from the corrections you make, so (hopefully) you shouldn’t have to make as many in the future.

Context has the biggest impact on which word your iPhone will choose in this instance. For example, when I type “swiping,” my device corrects it to “sweeping,” probably because that’s a more common word. The word “sweeping” also has an emoji associated with it, which could also impact selection.

How to Access Numbers, Punctuation, and Symbols

One thing that can slow you down when you’re swiping away at lightning speed is punctuation. Fortunately, there’s a quick way to select numbers, punctuation marks, and some common symbols.

Simply tap and hold the “123” button to switch to symbol view, and then swipe to the number, symbol, or punctuation mark you want to use. Release your finger over it, and it appears in the text field. The keyboard then switches back to regular typing mode so you can continue your message.

You can still access long-press symbols (like º under the 0 key) when you use this method. To do so, just hover over the key for a second. Unfortunately, if you need one of the more obscure symbols on the second page, you’ll have to lift your finger.

How to Select an Emoji

Selecting an emoji can be a drag when you’re swiping in QuickPath. However, it slows down regular typing, as well. The best remedy is to type the name of the emoji you want to use. It should appear in the QuickType box above the keyboard.

Tap the emoji, and it replaces the last word you typed. You can use this tip when you’re typing regularly, too. It’s a lot quicker than scrolling through and looking for a particular emoji. You might have to experiment a bit to find the right description for the emoji you want, though.

Third-Party Swipe Keyboards

Third-party swipe keyboards for iOS have been around for nearly a decade. And many of them (Swype, Microsoft’s SwiftKey, and Google’s Gboard) were available on Android before that. Prior to the release of iOS 13, you had to use a third-party option to swipe type on an Apple device.

Now that the feature is available in iOS natively, there’s not a huge reason to use a third-party keyboard to swipe type. Another reason not to use one is privacy, as many third-party keyboards request “full access” to provide the full gamut of features.

“Full access” means the keyboard can see what you type, as opposed to simply registering equivalent keystrokes to the system keyboard. This allows the keyboard developer to do things like implement a custom dictionary or search engine functionality.

If you have a GIF keyboard installed, it also needs full access to search for a GIF.

The problem with full access is you have to take the developer’s word for it that what you type won’t be collected, stored, or used in any way. When two of those developers are Google and Microsoft, it’s understandable why you might hesitate before allowing them that kind of access.

Microsoft now owns SwiftKey, which is probably the most well-known swipe keyboard. It’s now available for free on all platforms. Google’s attempt is Gboard, which features a built-in Google search, translation services, and some pretty awesome themes. Another option is Fleksy, which focuses on raw speed.

Turn Off Slide to Type

If you don’t want to use QuickPath, you’ll probably never stumble across it, even if it’s enabled. If you want to turn it off, just Head to Settings > General > Keyboard and disable “Slide to Type.”

QuickPath wasn’t the only new typing enhancement Apple introduced with iOS 13. Be sure to check out the full range of text editing gestures now available on your iPhone or iPad and impress your friends (or just become a better typist).

Profile Photo for Tim Brookes Tim Brookes
Tim Brookes is a technology writer with more than a decade of experience. He's invested in the Apple ecosystem, with experience covering Macs, iPhones, and iPads for publications like Zapier and MakeUseOf.
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