How to setup and use text shortcuts on iPhone and iPad

Tired of typing out long words, names, email addresses, web addresses, or entire sentences over and over again? Well then, save yourself some time and effort and set up iOS keyboard shortcuts for any and all of the text you type regularly. By default, the iPhone and iPad ship with "omw" as a shortcut for "On my way!" but you can create and customize any shortcut you want. What's more, thanks to iCloud, any shortcut you create will automagically sync between your iPhone, iPad, and/or Mac. Here's how!

How to create and customize iOS keyboard shortcuts

  1. Launch the Settings app.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap on Keyboard.
  4. Scroll down to Shortcuts
  5. Tap Add New Shortcut...
  6. In the Phrase field, type in the entire phrase you'd like to create a shortcut for.
  7. In the Shortcut field, type in the snippet you want to be replaced by the phrase.
  8. Tap Save at the top right.

How to edit and delete iOS keyboard shortcuts

You can edit shortcuts by tapping on them. You can delete them by tapping Edit at the top right of the Keyboard screen, or by swiping from right to left on the shortcut and tapping on Delete.

How to use iOS keyboard shortcuts

To use a shortcut just type the text you set up and hit the space key. The shortcut will be replaced by the phrase and you'll be on your way!

Note: Updated for iOS 7

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 37 comments. Add yours.

JB says:

Glad they finally added this. One of the things I missed when I made the jump from BB.

aera says:

What is the globe icon in your keyboard?

CG68 says:

International Keyboards. Go into Settings>General>Keyboards>International Keyboards
You can add different languages including Emoji icons.

iamlynda says:

The globe lets you access the emojis. ( or other language keyboards if you have them enabled). You have to have the emojis enabled in keyboards

Scott Walker says:

Bloody brilliant. I have an obnoxiously long email address that I hate entering everytime I want to log into somewhere. Fixed!

aera says:

What is the globe icon in your keyboard?

Daniel says:

It's the ability to use your keyboard for foreign languages. Pretty cool if you're texting ESOL family relatives and/or iMessaging people in another country

RJKinsman says:

Nice. I used to use this all the time on PalmOS. I hope they enhance it to allow for current time and date in different formats.

iPhoneMasterFlex says:

Tell us something we dont know

Daniel Bellinger says:

I didn't know it. When did they add this feature? Prior to iOS 5?

brianld says:

Has anyone figured out how to use carriage returns in the shortcuts? I'd like to have a shortcut for an email signature, but not all on one line.

dgbrock says:

Go to Settings->Mail, Contacts, Calendars->Signature. You can create separate signature blocks (including graphics) for as many different e-mail accounts as you have.

fastlane says:

OMW is not an acronym. MOW would be, and WOM would be. But not OMW.

thegingermonkey says:

Here's an acronym for you - GAL - Get A Life !

Massie says:

I think you're confusing acronyms and anagrams.

fastlane says:

I think you haven't read a dictionary in quite awhile.

Tbro4033 says:

One thing I've used it for is common typos that don't autocorrect. For instance, I have it switch "te" to "the"

LUVS_ME_SOME_MAC says:

I like the simple one of using "il" for "I'll". Saves a lot of steps.

David Hroncheck says:

I had a few contractions under shortcuts until I learned iOS autocorrects contractions if you simply repeat the last letter of the word. Weree becomes we're, illl becomes I'll, etc.

Crunch says:

Nice find! I had literally just found this un-advertised feature 10 mins ago by accident when I upgraded my iPad 2 to iOS 5 playing around in Settings. Sweet!
How do I go about having Siri do a bunch of these up? :-D

KalpitB says:

Any clue as to the max number of shortcuts allowed? I'm using this feature extensively but I've recently started feeling that some of my earlier shortcuts get deleted when I add a new one.

JRD's says:

Is there a way to include "carriage" returns in a shortcut (so that you can have a shortcut that includes several separate lines instead of just one continuous string of words)? I want to use the shortcut feature to make different signatures for my work and personal email accounts (why the heck doesn't Apple already have this as a built-in feature!?!!), but I want my signature to have several lines (for phone, address, website, etc). The shortcut feature only allows one long line of text without any breaks. Is there any way around this?

nudgez says:

The ability to use different signatures for email already exist?
Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars->Signature -> Per Account

Maybe you're asking for something else.

david cooper says:

what does +1 mean?
in the phrase?

Mc says:

+1 on carriage return

Sau Rhodus says:

good website!! You could start many more. I love all the info provided. I will stay tuned.

flovas says:

+1 for carriage return does work for me. Everything is still on the same line. Can someone put a sample please? Try to setup a signature is that possible?

F. Paul says:

+1 is shorthand for "me too"
Back to the question.....how do you put in a hard return into the shortcut when composing a signature over multiple lines?
When the heck is Apple going to come out with an OS that allows a separate signatures for each email addresses? Surely they have figured out one signature does not fit all !!!

nudgez says:

Already exists:

Settings -> Mail, Contacts, Calendars->Signature -> Per Account

JNGold says:

Plus, shortcuts are synced via iCloud to your other iOS devices and your Mac too. :)

George Jenkinson says:

Thanks Rene! Genuinely helpful and genuinely appreciated. I'd never have known had you not pointed it out!!

Rowanova says:

I'd like a way to set up shortcuts for certain things in my contracts that can be generalized, rather than retuning them, or copy/paste every time. Anybody know a way to do this? I use Pages and Numbers for my work, for what it's worth.

Sent from the iMore App

Belloabeebb says:

Please add me up on bbm I need iPhone users in my contact 7E4A57F7

Sent from the iMore App

Deborah Bailey says:

Is there a way to add "keyboard shortcuts" for the Iphone from the laptop? It would be so much easier for me to just copy and paste from keyboard on laptop than trying to copy from an email, go to settings and paste, then go back to email...