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

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Steve Jobs named the most transformitive business leader of the last 25 years

Next up →

The new MacBook Air is cheaper and faster, but is it worth buying?

Reader comments

How to setup and use text shortcuts on iPhone and iPad


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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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?

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

Maybe you're asking for something else.

+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?

+1 is shorthand for "me too"
Back to the 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 !!!

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

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...

My shortcuts do sync between my iPhone and iPads (and Macbook Air) bu do not expand on my iPad Air 2. On my other iOS devices and my Mac they expand the way they should.
Anybody a fix for this?