How to quickly enter caps, numbers, punctuation, and more with the iPhone and iPad keyboard

At first glance using the iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad keyboard can look like a chore. You have to hit keys to switch from lowercase to uppercase, from letters to numbers to symbols and back, and where the heck are the all the special characters? Luckily, Apple built in a lot of gesture shortcuts that make the typing experience on iOS significantly better. They're not always easy to discover or to remember, but once you have them down, you'll be typing faster than ever.

  • For fast access to accented characters, for example [é], just tap and hold the base character you want and the accented variations will pop up for easy entry. This also works on specialized keyboards, for example you can press and hold [.com] to get [.net] [.org] etc.
  • To get quicker caps, instead of tapping shift and then the letter, just touch shift and then drag you finger to the letter and release. The closer the letter is to the shift key, the faster it is.
  • Rapid numbers work the same way. Just touch the number key [.?123], slide up to the number or punctuation/symbol character you want, and let go. It's great if you just want a single number or character in between typing a lot of letters. (If you want to type a series of numbers you're still better off tapping the number key, then typing your numbers, then tapping the letters key [ABC] to go back to the alphabet.
  • At first glance it looks like Apple forgot the apostrophe/single quote ['] on the first level of the iPad keyboard. You don't have to hit the number key to get it, however. Just touch the [!,] key and hold for a second, and the ['] magically appears above it. Tap for your apostrophe, or to combine these tips, just touch [!,] and swipe up and boom, instant apostrophe.

Try them out and let us know how the work for you, and if you have any iPad typing tips of your own to share, leave them in the comments and we'll update!

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • It just works!
  • Great article and productive hints.
    Found a few more among which:
    • type and hold dollar sign to get the currencies
    • type and hold - (minus) to get underscore and bullets
    • type and hold 0 to get degree sign °
    • type and hold ? To get Spanish inverted ¿
    • type and hold quotes and double quotes to get all sorts of quotes
    • type and hold period to get three of them …
    • type and hold percent % to get per thousand ‰
    Very cool
    Erwan (@Bitsmedia)
  • I wonder, does the change-font-to-Helvetica bug also work in iPad's Notes?
    By changing the keyboard to a foreign one like Arabic or Chinese, typing a letter, then reverting back to English.
  • You don't have to swipe up or tap to get the apostrophe. Once you have held the comma key and the apostrophe pops up, then just release the key and an apostrophe will appear.
    Also the .com shortcut is contextual and only appears in dialogs that will accept a URL.
  • Just thought I would point out, that if you are typing contractions, you can leave out the apostrophe and auto correct will add it for you. :-)
  • Apple is the stuff. Very innovative. Name one device that does this already.
  • As on the iPhone, when the keyboard offers ".com" as a key (as when entering a URL in Safari or an email address on some forms), tapping and holding will provide a menu with ".edu", ".org", and ".net" as additional options.
  • Wow, the had some of this stuff in the iPhone but looks like they expanded it a bit.
    Looks like some of this was lifted out of Android. You can touch digits in Android, like say a 5, and three dots appear at the bottom of the icon, indicating that if you HOLD for a second it will offer things like 5/8 (as a single character).
  • @ShevonJames:
    Apple is the stuff. Very innovative. Name one device that does this already.
    You are joking, right?
    Nexus One does this, as do most late model Android phones.
  • Very informative and useful! Thanks a lot Rene!
  • @icebike
    Yes, others do it, too, but I've used iPhones since the first one, and they started doing some of this with the first generation iPhone, quite a bit of time before the first Android phone was even out.
  • Did u guys try iPad application for e-paper???
    Another application for iPad, Anrdroid phone... PaperNow, next gen e-paper.. Online DEMO at (free reg.)
  • Ŵęÿüïpœøåßdłžčńm—€§@«»…¿¡’
    yep it works lol
  • IPAD
    How do i change fonts in Notes?
  • Thanks for the great tips. Nice to FINALLY learn these! Why didn't Apple put this under keyboard help for iPad???
  • Regarding the [!,] swipe up, this works in the same way to get accentuated characters from the non-accentuated key : a quick swipe and you get the alternative letters without having to wait. This is at least the behaviour for the french keyboard (and probably for all other languages making use of accentuated characters).
  • Any ideas how to type a © symbol on iPad
  • hi alle zusammen! erstmal wollt ich sagen das ist ein cooler artikel und er hat mir sehr gefallen, aber ich hab mal ne frage zum thema psilos /zauberpilze züchten oder anbauen lektüre und zwar kenn jemand von euch den ratgeber in 3 tagen zum pilzzuchtprofi? ich hab ihn auf der seite gefunden und wollte fragen ob es sich lohnt diesen zu kaufen? Ich hab viele gute kritiken gefunden und es soll wohl das beste zur zeit auf dem markt sein, also bitte info´s an mich! vielen dank!
  • Why don't the numbers appear along the top of the letters to save switching all the time?
  • When entering an email address on my Android HTC Flyer, holding the @ sign brings up 3 choices:
    Now thattt! is cool.
    The ElderTechTutor
  • I am new and learning this apple vs ms and I telling you apple enthusiast has been sold a bowl of bull .apple is nothing other than money machine and they have you coming and going with there applications, it's not simple, not even the keyboard is well though , wake up , all it is is thinking that if you purchase a Cadillac you have a fancy car but not necessary a good car. Wake up to reality. It is what we calls the preppies buyers ,the good thing is that apple don't get viruses besides that well I already said it.
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  • Not sure how to type the accented letters? I am using an ipad2 and every time I hold the letter and the accented choices pop up, nothing happens when I press the accented letter I want, or it just types the base letter. Help! What am i doing wrong? Swiping isn't working, either.
  • thanks for this useful Ipod tips. im a newbie in this gadget and still looking for a bunch of information in internet. thanks :-)
  • @allen. If you go to Settings / General / Keyboards / International Keyboards
    Add new keyboard. Choose emoji. Now you can toggle between keyboards by hitting the International Keyboards key beside the space bar. There are tons of symbols and emoticons on the emoji keyboard including the copyright symbol.
    Hope this helps. Say all you want but Apple is years ahead.