This iPad keyboard trick is the quickest way to type numbers and symbols, so why do more people not use it?

iPad Pro with M4 chipset
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future)

There’s one iPad trick that I remember being asked about loads when I used to work at the Genius Bar. People would often say, “By the way, what are those small numbers and symbols above my keyboard?” Or “Why do I keep accidentally putting numbers into my text?”

Well, it just so happens that those small numbers and symbols above your keyboard on any of the best iPads represent one of the best keyboard software implementations across all of Apple’s products. So much so that I’ve been trying to think about how Apple could incorporate something like it into iOS 18 on the best iPhones.

Here’s how to quickly input numbers or symbols on your iPad without disrupting your typing flow.

Swipe for numbers and symbols on iPad

Ever accidentally swiped on your iPad’s keyboard and noticed a number instead of a letter? It’s actually a neat feature that’s perfect for anyone who wants to type quickly. All you need to do is swipe down on the key that shows a smaller number or symbol you want to use. For example, swiping down on Q will give you the number 1, swiping down on A will give you the @ sign, and so on and so forth.

It’s a very simple gesture and one that once you incorporate into your daily routine will feel right at home on the iPad. I use this gesture so much that I often accidentally do it on my iPhone, hence my want for a major keyboard update at WWDC 2024 next month.

It’s also worth noting that holding down the space bar on your iPad will turn the whole keyboard into a trackpad for easy text navigation just like on iPhone. Considering how big the M4 iPad Pro and iPad Air 6 are, especially the 13-inch models, this navigation technique and swipe gestures are well worth trying out.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • Wotchered
    This is not that easy if you have big fingers
    I only hit the apostrophe right once in three
    'kk'in difficult !