Secret keyboard shortcuts: Speed up your typing!

Apple popularized virtual, multitouch keyboards with the original iPhone. Since then, the company has improved text entry with editing and insertion options, and the keyboard itself — with a new, predictive engine, optional custom keyboards, shortcuts on iPad, and even a trackpad mode!

Not every option is available in every app or for every device, and not all of them are obvious at first, but once you learn them, you'll be keyboarding like a champ!

Set settings

There are a lot of settings you can toggle for the keyboard, including auto-caps, auto-corrections, spell-check, caps lock, predictions, and more.

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Keyboard.
  4. Toggle to your liking!

Trackpad Mode

If you have an iPhone 6s or iPhone 7, you can use 3D Touch to transform the keyboard into a trackpad. That makes it easier than ever to move the editing cursor and select text.

  1. Touch and hold on the Space key. (Or use 3D Touch, if available, on any iPhone that supports it.)

On a 3D Touch iPhone, you can press firmly again to switch between moving and selecting.

Hide QuickType

If you don't want to turn predictions off all the time, but you do want them off some of the time, you can!

  1. Touch the bar on top of the predictions.
  2. Pull it down to hide it.

When you want your predictions back, just pull them back up!

Speedy switches

If you only want to enter one number or symbol, don't tap Number or Symbol button — there's a faster way!

  1. Touch the number or symbol button and keep your finger on it.
  2. Slide your finger up to the number or symbol you want to enter.
  3. Let go!

Once you're done, the keyboard will instantly switch back to text more. The same works for shift when you want to enter uppercase letters!


When you want to SHOUT AT SOMEONE WHO IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET you don't need to hit the Shift button for each letter.

  1. Tap the shift quick twice in a row.
  2. Type your TEXT.
  3. Tap shift again to go back to lower case.


Special characters

Typing the letter 'e' is easy as tapping it. Typing 'èéêëēėę' is almost as easy.

  1. Touch and hold down on the letter to get a popup with alternate characters.
  2. Slide over to the alternate character you want enter.
  3. Let go.

How to type special characters and symbols on your iPhone or iPad

Shake to undo (iPhone only)

If you type some text, delete some text, or even paste some text and later regret, you can undo it.

  1. Shake your iPhone.
  2. Tap Undo (or Redo).


Magnify mistkes

If you type a bunch of text and then notice a mistake, you can edit it.

  1. Touch the screen and hold down until the magnifying loupe appears.
  2. Drag until the cursor is at the mistake.
  3. Let go and make your corrections.

Cut, copy, and paste

If you want to do more serious text editing, you can — with cut, copy, and paste!

  1. Double tap on the text you want to select.
  2. Drag the handles to adjust the text selection.
  3. Tap Cut or Copy.

To paste text, use the magnification loupe to position the cursor, then tap Paste.

Quick contractions

Instead of typing we-number-button-apostrophe-ll for we'll, just type "well"l and auto-correct will switch it to "we'll". Weree for we're, helll for he'll and other common contractions work the same.

Undo auto-correct

Auto-correct will attempt to fix typing mistakes as you make them. If the correction is wrong, however, just hit the backspace key and iOS will popup what you originally typed. Tap on it, and it'll be un-auto-corrected and restored.

Rapid replacements

Misspelled words will be underlined in red. Tap them and iOS will offer a suggested replacement. You can get suggested replacements for any word, however, at any time. Just tap the word, then tap Replace from the popup.

Fast formatting

You can quickly apply bold, italics, or underline in any app that supports rich text formatting.

  1. Double tap to select the text you want to format.
  2. Use the handles to adjust the selection, if needed.
  3. Tap the B/U option in the popup menu.
  4. Choose the formatting you want to apply.

Dictionary defined

If you're not sure whether you're using the right word — cite the site in sight? — you can pull up a dictionary and check.

  1. Double tap to select the word you want to look up.
  2. Use the handles to adjust the selection, if needed.
  3. Tap Look Up to get the dictionary definition. Tap Manage to change or add dictionaries.

How to add and remove dictionaries on your iPhone and iPad

Attachment insertion

If your typing an email and decide you want to attach an image or document, you can do that too!

  1. Double tap where you want to insert the image or attachment.
  2. Tap Insert Photo or Attachment from the popup menu.
  3. Choose the photo or attachment you want to insert.

Super shortcuts

If you tap the spacebar twice while typing, iOS will automatically insert a '.' for you and capitalizes the next letter. You can set up your own shortcuts as well. It's great for handling common misspellings or inserting anything your type frequently, like 'gml' for your gmail address.

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap on General
  3. Tap on Keyboard.
  4. Tap on Shortcuts.

How to setup and use text shortcuts on iPhone and iPad

Enter emoji

Emoji are a special character set used to communicate pictographically. The emoji keyboard should be enabled by default, but if not:

  1. Launch Settings.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Keyboards.
  4. Tap on Add New Keyboard.
  5. Tap on Emoji.

You can access it by tapping the smily face or globe button to the left of the spacebar and mic button, then burrito thumbsup sushi cake canadaflag tada to your heart's content!

Keyboard apps

If you don't like the built-in QuickType keyboard, you can get others like SwiftKey from the App Store.

  1. Launch App Store.
  2. Find the keyboard you want and download it.
  3. Launch Settings.
  4. Tap on General.
  5. Tap on Keyboards.
  6. Tap on New Keyboard.
  7. Choose the keyboard you downloaded.

How to setup and use custom keyboards on iPhone and iPad

Swift switching

Once you've got a few keyboards installed, paging between them becomes arduous. Instead:

  1. Touch and hold the Globe/Smily button until the keyboard selector pops up.
  2. Slide up to the keyboard you want to switch to.
  3. Let go.


As improved as the iPhone keyboard is, sometimes it's still easier to talk than type. Thanks to Siri's new streaming speech-recognition, dictation is better and faster than ever.

  1. Tap the mic button
  2. Start talking.

You can even say punctuation, line and paragraph breaks. Or say "all caps" and dictate by the letter.

Plus power

If you have an iPhone 6 Plus, you can rotate to landscape mode and get access to an extended keyboard that includes editing, formatting, and even arrow keys. It's a lot of keyboard to love, but it can help you power through documents.

Bluetooth bonus

The iPhone supports Bluetooth keyboard just like the iPad. That includes everything from keyboard cases to a full-sized externals, and everything in between. If you want to get physical, you can do it with Bluetooth.

Your shortcuts?

Those are some of my favorite keyboard and text-entry shortcuts. They save me a ton of time when I'm typing. I'm always on the lookout for more, however, so if you have any I missed, add them to the comments! Either way, let me know your top tips!

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.