Top iPhone and iPad Keyboard Tips and Tricks [Video]

You probably spend a significant portion of your time typing text using the stock iOS keyboards, so here are a few keyboard tips and tricks to boost your productivity.

Contextual Keyboards

iOS knows how to present different keyboard styles based on the text field you’re typing in to. So the keyboard you’ll see when typing an email will be different from the one you’ll see when you type a phone number, a web address or even a tweet. This is quite convenient since you don’t have to switch to the numbers section to type certain characters.


Enable Emoji

If you frequently use Emojis when tweeting, updating your Facebook status or messaging your friends, it’s handy to have the Emoji keyboard enabled. You can do this by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard > Scroll down to see “Emoji” in the list and tap on it. You should now see it in your Keyboards list, and your keyboard should show a globe icon, if there wasn’t one already.


You can then easily access the Emoji keyboard by long pressing the globe icon on the keyboard from any standard text field. You can also keep tapping the globe icon until you get to the Emoji keyboard.


Keyboard shortcuts

If you type a certain phrase or sentence frequently, you can set a shortcut for it, which when you type gets automatically expanded to the full thing. A few of my most used shortcuts include:

  • “@@” for my email address
  • “ttyl” for talk to you later
  • Text emoticons to emojis, as seen in the screenshot below

Setting shortcuts is really simple. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts and you should see a few shortcuts already added. To add more, tap on the “+” icon on the top right. In the phrase field, type the expanded text, and type the shortcut in the field below.


The best thing about this is that iCloud syncs text shortcuts across your iOS devices, and starting with Mavericks, it’ll sync to your Mac as well.

Bluetooth Keyboard shortcuts in Safari, Mail

If you use a Bluetooth keyboard with your iPad or iPhone, you’ll be happy to know that there a bunch of new keyboard shortcuts you can use in Safari:

  • Cmd + L: Move cursor to location bar
  • Cmd + T: Open a new tab
  • Cmd + W: Close a tab
  • Cmd + R: Refresh current tab

Mail shortcuts

  • Cmd + N: Compose mail
  • Cmd + Shift + D: Send mail while in compose panel

Disable Auto-Correct, Auto-Capitalization and other annoyances

There might be occasions when you don’t want autocorrect enabled, and you can disable it by going to Settings > General > Keyboard and disable the “Auto-Correction” switch. You can also disable Auto-Capitalization, Check Spelling or Enable Caps Lock in case you don’t require these features.

ios 7 keyboard 1

Insert special/accented characters

Can’t find the € symbol on your keyboard? To insert this symbol, you simply have to tap and hold the $ key. You will be shown a list of alternate currency symbols, including  €, to pick from.

keyboard euro symbol


You can use the same trick to insert many other symbols like an inverted exclamation, longer hyphens, accented characters etc. by tapping and holding the corresponding keys.

accented characters ios 7 keyboard

Quickly type web addresses

To quickly type commonly used domain name extensions when entering a website address in Safari, long tap the “.” key to get a list of extensions, including ones specific to your region.

ios 7 keyboard dot com 1

iPad split keyboard

Since the iPad’s keyboard width is really long, Apple provided a split mode for easy typing with two thumbs. You can enable split keyboard by following these steps:

  • Tap and hold on the keyboard button at the bottom right corner of your iPad’s keyboard (the one you generally tend to use for hide the keyboard).
  • You should get two options: Undock and Split.
  • Tap on Split to use the split keyboard.

Another way of enabling the split mode is by pulling it apart using two fingers, from the middle towards either side.


Hidden keys in split mode on iPad

If you see the split keyboard, you’ll notice that the inner extremes of both the keyboard parts have some extra space left. Turns out, this empty space actually houses extra keys according to the standard QWERTY layout, to play well with the typing practices of all users.


Quick Way To Start A New Sentence

This is a very popular trick although a few of us may still not be aware of. The iPhone keyboard lets you add a period and start a new sentence by simply double-tapping the space bar. This trick is particularly useful while you type long paragraphs of text. In case this feature is not enabled by default on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > “.” Shortcut and turn the feature on.

ios 7 keyboard 1

Quickly Insert Punctuation

This is another trick that is commonly missed. Many users tend to tap on the “123” key to view the list of numbers and symbols to pick. Once done, they tap on the “ABC” key to revert back to the alphabet keyboard. You can avoid this by instead tapping and holding the “123” key. This will show the symbols keyboard from where you may pick the punctuation mark you need. Once you select the symbol that you want to add and release your finger, iOS will automatically revert back to the alphabet keyboard.

Quickly type capital letters

If you’re in the middle of a sentence and want to type a single capital letter, you’d normally enable the cap lock key, type the letter and disable it again. But there’s a much simpler way: Tap and hold the Shift key, while holding, slide your finger to the key you want to type. When you release it, you’ll see that the Shift key is disabled again, saving you an extra tap.

Type smart quotes

The default quote key on the keyboard includes normal quotes, often called “dumb” quotes. But you can type in the curved variants of quotation marks (called smart quotes) by long pressing the quote key.

smart quotes ios 7 keyboard

“Will” Contractions

If you wanted to type contractions like “he’ll” or “we’ll,” but iOS doesn’t autocorrect your “hell” or “well” simply add a third “l.” Type “helll,” and the keyboard will recommend “he’ll.” Type “welll,” and the keyboard will recommend “we’ll.”

This also works with “were” and “we’re.” Type an extra “e” (“weree”) and the software recommends “we’re.”

autocorrect ios 7 keyboard

Add International Keyboards

If you need to communicate in different languages with your friends and family, you can setup international keyboards in iOS by navigating to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards to add a new language to your active keyboards list. Once done, you simply have to tap on the globe icon on the keyboard to switch to another language.

international keyboard

Here’s the video walkthrough of all the iPhone keyboard tips and tricks:

Let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed any of your favorite keyboard tricks.

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  • Matt

    Nice – i use the shortcuts every time i use my phone. Very helpful indeed. can’t wait for the shortcuts to sync with mavericks too!!!

  • Abel Goddard

    1 problem: “you’d normally enable the cap lock key, type the letter and disable it again.” Nope. It’s a shift key, not caps lock. A single tap and then your letter and it reverts automatically to lower case.

    1 kudo: totally didn’t know about welll and helll and weree. That’s awesome.

    • JustMe

      Double tapping the “shift” key turns on caps lock. This is what he was referring to

      • Abel Goddard

        I know how to use caps lock – but that’s not what the point is making, nor is it what is described. It says you’d ‘normally’ do that, and that’s just not the case. It’s a completely invalid point in the article.

        • JustMe

          Ah, yeah I see what you’re saying

    • Steffi

      I think I know what you mean. I guess the point in the article is that you only have to tap once instead of doing two taps to get a capital letter. Normally you would tap shift and then you would tap the letter, so that’s two taps, but you could also tap shift and then directly slide your finger to the letter, so that’s only one tap. I hope that’s what you meant? ^^

      • Abel Goddard

        Nope. Their first description is just wrong: “you’d normally enable the cap lock key, type the letter and disable it again.” You absolutely would not enable caps lock. Period. If they meant to say ‘shift’, yes, but then you don’t have to disable it, so that part is wrong. The tip about tap and hold is right (which you describe as well), but unnecessary, since a single tap to shift and then the letter does the same thing more easily.

  • Macmaniman

    question… what the hell is “.” shortcut? kinda always wondered that..

    • Abel Goddard

      You could actually read the article, but I guess that’s too hard, so here’s the relevant paragraph: “Quick Way To Start A New Sentence

      This is a very popular trick although a few of us may still not be aware of. The iPhone keyboard lets you add a period and start a new sentence by simply double-tapping the space bar. This trick is particularly useful while you type long paragraphs of text. In case this feature is not enabled by default on your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > “.” Shortcut and turn the feature on.”

      • Macmaniman

        im sorry my dyslexia bothered your rude manors

        but thaks for the answer

        • Abel Goddard

          Dyslexia? You’re gonna say dyslexia made you skip at least one entire paragraph? Get outta town.

          • Macmaniman

            no im saying i didnt understand that they where connected… for some wierd reason

            see i thought “Quickly Insert Punctuation” was regared to the picture and the “.”

          • DJCURTIZ

            Your a classic example of a dick. Ppl come here for help and info, not to be criticized.

          • Abel Goddard

            See, if you don’t want to be criticized, don’t do stupid things. Anywhere.

          • what thehell

            alright dickwad who pissed in your Cheerios

          • Abel Goddard

            The internet. Idiots on the internet that can’t express clear and concise thoughts.

          • WildFire

            Seriously Dude? You sound so cranky like maybe you pissed in your own Cheerios !

          • Abel Goddard

            Quite cranky at times, though I don’t do it to myself.

  • Osward Isiguzo

    Thanks for the the tips. You’re awesome

  • Fara

    How can you add a keyboard in a language that is not on the list please? I’ve downloaded a Persian language keyboard from iTunes but can’t see how to add it to the list.

  • Maria

    um i have the new iphone 5c but i dont have the “Dock and Merge button” on my phone. is there anyway to still do the keyboard splitter with the new iphone?

  • mE.!

    Smart quotes are an abomination.
    Also – excellent tips/shortcuts! Thanks.

  • HOnza Koudelka

    Any idea how to type a non-breaking space? No alternative spaces are offered when I tap and hold the spacebar…

  • heidi

    i cant do the split :/