Wish it were a little easier to type in ALL CAPS on your Android or iPhone, or ever get stumped while looking for the em dash? What about typing letters with accent marks, or dealing with cumbersome URLs? Or maybe you’re just hankering for an alternative to tapping on a slippery glass screen.
Read on for 9 ways to make typing on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device a little easier, from how to turn on “caps lock” to a simple shortcut to the exclamation mark.
1. “.com” made easy (iOS)
Want to type a URL directly into the address bar in Safari (on iOS) or Chrome (for Android)? Don’t bother with laboriously tapping in “.com” or “.net”.
Instead, just tap and hold the “.” key; when you do, a pop-up balloon will reveal a series of shortcuts, from “.com” to “.us”.
2. Accent marks (Android and iOS)
Don’t get caught skipping the accent grave in “voilà” while typing that email on your iPhone or Android phone.
You can access a generous portion of accent marks—acute, grave, circumflex, and otherwise—by tapping and holding a letter key (like “a”).
3. Swipe to type (Android and iOS)
Sick to death of painstakingly tapping out messages on your Android or iPhone touchscreen? Here’s a nifty trick: swiping to type.
The concept is simple: Rather than tapping each individual key when typing a word, swipe-to-type keyboards let you slide your fingertip from one key to the next.
As your finger loops around the keys, your phone predicts the work you’re trying to type—er, swipe.
Sound weird? Indeed, swiping to type does take some getting used to, but it’ll become second nature with practice.
The “stock” Android keyboard has its own built-in “swipe to type” feature. Just tap Settings >Language & Input, tap the Settings icon next to Google Keyboard, then tap the checkbox next to Enable gesture typing.
There are also plenty of third-party, swipe to type-ready keyboards in the Google Play store, with Swype being the most notable.
Wondering why there’s no Caps Lock key on the keyboard of your Android or iOS device? Well, there is, actually—it’s just well hidden.
The standard iOS keyboard lacked the swipe-to-type capabilities of Android until iOS 8 came along. That update finally brought third-party keypads—particularly Swype—to the iPhone and iPad.
4. Lock the Caps key (Android and iOS)
See the Shift key? Just double-tap it. When you do, a little horizontal line will
appear near the bottom of the Shift key, indicating that you’re in ALL CAPS mode.
5. You’re so money (Android and iOS)
Want to type the currency symbols for the yen (¥), the euro (€), or the pound (£)? Simple.
Just tap and hold the key for the dollar sign. When you do, a pop-up bubble will display a series of additional money-minded options.
6. Em dash & bullets (Android & iOS)
I’ve rarely met an em dash I haven’t liked—and come to think of it, I’m also a sucker for bulleted lists. How does someone like me survive typing on an Android phone or iPhone? Easy.
Tap and hold the dash key to reveal even more dashing buttons, including the em dash, a bullet key, and the indispensable underscore.
Bonus tip: Try tapping and holding other symbol keys. For example, you’ll find “curly” quotes by tapping and holding the quote key.
7. Emoticons galore (Android & iOS)
For iOS, you’ll first need to enable the emoji keyboard. Tap Settings >General > Keyboard, tap Keyboard (again), then check to see if “Emoji” is in the list of installed keyboards. Not there? Then tap “Add New Keyboard” and find Emoji in the list. Now head to the keyboard, tap the key with the globe icon, and feast your eyes on all the emoticons.
8. Talk instead of type (Android & iOS)
It’s easy to forget that both iOS and Android phones will take dictation whenever you’re not in the mood to type.
Just tap the little microphone icon on the keyboard. For iOS, it’s to the left of the space bar, while on Android phones it’s sitting in the top-right corner (assuming you’re using the “stock” Android keyboard).
9. A shortcut for oft-used symbol keys (Android)
On the stock Android keyboard, there’s no need to flip to an alternate set of keys to get to the exclamation mark, the percent sign, or other everyday symbols. (See the lead image at the top of the article.)
Instead, just tap and hold the period key. When you do, a pop-up of more than a dozen common symbols will appear—everything from the ampersand key (&) to the question mark.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices.