11 iPhone Typing Tips

1. Quick Editing (The Double Tap)

Double Tap Editing on the iPhone

iPhone 3.0 brought a quick way to edit text on the iPhone: the double-tap method. Simply double tap a word to select it, then start typing to replace it. Even if there is only one or two incorrect letters, the double-tap method is almost always faster than the alternative method, which is using your finger to bring up the iPhone’s magnifying glass and repositioning the cursor. An exception is with very long words.

2. Landscape vs Portrait

Landscape vs Portrait on the iPhone

Typing in portrait vs landscape each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Typing in portrait is often the most convenient because it’s the default way you hold the iPhone. Portrait mode is fine for tapping out short, quick notes. But a downside is that it encourages you to type with one finger, which is slow.

Typing in landscape with both thumbs is best for long-form writing like emails, notes, journals, etc. It’s the most comfortable and quickest way to type. The trade off is that, for many people, it’s less accurate because our thumbs are fatter, thus creating more mistakes.

The size and spacing of the keyboard’s keys are different in portait vs landscape. In portrait, there is more vertical space between the keys (see pictures above), but the keys are smaller. In landscape, the keys are wider, but the vertical spacing is more cramped.

There is no best way to type on the iPhone. I much prefer landscape because of the comfort and because I don’t mind going back and editing. But everyone has their own preferences. People with small hands might find it comfortable to type with two thumbs in portrait mode. The important thing is to know the strengths and weaknesses of both methods. With practice, your speed and accuracy for both will improve over time.

3. Slide Your Finger for Quick Punctuation and Numbers

This is one of the oldest iPhone typing tips there is, but it’s a goodie. To quickly add punctuation like a period at the end of the sentence:

1. Tap (and hold) your finger on the numbers key:

Slide For Quick Punctuation on the iPhone

2. When the screen changes, slide your finger across the screen to select a period, question mark, number, etc.

Slide for a Quick Period

3. Lift your finger, and the screen will return to the lettered keyboard.

This tip also works great for adding single-digit numbers.

4. Type Accented Letters, Em Dashes, and Other Special Characters

iPhone Accented Letters and Extra Characters

The iPhone’s keyboard has accented letters and other special characters not immediately visible. To view and insert them into your text, press and hold a key. For example, press and hold the letter N for a few seconds, and you’ll see a few extra options pop up. Slide your finger to select the desired character and lift. The character will be inserted into the text. Try it with other keys besides letters too, like the dollar sign (you’ll see symbols for other currencies).

5. Quick Contractions

Quick Contractions on the iPhone

There’s no need to type out apostrophes for verb contractions like who’s (a contraction of who is) or they’re (they are). Simply type out all the letters without the apostrophe, whos or theyre, and let the iPhone do the rest.

6. Let Auto-correction Speed Up Your Typing

Auto-correction spells out a word

It’s not easy typing on a 3.5-inch screen, so the iPhone tries to save you some work by offering to spell out words before you finishing typing them. You’ll know when this happens because the entire word will appear after you’ve typed a few letters. To accept and insert the word, press the spacebar.

If you want to add punctuation to the end of the word, such as a comma or period, no need to hit the spacebar. Type the punctuation (even before you finish spelling the word), and the iPhone will insert the full word with the punctuation at the end.

7. Add an Extra Letter to Avoid Auto-correction

Cancel auto-correction with an extra letter

Sometimes, the iPhone will automatically correct a word you don’t want corrected. The iPhone gives you the option to cancel by tapping an X that appears next to the “corrected” word, but this has the side effect of adding the “misspelled” word to the dictionary. To avoid this, simply type an extra letter then hit the back button.

8. No Need for “.com”

No Need for Dot Com on iPhone

When typing out web addresses in the browsers address bar, there no need to type out .com. Simply type nytimes or artoftheiphone and go. Note that this only works for “.com” websites, not .net, .org, .gov, etc.

9. iPhone Keyboard Settings

Keyboard Settings in the iPhone Settings

In the iPhone’s Settings, there are a few options you can turn on or off to alter how the keyboard behaves. To access the iPhone’s keyboard settings, tap the Settings icon–>General–>Keyboard.

The features you can turn on and off are:

  • Auto-Correction
  • Auto-Capitalization
  • Enable Caps Lock
  • “.” Shortcut (double tapping the space bar)

10. Shake the iPhone to Undo Your Last Action

Shake to Undo on the iPhone

If you want to undo an action such as cutting or pasting text, simply give the iPhone a good shake. A pop-up will appear asking if you want to undo your last action. You can also undo an undo, or undo your last several actions. So shake..sh..shake that iPhone!

11. Enable Emoji to Add Colorful Graphics to Your Text

Emoji icons on iPhone

Emoji are colorful little graphics that can be inserted into text messages or other writing apps that support it. Emoji are very popular in Japan–that’s why only iPhones sold in Japan come with them enabled. But we don’t have to miss out on all the fun. Simply download a free app called Spell Number. Launch it, and type in the number 91929394.59. Then follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings icon
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Keyboard
  4. Tap International Keyboards
  5. Tap Japanese
  6. Switch Emoji to On

Spell Number

To access the emoji, simply tap the globe icon on the bottom left of the iPhone’s keyboard until they appear.

Be sure to check out more of our iPhone Tips.


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9 Responses

  1. frombrandon says:

    Thanks! That was helpful. I wasn’t aware of some of that stuff. Will be adding your site to my RSS feed.

  2. Petri says:

    Actually, the tap-and-hold works nicely with the “.com key” – at least it does for me when using the iPhone 3GS, sw 3.1. On it I can get the .com key to expand into .net, .org and such. When I’m using the Swedish layout, it can even fill in the Swedish TLD .se – which conveniently is just a teensy bit away from the .com key, which makes it very natural to use.

  3. John says:

    This post is really lame- anyone that owned an iPhone would already know all of this stuff. Adding punctuation is a secret?

  4. Faye Rhodes says:

    Not all iPhone owners use those features enough to know all that John seems to. BTW, it’s “anyone who”–not “anyone that”. I really appreciate the tips.

  5. Eisei says:

    John, it’s not lame. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t flame. You didn’t HAVE to read it, nor did you HAVE to be a flamer. Not everyone is so much of a “self proclaimed iPhone Genius” such as yourself. So keep your meaningless opinions to yourself.

    That aside, I find this very useful for my step mom who is pretty much technologically inept. Thusly when I showed her this, it made a lot of things much easier for her since the only other cell phone she’s ever had was one of those like 12 year old, old school Nokia standard phones.

    I myself am a veteran with the iPhone, but still found the bit about Emoji enlightening. This whole piece is great for those who are not very good at texting, especially with a phone such as this, but want to try and keep of with their kids, or relatives who are.

    I have already bookmarked your site, and have “retweeted” and also emailed many of my older relatives, and some more texting handicap friends this specific page.

    Good job! =^-^=

    ????????¸.•*´¯`*• ???????? Eisei Xethlex ???????? •*´¯`*•. ¸????????

  6. Gregory says:

    @Faye – DO brush up on your English before correcting others dear. Both “who” and “that” are acceptable as they introduce subject or object relative pronoun clauses.

    A pilot is a person who flies a plane.
    A pilot is a person that flies a plane.

    A phone is a device which is used for making calls.
    A phone is a device that is used for making calls.

  7. oliver says:

    yup! these tips are helpful thanks man, ignore those stupid comments of self proclaimed iphone guru. keep up the good work … looking forward for your next tips, thanks!

  8. Swati says:

    Hey, the emoji app looks interesting and I would really like to have it on my iphone. I have an iphone4. I followed the steps to the T but got stuck on Step 5 where I have to choose ‘Japanese’. On my phone there are 2 versions of japanese – Romji and 10 digit (I think). Which one do I choose? And where do i proceed to , to check emoji ‘ON’. Appreciate your response.

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