When the iPhone first came out, many critics complained about the virtual keyboard and how difficult it would be to type fast. But with refinements of the iOS and a few typing tips, the iPad or iPhone can become one of the best text input devices available. The keyboard of an iOS device can be intimidating and the lack of the tactile feedback can make accurate typing difficult. But Apple has greatly refined their operating system and added some tricks to the text input. Although many of the typing tricks are self evident, some are not obvious.

Watch where you are going

The most effective way to improve your text input is to watch what you are typing and not the virtual keyboard. Keeping your eyes on the words will not only let you to catch mistakes as you make them and it will also force you to memorize the keyboard layout. Like with a standard keyboard, this discipline will force your hands to build the muscle memory of the letter locations. With some practice, you can quickly become a "touch" typist.

Learn to use auto complete and correct

iOS will suggest words above your input as you type them. Many times it is the just the word you want and tapping on the space bar will complete the word for you. But other times, the word is way off and iOS still tends to change your input when you press the space bar. In these cases just type an extra letter at the end of the word, then delete it. The delete stops autocorrect from changing your word when you press the space bar. Another nifty feature about autocorrect is that it will almost always correctly add the apostrophe. So words like "can't" can be typed as "cant" and it will be corrected by your iPad.

iPhone autocorrect

Consider Landscape mode

Experiment with using the landscape versus the portrait screen orientation for text input. In landscape mode, the iPhone and iPod touch allows you to use your thumbs for text input. Two handed typing is much faster than the standard one handed hunt and peck. The iPad on the other hand allows for thumb input in portrait orientation. But it is wide enough to be used as a standard touch keyboard in landscape mode if you have small hands. The optimal typing method depends on each person's preference so it makes sense to try out both methods to find one that works for you.

More typing tips

  • Shaking the iPhone or iPod Touch will undo the last action. This is a great way to quickly undo a mistake.
  • You can save a few finger presses when you need a single number by pressing and holding the ".?123" or "@123" button. The number keyboard will appear. Slide your finger across the screen to the number/character to the number or symbol you need and move your finger off the screen. Your iOS device will return you to the default keyboard, saving you from having to switch back to the standard keyboard.
  • iOS 4 and newer versions have added spelling edit. If you see a word with red squiggly lines underneath it and you want to correct the spelling, just tap on the word for spelling suggestions. Just tap on the correct word to replace it in your text.
spelling (20762)
  • You can access special characters such as accents by holding down the letter you want. Special characters will appear above the keyboard and you can select the one you need.
iPad special characters

Other iPhone or iPad tips