How to turn on the fullstop shortcut on iOS and use it on Mac too


How to turn on the fullstop shortcut on iOS and use it on Mac too
Mac Tip #484, 27 April 2011

I use an iPhone, an iPad and a Mac interchangeably throughout the day. I’ve become so used to the iPhone automatically changing 2 spaces into a fullstop (period) and space that I get a bit frustrated the my Mac doesn’t do it too. Then I had an idea to solve it. Here’s how it all works.

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Turn on the iOS shortcut

The iOS double space shortcut.

The iOS double space shortcut.

Go to the Settings app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and tap on the General and then the Keyboard setting. That opens a page that allows you to set various options for how the on-screen keyboard works, as the screenshot shows.

One item is called "." Shortcut:

Double-tapping the space bar will insert a full stop followed by a space.

Tap the switch so that On displays in white text on a blue background. That turns the shortcut on.

How to use the double-space shortcut

On your iPhone or iPad open up an app where you enter text by typing. Type a sentence, but instead of deliberately tapping the . key to insert a fullstop (period) instead just tap the space key twice. The two spaces are magically transformed into a fullstop and a space.

That’s all there is to it.

Why can’t I type a double space on my Mac?

Pressing Space twice should work on Macs too.

Pressing Space twice should work on Macs too.

The frustration I’ve found is that I’ve become used to double-spacing to insert a fullstop and space. Now I try to do it on my Mac too, but it doesn’t work.

The other day I vented my frustration on Twitter:

So of course pressing Space twice should do fullstop-space. Why did it take till 2009 (?) and iOS to work this way. Why isn’t it on my Mac?

Once I’d tweeted that, I had the sudden realisation — I could use TextExpander to make it work like that.

I’ve written previously about TextExpander: Cut your work in half: TextExpander types text for you.

Make a macro to change 2 spaces

Double space macro in TextExpander.

Double space macro in TextExpander.

When I thought of it, it seemed very simple. I immediately set up a macro, but within a few minutes struck problems. So read on below to find out how to make it work well for you.

TextExpander 2 spaces expand to fullstop.

TextExpander 2 spaces expand to fullstop. You can’t see the spaces. ☺

The macro itself: set the shortcut to [space][space]. Set the expansion to be .[space]. Done.

Now try typing something in an app that handles text, and it may or may not work. I fell into discussion on Twitter with another person about this and also ‘called in’ the TextExpander folks by ‘mentioning’ them too.

The solution soon turned up [edited for later corrections]:

Group setting “Expand after:” should be set to “any character” to make it work. You might want to set up a separate group.

And then an extra clarification:

Group setting “Expand after:” should be set to “any character” to make it work. You might want to set up a separate group.

Tune up the macro

Group settings for the TextExpander macro.

Group settings for the TextExpander macro.

As the TextExpander Twitter folk said, you need to set particular settings for the macro:

  1. Put the macro into its own special group.
  2. Set that group’s settings so that the Expand after setting has any character selected.

That advice helped enormously, but a couple of small problems remained.

Also stop the macro operating in some apps

Turn off the macro in some apps.

Turn off the macro in some apps.

As I started to use the double space macro on my Mac, it worked flawlessly in text-based apps. But I quickly found that there are apps where I use the spacebar as a control for some part of an app, not to insert a space in text.

For example, I may press the spacebar to scroll down a web page. I don’t want TextExpander jumping in, if I scroll twice in a row.

  1. Go back to the Group settings in TextExpander.
  2. In the Expand in: section choose All Applications, Except…. A sheet appears listing all the apps installed on your Mac, with a checkbox beside each.
  3. Check the box beside any apps where this macro should not operate. For example, I checked Activity Monitor, Bejeweled 3, Finder and some others.
  4. Click OK to save your changes.

Now just enjoy not having to change your double-space habit as you switch between iOS and OS X.

How is this Tip working out for you? Have you found any other quirks to be careful of? Please leave any Comments at the website.

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2 Comments

  1. Tommy said:

    For some reason this isn’t working for me. I made sure to put a space after the period in the “Content: Plain Text” area, and hit the space bar twice under Abbreviation section. Was this eliminated in 4.0?

  2. Alistair McBride said:

    Hi Miraz,
    Thanks for that. I use Typinator and that set up easily also. Named the Set Double Space and started with Safari and it all works sweetly on my MacBook Pro.

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