Use text macros on your iPhone and iPad with iOS 5


Use text macros on your iPhone and iPad with iOS 5
Mac Tip #509, 26 October 2011

Autocorrect on iOS makes typing a brief text message reasonably quick. But if I’m in a hurry and want to type something like Be there in 2 minutes it still seems to take too long. I may have only a couple of seconds to achieve it. The new Shortcuts feature in iOS 5 is a gift for things like that. Here’s how to make it work for you.

Apple start you off with a couple of Shortcuts already available on your iOS device. Don’t be surprised if you see some there already.

Look under General Settings

Start by opening the Settings app on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. You may need to scroll down. Then tap on the General section. Once that opens tap on Keyboard.

Call up the General Settings.

Call up the General Settings.

And go to the Keyboard section.

And go to the Keyboard section.

Scroll to the Shortcuts section

Once the Keyboard page appears scroll down if necessary to see the Shortcuts section.

You may see a couple of shortcuts already in there, as some are provided with iOS 5. My screenshots shows that I’ve also added some of my own already, including my name and email address.

I have already added a couple of shortcuts to my iPhone.

I have already added a couple of shortcuts to my iPhone.

Add a new Shortcut

To add a new Shortcut:

Add a new Shortcut on this page.

Add a new Shortcut on this page.

  1. Tap Add a new Shortcut…. A new page appears.
  2. In the Phrase section add the long text you want your iOS device to type out for you.
  3. In the Shortcut section add the abbreviation you want to type.
  4. Tap the Save button to save your shortcut.

While I’ve long been able to type my own name successfully on my iPhone it was another story on my iPad. My iPad repeatedly tries to correct Miraz to Midas. While I’d love to have golden fingers, I’d prefer to be able to type my own name. Shortcuts has fixed this for me once and for all!

Try it out

Now open up something on your iOS device where you can enter text — a text message, a note, an email, a tweet or something else.

A shortcut makes my quick SMS so easy!

A shortcut makes my quick SMS so easy!

Type any text you may want to type, and when you’re ready type one of the Shortcuts you’ve already entered. If you have Autocorrect turned on you should see the expanded phrase appear as a potential correction. To accept it and continue typing tap the Spacebar.

If you don’t want the expansion to replace what you’ve typed tap the tiny x at the right-hand end of the correction.

Whether you’re looking for speed or just to avoid embarrassing or annoying typos, Shortcuts can probably help you. Try them out today.

How do you use this feature on your iOS 5 device? Tell us in the Comments at the website.

Learn more about iPad

I do some of my best learning from the Take Control series of books. Buy Take Control of iCloud to learn how to use some of the great new features in iOS 5. Your purchases help fund this site.

Buy Take Control of iCloud.

Take Control of Working with Your iPad, Second Edition.  Buy Take Control of iPad Basics.

For iPad owners and users: buy Take Control of Working with Your iPad and Take Control of iPad Basics.

Credit where it’s due

This Tip was written by Miraz Jordan, http://mactips.info, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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2 Comments

  1. Eric said:

    Thanks for the article. The keys on iPhone are too small to keep typing in an email addresses over and over.

  2. Robin Fishback said:

    I have had an iPhone since the beginning and have hoped for macros ability for the longest time. Thank you for this tutorial. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to find it!

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