Tap and Hold in iOS and Lion reveals unexpected choices

Tap and Hold in iOS and Lion reveals unexpected choices
Mac Tip #514, 30 November 2011

Typing on an iPad or iPhone can be laborious. But there are built-in shortcuts. The Tip explains how ‘tap and hold’ can speed up your typing.

Tap and hold a key for alternates

Tap and hold a virtual key on iOS5 to see more options.

Tap and hold a virtual key on iOS5 to see more options.

If you’ve been using an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone you’re sure to have needed to type something. I expect you’ve noticed that the virtual keyboard changes too, depending on which app you’re using.

What you may not have noticed is that you can tap and hold on some keys to call up additional options.

For example, in the screenshot above I’m typing the address of a web page into Safari on my iPad. The keyboard includes a handy .com key, but the URL I’m entering actually requires .co.nz.

Instead of either typing out .co.nz manually or using the .com key and then deleting and inserting characters I simply tap and hold on the .com key. A small palette of alternates such as .co.nz and .net appears and I can choose what I require.

I presume that if you’re in countries that use other domain extensions such as .ca or .co.uk those appear for you.

Accented characters are available too

Accented characters are available too.

Accented characters are available too.

The second screenshot shows my iPhone keyboard as I was adding text to a note. Try tapping and holding on different characters on the virtual keyboard and see what alternates appear.

In my screenshot I tapped and held on the letter a. Various accented letter as appeared.

Don’t forget to try it with the symbols and extended symbols keyboards too. At a guess I’d say around 25% of the keys produced alternates when I tapped and held the key.

Speed up access to numbers

I sometimes need to type a password that includes numbers, like this fictitious example: a1b2c3.

To move quickly between the letter and number keyboards to type a single number don’t lift your finger after tapping on the 123 key.

Instead type the letters you need then press the 123 key so the number keyboard appears. Without lifting your finger just slide up to the digit or symbol you need.

Using that technique you could enter a1b2c3 in 6 taps instead of 11.

Running OS 10.7 Lion on your Mac? Open up a text editor or an app where you can enter text and try the same trick. For example, I tested with the Address Field where you type an URL into Safari. [This may not work with all apps.] The screenshot shows that I tapped and held on the letter a while entering the address mactips.info.

Tap and hold on the letter a in the Address Bar in Safari on Lion.

Tap and hold on the letter a in the Address Bar in Safari on Lion.

Delete in bulk

When you delete text on your iOS device press the Delete (⌫) key once to delete a single character.

But if you hold down the Delete (⌫) it starts deleting letter by letter then after a while speeds up to delete word by word and phrase by phrase.

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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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