Back to Basics: Your smartphone’s keyboard

I know you use the keyboard on your smartphone all the time, but it never hurts to take a minute to “sharpen the saw” and see if there are any bits of knowledge that can make your life easier! So, I’ve made a little checklist here of basic features of the keyboards on smartphones. Since smartphones fall into two categories, I’ll make the checklist twice, first for iOS: iPhones and iPads, then for Android phones.

iOS Keyboards

  1. Make the keyboard appear: just tap on any area where typing is expected.
  2. Make the keyboard disappear: sometimes it’s covering up an important element. It will disappear if you tap on an area of the screen where typing is not allowed.
  3. iPad Keyboard includes a special keyboard button in the lower right of the keyboard. Tap on that and the keyboard will disappear. Tap in any typing field to bring it back. Long press on it and you will have options for undock, split, or float. Split is for thumb typists. To close the split longpress the keyboard button then choose Dock and Merge (or pinch the space bar together.)
  4. When device is held Vertical you have a smaller keyboard, more room for screen. Turn it  Horizontal and you have a bigger keyboard
  5. Correcting Autocorrect: if you notice an error in a previous word, you can tap on it and you should see all the possible choices from autocorrect. Just tap on the right one – it it’s there. You can even make your own autocorrect shortcuts like gotc can autocorrect to GeeksOnTour.com. Use Settings->General->Keyboard->Text Replacement
  6. Type in ALL CAPS: Double tap the shift key. It should turn black with an underline. To turn it off, just tap the shift key again.
  7. Moving cursor: Longpress (Touch and hold) spot that needs to be fixed, you will see an enlarged cursor that will move with your finger so you can accurately place it.
  8. Shortcut for numbers and punctuation: longpress on the 123 key and drag to a number or character. When you let go the letters will come back.
  9. Dictate by tapping the microphone button on the keyboard. When you’re done, tap the keyboard icon to return.
  10. End sentence: tap the space bar twice to enter a period, a space, and capitalize the next word.
  11. Swipe or Glide typing: with one finger, start on the first letter of a word and drag your finger to each subsequent letter without lifting your finger from the screen. At the end of the word, you can lift your finger and it will automatically enter a space so you’re ready for the next word. If instead, you type a period, it will remove the preceding space.
  12. Swipe delete by word: instead of just tapping the delete key, you can drag. Start at the delete key and swipe left across that row of keys. You will be deleting all the characters as you go and it will start to delete word-by-word.
  13. Emojis: Longpress on the globe icon to the left of the spacebar and choose Emoji. The keyboard space is now filled with little icons. Swipe left, or tap the categories at the bottom to see many more. To get back to the regular keyboard, tap the ABC in lower left.
  14. Keyboard Settings: If any of the options above did not work for you, it may be a matter of changing your settings. There are 2 ways of getting to your keyboard settings 1) Home screen, System Settings, General, Keyboards or 2) on the keyboard, longpress on the globe icon then choose Keyboard Settings…
    For example if the End of Sentence shortcut (double-tap the space bar) doesn’t work for you, look for the “.” Shortcut setting and turn it on. If swipe or glide typing doesn’t work, find the Slide to type setting and turn it on.

Android Keyboards

Android phones may be manufactured by Samsung, Motorola, Google, or others. Each manufacturer can put their own spin on the keyboard. If any of these don’t work for you, Check your keyboard settings – see #13 below.

  1. Make the keyboard appear: just tap on any area where typing is expected.
  2. Make the keyboard disappear: sometimes it’s covering up an important element. It will disappear if you tap on the phone’s Back button at the very bottom of the screen.
  3. When device is held Vertical you have a smaller keyboard, more room for screen. Turn it  Horizontal and you have a bigger keyboard
  4. Correcting Autocorrect: if you notice an error in a previous word, you can tap on it and you should see all the possible choices from autocorrect. Just tap on the right one – it it’s there. You can even make your own autocorrect shortcuts in the dictionary like gotc can suggest an autocorrect to GeeksOnTour.com. Tap the gear for settings icon at the top of the keyboard, Dictionary, Personal Dictionary, English, tap the + to enter your own word along with a shortcut to that word. For example my “word” is GeeksOnTour.com and the shortcut is gotc, then I tap the checkmark to save it
  5. Type in ALL CAPS: Double tap the shift key. It should turn dark and maybe have an underline to indicate Caps Lock. To turn it off, just tap the shift key again.
  6. Moving cursor: Sometimes it’s difficult to tap to reposition the cursor exactly where you want it. First tap to get close, then you can rub left or right on the space bar which is like pressing a left or right arrow key on a computer. You may also see a little bubble-handle at the bottom of the cursor that you can grab to reposition.
  7. Shortcut for punctuation: Each letter has another character showing above it. For example, the m has the ? character. If you longpress on the m, you’ll see the ? key and drag up to select it. When you let go the letters will come back.
  8. Dictate by tapping the microphone button on the keyboard. When you’re done, tap the microphone to return.
  9. End sentence: tap the space bar twice to enter a period, a space, and capitalize the next word.
  10. Swipe or Glide typing: with one finger, start on the first letter of a word and drag your finger to each subsequent letter without lifting your finger from the screen. At the end of the word, you can lift your finger and it will automatically figure out the word, then enter a space so you’re ready for the next word. If instead, you type a period, it will remove the preceding space.
  11. Swipe delete by word: instead of just tapping the delete key, you can drag. Start at the delete key and swipe left across that row of keys. You will be deleting all the characters as you go and it will start to delete word-by-word.
  12. Emojis: Tap the smiley face icon, or Longpress on the comma/smiley icon to the left of the spacebar and choose Emoji. The keyboard space is now filled with little icons. Swipe left/right, up/down, or tap the categories at the bottom to see many more. To get back to the regular keyboard, tap the ABC in lower left.
  13. GIFs: Tap the GIF icon above the keyboard and you can choose from Giphy – all sorts of cute animations.
  14. Keyboard Settings: If any of the options above did not work for you, it may be a matter of changing your settings. Tap the Gear icon above the keyboard at the right. If you don’t see a gear, tap the arrow icon at the left edge of the row above the keyboard. Once you’ve tapped Settings, you should see a screenful of options. Look thru them all!
    For example if the End of Sentence shortcut (double-tap the space bar) doesn’t work for you, look for the Smart Typing option and Auto punctuate (Samsung keyboard.) This option may also be found under Text correction and Double-space period on the Google GBoard. If swipe or glide typing doesn’t work, find the swipe to type setting (Samsung) or the Glide typing setting on Google GBoard, and turn it on. If you don’t see punctuation and characters above the letters, find Preference and Long press for symbols.

To see some of this in action, we have three of our YouTube shows that covered keyboard topics.

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