Use Text Expansion to Save Time While You Type

red-lit keyboard

I feel like iOS text expansion is an overlooked feature. It may not be obvious to many people but it’s a feature that can speed up repetitive typing tasks.

Text Expansion

I use text expansion all the time for things like quickly typing an email address or home address. You can find it by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. These expansions are synced between all your devices. On macOS go to System Preferences > Keyboard > Text.

Here’s how it works. When you tap the plus (+) button in the upper right corner, you’ll be presented with a screen with two input fields: Phrase and Shortcut. The shortcut is what expands into the phrase. Apple has a small selection of expanders by default.

Screenshot of text expansion in settings

Here are examples that I’ve created:

  • When I type “qq” it expands into my email address.
  • When I type “appt” it expands into the word “appointment.”
  • When I type “btw” it expands into “by the way.”
  • When I type “e2e” it expands into “end-to-end encryption.”
  • When I type “iap” it expands into “(Offers In-App Purchases)”
  • When I type “myaddress” it expands into my home address.

As you can see you’re only limited by your needs and imagination. Shortcuts like e2e and iap are great for bloggers like me who frequently write about end-to-end encryption and apps that offer in-app purchases.

You’ll want to choose a shortcut that’s obvious like “myaddress” or something else that your mind quickly associates with the expanded phrase. It can’t contain spaces and it should be something you have to deliberately type, otherwise you might accidentally start typing them.

At one point I tried to discover the character limit of text expansion. I couldn’t find it but I was able to paste a lot of words into the Phrase box, like several hundred.

Further Reading

[iOS: How to Easily Manage SMS Two-Factor Authentication Codes]

[Apple Pencil Three Could Have Rolling Gesture For Zooming, Patent Reveals]

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