Smart phones are making you more productive by letting you communicate via text while you’re out and about. But typing on even the largest mobile devices can be difficult because you’re dealing with a smaller area for input and fingers can easily hit the wrong key.
Both the iPhone and Android phones address this problem by offering shortcuts for entering text through the on-screen keyboard: minimizing the number of taps make for faster and less-error-prone sentences. The following are just a few tips, primarily recommended by PCWorld.
If you’re typing several sentences and need to enter a period (.), tap the Space Bar twice to automatically insert the punctuation mark. Your phone also conveniently adds the required space after the sentence and automatically capitalizes that start of the next word to show the beginning of the next sentence.
If you deal with foreign names or words, such as Peña, façade, or soufflé, you may have relied on letters without accent marks because that’s all you know how to enter. (Such misspellings may change the meaning of the word and insult the person whose name you rewrote.) If you hold down a letter, such as a or n, a pop-up displays possible accents. Move your finger to the letter that you need and let go to enter the accented selection as text.
Are you an international currency trader, want to buy a Shetland wool cap from eBay UK, or are just heading to Japan for a much-deserved vacation? At some point, you’ll text about money, like the euro, pound or yen. Hold down the key for the dollar sign ($) and a pop-up shows foreign currency symbols like $, £, or ¥.
When you need to enter several capital letters in a row, tap the Shift key (Up Arrow) key twice. A small horizontal line appears at the bottom of the key to indicate that you’re now in ALL CAPS mode for typing capital letters exclusively. To return to normal capitalization, tap the Shift key again. The horizontal line disappears from the key.
When you’re typing a URL in the address bar of Safari for the iPhone or Chrome for an Android phone, avoid entering the three-letter extension. Simply down the period (.). A pop-up reveals possible extension options, such as .com, .net, or .edu.
Bullets and Other Symbols
Bullets can make lists with three or more items easier to read or emphasize important lines. To enter a bullet, hold down the dash (-). The pop-up shows the bullet as well as medium and long dashes.
For other useful symbols, try holding down similar keys. For example, holding down the exclamation point (!) or question mark (?) shows the upside down versions: ¡ and ¿, both of which are used in Spanish.
Avoiding Smart Phone Entry
Even with these shortcuts, you may find entering long lines of text directly into your smart phone too cumbersome. Try these workarounds instead.
- Don’t forget that you can tap the Microphone key and speak, preferably where nobody can eavesdrop. Your phone then automatically types what you’re saying, assuming the noise levels allows the mic to record you clearly.
- This one requires some planning. While you’re still in front of your desktop, use your comfortable full-sized keyboard to compose the text that you need. Then email that text to yourself. Use your smart phone to access the email and then copy the required words. Finally, paste the words into your smart phone message box.