OMG! How do teenagers text so fast? Well, of course, they get a lot of practice. I even know kids who are experts at typing without looking – apparently an essential skill for messaging in class, holding your phone under the desk, out of sight of the teacher. But even if you’re beyond adolescence, there are still plenty of tricks you can use to speed up your smartphone typing.
Trick #1: Make friends with Autocorrect
If you painstakingly type and make sure every… word... is… spelled... correctly, you’re wasting your time. Most smartphones’ autocorrect functions are pretty good. Try typing way faster than you’re used to, and keep your eyes more on the subject line than on the individual letters. Even if you think you’re making a mistake, just keep typing; most times, autocorrect will fix it for you. Also, if you see the correct word predicted while you’re typing, just hit the space bar and autofill will fill in all the remaining letters.
I compared my speed when carefully typing each letter and getting every word right to using this fast autocorrect method. Sometimes I did have to go back and fix words, but generally I type twice as fast.
That said, autocorrect won’t catch everything, and we’ve all heard of autocorrect gone horribly wrong, so make sure you proofread before you hit “send.”
Trick #2: Use MLAs
That’s Multi-Letter Acronyms (aren’t all acronyms multi-letter?). IMHO, these are better for making me ROTFLMAO than for conveying actual information, but on the other hand, why type “are” if you can get away with “r”?
Trick #3: Create Shortcuts
And what if you can’t get away with MLAs – either because your recipient won’t understand them, or there simply is not a commonly used acronym for what you want to say? Good news: you can tweak your iPhone to create custom abbreviations that the phone will convert into full phrases. For example, based on a shortcut I made, when I type DIN into a text. It offers, “Do you want me to pick up dinner?” Hitting space bar then replaces my custom MLA with the complete sentence.
Go to Settings, General Keyboard, and tap Shortcuts. You can make any new shortcut you like. Then when you type the shortcut while texting, the phone will offer you the option of inserting the full phrase just by tapping the space bar.
You can also create shortcuts for place names or proper names you frequently type, so autocorrect won’t keep incorrectly correcting them.
Trick #4: Dictate
In your texting keyboard, you’ll notice a little microphone. You can use it to dictate a text in about half the time of typing. But I’ve had limited success with the dictation within the iPhone’s texting app. For example, when I try dictating “Can you grab me a cooler bag and some ice?” It came out consistently (I tried 7 times) “Can you grab a caller begging some ice?” On the other hand, using Siri, I’ve found the accuracy much better. You’d think it was the same exact voice recognition as the option in the texting app but launching Siri and dictating a text through it (her?) works much better for me. I’d love to know in the comments if anyone else has experienced this phenomenon.
Hint: No matter what voice recognition software your phone has, it helps to speak clearly, but you don’t need to speak overly slowly. As long as you enunciate, your phone’s processor is way faster than you are!
[Related: Android Touchscreen Secrets]
Finally, all you Android users are going to gloat and brag that Swype for Android, where you trace the word on the keyboard without picking up your finger, is an incredibly speedy way to type and that it’s not available on the iPhone. Well, you’re totally right, and it drives me crazy. After switching back to the iPhone from the Samsung Galaxy II, I miss Swype more than any other aspect of the Android operating system. Come on Apple, give Swype a chance!
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