iOS 9 tips: Use Text Replacement to type faster

in iPhone edited September 2015
Using iOS 9's Text Replacement feature, formerly called keyboard shortcuts, can greatly speed up input of commonly used phrases, sentences, or text that is challenging to punch in on the iPhone keyboard.

The Text Replacement function is found under Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. Tapping on Text Replacement presents a screen with a few preconfigured shortcut options arranged alphabetically, as well as a search bar for navigating previously created pairings.

To create your own shortcuts, tap the plus sign in the upper right corner to open a screen with two entry fields. In the top field, Phrase, enter the text you want to quickly retype in other places on iOS. Below that, enter a text shortcut that will subsequently be recognized by iOS 9 and automatically replaced with the longer phrase you just entered.

For instance, you might regularly tell family members, "I just left work and expect to be home shortly. Call me if you need anything from the grocery." You can enter that into the phrase field and supply an easy to remember shortcut, perhaps "jlw" for "just left work." Now, in message, email or other text fields, you can simply type "jlw" and hit the space bar to invoke the longer phrase, "I just left work and expect to be home shortly. Call me if you need anything from the grocery."

You will want to use a shortcut trigger that is not only easy to key in, but is unlikely to be used in regular conversation. If you use a common word, like "left" for the example above, the longer phrase will override the trigger and be inserted instead.

However, if Auto-Correction is activated (Settings > General > Keyboard > Auto-Correct), a text insertion bubble will appear just above the shortcut. Clicking on it will cancel input of the longer phrase, while hitting the space bar invokes the Text Replacement operation. Similarly, activating QuickType (Settings > General > Keyboard > Predictive) will show both the common word shortcut and the longer phrase as selections above iPhone's soft keyboard.

To edit existing shortcuts, tap on Edit in the bottom left corner of the Text Replacement window, or directly on a Text Replacement phrase. Shortcuts can also be deleted by swiping left on each entry.

Text replacement works across iOS 9, including built-in apps like Messages, Reminders, Safari, Calendar and Mail, as well as third party apps such as Gmail and Twitter.


  • Reply 1 of 20
    I wonder if you delete what was created, will it perpetually return. I dare not use this feature until there is assurance that this was corrected.
  • Reply 2 of 20

    It also syncs across iCloud. Any of the shortcuts you setup in iOS will work interchangeably on a Mac and vice versa. On a Mac it would be Settings > Keyboard > Text

  • Reply 3 of 20
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    I thought this worked with ALL apps?

    Isn't it a system wide setting?
  • Reply 4 of 20
    It would be nice if iOS did a better job of just remembering the correct version of some words I type most often in the manner I do and yet it consistently, mysteriously, and annoyingly misspells (e.g., Wpple) when it does not do so for others (e.g, my first name).

    Perhaps it was just my unfortunate experience, but the problem seemed to get much worse with iOS 8 compared to iOS 7. It's almost like it forgot 55% of what I regularly typed incorrectly, and weirdly, remembered 45%, in the switch from 7 to 8.

    Now I am discovering that typing a 'w' does a paste of what was previously cut or copied, thanks to the cut/copy/paste icons on the top left that automatically appear on the keyboard. I am sure I'll figure out something in settings to dismiss it, but haven't had the time or inclination to look it up yet....
  • Reply 5 of 20
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member

    This feature is a buggy nightmare. Some users experience a problem where shortcuts will randomly duplicate, won't delete (they resurrect themselves, it's not related to having multiple devices, wiping them from all devices simultaneously does not fix the problem.)


    Apple is aware of the problem and a bug has been open now for more than year.


    It's especially problematic if a friend creates a joke replacement, as it will haunt your devices.

  • Reply 6 of 20
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,397member

    Word Processors have had this feature since (at least) the '90s so hardly any big whoop (JIC anyone was thinking this is somehow new). 

    Works great if you actually use the same exact phrase a lot.... ...and have a good memory for lots of short cuts...  ....but I quit using it 15 years ago knowing how my syntax keeps evolving over time....

  • Reply 7 of 20
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member

    Originally Posted by bigpics View Post


    Word Processors have had this feature since (at least) the '90s so hardly any big whoop (JIC anyone was thinking this is somehow new). 


    Just wondering, was JIC one of your shortcuts?

  • Reply 8 of 20
    This is nothing new to IOS. I have been using this feature for ever. Or, at least something very similar.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,953member
    So is there anything new here besides the name change?
  • Reply 11 of 20

    Hey Kasper,


    This article describes a feature that has been in iOS for many years and is novel to few if any of the readers of this site. Text replacement is describes well in many other places on the web including Apple's website and (probably) tips app, so this article adds nothing. Which is fine, I'd normally just scroll past stuff that doesn't appeal to me. However, in light of the fears you recently expressed about add blockers, I'd like to point out that this is an example of how the current add economy has influenced you- I highly doubt you would have written this article if not for the need to have daily articles to keep readers coming back for add impressions.


    Perhaps when the add wars are over you can go back to writing the occasional gem of well researched analysis, or actual inside information, rather than trying to make a living publishing daily fluff?

  • Reply 12 of 20
    WARNING: DO NOT USE THIS FEATURE!!! It is buggy and it has not worked in over 5 years!! It will never delete old keyboard shortcuts, and it continually duplicates other keyboard shortcuts. Also, the keyboard shortcuts NEVER sync successfully across devices, either. This feature is a BUGGY NIGHTMARE FROM HELL. We have been reporting this to Apple since 2010. No fixes from Apple. Apple continues to ignore that this feature is 100% completely broken beyond belief. We have filed over 10 bug reports to Apple on this feature. ZERO FIXES. DO NOT USE.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,397member

    Originally Posted by razorpit View Post


    Just wondering, was JIC one of your shortcuts?


    Nawww.  I learned to speak "TXTlish" later on... the early 140 character cell phone days.... :-D

    And actually I still have a few shortcuts in Word to attach formatted copyright notices to stuff I write. 

  • Reply 14 of 20
    As said above it would actually be more useful if the phone just remembered distinct words and spellings that you commonly used and adapted over time. I don't know, like some sort of smart phone?
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Works ok for me. Except I always get 'in' when I want 'on'.
  • Reply 16 of 20

    Besides function is buggy as other mentioned all those well paid engineers were not able after several years create multiline replacements sou you wold be able to insert such simple think like custom signatures or address or whatever needs to be formated to lines!!!!


    Good job!


    And spelling and autocorrect philosophy outside English region is also disaster. Reported but ignored.

  • Reply 17 of 20
    Those who want a more feature-rich and less buggy app might want check out the iOS version of Textexpander:

    Here is the list of apps it works with:

    It not only has more features, it can share (via Dropbox or iCloud) replacement snippets with the OS X version, saving setup time.

    For the record, I have no connection with the company.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    Is there a way to insert the current date?

    For example, I type, "ddd" and get "2015-09-21".

    I do this on my PC in iCloud Notes which syncs to Notes on my iPhone & iPad (using a little program called AutoHotkey).
  • Reply 19 of 20
    Only one i use is tmrw = tomorrow
  • Reply 20 of 20
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,953member

    Originally Posted by jasonfj View Post

    Works ok for me. Except I always get 'in' when I want 'on'.


    Really? I've always been quite impressed with the in/on replacement suggestion ability in iOS. ymmv I guess.

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