Text Editing and Correcting on Your Android Tablet

By Dan Gookin

You’ll probably do more text editing on your Android tablet than you anticipated. That editing includes the basic stuff, such as spiffing up typos and adding a period here or there as well as complex editing involving cut, copy, and paste. The concepts are the same as you find on a computer, but the process can be daunting without a physical keyboard and a mouse.

Moving the cursor

The first part of editing text is to move the cursor to the right spot. The cursor is that blinking, vertical line where text appears. On a computer, you move the cursor by using a pointing device. The Android tablet has no pointing device, but you do: your finger.

Tap the spot on the text where you want the cursor to appear. To help your accuracy, a cursor tab appears below the text. You can move that tab with your finger to precisely locate the cursor in your text.

After you move the cursor, you can continue to type, use the Delete key to back up and erase, or paste text copied from elsewhere.

  • You may see the Paste Command button appear above the cursor tab. This button is used to paste in text.

  • Some onscreen keyboards may feature cursor movement keys, appearing as left- and right-pointing triangles. Use those keys to move the cursor as well as the stab-your-finger-on-the-screen method.

Selecting text

Selecting text on an Android tablet works just like selecting text in a word processor: You mark the start and end of a block. That chunk of text appears highlighted on the screen. How you get there, however, can be a mystery — until now!

Text selection starts by long-pressing or double-tapping a chunk of text. Upon success you see a chunk of selected text.

Android tablet text selection.

Android tablet text selection.

Drag the start and end markers around the touchscreen to define the block of selected text.

While text is selected, the Contextual action bar appears atop the screen, although your tablet may sport a custom action bar. You use the action bar to deal with the selected text.

Text selection Contextual action bar.

Text selection Contextual action bar.

In addition to the action bar, you can delete a selected block of text by tapping the Delete key on the onscreen keyboard. You can replace the text by typing something new.

To cancel text selection, tap the Done button on the action bar, or just tap anywhere in the text outside the selected block.

  • Selecting text on a web page works the same as selecting text in any other app. The difference is that text can only be copied from the web page, not cut or deleted.

  • Seeing the onscreen keyboard is a good indication that you can edit and select text.

  • The action bar’s Select All command can be used to mark all text as a single block.

Cutting, copying, and pasting text

Selected text is primed for cutting or copying, which works just like it does in your favorite word processor. After you select the text, choose the proper command from the Contextual action bar. To copy the text, choose the Copy command. To cut the text, choose Cut.

Just like on a computer, cut or copied text on an Android tablet is stored on a clipboard. To paste any previously cut or copied text, move the cursor to the spot where you want the text pasted.

  • A quick way to paste text is to look for the Paste command button above the cursor tab. To see that button, tap anywhere in the text. Tap the Paste command button to paste in the text.

  • Some tablets feature a Clipboard app, which lets you peruse, review, and select previously cut or copied text or images. You might even find the Clipboard button on the action bar or onscreen keyboard.

  • You can paste text only into locations where text is allowed. Odds are good that if you see the onscreen keyboard, you can paste text.

Dealing with spelling errors

Similar to a word processor, your Android tablet may highlight misspelled words. A vicious red underline appears beneath the suspect spelling, drawing attention to the problem and general embarrassment to the typist.

To remedy the situation, tap the red-underlined word. You see a pop-up list of alternatives. Tap a replacement or, if the word is correctly spelled but unknown to the Android tablet, choose to add the word to a personal dictionary.

Fixing a misspelled word.

Fixing a misspelled word.
  • Words may be autocorrected as you type them. To undo an autocorrection, tap the word again. Choose a replacement word from the predictive text list, or tap the Replace button to see more options.

  • Yes! Your tablet has a personal dictionary.