How to Type on the iPad Keyboard

You can type on your iPad, although don’t expect to pound out the prose as easily as you can on your computer. The on-screen keyboard (the iPad’s portrait mode keyboard is shown in this figure) is a bit too small for rapid and accurate typing. However, the iPad and iPad mini do touchscreen typing better than any other iPad out there.

To use the keyboard, tap into an area that requires text input and the keyboard appears automatically. Tap the keys that you want to enter. As you touch each key, a magnified version of the letter pops up. If you touch the wrong key, slide your finger over to the correct one. The keyboard will not enter a key until your finger comes off the screen.

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Special keys on the iPad

The keyboard features the following specialty keys that allow you to do some tricks:

  • Backspace. This key has a left-pointing arrow with an X inside it, and deletes at three different speeds. The first speed is in response to a single tap, which deletes the character to the left of the blinking cursor. The second speed kicks in when you press and hold the key, which tells the iPad to move backward through the letters, deleting as it goes. The third speed engages if you press and hold the key for a few seconds, and it causes the iPad to delete entire words.

  • Return. This key moves to the next line or accepts the current input (much like the Return key on a Mac or the Enter key in Windows).

  • Shift. This key (there are actually two of them) has a little upward-pointing arrow and you tap it once to engage shift. The arrow’s outline turns blue, and the next letter that you type will be uppercase. After you type the character, the Shift key returns to normal.

  • .?123. Tap this key to display the numeric keyboard, which includes numbers and most punctuation marks. The key then changes to ABC, which you tap to return to the standard keyboard.

  • #+=. This key appears within the numeric keyboard. Tap the key to display yet another keyboard, which contains more punctuation marks as well as a few symbols that aren’t frequently used.

  • Microphone. This key starts the Dictation feature, which enables you to dictate text instead of typing it.

  • Hide Keyboard. Tap this key to hide the keyboard when you longer need it.

The Return key often changes its name depending on the context. For example, if you’re using Safari to type a web page address, the Return key’s name changes to Go. Similarly, if you’re using Safari to search for information on the web, the Return key’s name changes to Search.

Edit text on your iPad

How do you move throughout the text in order to edit it? The only obvious option is to delete all the way back to your error, which is impractical to say the least. The solution is, of course, in the touchscreen, which enables you to zoom in on the specific section of text you want to edit. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Press and hold your finger on the line you want to edit. The iPad displays the text inside a magnifying glass and within that text you see the cursor. (You might need to angle your iPad just so to see the cursor.)

  2. Slide your finger along the line. As you slide, the cursor moves through the text in the same direction.

  3. When the cursor is where you want to begin editing, remove your finger.

Understand predictive typing

As you type, the iPad often tries to predict which word you want to use, and in iOS 8 it displays its suggestions in a bar that appears just above the keyboard. (In earlier versions, a single suggestion appears underneath the current word.) This is called predictive typing, and the suggestions you see depend on the context of your writing. You have three ways to handle these suggestions:

  • To accept the highlighted suggestion, tap the spacebar or any punctuation.

  • To use another suggestion, tap it.

  • To keep your typing as-is, tap the suggestion that appears in quotation marks.

The suggestion feature also shows up with misspelled words. iOS guesses the correct word and provides a suggestion. If the suggestion is the word you want, tap it to accept it.