iPad for Newbies

Onscreen keyboard tips

Keyboard screen shot

As part of my efforts to help a newbie use the iPad, i'm recording here some of the stuff I wish I'd known at the beginning. Here are my tips for the onscreen keyboard. I am basing this on Notes, the free app that comes with iPads. Other apps offer more shortcuts and extensions.

  1. There's a shortcut for inserting a period and space. Just press the space bar twice. It took me ages to learn this and I still don't use it as much as a I should.
  2. See the the .?123 key bottom left? Press that and a big button near it appears marked Undo. That will save you a lot of deleting.
  3. If you change your mind, press the #+= key and the option will become Redo. Other apps usually offer a more friendly reverse arrow or redo arrow.
  4. I take it you already know that if you press your finger onto the screen a magnifying glass appears and you can move it around to position the entry indicator (a vertical line: |) where you need it.
  5. When you do that you usually also get an option bar appearing above the entry point offering to Select, Select All, Paste and often something else. Select usually highlights the nearest word it can find, with buttons at the top left and bottom right for you to extend or reduce the selection.
  6. Sometimes just clicking twice within the word will select it.
  7. You can usually lift your finger and then put it down again on the selection
  8. There's usually another option bar that appears with Cut, Copy, Paste, Define and maybe other choices. Define pulls up the built-in dictionary.
  9. You may find it as irritating as I do that you have to press the .?123 key to enter @ or & or (or ) etc. But some special marks you don't even have to leave the alphabet keyboard to enter. Just hold down the respective key and the special character(s) appear for you to choose by sliding your finger onto your choice.
  10. The special keys are ! for ', otherwise on the numic pad, ? for ", e for all the e's with accents (same for a, i, o and u).
  11. On the numeric keyboard you can also get special characters by holding down individual keys. ? gives you ¿ and ! will produce ¡. ' enables you to enter all variations ` ’ ‘, and " « „ ” “ and ».
  12. More usefully, except for non-English writers, $ gives you ₩ £ ¢ €. and ¥.
  13. If you work with printers, you should know that - offers – — •
  14. Just to be complete, & has § on its key.
  15. I wish these weren't on the extension to the numeric keyboard (#+=) but they are [ ] * %. The punctuation signs have the same extensions as on the numeric keyboard.
  16. Scientists be aware that the % on the numeric extension keyboard enables you to type in ‰.
  17. The microphone icon on the keyboard is for Siri. It's not perfect: insert paragraph became Lunch at paragraph and Siri can you hear me became Jeremy can you hear me. But you might be able to use it to dictate and clean up afterwards if it doesn't become too aggravating (Siri understood aggravating, so I presume it's a word the program hears often).
  18. This takes you away from the keyboard itself but gives you extra facilities when you are using it. Go to Settings (press the Home Button, then the Settings icon, then General and slide ddown till you come to keyboard. This is where you can add your own shortcuts. The built in one is 'omw' which expands to On my way!
  19. You can alter the settings here you might not like, such as the double-space for period + space, auto capitalization and turn on automatic spell-checking and auto-correction, which is a sort of shorthand helper. When you I leave these both off and live with my typos.
  20. Finally, something Apple is very proud of but I don't use: the keyboard-split facility. Hold down on the keyboard icon and it gives you the choice of splitting the screen keyboard and undocking it from the bottom half of the screen. The split might help you if you are a thumb-typist, but I don't knows any app where you need the keyboard in the middle.