Three smart ways to use the iOS Shortcuts feature

Typing on my iPhone keyboard is not my idea of fun. (Oh, for an Android-style Swype or SwiftKey Flow option.) That's especially true when I have to type the same things over and over again, like my e-mail address.

You know the drill: You install a new app, then have to register or sign up for some kind of account, always with an e-mail address and password.

Thankfully, iOS has a feature that can save you lots of time entering the same snippets of data: Shortcuts, also known as text expansion.

Shortcuts, of course, are abbreviations that automatically expand into longer text blurbs when you type them and then tap the space bar. Here are three smart ones for any business user:

1. Your email address. Instead of typing it over and over again, just create a shortcut called em (short for "email," natch). Do you have multiple addresses you use regularly? Set up em1, em2, etc. (You could also use ema, emb, etc, if you'd rather not have to switch to the numeric keyboard.)

2. An extra email signature. iOS limits you to one signature per email account. If you want to sign your messages with something different, however, just set up a new shortcut for each line of the signature: sig1, sig2 (or siga, sigb), and so on.

3. Text-message time-savers. Most of the typing you do on an iPhone happens in the Messages app, right? So why not set up some shortcuts for your most frequently used phrases? I'm thinking:

5min I'll be there in five minutes.

CTN Can't talk now, I'll call you later (or something to that effect).

OMW On my way!

RL8 Running late.

You get the idea. For any chunk of text you're tired of typing, create a shortcut that's easy to remember. (And once you start using it regularly, it'll become as natural as typing the entire phrase.)

Now all you need to know is how to create a shortcut:

1. On your iPhone, go to Settings, General, Keyboard, Add New Shortcut.

2. In the Phrase field, type the full text that you want expanded upon typing the shortcut—for example, your email address.

3. In the Shortcut field, enter the abbreviation you want for that text (e.g. em). Then tap Save.

4. Repeat the process for any additional shortcuts you want.

Now that you've learned that, hit the comments and let me know what shortcuts you'll be creating—or which ones you already use to save you some keystrokes.

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