As more and more of us use the iPad for regular business chores, we're spending more and more time with its virtual, onscreen keyboard. That keyboard works pretty well as it is, but there are some tricks that every iPad user should know about that makes iPad keyboard input more efficient.

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Show transcript

Hi, Dan Miller, Editor at Macworld here, and I wanted to talk to you today about the iPad keyboard and seven tricks that I think everyone should know about.

1) First one is tapping and holding to get special characters. If you tap-and-hold on any of the vowel keys and several of the consonants, you’ll get a pop-up from which you can select variations on those characters. Things like accents and circumflexes. It’s particularly useful if you type in languages other than English; it’s the only way you’ll get many of the characters you need.

Similarly, if you tap-and-hold on several of the keys on the numeric keyboard, you can get other special characters. So, for example, you tap-and-hold on the dollar sign, you get a bunch of currency symbols. Tap-and-hold on the period and you get an ellipsis. Tap-and-hold on the question mark or exclamation point and you get the upside-down versions you need in Spanish. Again, it’s the only way you’re going to get those characters.

2) You can also swipe up on some keys to insert special characters. So if you swipe up on the dash, you get an en dash. Swipe up on the dollar sign and you get the cents symbol. One thing I like is that this is one way to get smart quotation marks.

3) Double-tap on the spacebar at the end of a sentence, and it’ll insert a period and a space, so you’re ready to begin the next sentence.

4) If you’re in Safari and you want to get to a site that has a top-level domain other than .com, tap-and-hold on the .COM key, and you’ll get a pop-up where you can select .ORG, .EDU, and others.

5) Similarly, if you’re in Mail and you want to add a top-level domain at the end of an email address, tap-and-hold on the period; you can then select the top-level domain that goes at the end of the address.

6) If you’re typing a bunch of letters and you want to insert a number or punctuation mark, open the numeric keyboard and slide your finger to the number you want. Release your finger and you’ll pop right back to the alpha keyboard.

7) Finally, there’s splitting the keyboard and undocking it. Tap-and-hold on that keyboard button in the lower right and select Undock and you can slide the keyboard up and down to different positions on the screen. If you tap-and-hold the keyboard button and select Split, the keyboard will split into two. This is obviously handy if you hold the iPad with two hands and type with your thumbs. One oddball thing: If you tap next to one of the letters on the inner edges of the split keyboard, you’ll get the letter that would have been there if the keyboard wasn’t split. So, for example, if you tap next to the G, you get an H, and if you tap next to the H, you get a G. It’s an odd thing, but it can be handy.

Updated 05/11/12 to correct statement that swiping up on dash key produces em dash; it really produces an en dash.

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