We try to avoid profanity here at Macworld, but there are times when gosh and crikey and what’s the meaning of this and lord love a duck don’t cut it, language-wise. Those are the moments when you simply have to call someone a gigantic fuckface.
Annoyingly, digital devices do not always understand the human need for four-letter venting. Type “fucking” on an iPhone and it may decide that you really meant “ducking” and change it accordingly. Did you want to use the word ducking? Not ducking likely.
In this article we explain how to stop your iPhone from censoring your swearing. Bear in mind, however, that turning the digital air blue may upset your friends and relations, so try to exercise a little restraint.
Note also that iOS’s behaviour is a little unpredictable in this regard, and whether or not it chooses to zap a naughty word depends on your past behaviour (which iOS learns from, and uses to modify its internal dictionary), as well as the version of iOS you’re running, whether your rude word contains a typo and and even whether or not you’re using swipe typing. It is not an exact science, and for this reason we would suggest that you work through these solutions and see what works best for you in practice.
Use tap-typing instead of swiping
Testing on an iPhone 11 Pro running iOS 13.3 (your mileage may vary on different versions, as outlined above), we found that the aforementioned words are not changed, provided we type them in the traditional way. They are only corrected if we use swipe typing – perhaps because there is a greater chance of physical errors in that format.
It’s worth trying this out for yourself. If it works, and if you can cope with tap-typing, then one solution would be to use that instead of swipe typing, at least when delivering F-bombs.
Our understanding is that, contrary to popular belief, the handling of swear words was not changed in iOS 13, so going from 12 to 13 isn’t going to fix this issue. If you’re on an older version, however,
updating your iPhone may help.
As a side note, we generally recommend updating iOS on a regular basis unless you have a specific reason not to.
Create a text replacement shortcut
This is probably the most sensible and universally applicable solution, and the one proposed by our US colleague
Leif Johnson. We’re going to use iOS’s text replacement feature, designed to look for a pre-arranged sequence of letters and change them into something else.
Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. You’ll see any text replacements you’ve already set up (or just the pre-written “omw” for “On my Way!” if you haven’t done any). Tap the + sign at the top right to add a new shortcut.
The counterintuitive trick here is that we’re going to put the same word in the before and after fields. It isn’t telling iOS to change anything; it’s simply telling it that the word is legitimate. So: put “fuck” in the Phrase field and “fuck” in the Shortcut field. Hit Save.
The only downside of this method is that you have to repeat the process for each swear word you want to protect. You’ll probably want to create separate shortcuts for “fuck”, “fucking” and “fucked”, for instance, but there are probably some other rude words you can think of.
Turn off autocorrect
This is the nuclear option, but one we’d advise against. Autocorrect is in general a valuable feature that (in our experience at least) easily outweighs its occasional errors by catching and fixing dozens of typos.
If you can live without it, however, go to Settings > General > Keyboard and, in the section headed All Keyboards, tap the toggle next to Auto-Correction so it turns grey.
We trust this tutorial has helped you swear at your loved ones to your heart’s content. For more advice related to the way your Apple devices handle text changes, read
How to fix autocorrect errors on iPhone, iPad & Mac.