How-To: Get A Handle On macOS – iOS Autocorrect And Text Replacement

With the advent of the modern macOS and iOS and their myriad of time saving features, none have been as frustrating, infuriating — and funny — as auto correct; or in Apple lingo — text replacement. Entire websites have been devoted to posting hilarious auto corrections. But for those who may want to forgo these oft embarrassing missives, this How-To is for you. This How-To will cover ways to help you stop either you Mac or iDevice from usurping your preferred words with ones that may not be anywhere near what you intended. We will see the interfaces may be slightly different in macOS vs iOS, but the outcome will be the same once completed.

There are a few ways that both macOS and iOS change or suggest words you may be typing. One way is what Apple calls “Predictive Text”.

Predictive text is an input technology that facilitates typing on a mobile device by suggesting words the end user may wish to insert in a text field. Predictions are based on the context of other words in the message and the first letters typed. Because the end user simply taps on a word instead of typing it it out on a soft keyboard, predictive text can significantly speed up the input process.

Another method is Auto Correct.

Auto-correct is a type of software program that identifies misspelled words, uses algorithms to identify the words most likely to have been intended, and edits the text accordingly. Auto-correct is commonly a feature included in word processors and messaging platforms of various types. Apple, Google and Microsoft products all have their own versions of auto-correct programs.

Now that we know what we are dealing with, how can we tame those funny and infuriating mishaps? In both macOS and iOS there are system level preferences that reside in each OS’s Keyboard Preferences. Though the Keyboard Prefs interface for each OS is different, they will both be able to share any “Text Replacement” shortcuts or definitions you add, on any of your iCloud connected devices.

macOS

On your Mac go to the Apple menu > System Preferences …

3: Click the plus button in the Text preference window.

4: Type shortcut text into “Replace” field.

The function of this text replacement preference is to allow you to add words that you frequently use, and always get auto corrected to a word you don’t want. This is fairly simple. The same word you never want corrected goes in both fields of a new entry. I often use this feature, especialy if I’m trying to type only the begining of someone’s eMail address. So if I don’t want autocorrect to correct “bking” I’d create a shortcut with “bking” in both “Replace & With” fields. You can do this for ANY word you never want autocorrcted — especially for explicatives — for those who might use them. And this can be done on both macOS and iOS.

3: Click the plus button in the Text preference window.

4: Type shortcut text into “Replace” field.

5: Type replacement text into “With” field.

I tend to use easily remembered shortcuts, and also use the same “prefix” for shortcuts that are actual words; i.e.: I use “aazip” when i want to add my zipcode to a field or line of text. I could use any prefix characters, though I try to use “aa” because it can be more easily typed on an iOS keyboard. On a Mac it doesn’t matter much. But to have to go to a second screen on an iOS devise, can be annoying, when you’re trying to cut time using a shortcut. You can also use any prefix you’d like; or none at all. It’s all about personal preference.

The only issue with not using a prefix, is on the Mac if I type the word “zip” I get a Mac text replacement menu pop-up

showing me the zip code replacement text. If I hit the space bar, to type the next word, zip is replaced by 07712; my zip code. But I have to be conscious to hit the Escape Key if I DON’T want that to happen and just type the word zip. Yes … welcome to the quirks, oddities, and annoyances of text replacement.

Once you have at least one text replacement set up, you can turn it on or off in any program by selecting Edit > Substitutions > Text Replacement, if the app supports it.

Shortcuts & Text Replacements

Once you get use to the concept and ease of use, you can go text replacement crazy — or not. I use text replacement for multiple eMail addresses. Typing the “@” more than once will step through my eMail addresses in the order I have set them up: personal, eMac, etc. Huge time saver. I also use shortcuts for typing characters like “©”, “”, “⌘”. et.al. I use the “##” for my cell number, and ### for home. You get the idea.

The possibilities are endless. There is no character limit on the size of a text replacement, it can be a single character, or several paragraphs/pages of boilerplate text you use frequently, email signatures, full addresses, ad infinitum. The biggest thing is devising a system that works best for you, and that is easy to remember and perform on both macOS and iOS devices.

The added beauty — for those using iCloud — is your shortcuts and replacements will also be copied and work on any iOS device. If you add new shortcuts on your iDevice it will also be copied to your other iCloud connected devices. It is this iCloud connectivity feature that makes text replacement really shine. Being able to type long phrases with a few keystrokes on any supported device.

iOS

1: Open Settings App, Select General

2: Select Keyboard

3: Select Text Replacement

4: Click The + Button

5: Enter Phrase & Shortcut

6: Click Save

How To Use Text Replacement In iOS

1: Type the shortcut.

2: Hit Space Bar to insert text.

It’s that easy. Type the shortcut into the text field, hit the space bar to insert the text replacement phrase. If you don’t want to insert the text replacement, select the first predictive text button. So if I wanted the insert “@@@” rather than my eMail address, I’d hit the first predictive text button “@@@”. Another “trick” .. if you don’t have the predictive bar showing in your app, iOS will use text menu pop-ups, like macOS does.

If you want the text replacement, hit the Space Bar, if you don’t want the replacement text, hit the “X” on the pop-up to close the bubble.

And there you have it: How-To: Get A Handle On macOS & iOS Autocorrect And Text Shortcuts. If you have any question, leave a comment or contact me directly.

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