IMG_4100(1)When was the last time you looked…no, I mean REALLY looked at your phone’s keypad?

We use this tool more than any other and yet we take it for granted, using the basic elements of the keypad simply to type in messages, emails, and more.

But even the basic keypad has many more features that go unused. Here are several features to maximize your keypad use along with several tips you may not know about. We’ll look at the iPhone here but most keypads have similar features with their own unique twists.



1. The standard iPhone keypad has three main screens that are accessible by tapping the button in the lower left-hand corner of the keypad, ABC or 123. Access the third screen by tapping  ABC and then tap the button with symbols just above it.  So, the ABC screen is the alphabet, 123 included numbers and punctuation marks. The final screen ABC followed by #+= reveals some punctuation marks as well as other symbols such as % or > or [ ] and more.

2. To the immediate left of the message bar (where your message goes) is a camera icon. Tapping on the camera gives you a choice of accessing your Photo Library to select a photo to send or to take a photo or video. Note that the camera icon is visible when you are texting but not when you use the keypad for email.

Screen Shot 2015-10-13 at 8.36.10 AM3. To the immediate right of the message bar is a microphone icon (again in texting mode but not email). When you tap and hold this icon it allows you to send an audio message. When you want to personalize your message so someone at the other end can actually hear your voice, then this is the tool to use.

4. In the last row of the keypad on the left is a globe icon that accesses other keypads you may have downloaded and a large set of emojis (small icon like a happy face). Emojis are divided into categories such as nature, sports, food and drink, celebration, travel, objects and symbols and are used to put some life into a text message or email. (But, overused, emojis can be annoying and distract from your message.)

5. Between the globe icon and the space bar is another microphone icon. This one allows you to record text. That is, you speak into your phone and it is translated into text that you see before tapping send. It takes awhile to get used to this feature but it can be very useful. You can not only dictate the text but you can also tell the phone when to add punctuation and when to start a new paragraph. There are times when you simply cannot type so using this speech-to-text feature is very helpful.

6. The last keypad feature is auto correct, both handy and frustrating. As you type, auto correct suggests words for you that (hopefully) fit the context for what you are writing. If it is a particularly long word auto correct saves you the time of typing the entire word but you do have to stop typing to select the word you want. We’ve all seen examples of auto correct run amuck so be sure to check what you have typed or dictated before you send it!


ONE LAST TIP…I recently downloaded another keypad for my iPhone, a swipe keyboard from Swiftkey. Instead of typing individual letters and words, I can now swipe across the keypad without stopping at each individual letter. Much faster than touch typing (or hunt and peck) and the more I use it, the better it gets at recognizing what I want to say.

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