McCallum’s Awesome iPhone Period-Typing Shortcut

By David Pogue

I have in my possession a nugget, a secret bit of iPhone information that’s so valuable, such a headache- and time-saver, that I don’t know what to do with it.

One voice in my head says, “Hoard it! Keep it a secret until your book is published! If you reveal it, it’ll be all over the Net in hours, and all your competitors’ books will have it, too.”

But another voice says, “But this information is too good to keep quiet. Plus, you didn’t discover it yourself. And besides, you’re not gonna starve, either way.”

Eventually, the second little voice prevailed. I’m going to share with you the solution to one of the most annoying things, if not THE most annoying thing, about typing on the iPhone:

The punctuation keys and alphabet keys appear in two different keyboard layouts.

So every time you want to type a period or a comma, it’s a three-step, awkward dance: (1) Tap the “.?123” key in the lower left to summon the punctuation layout. (2) Type the period. (3) Type the ABC key in the lower left to return to the alphabet layout.

Imagine how excruciating it is to type, for example, “a P.O. Box in the U.S.A.”! That’s 34 finger taps and 10 mode changes!

And therefore imagine how thrilled I was to receive an email from reader Andrew McCallum, containing a method of typing a period or a comma with only a SINGLE finger gesture.

The iPhone doesn’t register most key presses until you *release* your finger. But Andrew discovered that the Shift and Punctuation keys register their taps on the *press-down* instead.

So here’s what you can do, all in one motion:

1. Touch the “.?123” key, but don’t lift your finger as the punctuation layout appears.

2. Slide your finger a half inch onto the period or comma key, and release.

Incredibly, the ABC layout returns automatically. You’ve typed a period or a comma with one finger touch instead of three. In fact, you can type ANY of the punctuation symbols the same way.

This makes a HUGE difference in the usability of the keyboard.

I’m sending Andrew an autographed copy of iPhone: The Missing Manual.

Come to think of it, I’ll send you one, too, for any tip you discover that I wind up using (and didn’t know already)! Let me know: david@pogueman.com.

Type on, bro.

Be sure to also check out David Pogue's Favorite iPhone Tricks