How to create custom keyboard shortcuts on an Android phone or iPhoneTired of repeatedly tapping your street address, your job title, or common phrases like “on my way” or “you there?” on your smartphone’s virtual keypad?

If so, good news. Both Android phones and iPhones (as well as iPads and iPod Touches) will let you create your own, custom keyboard shortcuts for … well, just about anything.

Once you’ve tweaked the right settings, you can ask “you there?” in a text message by simply tapping, say, “yt”. You could also conjure your street address, your official title, or a phone number in just a few keystrokes.

Here’s how to do it…

Personal Dictionary settings on an Android phone

You can add shortcuts for any phrases you want to your Android phone’s personal dictionary.

On an Android phone:

  • Tap Settings, Language & Input, then “Personal dictionary.” (Note: the exact settings may differ depending on the make and model of your Android phone.)
  • Tap the “+” sign in the top-right corner of the screen, then enter the word or phrase (like “on my way”) you’d like to make a shortcut for.
  • Next, type a brief shortcut that’s easy to remember; for example, “omw” for “on my way.”
  • Tap the Back key, and you’ll see an entry for the shortcut you just added. Want to add more shortcuts? Tap the “+” sign again.
  • Now, go to the Messaging app, compose a new message, and tap one of your new shortcuts—and when you do, the phrase you entered will appear in the row of auto-correct options just above the keyboard. Tap the phrase to add it to your message.
How to create custom keyboard shortcuts on your iPhone or iPad (iOS 5 tip)

Creating custom keyboard shortcuts on the iPhone is a snap; just visit the Keyboard settings to get started.

On an iPhone:

Note: This tip was originally written for iOS 6, but it still works fine in iOS 7.

  • Tap Settings, General, then Keyboard.
  • Scroll down to the Shortcuts section, then tap “Add New Shortcut.”
  • In the blank next to “Phrase,” type in (for example) “You there?” Then, in the Shortcut section, tap in the letters “u” and “t.”
  • Tap the “Save” button. All done!
  • Let’s give our new shortcut a try. Go to Messages, compose a new message, and tap “ut.” A bubble should appear right above the text, with our new “You there?” shortcut. Press the space bar or a punctuation mark to accept.

Click here for more Android tips, or click here for more help with your iPhone!

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