AndroidTips & Deals

Android tip: User-created dictionary shortcuts can save time while typing

keyboard shortcuts nexus 7 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Smartphone keyboards have improved a lot since their inception, but I’m still not a huge fan of typing on a glass screen. The Nexus 7 is probably one of the easiest mobile devices to type on that I have used, but I still find it annoying to type log in information into forms, not to mention long emails. (Thank goodness for voice to text.) On my iPad, I found that the shortcuts feature was quite helpful for inputting frequently used strings of text, and set out to see if the same useful feature was present in Android.

As I expected, the feature was present in stock Android 4.2 on my Nexus 7, but it wasn’t presented as clearly as on Apple’s device. Instead, it is hidden in the Language & input menu under the Personal dictionary heading. The interface is sparse, and only shows a list of previously created shortcuts and a button to add your own. When adding your own shortcut, you simply type the text that you want the shortcut to link to in the top box, the shortcut in the second box, and select the dictionaries that the shortcut will apply to in the final box. There’s not even an apply button; once you hit the back key, the shortcut becomes active. From then on, when you type the shortcut keys, your chosen phrase will appear as an autocorrect suggestion.

So far, I’ve set up my dictionary to automatically correct “ap” to “[email protected],” “po” to “,” “ag” to my regular Gmail account, and “z” to my zip code, since I do a lot of shipping. For now, the options show up as suggestions, and only one automatically applies for some reason, but the shortcuts still save me quite a few key presses  Potentially, this list could be customized and expanded to include such commonly typed strings as addresses, phone numbers, and other things that are difficult and cumbersome to type on a smartphone or tablet keyboard. It may not be a huge time saver, but this tip has certainly made text entry on my Nexus 7 at least a little bit more pleasant.

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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4 thoughts on “Android tip: User-created dictionary shortcuts can save time while typing

  • Avatar of hisuwh

    Goog tip. Might have to set some of these up

  • Avatar of JRDEMASKUS

    I am on GB ROM 2.3.3
    I went to advanced (keyboard) settings. User Dictionary (is enabled) all the way at the bottom, and pressed the menu button to get an “Add” button.
    There I created 2 E-mail addresses. And they saved. (I couldn’t add the @ to the string in the suggested word window on the on-screen keyboard.)
    So now I still have to type 7 characters for the full e-mail address to show as a suggested word.
    At least that is a few characters less.
    Thanks for the suggestion.

  • It is useful, but it does create occasional problems when you’re talking about something you normally wouldn’t type. Brand names, words in other languages (my wife is Hispanic, and I often text members of her family that don’t speak English), and particularly websites.

    Nothing frustrates me more on my phone than when I attempt to enter a web address and it puts a space before the .com automatically, redirecting me to Google search and making me go through another page just to get what I wanted in the first place.

    It’s a small complaint, and I’m not sure how app developers can address it while still being helpful in predicting text, but there is definitely room for improvement.

    Being someone who is more familiar with a keyboard than his vocal chords, it’s one of my bigger problems with modern technology.

  • Depending on the fields to be completed, the text shortcuts do not universally work. Moreover, the keyboard itself changes. I am looking for a better nexus 7 keyboard app.


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