Custom Shortcuts on iPhone - a Built in Feature for Easy Typing on iPhone

A relatively unknown feature for iOS devices allows you to setup your own custom typing shortcuts. There are several app for doing this (for example TextExpander 1.2), but there is a tool you can use that is built into the operating system. This is not about abbreviations such as "u r" for "you are" or "lol" for "laugh out loud", which seem to becoming less fashionable, but real shortcuts that use a typed abbreviation and insert a whole phase.

The shortcuts get added to the auto-suggestion feature. For example when you type 'lol' the system can insert “That’s incredibly funny. It made me laugh!” or if you type "fyi" it automatically adds “For your information” to your text message.

These shortcuts have been available in word processors for many years, though they are seldom used. There are apps for doing this in Android, but there is no custom autotext feature built in.

These shortcuts can save a lot of time entering your favorite and commonly used phrases and expression. The good news is that its called - 'Shortcuts'.

To find the custom shortcuts:

You will have to fields displayed, “Shortcut” - for the abbreviation you want to use, and “Phrase” - for the phrase you want to insert. To set up a shortcut simply type the phrase you want to insert into the “Phrase,” field and your chosen abbreviation into “Shortcut.” Tap save when you're done. 

One tip is to not use real words for the abbreviations but nonsense sets of letters. For example you should not use "home" for 'I’m heading home now, I'll see you there" because otherwise this phase will pop up in the autocomplete function every time you type the word “home.” Make it “hhome” or something similar.

You will have to repeat this setup process for all the autotext shortcuts you want to use. You can delete them easily by going to the keyboard settings page and swiping left over them and tapping the delete button (similar to the way other things are deleted in iOS).

Suggestions of Common Phrases to Add

Hint: use lowercase for the shortcuts to make them easier to enter.

sig => your email signature or common sign off phrase.
waddr => your work address, to avoid having to type it out over and over again.
haddr => your home address.
wphn => your work phone number, to save typing
hphn => your phone number
eml => - saves time by not having to retype it every time, and avoids errors.
ctcl => "Can't talk, I'll call you later. " - when you need to tell someone that you will call them soon.
5min => "I'll be there in five minutes! " - when you are on your way.
brb => "Be right back. "
tupn => "Tied up Now! I'll call back later. "
rchk => "Raincheck on that. "
thk => "Thanks! "
cya => "See you Soon! "
noti => "Sorry not interested! "
repc => "I'll send you a reply shortly. "
gmab => "Give me a Break!"
foff => "I'm not interested! Leave me alone. "
omw => "I'm on my way! "
howfar => "How far are you away? "

Add your own!

Other Little Known, Built in Options

Create Custom Vibrations - When in meetings you turn your phone volume to mute as a courtesy because you don’t want to offend anyone. But if you are about to receive that critically important phone call that you may need to respond to, how can you recognise this call as distinct from other general calls? You can set-up a unique vibration sequence for any contact, or a group of contacts, and listen for the unique buzz sequence “zizip, zizip”.

To do this:

Create LED Flashes for Visual Alerts - You can use visual alerts rather than buzzing vibrations. Go to the Accessibility menu in General settings. Scroll down to - “LED Flash For Alerts”. This will set-up your iPhone to activate your camera’s LED when you get an email or text message when the phone is set to silent mode.