Autocorrect and autocomplete have certainly done their part to speed up communication, but neither has done as much as iOS's Text Replacement (formerly called Keyboard Shortcuts). This often overlooked feature enables you to type common messages like "How's it going?" or "See you soon" with just a few characters, such as "hig" or "sys." You'll find this a major timesaver.

Text Replacement

To set up Text Replacement, tap Settings, General, Keyboard, then Text Replacement, where you'll find preconfigured options organized alphabetically. Tap the plus sign on the top right to begin creating your first text replacement.

First, enter a statement or question in the Phrase field and then an abbreviation or beginning of a phrase -- we prefer acronyms -- in the Shortcut field. For example, "How are you doing" could be typed in as "hayd" or "how" or anything else that makes sense and saves you time. When devising shortcuts, your most important consideration should be selecting ones that are easily memorized. All your text replacements will be listed on the Text Replacement page for future reference.

To use Text Replacement, just type your shortcut in the message body, and your full phrase will appear. Select it either with a tap or by hitting the spacebar and then hitting Send.

You can search your text replacements via the search bar. Edit them by tapping the entry, making your change, and then saving. Or delete them by swiping left and then tapping Delete. For some reason, tapping Edit also starts the deletion process, instead of the editing process.

While messaging is the most obvious use case for Text Replacement, you may also use this indispensable tool for quicker typing in native apps like Notes, Safari, Calendar, and Mail, as well as in third-party apps like Gmail, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for Download.com and covers iOS.