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5 tips for faster typing on the iPad

Become a faster typist on the iPad with these five tips.

The iPad's touch interface is so intuitive that my three-year-old son can quickly find his way to his favorites--Lightsaber Duel, DoodleBuddy, and Arcade Hoops Basketball--without any assistance. Yet, neither he nor I are exceptional typists using the iPad's onscreen keyboard, which can make lengthy typing sessions feel laborious. To help speed things along, I present five tips for an improved typing experience on the iPad.

1. Shake to undo
Without control or command keys, you'll quickly realize that the standard Crtl/Command-Z keyboard shortcut doesn't exist on the iPad. Instead, you need only to shake the iPad to undo something. Be careful to shake only side to side, or you'll cause the screen to rotate its orientation. If you find yourself constantly having to undo something you've typed, it's probably best to set the screen lock. Or locate the undo key on the .?123 keyboard and the redo key on the #+- keyboard.

When shaken, the iPad slides the Undo menu option into view. Matt Elliott/CNET

2. Apostrophe now
The iPad is smart about adding apostrophes on its own when needed--"isnt" automatically turns into "isn't," for example--but for times when you need to manually add an apostrophe, you can tap the .?123 key to switch to the numeric keyboard, where the apostrophe key resides. Or you can simply tap and hold the !, key and an apostrophe key will appear above it. Similarly, tap and hold the ?. key to enter a quotation mark.

3. Tap and hold, continued
There are many other keys with hidden options that can be accessed via the tap-and-hold technique. All vowels have accented variations, for example, as do a few consonants. On the numerical keyboard, the hyphen key gives you em dash and bullet point options, and the $ key has other currency options when you tap and hold.

4. Damn you, autocorrect
While autocorrect can produce hilarious results, it's rarely amusing when it happens to you. If you find that autocorrect corrected a word in error (or missed one it should have corrected), double tap on the word to highlight it. Next to Cut, Copy, and Paste options you'll see Replace. Tap on it and you'll be presented with various replacement options.

Double-tapping on a word brings up the replace option to correct a typo or an erroneous autocorrect result. Matt Elliott/CNET

5. Take a closer look
Since no arrows keys made it on to the iPad's keyboard, you'll sometimes find it difficult to move the cursor to a particular spot when you are entering text in an e-mail or document. Tapping on the screen will occasionally get you to your intended target, but more often than not you'll be a word or a line off from where you want to be. If you tap and hold on your text field, you'll see a magnifying glass appear below your finger, giving you much more precise control to move the cursor.

For more iPad keyboard tips, take a look at this video from Natali Morris, which covers a convenient way to type in ALL CAPS, quickly access .org and other URL extensions, the tap-and-hold method for typing numbers without having to go to the ?123 keyboard, and hitting the spacebar twice to add a period at the end of a sentence.