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Your iPhone's keyboard has a hidden mouse

There are several ways to edit text quickly on an iPhone. But the best way is literally under your fingers.

Patrick Holland Managing Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Expertise Apple, iPhone, iOS, Android, Samsung, Sony, Google, Motorola, interviews, coffee equipment, cats Credentials
  • Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
Patrick Holland
2 min read
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Watch this: Check out the hidden mouse in your iPhone's keyboard

Over its 10-year history, Apple's iPhone has undergone many improvements to make typing on it a good experience. Editing text, on the other hand, can still be a pain. To remedy this, iPhones with 3D Touch (6S6S Plus7 and 7 Plus) have a hidden feature that makes moving the cursor easy, fast and precise.

A firm touch

The default iOS keyboard on any 3D Touch iPhone has a hidden trackpad. To activate it, press firmly on any key until you see the keys turn blank and feel a haptic tap (Apple calls it Taptic feedback). The keyboard essentially becomes a trackpad and as you slide your finger around the keyboard, the onscreen cursor follows.

If you want to select text, ease the pressure you apply against the screen without letting go, then press firmly again to start highlighting text. This maneuver takes some getting used to, but once you do, one-handed edits are a breeze.


3D Touch can turn your keyboard into a trackpad.

Josh Miller/CNET

What about older iPhones?

No matter which iPhone you have, there are two ways to move the cursor for edits. The first way is to tap on the screen where you want the cursor to go. This works passably, but it's not terribly accurate.

The second way is to press and hold on the screen to bring up the magnifying glass. This works better than tapping, but sometimes your finger can obscure the cursor.

Now that you are a master editor, you can type all those blue bubbles with speed and accuracy.

This trick makes moving apps on an iPhone easier: Our quick and consistent solution to move apps around.

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