Mobile

15 tips for Gboard, Google's supersmart Android keyboard

These pro tips make texting with Gboard even easier.

Jason Cipriani/CNET
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Gboard can translate your text as you type.

Google

If you already use Gboard on Android (or iOS), you probably already know the basics. There are some great features you may not be taking advantage of, but totally should.

1. Type and translate

If you have a friend who speaks another language -- or you just really want to impress someone you met on Tinder -- you can use Gboard to translate your text into another language in real time. Tap the Google icon and then tap the Translate icon (the icon that looks like a folded piece of paper). From the drop-down menu on the right, select the language you want.

If you need to translate something sent to you, copy and paste words into the text box and choose your native language from the drop-down menu.

2. Sync and win

The more you use a keyboard, the better it gets at predicting what you want to say. If you get a new device, the training starts from scratch on the new device. But there is a workaround. You can sync your devices so that the keyboard doesn't need to relearn.

Tap the Google icon > Settings > Dictionary. In the Dictionary options, slide the Sync learned words option on.Tap OK on the pop-up screen and then choose which Google account you want to use to sync your devices. Tap OK again and you're done.

3. Gesture delete

You can use a simple gesture to quickly delete anything you have in the text bar. Place your finger on the delete button and slide left. A whole line in the text box will vanish.

4. Add a number row

I hate switching between the alphabet and numeral keyboards. It's a good thing you don't have to. Go to Google icon > Settings > Preferences and slide the Number row option on. Now you'll have a numbers row at the top of the alphabet keyboard.

5. Make it one-handed

Using a large device but only have one hand available to type? You can put Gboard into one-handed mode. Long-press on the Enter key and slide your finger to the icon of a hand holding a device. The keyboard will zoom to the right side of the device, making it easier to type with one hand. You can also access one-handed mode by tapping on the Google icon and tapping on the One-handed Mode icon.

If you're left-handed, tape on the Arrow icon on the left side of the keyboard. This will push the keyboard up against the left side of the screen. To make your keyboard normal again, tap on the Full-screen icon above the arrow icon.

6. Search for emojis

Searching for the perfect emoji is easy. Simply long-press the Enter key and type a keyword -- such as happy, sad or cat -- into the search bar at the top of the pop-up screen to find just the one you're looking for.

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Here's what comes up when you search for "happy."

Alina Bradford/CNET

7. Draw to search emojis

Can't think of a word to describe the emoji you're looking for? Now you can draw the emoji to search for it. A tap on the Emoji Handwriting icon (the pencil icon on the right) will bring up a blank space where you can draw your emoji with your finger or stylus. Then, Gboard will bring up all of the emojis that look like what you drew.

gboard-emoji-drawing-2-cktycef

Search for emojis with drawings.

Google

8. Keep your favorites handy

You can also keep your favorite emojis in easy reach by adding an emoji row to the keyboard. Go to Google icon > Settings > Preferences and slide the Show emojis in symbols keyboard option on. A row of your most-recent emojis will pop up at the top of the symbols keyboard.

9. Get to emojis quickly in apps

When you're in apps, how you access emojis can change, depending on the app. To get to them quickly, press and hold the Enter key.

10. Share GIFs

You can search for and share GIFs through the emoji section, too. Long-tap the Enter key and slide your thumb to the Emoji icon. There will be a GIF option at the bottom on the screen. Tap it and use the search bar to find the perfect GIF.

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Adding GIFs to your texts is easy.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

11. Quickly position the cursor

If you've ever continually tapped on a screen to get your cursor in just the right position, then you'll love this trick. CNET's Jason Cipriani discovered that if you slide your finger along the spacebar, the cursor will move in the text box.

12. Search Google

You can search Google and share your results while you text. Tap the Google icon, type what you're looking for into the text bar and tap Enter, or tap on some of the autopopulated questions. Once you get the answer you're looking for, tap on the Share icon at the bottom of the screen to send the results to the person you're texting. Sometimes the results of your search will autopopulate into the text bar, and you can simply tap the Send button to share.

Google's Gboard app builds search into the keyboard.

Google's Gboard has a search right in the keyboard.

Google

13. Nix a suggestion

Does the suggestion box keep offering up a word you don't ever use? Like ducking? Tap and hold on the word until the Trash icon appears, then drag the word to it. 

14. Send a contact card

If someone wants your contact information -- or someone else's -- don't type it out. Tap on the + icon > More > Contact Card. Then just choose a contact from the list. The info will send automatically. 

15. Make a flipbook

Send a group of photos in a cool way by making a flipbook. Tap on the + icon > More > Flipbook. Choose your photos, tap Next,  add some text and hit the Send icon. The photos will send as a slideshow that plays automatically in the message thread.

Editors' note: This article was originally published on March 9, 2017, and has been updated.

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