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How to Set Up Text Replacements for Frequently Used Emoji and Special Characters in iOS

Most of us have a handful of emoji, emoticons, or special characters that we type on a frequent basis. Whether it be ? when we’re having a laugh with our friends, ⌘ when we’re telling a family member about a nifty keyboard shortcut, or ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when we’re showing our lack of interest. But, typing these often requires switching to a third-party software keyboard or copy/pasting from the web.

Luckily, we can utilize the built-in iOS text replacements to create shortcut phrases for typing these quickly.

  1. Go to Settings → General → Keyboard → Text Replacement.
  2. Tap the + button in the upper-right to add a new text replacement shortcut.
  3. Type or paste the emoji, special character, or emoticon into the Phrase field — for example ?.
  4. Type the text you’d like to replace into the Shortcut field, such as :lol.

Text replacements in iOS

Now, whenever you type your shortcut — :lol — the system will automatically replace it with your desired emoji, emoticon, or special character — ?.

As an additional tip, when setting up these text replacements, try using an easy to type special character at the beginning of the shortcut — like a colon — followed by a single word or abbreviation. This minimizes the chances of accidentally triggering them and aids in memorization, since they all share the same format.

To get you started, here’s a handful of emoji, emoticons, and special characters that you might want to build text replacements for:

  •  — :appl
  • ? — :cool
  • © — :copy
  • ⌥ — :opt
  • ಠ_ಠ — :stinkeye
  • ? — :thinking
  • ? — :thumbsup
  • ™ — :tm
  • ? — :wave

We have more helpful tips right here.

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