Android

Create Android keyboard shortcuts for words that you use frequently

If you're looking for a way to make typing on Android a bit more efficient, Jack Wallen shows you how to take advantage of shortcuts on the built-in keyboard.

Android shortcuts

How many times do you have to type out your email address, company name, or URL on your Android device? All of that typing takes precious time, and if you mistype and send the wrong information, you look bad.

Fortunately, Android (4.1 and higher) has the solution for both issues. That solution is keyboard shortcuts. With this feature, you can create specific shortcuts that will automatically translate to words and character strings (such as email addresses, URLs, and even phrases). The only caveat is you must use shortcuts that serve no other purpose (like "qqq"). These shortcuts will be rarely used character combinations (acronyms work well for sentences).

In order to make use of this, you either must use the built-in keyboard or a keyboard that includes the shortcut feature (like Smart Keyboard PRO). If you're good to go with the Google keyboard, let me show you how to create shortcuts for those often-typed words (that you don't want to always type or risk spelling incorrectly). I'll demonstrate by creating a shortcut for my email address on a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto X smartphone (running Android 4.4.2).

What you're doing is creating a shortcut for an email address. This is done in the Language & input section of Settings. From within Language & input, locate and tap the Personal Dictionary entry. Here you can add words to your dictionary and shortcuts. From the Personal dictionary window (Figure A), tap the plus sign [+].

Figure A

Figure A

All personal dictionary entries and shortcuts will be shown here.

You should see two text fields (Figure B). The first says Type a word — this is where you'll enter the email address (or word or phrase). The second, Optional Shortcut, is where you enter the actual shortcut to be used. For my purposes, I will enter:

  • jack.wallen@gmail.com in the Type a word section
  • qqq in the Optional Shortcut section

Figure B

Figure B

Creating a shortcut.

You don't have to save this, as the entries are auto-saved. Back out of this screen and go to an app to test the shortcut. For example, open up Gmail and, in the body of the email, type the shortcut. The email address should appear in the recommendations above the keyboard (Figure C) where you can, with a single tap, add the email address to the body of the email.

Figure C

Figure C

The shortcut in action.

You can have as many shortcuts as you like — with the understanding you have to remember the shortcuts and the shortcuts must be character combinations not used for anything else.

If you're looking for a way to cut down on your mobile typing, using these handy Android shortcuts can help. Not only will they save time, but you won't mistakenly send out the wrong email address again.

What other Android shortcuts do you use? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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