How to edit text on your iPhone or iPad

Learn how to edit text in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13.

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With iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple has changed the way you edit, select, copy, paste, and work with text in an app. The process can be quicker and smoother, but it can be confusing if you're accustomed to the old ways of editing text. Moving your cursor around the screen, selecting specific areas of text, cutting or copying text, pasting text, and undoing your last action are all different. Let's go through the steps for each maneuver.

SEE: Apple iOS 13: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic download) 

First, make sure you're running iOS 13.1 or higher on your iPhone or iPadOS 13.1 on your iPad. Go to Settings and select General. Tap the setting for Software Update. You'll either be told that your software is up to date, or you'll be prompted to download and install the latest version (Figure A).

Figure A

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How to move your text cursor

The new versions of iOS and iPadOS offer different ways to move your text cursor, or insertion point, around the screen. To position the cursor, tap in the area where you want it to appear. To move your cursor, tap and lightly hold down on it, and move your finger around the screen. As you move your finger, the magnifying glass hovers over your text. Release your finger when your cursor is in your intended spot.

Here's an alternative method that works with older versions of iOS and still works with the new versions. Press down on the keyboard with one finger on an iPhone with 3D Touch and with two fingers on any iPad. Then move your finger or fingers around the screen to position the cursor (Figure B).

Figure B

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How to select text

You can select text a few different ways, depending on how much you need to select. For a single word, double-tap on it. To select an entire sentence, triple-tap anywhere within it. And for a paragraph, tap four times (Figure C).

Figure C 

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Another way to select a single word is to press down on it; you can then drag the selection handles at the start and finish if you wish to expand or reduce the selection. Yet another option is to tap twice in the same spot, then move your finger to select the text you wish to include. Again, you can drag the handles to expand or reduce the selection (Figure D).

Figure D

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How to cut or copy text

Cutting or copying text is relatively simple. After you select text, the standard Edit menu automatically pops up. Tap the Cut or Copy command depending on which one you wish to use. A new way to cut or copy involves pinching your fingers. To copy selected text, pinch three fingers anywhere on the selection. The word Copy should then flash at the top of the screen. To cut selected text, pinch three fingers twice in succession. The word Cut should then pop up at the top (Figure E).

Figure E

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How to paste text

You can paste cut or copied text a couple of different ways. Move your cursor to the area where you want to paste, then tap that spot, and the Edit menu appears. Tap the Paste command, or alternatively, tap anywhere with three fingers, and a variation of the Edit menu appears. Tap the icon for Paste. A third option is to swipe three fingers apart. If that works, the word Paste flashes at the top of the screen. In all three cases, your pasted text should then appear (Figure F).

Figure F

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How to undo your last action

We all make mistakes, especially when having to learn new gestures and commands for working with text. If you perform the wrong move or make an error in a text-based app, you can undo your last action. To achieve this, tap with three fingers anywhere on the screen to call up the new Edit menu, and tap the Undo icon. Alternatively, swipe three fingers to the left of the screen. The word Undo should appear at the top, while your last action is undone (Figure G).

Figure G

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