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One of the less touted features of iOS 5 is the NEW Shortcuts Feature. I’m a fan of TextExpander on my Mac and even TextExpander on my iDevices, but on iDevices TextExpander only works in Apps that directly support it. However, since “Shortcuts” is built-in to iOS that means that it works everywhere and in any App. The concept is simple. You can create Shortcuts that allow you to key in a few letters, but expand into full sentences. For example, if I receive a SMS message while in the car I don’t wan’t to have totype a long response. I have a shortcut setup so that if I type “drv” it expands to “I’m driving now. Will respond as soon as I can.” Granted you shouldn’t txt and drive under any circumstance, but If I have a second to respond while I pull over I’d rather do it with 3 characters instead of having to compose a long message. However, it’s not just for texting. You can use these shortcuts for kinds of things including email and other Apps. I get asked for things like my photography rates all the time and perhaps the address to my studio. I have shortcuts for those. If someone is making a Starbucks run and they want to know what I want I can just key in “shl” for Grande Skinny Hazelnut Latte”.

You can create your own shortcuts by going to Settings, General and Keyboard. Just tap Add New Shortcut… to create the ones you want. Be sure not to use abbreviations for actual words. For example, “drv” instead of “dri” because I wouldn’t otherwise type a word with those letters and I don’t want shortcuts popping in for normal things that I’d type during the course of my correspondence.

Give Shortcuts a try. It’s built-in!

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  • I use this quite a bit, especially with URLs and email addresses.

    I wish Apple would add the ability to create a multi-line phrase for this feature. That would help in making multiple signatures for things like emails since I believe you can only set one default signature for all of your email accounts now.