Flick on your iPad’s keyboard to type numbers and symbols

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wooden hand on yellow background keyboard flicks
Flick your keyboard.
Photo: Charles Deluvio/Unsplash

One of the disadvantages of smaller iPads’ software keyboard is the lack of a numbers row. The 13-inch iPad displays a full keyboard with a numbers row and separate Caps Lock and Tab keys. But to type numbers on smaller iPads — the 10.5- and 11-inch models, and the mini — you first hit the symbol/number shift key to convert the top row of letter into numbers.

It’s a minor inconvenience, but if you do a lot of number entry on your iPad, then it becomes a major usability problem. The good news is that there’s an excellent workaround: keyboard flicks.

iPad keyboard flicks

The standard iPad keyboard. This is iOS 12.
The standard iPad keyboard. (This is from iOS 12.)
Photo: Cult of Mac

The clue for this feature is right there on the keyboard itself. See how all the keys have a second set of characters in dark gray above the regular letters? Those characters become available when you press the symbol/number shift key, the one that reads .?123.

But, if you just flick up on any key, instead of tapping it normally, then you can type that symbol directly. You don’t need to ever use the symbol/number shift key. Try it. (This trick works on big iPads, too.)

On the 13-inch iPad Pro, the upper symbols are available using keyboard flicks.
On the 13-inch iPad Pro, the upper symbols are available using keyboard flicks.
Photo: %% Top stories, How-To,

Keyboard flicks also work with the symbol/number shift key

That’s already a handy trick, but what about this one? If you tap on the .?123 key, you’ll notice that the regular key symbols shift so that new symbols appear on them. These are usually accessed by pressing the Shift key.

Keyboard flicks work on the shifted keyboard too.
Keyboard flicks work on the shifted keyboard, too.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The neat part is, you can now flick on these keys to access the new upper symbols.

I love this trick, but it had become so ingrained and automatic that I never thought to write it up. Until yesterday, when our vivacious editor Lewis Wallace gushed that he’d just discover it. I did a quick poll in the Cult of Mac Slack and decided it might be worth it. If you already know this trick, you should totally pass it on to your friends and family.