Folks Doing "Real Work" On An iPad - How the Heck Do You Quickly Navigate To &Cut and Paste Text ??

Discussion in 'iPad' started by jozero, Feb 18, 2016.

  1. jozero macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    I have an old iMac which I need to replace. I am leaning towards the waiting-for-godot mythical skylake macbook pro update, but I do actually like my iMac quite a bit, and a Retina 27" iMac would be awesome. I get my "difficult" needs a large screen work at my desk, this is the majority of my use. A 27" Retina iMac with an iPad Pro or iPad Air 3 w/ pencil would be sweet.

    I *LOVE* my iPad Air 2 as a consumption device, its the single best enjoyable computing device I've ever owned. So on my last trip I tried to use it for work. I got a decent Logitech keyboard for it (though I prefer the apple BT keyboard). I have Coda 2 for iOS for web work. So lets make this happen !!! ....

    Well, .... no. Lot of coding, heck a lot of writing, is accurately selecting, pasting, moving around, and editing text. This is simple 101 using a computer for work operation. It is annoying as heck on an iPad. The iPad sits at an angle, so attempting to navigate your hand at an angle, and selecting text is near impossible. Using the arrow keys, like its a TRS80 terminal from the 80s isn't much of an improvement either.

    When using the software keyboard its not bad since you can use the two-finger-as-a-trackpad which works pretty good. With a hardware keyboard though this advantage completely disappears.

    Folks who honest to goodness do text work on the iPad, how do you get around the text issue ? Surely you aren't using your fingers to point at the screen and carefully selecting text.

    Why didn't Apple release a hardware keyboard with a surface that acts as a trackpad ? It could be a flat surface and the keys could go in.
  2. journeyy macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2013
    That is also the main problem for me using the iPad for any productivity. I can live with copy&pasting with my fingers, but it is so damn incosistent, inaccurate and frustrating in iOS. I'm about to test Android again just because of this issue..
  3. Cascades42 macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2016
    I do use the arrow keys and I find it pretty speedy - that said they've been pretty much all I've ever used to select text. You can use two fingers on the on screen keyboard to drag the cursor around like a mouse but I'm really not accurate enough to use this properly.
  4. ZombiePete macrumors 68020


    Aug 6, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    Using the Smart Keyboard: Shift+Arrow Keys is nice for more finesse when selecting text samples. CMD+Arrow Up/Down can help navigating large text files, as does CMD+F if I know specifically what I'm looking for.

    I don't find it all that much different than dealing with big text files on a Mac, except without the mouse input.
  5. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Same here. I find arrow keys to be faster and more accurate than trying to select text with a mouse or trackpad. With the mouse, I'm always overshooting or undershooting. With the arrow keys, I can start and stop precisely where I want.
  6. Robnsn2015 macrumors 6502

    Jul 12, 2015
    Hold two fingers on the virtual keyboard and you get a virtual trackpad. Or use a stylus.
  7. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    I enjoy using my bluetooth mouse on my JB iPad Air 2...

    Wish Apple would add (silently) the ability to pair them natively. Nobody would even know you could do it unless they were somebody who really wanted to do it.

    Makes a HUGE difference in terms of using the iPad as a "normal" laptop for me (BT KB & Mouse)
  8. Noble Actual macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2014
    1. Never make any mistakes.
    2. Never need to copy n paste anything.

    All joking aside, it would be super cool if the Apple Pencil could like detect a text block or picture you want to copy and then just paste it where you want. Maybe like harder press to copy and the let go to drop where you want.
  9. jozero, Feb 18, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016

    jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    I mention the two finger on-screen keyboard thing. However this isn't possible when using an external keyboard.

    Those that responded saying they use arrow keys. How are you jumping between sections of a large document ?

    I do find the arrow centric approach kind of funny. This is kicking it back to the pre-GUI terminal days. Thats what we have determined to be the future of computing ?

    Real case scenario here, be it code or writing. I have two or three documents. One I am actively working on quite a bit, two I am referencing but also might change. I literally watched my fingers as I used a trackpad or mouse ....

    I ZIPPED up 1/3 of the document with a finger flick, moved the pointer, selected some text, copied it, ZIPPED back down the document, slowed down a bit and placed the pointer, and pasted the text. This took a second, I moved my entire finger maybe 1.5 inches in total.

    I am baffled how to do that on the iPad. I have to move my hand from the keyboard, flick inaccurately on the angled screen, then like I am threading a needle either try to use my finger, or hit shift then the arrow key about 40 times. My hand has to move like 8 inches. This would have to happen hundred times a day.

    I cannot imagine this simple fundamental task being done even remotely as fast with an iPad. I'd LOVE to be proven wrong. Text is a fundamental part of work, writing it, getting to it, finding it, cutting and pasting it, etc. The iPad should hit this out of the park.
  10. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008

    I think it's quite possible that for some tasks, a keyboard+pointing (or desktop/laptop, etc) device is simply going to always win. Certain tools just perform certain actions better than other tools - thus we have multiple tools in the arsenal.
  11. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Doesn't holding down the shift and arrow keys work?

    I have to admit, your description of flicking through a 100 page document does sound faster, I've never tried that. The last time I was working on a document that long, I was still using WordPerfect for DOS. And I never kept all 100 pages in one file, I had that subdivided into sections and each section was a separate file.
  12. jozero thread starter macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2009
    Yup thats fair. Just seems like a bizarre omission. Apple went out of there way to design a keyboard that :
    - is mostly waterproof
    - folds origami style to still be a smart case
    - has keys with key travel so it feels like a keyboard
    - was presented along side the iPad Pro when it was introduced, which they clearly state is Apple's vision of computing going forward

    So they knew the keyboard was important.They rethought the keyboard for the tablet age.

    Then the company that created and popularized the mouse and the trackpad looked at those two modes of input and said "aaaahhh whatever, don't even think about it, just ignore 'em". Doesn't make sense.


    Yes Shift-Arrow works. But you are waiting for it character by character.

    Not sure where the 100 page document comes from. It can be even a couple pages in length and the number of keystrokes / arrows keys required to get where you need to is not good in any sense.
  13. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    @jozero Yep - Totally agree.

    Just another reason I jailbreak.
    Mouse & Keyboard combo works wonderfully on would be even better if officially supported I'm sure!
  14. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    Sorry, you said" large" and I must have seen "100."

    In any case, I find shift+arrow fast enough. Thinking back on it, I've never typed much on laptops, it's always been desktops or iPad. So on desktops, the keyboard is here and the mouse or trackball is over there. Faster to wait for the shift+arrow to move the cursor than to take my hand off the keyboard and reach for the mouse.

    On the iPad, I admit selecting things take longer using the on screen controls, but it's a tradeoff -- I get to work from the comforts of my sofa instead of having to sit at a desk.

    I don't doubt that some people find the lack of mouse support on iPad annoying, but it doesn't annoy me. Maybe Apple will come around to your pov, or maybe there are enough users like me who don't miss mouse support that Apple can go on with things as they are. We'll see.
  15. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    It is interesting how much we all love touchscreens (myself included)....and then when I connect the mouse to the iPad, all of the sudden I'm zipping all over the place and getting so much done so quickly..

    Mouse is highly efficient and relevant, even in a touch screen world (for me anyways)
  16. Needleroozer macrumors newbie


    Mar 29, 2013
    @jozero - While I profess by no means to do "real work" on an iPad, I do know that holding down the option key in conjunction with the arrow keys lets you move through text faster, like on a Mac.
    Option-side arrows goes by word, and option-up/down arrows goes by paragraph. Obviously, you can also hold down the shift key to select text as you go.
    ZombiePete mentions command-up and command-down, which jump to the top and bottom of the whole text, respectively, and there's also command-left and command-right, which go to the beginning and end of each line.

    While iPad cursor support would improve productivity even more, I find that I don't use the cursor too often when I'm writing text on my laptop and desktop: my hands tend to stay on the keyboard.
  17. Dranix macrumors 6502a

    Feb 26, 2011
    left the forum
    Strange, I removed mouse from my life years ago. I hate that arm straining gadget with a passion.
  18. Krevnik, Feb 18, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016

    Krevnik macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2003
    Couple things I do to manipulate text more quickly:
    - Shift-Option-Arrow to select by "word" (OS is mostly looking for separators/punctuation). If I'm selecting by line, Shift-Arrow still works for selecting multiple lines quickly. This works on the Mac too.
    - Tap + tap-and-hold to select text. This also selects by word, but it means I can get into the selection gesture quickly, hit copy in the context menu from the selection and go.
    - Triple tap for a paragraph selection if I'm rearranging things.

    When I don't have a physical keyboard, I abuse the hell out of the virtual trackpad:
    - Two finger gesture to place cursor.
    - Two finger tap to select the word the cursor is on.
    - Two finger drag in selection to "expand" the selection in either direction.
    - EDIT: And Two finger double tap will select a larger run of text. (this seems to vary a little, Ulysses will select everything up to a paragraph break. Notes selects a sentence)
  19. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    Different strokes for different folks hoss
  20. Cascades42 macrumors 6502

    Jan 25, 2016
    I use shift+alt/opt+arrow to select words, and shift+cmd+arrow (usually only left or right) to select whole lines. As for not being able to use the keyboard as a virtual trackpad - I have a keyboard button on my keyboard, and that pops up the on screen keyboard ready for use.
  21. Beavix macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2010
    If you write a lot then you should get used to using only the keyboard for all text editing operations. It's faster than using a mouse or a trackpad. Now it's true that the text editors on iOS are not the best, but Coda supports the basic shortcuts for selecting and moving around.
  22. lchlch macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2015
    Using the iPad Air 2 for a lot of text editing is hard because the screen is too small.

    It's easier to select the text with your fingers on the pro because it's much larger.
  23. username: macrumors 6502a

    Dec 16, 2013
    Learn to be quicker with the external keyboard. Even on a laptop using the keyboard for text selection, cutting and pasting is good practise.
    Once I learned the basics I became much quicker because my hands don't need to leave the keyboard at all which is more efficient.
  24. Ghost31 macrumors 68020


    Jun 9, 2015
    Ah yes. I'm just gonna copy this small section of text- god damn it! Why is it copying the entire page?!
  25. seadragon Contributor

    Mar 10, 2009
    I think Apple should just allow the use of a mouse natively. There is simply no technical reason for not doing it (proven by JB iPads). Why not give the option and then everyone is happy.

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