How to Use iOS 13's Text Editing Gestures on iPhone and iPad

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With the release of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple introduced a number of new text editing taps and gestures that can be performed on both iPhones and iPads. These taps and gestures make it quicker and easier to do things like select text, copy and paste, undo and redo edits, and move the cursor around the screen.


They do take some getting used to though, especially if you're a veteran of the text editing taps and gestures that have been available in iOS for a while. That's why we've compiled the following list to help you get to grips with them until they become second nature. Keep reading for the full rundown.

How to Move the Cursor Around the Editing Window

Moving the cursor works similarly to how it did in earlier versions of iOS, but Apple has tweaked it to improve its behavior. For example, it's now a lot better at snapping to lines and between words as you move it around. You can also now tap and hold the cursor and it will get bigger on the screen so you can see it more easily. Here's how it works.


  1. Start typing some text in an app that supports it.
  2. Touch and hold the cursor until it gets bigger.
  3. Drag the cursor to the desired location.
  4. Remove your finger from the screen.
How to Move the Cursor With the Virtual Trackpad

You can turn the onscreen keyboard into a virtual trackpad that allows you to quickly move the cursor through the text without taking your finger off the display. Note that the way this works on your device depends on whether it has 3D Touch (iPhone 6s and later) Haptic Touch (iPhone XR, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max) or a long press (all iPad models).


  1. On an iPad or Haptic Touch device, press and hold on the spacebar. On a device with 3D Touch, press and hold anywhere on the keyboard.
  2. Drag your finger over the blanked-out keyboard to move the cursor through the text to the desired location.
Note that on an iPad, you can also touch the keyboard with two fingers and move your fingers around to relocate the cursor.

How to Select Text

When you select text using one of the methods described below, a contextual edit menu will appear above the selection, providing you with fast access to cut, copy, and paste, as well as formatting, Look Up, Share, and other options depending on the app you're using.

[*]To select a word, double tap it. Alternatively, tap and hold it until you feel the haptic feedback.
[*]Triple tap any word within a sentence and the whole sentence will be selected.
[*]Quadruple tap a word to select the paragraph in which it appears.
How to Use Intelligent Selection

Intelligent selection is a new feature that lets you quickly select phone numbers, addresses, or email addresses while editing text. Bear in mind that the feature doesn't work when you're simply viewing text - you must be in an editing app for intelligent selection to be available.


Simply double tap anywhere on the contact information to select it all in one go. Note that intelligent selection is limited to a single line, so if an address uses hard returns to go over two or more lines, it will only select the line that you tapped on. (Note: The address in the example is a single line that runs on.)

How to Adjust a Text Selection

When you've selected a word or sentence, you can adjust the selection using the anchor points on either end.


Simply press and hold your finger on the left or right anchor point, then drag it to make the selection larger or smaller.

How to Cut, Copy, and Paste Using Gestures

In iOS 12 and earlier, you had to select text and then use the contextual editing menu bar to cut, copy or paste it. In iOS 13, you can use gestures instead. First, select some text, then do one of the following:
  1. To copy, pinch with three fingers.

    To cut, perform the copy gesture twice until the text disappears, ready to be pasted from the clipboard.
  2. To paste some text that you've just copied or cut, pinch out with three fingers until the text appears again.
How to Display the Clipboard Bar

Have you noticed the menu bar that appears briefly whenever you perform one of the cut, copy or paste gestures described above? That's the clipboard bar, which offers you an alternative way to cut, copy, and paste text as well as undo and redo edits.


You can reveal the clipboard bar anytime you like when editing text. Simply select some text, then tap and hold the screen using three fingers.

How to Undo and Redo Edits Using Gestures

  1. Make sure you're in text editing mode (unless you have a physical keyboard connected, the onscreen keyboard will be showing).

    To undo an edit, perform a three finger swipe leftwards across the editing area.
  2. To redo an edit, perform a three finger swipe rightwards across the editing area.
How to Scroll Through Text Faster

If you're editing a particularly long piece of text like a document or a threaded email, you can scroll a lot faster by grabbing the scroll bar directly.


When the scroll bar is visible, press and hold it with your finger and move it up and down the edge of the screen to move rapidly through the text.

Article Link: How to Use iOS 13's Text Editing Gestures on iPhone and iPad
 

martin2list

macrumors member
Jul 19, 2014
31
25
Dresden
It puzzles me that all these guides miss text selection via 3D or haptic touch!

To select text with 3D Touch:

1) Activate cursor movement (peek) and move the cursor inside a word
2) Press into the display (pop) once again and the word gets selected.

To select text with haptic touch:

1) Activate cursor movement via long press on the keyboard
2) Move to desired position and put a second finger on the keyboard, which works as an anchor
3) With one finger pressed continue moving the cursor and text selection begins.
 
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apparatchik

macrumors member
Mar 6, 2008
74
49
Due to the growing number and sometime complexity of some iOS interactions -that go unnoticed for the common man- Apple should make a game with each new version, where you get points for, say, perform this gestures correctly a number of times and in different order. Seems if you don’t consciously practice them you don’t interiorize them and they go unused.
 

djcerla

macrumors 68000
Apr 23, 2015
1,687
6,860
Italy
Due to the growing number and sometime complexity of some iOS interactions -that go unnoticed for the common man- Apple should make a game with each new version, where you get points for, say, perform this gestures correctly a number of times and in different order. Seems if you don’t consciously practice them you don’t interiorize them and they go unused.
Nice idea.
 

m0sher

macrumors 6502a
Mar 4, 2018
635
551
I’m having so much trouble putting my cursor in front of a specific letter without selecting the entire word.

It’s very frustrating, I don’t know why they had to change this to.

I end up having to backspace the entire word to correct that one letter..

Also what’s up with words not getting capitalized if you tab down more than once to start new sentence?
 

racingbull

macrumors regular
Aug 16, 2013
120
85
I just feel they over-complicated the cut, copy & paste gestures.
how are these faster and more intuitive than select and tap the option (cut, copy or paste) from the contextual menu.

or am I missing something?


  1. To copy, pinch with three fingers.

    To cut, perform the copy gesture twice until the text disappears, ready to be pasted from the clipboard.
 

DDustiNN

macrumors 68000
Jan 27, 2011
1,993
814
Also what’s up with words not getting capitalized if you tab down more than once to start new sentence?
I noticed that too. But it seems to be something wrong with the site’s forum software. I frequent another site which uses the same forum software, and has the exact same problem. However, no other sites or apps have this issue.

Still very annoying. I’m not sure what could’ve possibly changed in iOS 13 to cause that behavior.
 

pedzsan

macrumors regular
May 22, 2016
107
38
Leander, TX
It puzzles me that all these guides miss text selection via 3D or haptic touch!

To select text with 3D Touch:

1) Activate cursor movement (peek) and move the cursor inside a word
2) Press into the display (pop) once again and the word gets selected.

To select text with haptic touch:

1) Activate cursor movement via long press on the keyboard
2) Move to desired position and put a second finger on the keyboard, which works as an anchor
3) With one finger pressed continue moving the cursor and text selection begins.
Wow... that to me is much easier and more deterministic. I hate trying to grab the silly anchor points and... my finger blocks my view so its sorta a cat and mouse game.
- - Post merged: - -

The other thing which is sorta dumb to me is these gestures are just for editing apps. Another app like Safari looking at a static page, the gestures are completely different ... i.e. four tapes does not select a paragraph.

It does seem easier with iOS 13 to select in those types of situations. But it would be nice to have a consistent interface.
 
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macizcool

macrumors regular
Feb 4, 2010
107
13
I just switched from a Google Pixel, and I cannot believe there is no “select all” option. At I missing something?
 

Soba

macrumors regular
May 28, 2003
156
237
Rochester, NY
I’m having so much trouble putting my cursor in front of a specific letter without selecting the entire word.

It’s very frustrating, I don’t know why they had to change this to.
This new cursor behavior is not an “improved tweak” but a frustrating new experience that makes me want to throw the phone out the window.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who is frustrated. I’ve been wrestling with these changes for weeks and I still feel like this is a major UX regression.
 

ikramerica

macrumors 6502
Apr 10, 2009
379
344
Is there a way to turn the bubble zoom back on when trying to move the curser? Can’t see where I’m placing the cursor 1/2 the time.
- - Post merged: - -

I just switched from a Google Pixel, and I cannot believe there is no “select all” option. At I missing something?
There used to be. And there still is sometimes.
 
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laz232

macrumors 6502
Feb 4, 2016
426
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At a café near you
Wow I guess that explains a lot but I can also use this post next time some young idiot tries to tell me how intuitive touch interfaces are...
I hope it will be a long time before this kind of madness comes to the desktop, replacing menus with shock, horror, actual words...

Because I would really like my text editors CAD programs etc. to have a swipe interface /s
 
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luvbug

macrumors regular
Aug 11, 2017
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Getting closer every day!
For me, there are getting to be so many gesture possibilities that I end up invoking some gesture action when I had no intention of doing so, just casually using the phone and happened to touch the screen inadvertently. Then, ofc, I don't actually know what gesture action I invoked, so I don't know what/how to undo it. It's a problem with a lot of tech, in my opinion: A product, as it matures, attempts to be all things to all people, which actually results in the product being difficult to use for 90% of what most folks use it for. Complexity is not a feature, in my mind.
 

Westside guy

macrumors 603
Oct 15, 2003
5,401
2,231
The soggy side of the Pacific NW
on iPadOS, I keep running into situations where pages containing a text box will incessantly jump and scroll when I try to edit something I typed. It’s bloody annoying and makes it just about impossible to do anything other than use backspace to remove all the text back to that point.

Doesn’t happen on MacRumors, thankfully...
 

Xenc

macrumors 65816
May 8, 2010
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London, England
You can use a second finger to select text when the keyboard is in trackpad mode, or press down on the screen if you are lucky enough to still have 3D Touch!
 

Wanted797

macrumors 6502a
Oct 28, 2011
626
835
Australia
It puzzles me that all these guides miss text selection via 3D or haptic touch!

To select text with 3D Touch:

1) Activate cursor movement (peek) and move the cursor inside a word
2) Press into the display (pop) once again and the word gets selected.

To select text with haptic touch:

1) Activate cursor movement via long press on the keyboard
2) Move to desired position and put a second finger on the keyboard, which works as an anchor
3) With one finger pressed continue moving the cursor and text selection begins.
I knew this. Except my phone freezes up every time I try it.
 

Jessica Lares

macrumors G3
Oct 31, 2009
9,205
726
Near Dallas, Texas, USA
I don't understand Intelligent Selection. Doesn't an app like Notes already detect a multiline address/number/email that you can already press down and copy, along with some other options related to the context? It's not just selecting the address with the gesture, so why use it instead of the regular taps to do the same selection if it has to be on the one line?

I just feel they over-complicated the cut, copy & paste gestures.
how are these faster and more intuitive than select and tap the option (cut, copy or paste) from the contextual menu.

or am I missing something?
Well, I can barely see two paragraphs with the keyboard active on my iPhone 8. (I don't know how much better that is on the bigger phones, like does a three finger pinch still feel as cramped?) Using the contextual menus as we already are makes sense.

The cut and paste gestures are going to feel more natural on the iPad. So are undo/redo. Maybe more for the people who are already doing drag and drop from other apps.
 

pika2000

macrumors 603
Jun 22, 2007
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Changing how you do basic things that where people have developed the habit and muscle memory for a decade is tough.

I was really annoyed with this new method, simply because the original methods were just ingenious. But I now see why Apple is trying to switch this. After a while, the new methods do have the potential to be quicker. The biggest hurdle is to unlearn the muscle memory that you’ve developed for the last decade.
 
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Kabeyun

macrumors 68020
Mar 27, 2004
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Eastern USA
How to Select Text
There’s a better, more general way to explain selection behavior. In selecting text, think of 4 steps: none, word, sentence, paragraph. Double-tapping takes you one step up from whatever is currently selected. Triple tapping takes you two steps. Quadruple-tapping takes you three steps.

How to Use Intelligent Selection
How I wish there were intelligent pasting too, specifically for contacts. How nice would it be to copy a whole address, the clipboard would parse and separate the fields, and then just paste once into a new contact to fill in everything?
 
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