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How to Use the iPad's Nifty Flick Keyboard Feature

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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The QuickType keyboard on the iPad has been updated in iOS 11 to introduce a super handy new Flick feature designed to let you enter numbers and symbols without the shift key.

When you upgrade to iOS 11 and take a look at the keyboard on the iPad, you'll notice that all of the keys now display letters and number/symbols. A tap lets you enter the main letter on the keyboard, while a flick lets you enter the secondary symbol or number. Here's how to use it:
  1. Bring up the iPad's keyboard, either in an app or using the search feature.
  2. Tap on a key if you want to enter the standard letter or symbol.
  3. To enter the "flick" symbol, touch a key and then pull downwards.
  4. As you pull down, the symbol will replace the letter on the keyboard and it'll be entered into the text field.
Typing symbols and numbers this way is simple, intuitive, and a lot faster than taking the time to use the shift key. With this keyboard, you can still access the special characters and accent marks by holding down on a key.

Turning Off the Flick Key Option

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap "General."
  3. Select the "Keyboard" option.
  4. Toggle off "Enable Key Flicks."
Compatibility

The new key flicking feature is available for almost all iPads that are able to run iOS 11, with the exception of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. With the larger iPad Pro model, you won't be able to use key flicks. It is, however, available on all other iPad Pro models, the iPad Air and later, the iPad mini 2 and later, and the 5th generation iPad.

Article Link: How to Use the iPad's Nifty Flick Keyboard Feature
 

tkatz

macrumors 6502
Dec 14, 2009
258
208
This is one of my favorite features of iOS 11. Before, I remember thinking how good the Win 10 keyboard (at least on the SP3) was with being able to long press on the top row and then swipe up to access the numbers directly, without having to switch to the number keyboard. I would often try to do that by accident on iOS 10.

Now I find myself doing the opposite and trying to use flick gestures on the SP3 keyboard. MS has even gone a step backwards (imo) in their preview releases and took a good idea and ruined it (you now have to long press and swipe up and right).
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,297
15,342
Central U.S.
I've yet to decide if I'll keep it on. I'm so trained to use the button to switch to numbers and symbols, and then sometimes I'll accidentally swipe down and type the wrong thing. I like the idea of it, but the learning curve seems pretty steep since typing is such a muscle memory oriented task.

Somewhat unrelated, but I hope in the future they'll add a number row to the iPhone X keyboard since it's so tall.
 
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bluespark

macrumors 68020
Jul 11, 2009
2,178
2,459
Chicago
I’m enjoying this feature but I have a hard time making out the light grey alternate symbols and I’m not even that old! The problem is even worse on the dark keyboard. Apple, please make these easier to read!
 
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jdillings

macrumors 68000
Jun 21, 2015
1,541
5,175
One of the most annoying new features....rarely works right the first time. I turned it off on Day 1.
 
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rizzo41999

macrumors 6502
May 27, 2009
377
942
MA
It's definitely not instantly intuitive, but it works. I'm just too use to hitting the button to switcher to numbers and such.
 
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harriska2

macrumors 65816
Mar 16, 2011
1,422
699
Oregon
It works on my 12.9 but because the keyboard is so much bigger there aren’t as many *keys* to flick. I just flicked the *.

I really hope I get used to it as it saves time. Now to figure out why caps lock is such a pain to use.
 
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Defthand

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2010
1,351
1,711
Thought I’d be getting it on the phone as well. Really miss it there.

Doubt it will ever migrate there. Aside from the phone’s small keys, many people skip the puncuation when they write short replies or make notes.

Furthermore, One shouldn’t have to visit the puncuation and symbols keys often if/when the AI’s word completion guesses are good.
 
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avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,937
3,838
I wish this feature could be enabled on the iPhone. It's a pain to have to switch keyboards constantly to type alphanumeric passwords, e-mail addresses, etc.
 
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CarlJ

macrumors 603
Feb 23, 2004
5,275
9,069
San Diego, CA, USA
This is very much like the excellent keyboard in the Swift Playgrounds app. Happy to see it baked in to iOS 11. I know it'd be squished, but I wish they'd bring it to the iPhone too.
 
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bwintx

macrumors 6502
Jul 17, 2002
346
274
Unless/until the Apple keyboard gets glide-typing as in Swype, Gboard, etc. (and, yeah, I've read enough old threads to know that probably ain't happenin'), this will be another probably cool Apple default feature I never use. About the only time I see the Apple keyboard these days is I have to enter a password.
 
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AstroRob

macrumors member
Jun 5, 2015
57
269
Doesn’t work on the flagship 12.9 Pro?

I've only seen it on the Facebook app on the 12.9", but that's because Facebook has never updated their app to properly display on the full size screen (the keyboard, interface elements all are scaled up from a smaller screen size).
 
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HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
5,985
1,992
Western US
This is a great feature and for people who mix a lot of numbers into their text (like me) it's going to be a huge time saver. However, to me they got the direction wrong. It's much more intuitive to flick up, towards the symbol you're "shifting" to IMO. Maybe it's just one of those things that makes sense for some people and not for others, for example up-down flight controls in games with inverted option. Unfortunately as far as I can tell, Apple isn't providing an option to invert it.
 
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compupane

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2016
5
16
To clarify for anyone who is interested or confused, on the "full-sized" keyboard on the 12.9" iPad Pro, flicks work on the number row but not on any of the other keys like it does on the standard iPad keyboard. Basically, it works on any key that shows some kind of symbol above the main function of that key. Hope that makes sense.
 
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harriska2

macrumors 65816
Mar 16, 2011
1,422
699
Oregon
To clarify for anyone who is interested or confused, on the "full-sized" keyboard on the 12.9" iPad Pro, flicks work on the number row but not on any of the other keys like it does on the standard iPad keyboard. Basically, it works on any key that shows some kind of symbol above the main function of that key. Hope that makes sense.
The flick works for me (12.9) on everything that has 2 options on the key. So I have :, “, <, >, ? flick options that are NOT on the number keys.
 
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compupane

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2016
5
16
The flick works for me (12.9) on everything that has 2 options on the key. So I have :, “, <, >, ? flick options that are NOT on the number keys.

OK, I forgot to mention those keys specifically. I just meant that the standard iPad keyboard has 2 options on nearly all the keys unlike the full-sized keyboard on the 12.9" iPad Pro.
 
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