There are times in life when a simple hack can save you so much time it's almost embarrassing.
When I read about a hack on sister site Fast Company recently, and looked into the original discovery by a food blogger (see below), I had to try it out for myself.
Turns out you can press and hold the space bar on an iPhone (this also works on the iPad) to control the cursor as if it were a mouse pointer. You can easily move right over to the exact spot where you want to edit the text.
It's a little unbelievable, for a few reasons.
One has to do with the total frustration of editing your wording when you send an email, type a URL in a browser, or send a text message. It happens to me multiple times per day. A missed word, a typo, or (mostly) changing my mind about what I'm going to say. I sometimes press and hold down in the text on the word I want to edit, but this doesn't always work perfectly. (An editor friend I know has told me it's even harder on the train into work every morning.)
I've even resorted to using the dreaded backspace-and-replace approach, deleting every word up to the one I want to edit, because that's often easier than trying to press and hold down in the text and hope you selected the right portion of your message. Maybe you feel this is all overstated, but editing text like this is something I've done so many times per day that the space bar trick was like a magic potion for me.
Pressing and holding on the space bar means I can easily pop over to a different part of my text as though I were on a computer. Although quite a few readers actually disagreed with me rather about the Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch replacing a laptop, this space bar trick is one more point in my favor because it means mobile devices are slightly more usable.
I decided to try out the trick on multiple emails, texts, and even Google Docs. Not to bore you with math or anything, but I estimated I had used the space bar trick around 30 times in one day, saving at least 30 seconds in each minor edit by speeding up the process dramatically. That's 15 minutes of regained productivity. Add up the total for a month and--wow.
Now, a few caveats here. Apple just introduced this trick in iOS 12, so it's not like we've all been missing out for that long. The new OS just debuted in late September. If you have a really ancient iPhone you will find the new OS won't work, but you should be fine even on an old iPhone 5s and anything newer than that. The hack also works on any iPad except the original model. There's nothing you had to do to get the trick to work.
Just press, hold, and start moving the cursor around. It feels like you have been released from mobile device prison. Welcome to an easier life.
Here's the original Twitter post: