How to use one-handed keyboard mode on iPhone

Apple’s stock keyboard provides a special mode designed to make thumb-typing with larger iPhones easier without worrying about losing the grip on the phone.

Available on larger-screened iPhones with iOS 11 or later, but not on iPad, this special typing mode shrinks the keys and moves them closer to your thumb.

Here’s how to enable and use the one-handed keyboard on iPhone.

Why use one-handed keyboard

iOS 11 makes it far easier to compose messages with one hand because the compressed keyboard is tantamount to the size of the standard keyboard on a four-inch iPhone.

It makes it easy to reach all of the letters on larger-screened iPhones and is perfect for accessibility concerns. Plus, this cool typing mode caters to both left and right-handed users.

One-handed typing on the fly

iOS’s input switcher menu provides quick shortcuts for one-handed typing.

1) Bring up the keyboard on your iPhone.

2) If you have just one keyboard installed, tap and hold the Emoji icon in the bottom-left corner of the keyboard to bring up the input switcher, as with any other keyboard. If you have multiple keyboards enabled, tap and hold the Globe icon instead, then switch to the stock iOS keyboard.

3) Use the orientation icons at the bottom of the input switcher menu to shrink and snap the keyboard to either side of the screen or to revert back to the standard full width keyboard.

keyboard buttons iphone

Here’s what the orientation icons do, from left to right:

  • Snap the keyboard to the left—tap the leftmost orientation icon
  • Snap the keyboard to the right—tap the rightmost orientation icon
  • Re-center the keyboard & make it full width—tap the middle orientation icon

Whether you’re holding a coffee in one hand and your iPhone in the other or have smaller hands making it cumbersome to type with a larger-screened iPhone, you’ll find the one-handed keyboard practical to use.

TIP: If you cannot be bothered to reset the keyboard size by bringing up the input switcher menu, just tap the arrow icons present on both sides of the keyboard to quickly re-center and enlarge the keyboard.

typing with one-handed keyboard iphone

NOTE: If you’re currently using a third-party keyboard, you will need to choose the standard iPhone keyboard from the input switcher menu before one-handed typing can be enabled.

Making one-handed keyboard the default

You can make a left or right one-handed keyboard the default optioning in order to avoid having to bring up the switcher menu every time you want to type something in one-handed mode.

1) Launch the Settings app on your iPhone.

2) Tap General → Keyboard → One-Handed Keyboard.

make one-handed keyboard iphone default

3) Choose among the following options:

  • Disabled—Always launch the stock keyboard in full-width mode
  • Left—Always launch the stock keyboard in left-handed mode
  • Right—Always launch the stock keyboard in right-handed mode

After selecting either a Left or Right option, your iPhone will remember it as the default option. As mentioned, this is particularly handy if you’d like to use left or right-handed typing every time you bring up the stock keyboard.

one-handed keyboard iphone

Of course, you can always use the orientation icons in the input switcher menu to override your defaults and switch between left or right-handed keyboard on the fly.

TIP: To quickly change your defaults right from the keyboard, hit the Keyboard Settings option at the top of the input switcher menu. Doing so takes you directly to the Settings → General → Keyboard → Keyboards section, saving you a few taps.

And that’s all there’s to it, ladies and gents.

Wrapping it all up

You’ll find that thumb-typing is way easier on larger iPhones.

Not only that, but not having to over-extend your thumb when typing also reduces the risk of losing the grip on your iPhone, which can be hazardous when walking down the sidewalk.

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What are your thoughts on the one-handed keyboard? Do you like it or not, and why? And, would you agree that it takes away some of the sting resulting from thumb-typing on a larger-screened iPhone?

Tell us in comments!

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