Smartphone keyboards have improved a lot since their inception, but I’m still not a huge fan of typing on a glass screen. The Nexus 7 is probably one of the easiest mobile devices to type on that I have used, but I still find it annoying to type log in information into forms, not to mention long emails. (Thank goodness for voice to text.) On my iPad, I found that the shortcuts feature was quite helpful for inputting frequently used strings of text, and set out to see if the same useful feature was present in Android.

As I expected, the feature was present in stock Android 4.2 on my Nexus 7, but it wasn’t presented as clearly as on Apple’s device. Instead, it is hidden in the Language & input menu under the Personal dictionary heading. The interface is sparse, and only shows a list of previously created shortcuts and a button to add your own. When adding your own shortcut, you simply type the text that you want the shortcut to link to in the top box, the shortcut in the second box, and select the dictionaries that the shortcut will apply to in the final box. There’s not even an apply button; once you hit the back key, the shortcut becomes active. From then on, when you type the shortcut keys, your chosen phrase will appear as an autocorrect suggestion.

So far, I’ve set up my dictionary to automatically correct “ap” to “aaron@pocketables.com,” “po” to “pocketables.com,” “ag” to my regular Gmail account, and “z” to my zip code, since I do a lot of shipping. For now, the options show up as suggestions, and only one automatically applies for some reason, but the shortcuts still save me quite a few key presses  Potentially, this list could be customized and expanded to include such commonly typed strings as addresses, phone numbers, and other things that are difficult and cumbersome to type on a smartphone or tablet keyboard. It may not be a huge time saver, but this tip has certainly made text entry on my Nexus 7 at least a little bit more pleasant.