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How to quickly select text on iPad so you don’t miss a mouse

With the arrival of new iPad Pro models, the debate around its capabilities has intensified. Now, an almost unknown functionality has just resurfaced. This is the quick selection of texts on the iPad with a simple gesture on the screen. It’s a trick that works quite well and resembles the way you select text on a conventional computer. Although there are other ways to do it.

Quickly select text on the iPad with your fingers

On a traditional computer, there are several ways to select text: dragging the course “catches” all the text underneath; double-clicking on a word selects it; a triple-click selects an entire paragraph. There is a similar way to select text on the iPad quickly, one that has been made popular by the well-known developer Steve Troughton-Smith:

How to quickly select text on iPad so you don’t miss a mouse
How to quickly select text on iPad so you don’t miss a mouse

Troughton-Smith is the same developer who managed to play a trackpad on the iPad a few months ago. In this tweet he refers to the analysis published last week of the iPad Pro, stating that many analysts are not aware of this trick . As you can see in the embedded video, it works as follows:

  • In a text editor such as Notes or Word, you can move the cursor from one place to another by tapping two fingers on the screen and sliding them around like a trackpad.
  • If you want to activate the text selection (represented by two orange vertical bars), touch the screen with two fingers and hold the cursor in place for a few seconds. After this time, if you slide both fingers you will be selecting the text.

Now comes the most useful part. You can make automatic text selections depending on where the cursor is, similar to what happens on a PC or Mac. With the cursor attached to or in the middle of a word:

  • A single tap with two fingers will select the entire word.
  • Two touches with two fingers will select the entire phrase.
  • Three taps with two fingers will select the entire paragraph.

But these aren’t the only ways to select text on the iPad. Let’s look at a few more.

Selecting Text on the iPad with the Apple Pencil and Keyboard

Tapping the iPad screen is not the only way to activate text selection. There are two other ways to do it. The first is with the Apple Pencil . Besides being able to move the cursor with the Pencil, we can double-tap the word we want to select it automatically.

At AppleThe 47 best iPad Pro keyboard shortcuts to be (even) more productive

With the word selected, it is now possible to move the text selection to wherever you want. Forward or backward of the original word. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make a triple tap to select a whole sentence or paragraph as is the case with the touch gesture.

The last way to select text on the iPad is with the Smart Keyboard . As we saw some time ago in this iPad Pro keyboard shortcuts article, you can use these key combinations:

  • Text selection: capital letters + arrows
  • Text selection until the beginning or end of the line: capital letters + cmd + left or right arrow.
  • Text selection until the beginning or end of the document: capital letters + cmd + up or down arrow.
  • Word-for-word text selection: uppercase + alt + left or right arrow.
  • Selection of all elements or text: cmd + A.

This last way is the one I use most on my iPad Pro . I’m quite used to moving through the keyboard on both a PC and a Mac or iPad Pro. Of course, touch screen text selection works on all iPads, while with the Apple Pencil it only works on those models that support the accessory (iPad Pro, iPad 2018) and keyboard selection only on the iPad Pro.

Personally, I’d like to see how Apple unifies the different ways of selecting text on your tablet. Let a triple tap on the screen select an entire paragraph and also get the same with a triple tap with the Apple Pencil, for example.

Did you know these ways of selecting text on the iPad?

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