Category Archives: UX

The iOS 7 Keyboard: Un-Damn Your AutoCorrect

I used to suspect that most of the posts on were faked. That was until last month, when I finally upgraded my aged iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 5S and, with it, iOS7.

Overall, it’s been a great experience, but the autocorrect… oh, how I hated the autocorrect. Every time I wrote an email, replied to an SMS, I felt like I was fighting with it. It would even correct correctly spelled words. For example, “were” became “we’re” and, with a bizarre nod to either Shakespeare or Schiller, “passcode” became “pass ode”.

Really annoying.

I don’t know if this is because iOS 7’s autocorrect different from iOS 5’s. Maybe it was just the cumulative effect of 4 years of typos combined with that putatively tweaked algorithm. Whatever, it become intolerable.

Fortunately there is some relief to be had with a bit of tweaking. Let’s take a look at the options, starting with the least intrusive and working our way up from there.

Option 1 – The Nutcracker: teach the dictionary one word at a time

Next time you enter a word that it wants to wrongly auto-correct and the suggestion pops up, hit the little X you can see on the right of the suggestion:

Incorrect suggestion when writing an SMS.

Dammit, no! “Were” is a completely valid word.

OK, now delete the word and try to type it in again. When the suggestion pops up again, hit the X to dismiss it. Now delete the word and enter it again, etc. Keep doing this until the incorrect suggestions stops appearing: it’ll probably take about 5 attempts. Once that happens it should mean the dictionary has forgotten the old correction and will instead use the word you’ve entered as the new correction in future, if it makes any suggestion at all.

That’s fine, obviously, but if it’s wrongly correcting loads of words this process could become quite arduous. Which brings us round to…

Option 2 – The Sledgehammer: reset the keyboard dictionary

For me the situation was so bad I had to go down this route. Before you follow me though, understand that there is a downside. Resetting the dictionary will remove all the words it’s learned from you, so it’ll have to learn them all over again. Whilst it’s doing that it’ll probably suggest all manner of humorous and possible highly inappropriate or career-limiting alternatives.

(Just thought I should warn you.)

To reset your keyboard dictionary, open up Settings, and then drill down to General > Reset. Now tap Reset Keyboard Dictionary.

Settings page for resetting various aspects of iOS.

Reset your keyboard dictionary from here.

You’ll be asked to enter your unlock passcode:

Reset keyboard dictionary passcode confirmation screen.

Enter your normal unlock passcode here.

Once you’ve done that you’ll be asked to confirm that you want to reset the dictionary (with a warning about losing all your custom words, as I mentioned):

Reset keyboard dictionary final confirmation.

No going back after this.

And you’re done.

You might still find the vanilla dictionary a bit annoying to start off with, but at least now you have a clean slate. You should find it suggesting a lot fewer spurious autocorrections.

But, if this still doesn’t satisfy you, there’s always… 

Option 3 – Nuke autocorrect from orbit: it’s the only way to be sure

It’s a bit extreme, but you can just disable autocorrect, and it’ll never bother you again.

You need to do this via the keyboard settings, which you’ll find in Settings > General > Keyboard. They look like this:

Keyboard settings.

If you can’t find joy any other way, these settings give you access to the thermonuclear option.

You just need to switch off Auto-Correction. If it annoys you, you can also switch off Auto-Capitalization.

It’s also worth checking your shortcuts to make sure none of them is causing any annoying autocorrections.

Note: the Check Spelling setting is nothing to do with autocorrect. All it does is highlight what it thinks are misspelled words when it’s switched on. It does not try to correct them for you.

Final Thoughts

Things have definitely been better since I reset the keyboard dictionary, but there’s still the odd noticeable difference in iOS 7 autocorrect behaviour as compared to previous versions. For me the most noticeable is that in general it seems to suggest corrections/autocompletions much less often than did previous versions. This is sort of OK but it does mean you feel like you’re having to type a lot more.

Another comment I’d make is that with the form factor of the iPhone 5/5C/5S being longer and thinner than the 3GS and 4/4S, I don’t think Apple’s vanilla keyboard works quite as well because you have to stretch further to hit the keys in the centre. For me, at any rate, this seems to result in a few more typos.

There’s a lot of innovation around mobile and tablet on-screen keyboard design on both Android and Windows 8.1/Windows Phone 8. A good chunk of this is from third parties. Unfortunately this isn’t an option with iOS. I can see why Apple would be unwilling to open up the keyboard implementation to third parties, but it would be good to see them revisit it.

Hope this has been useful for you! And please let me know if you’re aware of anything else that might help.