iPad Typing Tip: Use Three Fingers

by Randy Murray on August 24, 2011

Here’s a tip that came from Penny, my editor. She recently bought herself an iPad 2 and she suggested this way to improve on-screen typing: use the middle three fingers on each hand.

I’ve tried it and it’s very effective. Don’t use your thumb or pinky. Look at the keyboard, not the “page” where you’re typing. Let the iPad autocorrect and fix it later. You do edit your own work, don’t you?

For touch typists, typing on the iPad can be frustrating. I was trained the old fashioned way and I can type between 70 and 100 words per minute. I look at the screen, never at the keyboard. It’s a very helpful skill as a writer and I can pound away all day like that.

But not on my iPad. I have an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard that I use when I travel and I use it when I have a lot of typing to do, but sometimes I just need to make a few notes, reply to an email, or type for just a bit. That’s when I need to use the on-screen keyboard. The three-finger approach works great for that.

If you’re a touch typist, this is an improvement over the one-finger method, which feels like falling back to hunt and peck. Getting your thumbs and pinkies out of the way helps to speed up your typing and improve accuracy. But you have to look at the virtual keyboard, which may take some getting used to. I’ve improved my iPad typing up to around 30 words per minute, which is much better. I wouldn’t want to type a novel this way, but it’s perfect for replying to an email.

Just don’t carry this habit back to your full keyboard. That would be weird.

The iPad Typing Tip: Use Three Fingers by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John Chu August 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I use standard touch-typing technique on the iPad virtual keyboard and according to the TapTyping app, I typed at least 50wpm even before I started using the app to practice typing. Many roads to Rome, I guess…


Charles August 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Dude, you skipped the landscape vs portrait bit.


Randy Murray August 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Excellent point. Setting it to landscape makes it easier to type on, too.


Chendu August 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Wow! This is quite effective in portrait mode and faster compared to thumb.


Charles August 25, 2011 at 8:31 am

I’ve been trying this but it seems unnatural to not use the thumb on the spacebar. Also, the purpose of keeping you eyes on the keyboard is to make sure your hands don’t move out of alignment. I have trained my eyes to comfortably drift back a forth between the keyboard and the “page”. They are very close together. There is no need to keep you eyes on the keyboard all the time, just look down frequently to make sure the hands haven’t shifted.


Randy Murray August 25, 2011 at 4:44 pm

The thumbs can work for the space bar, but I find I can type faster if I just look at the on-screen keyboard and use just the three fingers on each hand.

This is a “your milage may vary” tip. Thanks for chiming in!


Josh S. August 27, 2011 at 2:21 am

I find the same can be said of the iPod Touch / iPhone. Two fingers seems about right there.


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  • Tipnya adalah gunakan tiga jari di bagian tengah: jari telunjuk, jari tengah dan jari manis. Jangan gunakan ibu jari dan jari kelingking. Saya sudah coba, butuh penyesuaian sih tapi memang lebih nyaman dan mengetik jadi lebih cepat. Dan satu lagi kuncinya December 23, 2011

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