Crack your phalanges and limber up your tendons, my fellow Android-adoring animal: We’re about to make a tiny but tremendously significant change to your Android keyboard setup. I josh you not — I don’t even arnold you, in fact: With a whopping 30 seconds of setup, this quick switcheroo will make you about five times faster at tapping out text on your fancy phone’s screen.
“Why, Mr. Writer Person, how could this possibly save me that much time?” you might be wondering — along with, perhaps, “Mr. Writer Person, what in the world happened to your brain that causes you to have formal conversations with yourself in the middle of keyboard-focused columns?” Well, Jasper, we’ll answer at least one of those questions now. (The other, I’m afraid, can’t be answered without the help of an entire team of highly trained psychoanalysts.)
Google’s Gboard Android keyboard, y’see, is positively overflowing with useful shortcuts and tucked away time-savers. And all of ’em are absolutely awesome. They’re little things that shave seconds off your typing time and really add up over the course of a day.
B-b-b-but: Lots of ’em revolve around the notion of long-pressing buttons on the Gboard keyboard — pressing and holding a particular key down for a second or so, in other words, to reveal some handy function artfully hidden beneath it.
That’s all well and good, but the very act of long-pressing a key in Gboard is anything but optimized for efficiency. By default, you have to press and hold a key for what feels like an eternity (even if it’s actually only a fraction of a second) before its alternate function appears.
And that brings us to the pressing Gboard enhancement we’ve gathered here to go over. Deep within the bowels of Gboard’s virtual innards lies a way to change the length of that long-press delay — the amount of time it takes for a key to register your pressing appendage and shift from its single-press function into its secondary purpose. And cranking that puppy down considerably from its default state will make more of a difference on your smartphone typing speed than just about any other adjustment you could make.
So, ready to feel some high-octane typing power coursing throughout your capillaries? Here’s the five-step, 30-second secret:
- Make your way into the Gboard settings on your phone. The quickest way to get there is to pull up the keyboard in any text field, then tap the three-dot icon in its top row and look for the gear-shaped Settings icon in the panel that comes up. (And if you don’t see that three-dot icon right away, tap the right-facing arrow in the keyboard’s top row to reveal it.)
- In the Gboard settings, tap the line labeled “Preferences.”
- Scroll down to the very bottom of the screen that comes up next and tap “Key long press delay.”
- See that saucy little slider? Crank that bad boy down, down, down. I’d recommend trying a setting of about 200ms to start. (You can always go back and adjust it later if that feels faster or slower than you’d like.)
- Be sure to tap “OK” after making that adjustment. And while you’re there, make sure the toggle next to “Long press for symbols” is activated, too.
Didja do all of that? Well, my goodness, look at you! I always knew you were smart and capable, no matter what the internet says about you.
With that change made, mosey your way back into any open text field — in an email, a document, a search prompt, a cheese-colored sandwich journal, or whatever you happen to have nearby — and hold that fantastic fingie of yours firmly down onto any key on the keyboard.
You should see the key flip to its secondary function in the blink of an eye, without any awkwardly long delays or pregnant pauses. Much better, no?
And with this snazzy new setup in place, you can get to a bunch of special characters and numbers faster than you can say “iPhone typing terrors.” Need a dash? Rest your finger on the “h” key for a split second. Looking for the @ symbol? Just tap “a” and keep your finger down for one extra beat.
You won’t stop the rhythm of your typing or sit and wait for the keyboard to collect its thoughts. You’ll barely even break away from your train of thought. And if you type as much rambling poppycock into your Android-scented companion as I do, all of those saved seconds will add up fast.
Remember, too, that a long-press in the right place can even change your Gboard layout and make your entire on-screen keyboard easier to access single-handedly. Functions like that (along with other hidden long-press Gboard menus and commands) will now be more at your fingertips than ever, and you’ll be flying around your phone’s keyboard like nobody’s business — all thanks to that one teensy adjustment in Gboard’s rarely visited virtual engine room.
Vroom, vroom. Happy speeding.
Uncover even more time-saving Android shortcut secrets with my free Android Shortcut Supercourse. All sorts of advanced knowledge awaits!