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Use iOS 11’s one-handed keyboard for a more convenient typing experience

by Brandon Russell | October 15, 2017October 15, 2017 6:00 am PST

Apple’s new mobile software, iOS 11, comes with a lot of new, exciting features. But there’s one that you probably didn’t even know existed, and that’s the one-handed keyboard, which (yup, you guessed it), makes typing with one hand much easier.

Say you’re in a crowded subway and need your second hand to hold on for dear life. Or, a squirming child is in one arm while you type out a message to your significant other. Whatever the scenario, iOS 11’s one-handed keyboard is designed to make typing easier—and it’s friendly to both right and left handed individuals.

Weirdly, Apple doesn’t go out of its way to advertise the feature, which can be turned on and off on the fly. It’s one of many features Apple buried inside of iOS 11 that you might not know about.

How to turn the one-handed keyboard on

Whether you’re typing out notes, emails, or messages, the one-handed keyboard makes typing more convenient by squishing the keyboard to the left or right. The idea is to make the keyboard more reachable, rather than having to stretch your hand.

  1. To turn the one-handed keyboard on, simply press and hold the globe or emoji button that sits next to the 123 button.
  2. You’ll see a popup where you can select the left or right-handed keyboard.
  3. To make the keyboard go back to normal, tap the tiny arrow, which will be on either the left or right side depending on which keyboard you chose. Perform the same steps each time you find yourself in a situation when the one-handed keyboard is necessary.

Or make it your default keyboard

If you prefer to make the one-handed keyboard the default, you can do so by navigating to Settings > General > Keyboard. You’ll see an option in One Handed Keyboard, where you can select left or right to be on permanently.

Find a good third-party keyboard

Of course, you can always find a good third-party keyboard that makes one-handed typing even easier than the default keyboard in iOS. Gboard, for example, supports swipe gestures to quickly type out words.

SwiftKey, Fleksy, and Swype also support gesture typing. Swipe typing is great for one-handed use because it’s so easy and fast.


The one-handed keyboard may not be something you use regularly, but there’s no doubting its convenience. I find it particularly useful in situations when my other hand is occupied, like by a cold drink or while doing one-armed pull-ups.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.

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