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Ask an expert: mastering text selection

No time to drop into the Apple Store and ask the Genius Bar for help with your iPhone or iPad? Maybe one of our resident experts can help!

As Apple nerds, we get asked a lot of tech support questions — and some of those questions crop up time and time again. Here’s a recent query that we think will be familiar to many of you.

I always struggle to select text. Are there any tricks to make it easier??

Text selection on iPhone has always been fiddly, but there are ways to simplify things. To select a single word, double tap it. Tap-hold the selected word and then drag to adjust your selection.

Alternatively, bring up the keyboard and hold the Space bar. This turns the keyboard into a trackpad. Drag your finger to precisely place the cursor. You can at any point use a second finger to tap the keyboard (while still holding Space down) to define the start of a text selection. Continuing to move the cursor expands your selection. Note, however, that if you overshoot and need to contract what you’ve selected, that needs to be done by way of the drag handles that appear at each end of the selection.

If all you’re trying to do is select an entire paragraph, you can avoid the above method by triple-tapping any word within the paragraph. Note that to expand this selection, you’d again need to use the drag handles. This is because tap-holding and dragging a selected paragraph triggers iOS’s drag-and-drop copy/paste mode.

Remember also that gestures can help you edit text you’ve selected. You can, respectively, copy and paste using three-finger pinch-in and pinch-out. Similarly, three-finger swipes left and right, respectively, undo and redo.