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Ask an expert: unwanted text replacements

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.

“Whenever I type a common word in Messages, it turns into something rude. Help!”

It’s vanishingly unlikely that your iPhone is doing this because of something that Apple has baked into iOS. That said, if you find autocorrect being a bit weird in a broader sense, it is possible to reset the entire custom dictionary. In Settings, go to General > Reset > Reset Keyboard Dictionary. Note that this will remove all ’learned’ words, meaning you’ll have to train your iPhone from scratch regarding non-standard spellings.

In your case, however, it’s much more likely someone’s been messing around with text replacements. To check if this is the case, again open Settings, but this time navigate to General > Keyboards > Text Replacement. In there, you’ll see a list of replacements, with trigger words (‘shortcuts’) on the left and their replacements (’phrases’) on the right.

If one of them is the culprit, swipe left across it and tap Delete. However, it’s then worth sticking around and exploring this feature. Tap + and you can add your own shortcut/phrase pairs, to automatically correct common misspellings you make, or expand short strings of characters into addresses, sentences, or even ASCII art. To avoid triggering shortcuts by mistake, end each one with two commas. (For example, use address,, to expand to your home address.)

Oh — and once you’re done, do set a stronger passcode, so whoever was adding naughty text replacements won’t be able to in future!