When you’re typing on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch keyboard and you misspell a word, you’ll likely see a bubble next to your error with a correction, like this:
The wonder of autocorrect means you only need to continue typing — either by hitting spacebar, enter, or adding punctuation — in order to accept the change. But this becomes a problem when your iPhone starts correcting things you don’t want corrected.
Unfortunately, Apple does not allow you to edit your dictionary directly, but you can add new words using text expansion. Head to Settings > General > Keyboards > Shortcuts to add as many words as you like, leaving the Shortcut field blank. Your new additions will adhere to capitalization when added in lowercase, but if you add capital letters (e.g. iPod or Apple) these will be reflected in the correction.
Should You Teach Your iPhone to Swear?
Yes, you can add profanity to your dictionary here and yes, that means profanity will autocorrect in everyday typing. This could have dire consequences, so think long and hard before you add your bluest outbursts. If you use your iPhone for work or emailing grandma, you may live to regret it.
You can also add new custom words by adding the word to your contacts (works great for proper nouns and company names) or by overriding AutoCorrect suggestions by tapping the “x” in the box when it tries to correct your new word to something else.
Note: Your iPhone won’t censor the word like it has in our screenshot; that’s just me being polite.
Correcting Bad Corrections
If you accidentally accept an autocorrect change, you might find that it starts changing words that you don’t want changed. One such example is the correcting of correctly spelled words, like “were” to “we’re” and “bit” to “but.”
One way around this is to type the word that’s being erroneously corrected, and dismiss the change before it has been made by tapping the “x” in the correction box. You may need to repeat this a few times before your iPhone stops correcting the word in question, but (I believe) I have successfully managed to stop my iPhone from correcting “Tim” to “tin” (yes, really) using this method.
If you do automatically accept a change by mistake, hit backspace once and your previously-typed word will appear in a bubble. Tap it and your change will be reverted — this may also “teach” your iPhone that correcting certain words is a no-no (though we can’t say for sure).
If your dictionary has become an unmanageable nightmare, you could always…
Reset Your iPhone Dictionary
This sounds severe, but really all you’re doing is removing the custom words and typing rules that your iPhone has picked up on since you started using it. As your iPhone dictionary is backed up and carried with you via iTunes or iCloud when you change devices, it could be many years old.
For that reason, this should be seen as a last resort. To reset your dictionary head to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Keyboard Dictionary. You will be warned about what you’re about to do, and you’ll have to input your iPhone’s passcode in order to complete the erase.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll have to train your iPhone to spell your favorite words properly again. Remember all that you’ve learned about accepting erroneous corrections before you end up in the same position you were in before.
Use a Third-Party Keyboard
In iOS 8, Apple finally allowed app developers to replace the built-in iPhone keyboard with third party alternatives instead. These keyboards do not use Apple’s own dictionary, and only Apple’s keyboard can make changes to the system-wide custom word list. As a result many third-party keyboards come with their own dictionaries, which you can often sync with other devices (including Android).
Note: These keyboards will require you provide “full access” to your keystrokes — effectively making them keyloggers (albeit with good intentions). While the apps on this list are trustworthy, you should be wary of allowing any old keyboard full access to everything you type.
Swype is another suitor if you’re looking to replace your default keyboard with something a little different. It uses a gesture-based input method (also found in SwiftKey) that some people naturally prefer, plus it comes with its own customizable dictionary.
Lastly, Minuum is another third-party keyboard app, which (as the name suggests) takes a delightfully minimal approach to inputting text. The keyboard is all bout being small and unobtrusive, and it includes a predictive engine and a custom dictionary for you to fill with your own words. Happy typing!
Have you taught your iPhone some naughty words? Maybe you use a third party keyboard? Let us know in the comments below.