Long SMS messages on an iPhone

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the iPhone keyboard

…and I know from discussing this with friends and computer clients that there are plenty of other people who share this slight frustration. If it’s only a case of prodding a few characters then that’s OK. Just take it slowly and pay attention. Better still, use a stylus.

If it’s a long and complicated email that needs to be sent from the iPhone then I’ve concluded that the best way to do this is – don’t. If I haven’t got access to a keyboard better than the iPhone’s then the email can just wait. If it’s that urgent then a phone call is probably the best option.

Steve Jobs with iPhone
I wonder how Steve Jobs got on with typing on the iPhone
But what if it’s a text message that is needed? An iPad’s no obvious benefit as there’s no texting available and neither, in the ordinary course of things, is a proper computer any use, either. I have several times investigated the possibility of texting from a proper computer but have never found a straightforward solution that is worth the effort (or the cost). A while ago I blogged about a piece of software for preparing a text message on a computer and then sending it to an iPhone for onward transmission as a text message. I did use this for a while, but it proved flakey and I gave it up.

That was when I decided it was time to get to grips with an aspect of the iPhone that I had always found too tricky and tedious to bother mastering – “copy and paste”. After a bit of practice, I now routinely use this method to send long text messages. It involves sending an email first from something with a better keyboard than the iPhone (ie a computer or a tablet).

So, here are step by step instructions. You may find, like me, that this makes sending long text messages quicker and more accurate than using your iPhone’s keyboard.

  1. Prepare the message as an email and send it to yourself. I include in the body of the email exactly what is going into the text message. No more and no less. It doesn’t really matter if the email program is set up to add a signature to each message as it’s easy enough to delete this from the final text message just before sending it. The only important – if blindingly obvious – point is that the iPhone must be set up to receive the email that you are going to send to yourself.
  2. Open the email message on your iPhone.
  3. Do a “long press” anywhere in the body of the email message. When the magnifying glass pops up then let go of the long press.
  4. It doesn’t matter what part of the message has been initially “selected” by the long press as a short menu now pops up that includes the option to “select all”. Tap on this option.
  5. All of the text will now be selected and a menu pops up with the single option to “Copy”. Tap on this option.
  6. Press the Home button and open your text messaging program. If the text message that you have just prepared is a reply to an incoming message then open that message. Otherwise, press the option to start a new message and fill in the recipient’s name or mobile number in the usual way.
  7. Tap on the message area.
  8. Do a “long press” on the message area until a menu pops up with the single option to “Paste”.
  9. Tap on the “Paste” option.
  10. Tap “Send” in the usual way.

iPhone in landscape mode
Of course, it’s always easier typing on a smartphone with it held in landscape mode
Et voila… your long, complicated, and accurate text message is on its way without any typing tantrums (or is it just me that has those?).

This method is much, much easier to carry out than it is to explain – especially after a bit of practice. It also means I can go back to being as pedantic as I like in my use of English and my refusal to succumb to using “textspeak” just because it’s easier to type.

(Last updated 07/12/2023)