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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Typing a Tab character in iOS

While I was playing around with Shortcuts the other night, I ran into a dilemma. The “Combine Text” action offers the ability to output text separated by a custom delimiter, and I wanted to use a tab character.1

However, as you eagle-eyed readers surely know, the iOS keyboard lacks a Tab key. Searching around for an alternative, I came across a few suggestions, including copying and pasting a tab character from another app, but one that I uncovered on a message board was particularly simple: use Dictation.

That’s right, if you tap that microphone icon on the keyboard and say “Tab key,” iOS will insert a tab for you. That’ll work pretty much anywhere you can use Dictation, including in Shortcuts. So I was able to output tab-delimited data into a file for future reference.

Dumb? A little. Useful? For sure.

Update: A suggestion from reader FJ: you can also create a text shortcut on the Mac that contains a tab, though you have to put in another character as well; this shortcut will then sync to your iOS devices. A little more cumbersome, but nice if you’re in a place where you can’t use Dictation.


  1. The workflow I was creating has the goal of ultimately outputting data that could be easily pasted into a Numbers spreadsheet. Though, as it turns out, that’s a bit stickier on iOS. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at dan@sixcolors.com. His latest novel, The Aleph Extraction, is out now and available in fine book stores everywhere, so be sure to pick up a copy.]

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