How to use 3-D Touch to select and manipulate text

At launch, 3-D Touch was seen as a bit of a gimmick. A very
neat gimmick, but perhaps not a useful one. Over time, though,
it has become as natural as using your finger to jab at an icon
on the screen. And no part of 3-D Touch is as crazy useful as
text selection. That may sound a little dull, but if you ever
got frustrated trying to place the iPhone’s “cursor” precisely
between some letters in order to correct a typo, you will
L-O-V-E love this tip.

3-D Touch can do two things in text fields. You can just move
the insertion point around, and then you can make a text
selection. The first is useful, but the second works so well,
and so intuitively, that one of Apple’s engineering geniuses
must have spent a lot of time getting it just right. Here’s how
to use them:

Move the text cursor with 3-D Touch

A few moments practice and you will wonder how you ever managed without 3-D Touch text selection.A few moments practice and you will
wonder how you ever managed without 3-D Touch text selection.
Photo: Cult of Mac

To more the
insertion point around in the text, first tap in the text field
to make the keyboard slide up into view. Then, just press hard
on then keyboard until the letters go blank. The keyboard area
now acts like a trackpad, and you can just slide your finger or
thumb around (still pressing) to move the cursor in the text
above. If you only learn one 3-D Touch trick on your whole
iPhone, this is probably the one you’ll find most useful. It
turns correcting your text from something painful, into
something as good as the experience on a Mac, which is built
for such things.

Select a word, sentence, or paragraph

The next trick requires a little
finesse with your thumb, but the practice pays off big time. To
select text, you first need to move the insertion point, as
above. This sets an “anchor point” for one end of the
selection. Then, you have to ease up on your touch pressure a
tiny bit, and then press again. It’s actually a very natural
movement. In order to press a bit harder, your thumb
automatically eases up just before the harder press.

you’re controlling a “second” insertion point. The selected
text between the anchor point and this cursor is highlighted in
blue, and you can swipe to place the new insertion point
accurately. When you’re done, just take your thumb off the
screen and the highlight remains. The GIF shows how easy it is
in practice. To do something with the selection, just tap it,
and the familiar black bubble appears, with options to copy,
paste, and so on.

One thing
to note is that, once you have made a selection, you can’t go
back and modify it. You have to start over. It’s so easy,
though, that this is no problem.

Bonus tip: adjust the
pressure required for 3-D Touch

Customize 3-D Touch sensitivity to make it comfortable.Customize 3-D Touch sensitivity to
make it comfortable.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Did you
know that you can fine-tune the pressure required to activate
3-D Touch? It’s right there in the Settings app, under
. You can switch 3-D Touch off altogether (in
which case you may as well just ditch your iPhone and get a
landline or a fax), and you can also pick between three
sensitivity settings. The default is Medium. I
have mine set to Light, because I have the
delicate touch of a concert pianist, and the
Firm option is there for neanderthals, and
people who don’t know their own strength.

3-D Touch really is a fantastic tool. Once you incorporate it
in your regular iPhone use, you won’t be able to stop. If you
want to see just how ingrained and natural it becomes, try
switching off 3-D Touch on a nerdy friend’s iPhone, step back,
and watch their “hilarious” confusion.

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