How do you find typing on your phone or tablet? Is it easy or hard? Does it have irritations like replacing the word you want with one that you don’t want? Customise the keyboard and remove the irritations.

Images are often passed around the web, especially on social media websites where someone has intended to type one thing into a text message and auto-correct has replaced a key word in the sentence with another one.

There are even whole websites dedicated to the funny things auto-correct has done to text messages. I don’t believe half of them. Just try typing in some of them and you don’t get the results claimed. On the other hand, maybe it is because the users have their keyboard poorly configured. There is a way to avoid problems like auto-correct.

There are many potential problems when typing on a touch screen and you can turn various options on or off as you prefer. For example, your phone or tablet might have a spelling checker built in that points out typing slips, each key press can be shown on the screen as you type it, the start of sentences can be capitalised and much more.

Let’s take a tour of the keyboard and text options. I will be using a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Google Nexus 7 for this. Both are running Android 5, but the tips apply to older versions too, the screens will look different though.

Samsung keyboard

Go to Settings, Language and input. Tap the keyboard – Samsung keyboard on a Samsung phone.

Predictive text

On the Samsung there is an option to turn predictive text on or off. Predictive text is usually useful and you can see suggestions just above the keyboard and select them to save typing time and effort.

Auto replace

This completes or replaces the word you are typing with the most probable word when you tap space or a punctuation. Sometimes auto replace gets in the way and predicts the wrong words, replacing ones you want with those you don’t. Auto replace is easily confused with predictive text and it is this feature you want to turn off to stop it making a mess of your text messages. Turn it off if it is a nuisance.

Auto check spelling

This is useful and when it is turned on, it underlines misspelt words with a wiggly red line. You can easily see typing slips and spelling mistakes.

Samsung Galaxy keyboard options  Samsung Galaxy keyboard options

Auto capitalise

The first letter of a sentence should be capitalised, but there are exceptions and this feature can become an irritation. If the first word of a sentence is iPhone for example, you might end up with Iphone instead. Passwords and user names that start with a lowercase letter might be capitalised too. Turn it off it is annoys you.

Auto spacing

This automatically inserts a space inbetween words. Normally this is OK, but if you are writing about computer and phone tech, it can be a problem because some products, apps, websites, and other things use combined words. The system might automatically insert spaces. It can be turned off.

Auto punctuate

Tapping the spacebar twice at the end of a sentence can insert a full stop. Some people find it useful, but others do not. It’s up to you.

Keyboard swipe

No this is an interesting one and instead of pecking each letter of a word, you swipe over the keyboard without lifting your finger. If you wanted to type ‘welcome’ you would put your finger on w, slide it to e, then l, c, o, m, and finish on e. The word you want is inserted for you. It seems almost magical, but it works and some people love it.

There is also an option here for cursor control. Instead of swiping to input words, swiping can move the cursor in the text.

Character preview

When a key is tapped, the letter/number/symbol appears just above your finger to provide visual feedback on what key you pressed. It allows you to spot mistakes more easily. Turn it on.

Adjust keyboard size

Select this option and a keyboard is displayed with a resize button in the middle at the top. Press and drag it up or down to resize the keyboard. You might find larger buttons easier to press, but the downside is that it covers more of the screen. A smaller keyboard leaves more space for whatever app you are using.

Text shortcuts

Some phrases are used quite often and if they are long and hard to type, you should create a text shortcut. Suppose you frequently end messages with ‘Yours sincerely, Bob’. You could at the text and assign it the shortcut ys. Whenever you type ys, ‘Yours sincerely, Bob’ will be a suggestion and you can tap it to automatically enter it. It is very useful to be able to store your favourite phrases here.

Samsung Galaxy keyboard options

Google keyboard

Google keyboard on the Nexus 7 has similar features, but the screens are different and the locations of options are different, so you might need to explore the sections to find the following settings. Your phone’s settings might be different again. It would be impossible to cover them all, so explore your phone’s settings.

In Settings, Language and input, Google keyboard, Preferences, is auto capitalisation, double-space full stop and sound on keypress as mentioned above.

The Appearance and Layouts, Theme section provides four keyboard themes – Material Light, Material Dark, Holo White and Holo Blue. Gesture Typing is the same as Samsung’s Keyboard swipe. You run your finger over the keyboard, going from letter to letter to make the word.

Google keyboard

Text correction has a number of options, some of which are not in Samsung keyboard options. For example, you can block offensive words. Not the ones you type, but suggested ones. You often see funny text messages passed around the web where one word has been replaced by another, rude one or swear word. With Block offensive words turned on, this will not happen.

There are options to show personalised suggestions, which learns from Google apps and services you use. Contact names can be suggested when typing, next-word suggestions use the previous word to predict the next one, and there are several other useful options.