Type scientific and math symbols on your iOS device with ease

NEW: insert combinations of scientific and math symbols fast with an iOS Shortcut – post

In a previous post I shared a way in which you could use symbols on your iPhone even though they are not included in the iPhone’s keyboard. I find this helpful because I teach physics and use many symbols that are not available on the keyboard.  Often symbols can be displayed on iOS devices even though they are not on the keyboard.  So if you type symbols from a Mac or PC into an app that syncs to your iPhone or into a webpage you can access them on your iPhone.  You can even copy and paste those symbols on your phone.

The method I posted previously was a clunky method for sure, involving making a list somewhere on your phone of all the symbols you need and then copying and pasting a symbol when you needed it.  Well I now have good news about a far more efficient method.

As I happened to be reading this post from Chris Hauk (Mactrast) it got me thinking about combining his method with my need to type certain symbols that aren’t available on my phone’s keyboard.  His method involved copying an emoji which is not available on the iOS keyboard from Twitter and pasting it into an iOS keyboard shortcut field and then creating a keyboard text combination for the emoji.

So I tried it out with “²”, by copying the “superscript two” symbol in as a phrase and then using “^2” as the keyboard “shortcut” and it worked!  Now I can type “^2” and my phone will replace it with “²”.  I then worked through most of my list of symbols to create key combinations for the symbols I use most frequently.  If you aren’t familiar with how to create text shortcuts on an iOS device watch the video below.

If you would like a copy of the symbols I used to copy from it is available here: Unicode Characters.  At the top of the document you will see the symbols followed by the text “shortcut” in red if I made one for the symbol to give you an idea of example text combinations.  If the symbol you want is Unicode there is a good chance it will work. Search the web and you will likely find a page where you can copy the desired symbol into your dictionary.

One of the really helpful things about this method is that the list of symbols you have available on your iPhone is totally customisable.  So you don’t have to search through lines upon lines of symbols you don’t use in order to get to the ones you do need.

I hope this helps if you need a quick and easy way to work with symbols on your iPhone or iPad, if so let me know in the comments or over on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “Type scientific and math symbols on your iOS device with ease

    • Thanks Ben. The app looks good. Presumably it is generating image files for insertion into documents etc? Or does it generate pure text that can be inserted into any text field and later be edited without having to retype everything?


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