By far and away the most popular post I’ve ever written on this blog is how to type math and science symbols (pretty much) natively on iOS. The method is to use the text replacement feature built into iOS and macOS which will receive unicode symbols you can paste into it. Whilst it isn’t a perfect solution, it does greatly enhance the potential for productivity on a mobile device. And then, every now and again, it produces a result above and beyond my expectations.
I’ve recently been designing decks of flip cards for a new app called Tinycards (it’s a great app that you should check out especially if you’re a teacher). The deck I’m working on currently is about subatomic particles, which include antiparticles. The symbols for just about every antiparticle require a bar across the top of the symbol (like this ū or this d̄). Unicode includes a modifying macron (this ➝ ̄ is a macron in case you’re wondering), which puts a bar across symbols. So I created a text replacement “shortcut” for the macron and got to work seeing if I could get it to modify my symbols on iOS (otherwise I’d need to use my Mac).
Lo and behold it worked! I set up #macron as the “shortcut” for the macron in text replacement. I then found that if I typed this: u#macron iOS would replace it with: ū. It’s a beautiful solution.
To set this up yourself you’ll need a copy of the macron unicode symbol (I’ve included one below). Copy it and paste into the Phrase field. Then type the Shortcut you want to use. I used #macron, but you might want to use something else like #bar.
If the macron listed below doesn’t work properly you should be able to get a working copy of it from my list of symbols in this Evernote note. When you copy the macron the selection extends slightly beyond the visible symbol itself, I think that is due to the fact it is a modifying macron.
macron symbol to copy: ̄