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How to Use iOS 11's One-Handed Keyboard

Phones are getting bigger, which is great news if you like having extra screen real estate to work with, but not so great if you like to type with just one hand. iOS 11, which is now out and ready to download, introduces a new one-handed keyboard mode, that lets you more easily enjoy the sound of one hand typing even if you're using one of Apple's plus-sized phones.

One-handed typing mode works on any iPhone that's 4.7 inches or larger. That includes every iPhone 6 and 7 as well as the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. It will also work on the iPhone X when that 5.8-inch device ships. You won't find the feature on the iPhone SE and iPhone 5s, even though those 4-inch devices can run iOS 11.

You don't have to dig through settings to turn one-handed typing on. Just hard press the global keyboard icon that's to left of the space bar — the same key that lets you switch among the standard iOS keyboard, the emjoi keyboard and any other third-party or foreign language keyboards you may have installed on your phone. (If you don't have any additional keyboards installed, the key will be a smiley face, as seen in the screenshot above.)

When you press the global keyboard icon in iOS 11, you'll get two new options: a keyboard that shifts to the left and a keyboard that shifts the the right. Tap the one you want — I favor the left-shifting keyboard as I prefer to hold my phone in my left hand — and the keyboard will squeeze to one side, making it easier to reach with just one thumb. (You may also be more prone to striking the wrong key since they're condensed, but that's what autocorrect is for.)

If you want that full-sized keyboard back, just tap the white arrow that's off to the side of the keyboard. Turning your iPhone into landscape mode while also make the keyboard full-size again, at least temporarily.

MORE: Best New iOS 11 Features

Maybe you'd like your keyboard to always be in one-handed mode by default. If that's the case, here's how to set it up.

1. Go to Settings.

2. Tap General.

3. Scroll down to Keyboard and tap that.

4. Tap One Handed Keyboard.

5. On the ensuing screen, set which option you want as your default keyboard.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.