As a dual citizen, I’ve got lots of ID numbers to remember: drivers license, social security, ID cards, passport numbers, etc. And with kids, it means that I need to remember, like, twenty different strings of numbers for any given purpose.*
This will often become complicated when preparing to travel. When you’ve got a bunch of kids (or just lots of forms of ID), you end up needing to input lots of passport or other identifying information into various airline websites or government portals or online COVID forms. One wrong keystroke could mean the difference between a pleasant family vacation and needing to leave my three year-old in Vienna because I mistyped her passport number during check-in.
But I found a super-simple hack that obviates the need to remember various strings of numbers, and helps ensure that none of my children end up doing an accidental semester abroad in Bavaria.
iOS text replacement
Here’s what you do:
1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement
2. Tap the plus sign in the upper-right.
3. Choose a phrase (the thing you don’t want to remember: your passport number, SSN, drivers license, etc). Choose a shortcut (the thing that’s easy to remember: “davepass,” for example). Remember, you don’t want to choose something that you might also use in other contexts, lest you end up sending friends and coworkers your passport number in casual conversation.
The next time you need to input a long string of text, just start typing your phrase (“davepass” in this case), and your desired number will pop up right above your keyboard. In this context, I just used Twitter to demonstrate the shortcut in action.
You can also use text shortcuts for longer strings of text. As you can see, I’ve also used “aziz” as a shortcut for “Hey. I’m heading to Whole Foods. Want anything?” as an homage to the 2018 Netflix show, Master of None.
Best of all, since you’re on iOS, this change will sync across all your iDevices
You can also use this trick for hashtag cramming on Instagram, for inputting repetitive information on tax forms, or any other instance where you find yourself struggling to remember lots of numbers.
*yes, I know that leaning on technology means a gradual decline in our ability to remember a lot of unrelated numbers, but until we all read Moonwalking with Einstein and master memorization skills, I think this is a good backup.