I get a lot of companies sending me messages in Gmail and I often end up having to call them back. Which is a huge pain because while the messages I receive in the iPhone “mail” app automatically make phone numbers tappable, Gmail doesn’t. So what can I do to make this process easier on my darn iPhone?
First off, don’t throw your phone out the window. I promise, there’s an easier solution, and it won’t require you to have a pen and paper handy, nor will you need to flip back and forth, back and forth, as you find that you can only accurately remember two or three digits at a time. I know, I’ve done both of those strategies in the past too. (well, I’ve never thrown my smartphone out the window. yet)
The thing about the Apple iPhone is that it has lots of hidden, undocumented features that can be a source of surprise and – hopefully – delight to users who are willing to poke around a bit. In fact, that’s how I learned about this particular trick with the phone app in iOS.
To start, here’s an email from the National Security Agency with its contact info shown. I’m in the Gmail app on my own iPhone 5s here:
You can see the phone number there, but there’s no underline and it’s most assuredly not something you can tap on, as tap after tap after tap demonstrates.
Or is it?
Tap and hold your finger down on any portion of the phone number and you’ll select it and get the selection area along with a few options:
Now, if you haven’t used the selection drag feature before, you need to use your finger to tap on the blue dot above the left bar on the selection and drag it towards the left so you pick up the entire phone number.
It’s not as hard as it sounds because there’s a zoom box that appears to show you exactly what you’re doing. When you’re done, it’ll look like this:
Okay. Now what?
Now tap on “Copy” (and you don’t have to worry about the leading space. The phone app’s smart enough to know to ignore it when dialing.
When you tap on “Copy” not much happens other than the selection box vanishes.
Now go back to iOS itself and tap on the Phone app and get to the dial screen. If you’ve been using a horizontal orientation, you’ll need to switch to vertical. It’ll look like this:
Here’s where that secret undocumented feature comes in: Turns out that the area above the dialpad, where digits show up as you tap them to dial, is a text area. Which means you can — hallelujah! — paste into it.
Tap and hold your finger in that blank area for a few seconds and:
Well look at that!
Tap on the “Paste” button and the phone number is instantly copied and ready to dial:
There ya go. A super nice feature, one that I’ve never seen documented anywhere online.
Oh, and if you want to chat with a nice NSA person and go onto their watch list forever (as I have done by using them as an example!) tap on “Call” and…
Yikes. I better hang up before it’s…