If you think standard text entry sounds like a pain, you’re not alone. Just entering the word “hello” requires you to press the buttons on your phone thirteen times (4-4 3-3 5-5-5 5-5-5 6-6-6). Ridiculous? You bet!
Fortunately, on most phones there’s a better way. It’s called T9 Text Input, and it lets you enter words much faster by pressing each button just once.
In T9 text entry mode, you still press the buttons that have the letters you want–but you press each one a single time, and the phone guesses what you’re trying to spell as you go. For instance, you could write “hello” just by entering 4-3-5-5-6.
In fact, with T9 you may be able to get away without even spelling all the letters. That’s because T9 includes something called “word completion,” which means that it’s constantly guessing, as you type, what words are most likely to match those keys. If you see that it’s guessed the word you want, you can just press the “space” key (also known as the # or pound key) to accept that word, and you don’t have to type any more letters at all.
For instance, if you type 4-3 the phone might guess “he,” but change its guess to “gel” when you continue with the next letter (4-3-5). When you add the fourth letter (4-3-5-5) it will guess “hello” and you can press the space key (#) to enter the whole word plus a space.
To enter T9 mode on most phones, you first need to go to a text entry screen (such as the screen where you create a new SMS text message). Then press the * key until you see “T9” or “T9abc” in the upper left or upper right of your phone’s screen.
For more information on T9, including a handy T9 tutorial, see t9.com.