Google Productivity Pad: Control-Z on an iPad

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Control-Z on an iPad

Control-z (command-z on a Mac) is one of my favorite things about the computer era. As most of you know, it is the computer command for undo last action. It makes it so it's like the last thing you did never happened, so if you make mistake you can just get rid of it. I make a lot of mistakes, probably more than you do, so I have long loved this whole concept; oft times I wish life had a control-z command.

As you know I have mostly gone all iPad, only using my computer at home. So here's the problem: just as it was with control-f, that there is no control or command key on an iPad. Oh the sorrow!

However, before you through your iPad into the dust bin, just yet let me tell you their is a way (albeit not quite as good) to duplicate this functionality on your iPad.

Warning: the iPad does punish you for making mistakes, this solution can make you look like a fool.

You have to shake your iPad

That's right, shake it. You make a mistake and all you have to do is shake your iPad, and it will go away.

Here's what happens; just click the undo typing (red box) and it will go away. This solution works in most apps that use text input. Quite frankly it is easier to do this on an iPhone or an iPod Touch where you may have already shaken your device in frustration anyway.  On the iPad it's a little more difficult and risky. It can be useful however, just not as useful as control-z.

Fortunately for us, many app developers know the value of the undo command and the have built undo functionality into their apps sans the shaking.  This normally comes in the form of a a little arrow looping backwards (orange arrow).

All the Evernote apps (Evernote, Penultimate, Skitch) have this functionality.  The Adobe Reader app, as well as others contain true undo functions. They also have redo arrows (yellow arrow) which mimics the less commonly used control-y command.

So there you have it, it is not perfect, but when you want to undo on your iPad the best option is to look for the undo arrow and if that is not available to you just shake it. I believe the shake command will work in almost every app.

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Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.


  1. This is hilarious, because I have owned my iPad for a number of years and had no idea. Hilarious also because the people around me at Starbucks just looked at me strangely.

    Thanks for the tip!

  2. I had no clue! Works on iPhone too.