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Posts from the ‘Texting’ Category

Text to Speech

Last week’s ITmail about checking your phone more often for text messages elicited some comments about how reading texts is not always convenient. If you are driving, for example, you will have to wait to read them.

But you can listen to them.

If you have an iPhone, ask Siri to “read my texts” and she’ll do it. (Enable the “Hey Siri” function to make your request without even touching the phone.) Siri will tell you how many new texts you have, read the first one out loud, and then ask you if you want to reply. If you do, she will ask you what you want to say. If you don’t wish to reply, just say “No” and she will read the next new text out loud.

If you have an Android phone, start voice detection by saying “OK Google” and then say, “Show me my messages.” You will have the choice to hear or skip each message, and then to “Reply,” “Repeat,” or “Next.”

Maybe try this first when you are not driving.

Note: This feature is called “text to speech.” The opposite, “speech to text,” describes dictating a text or reading the text of a voice mail. All cool stuff.

New Messages

If you have a house, you need to sort through your mail.

If you have a phone, you need to listen to your voice mail.

If you have an email address, you need to check your inbox.


If you text, you need to check your messages!

Seems obvious to those of you who check your messages often. But for those of you who don’t — or admit you don’t hear the “ding” of an incoming text — you should make a habit of checking your phone more often.

Texting is often used for communication that warrants a timely response.

  • Do you need anything from the store? (While your spouse/parent/child/friend is still at the store)…
  • I’m near your house and can stop by to drop off what you wanted to borrow. Are you home?
  • We need a 4th. Any chance you can play this morning?

If you are thinking that someone who wants this immediate information should just call you, you may be right. However, the information is no less urgent/important/helpful to you if they choose to text instead. Don’t miss out.

Group Text Issues

I am not a fan of group texts.

Although group texts are an ideal medium for communicating quickly with more than one person, the problem with group texts is that after you send or receive the first text, you remain a member of the group.

Issue #1

If anyone in the group replies at any time, everyone in the group will receive it — it’s an automatic “Reply All.” This is a good thing, if all the replies are timely, on point, and meaningful to everyone. Too often, they are not.

Issue #2

If, at a later date, you wish to text someone who once texted you as part of a group, you may inadvertently tap the group — instead of the individual — and send your personal text to the group. Oops.

My advice:

  • If you wish to respond just to the sender of a group text, open a new text and text your reply to that one person.
  • If you no longer wish to receive reply texts from members of the group, remove yourself from the group. (On the iPhone, tap the “i” in the upper right corner of the text screen, and then tap “leave this conversation.”)
  • Don’t send group texts to people you think might not know group text etiquette. Best to just to text them individually.


Auto-Correct: your phone thinking it knows better than you what you want to say. You start typing and your phone finishes the word for you.

This is helpful … unless it’s not the word you want to use. One word, or even one letter, can change your whole message.
  • “I am not going to the store” is not the same as “I am now going to the store.”
  • “I hope he dies” isn’t “I hope he does.”
  • And, well, pubic isn’t public in any case.
If you think Auto-Correct is your worst enema, (oops! enemy), you can turn it off in the Keyboard section of your Settings menu.

If you leave it on, just be really really sure you know what your message says before you click Send.


If you know anything about Twitter, you know that tweets have a 140 character limit. (If you don’t even know that, read on anyway; you might still appreciate this information).

Thus, Twitter users rely on popular acronyms to express themselves; why waste characters on three words when three letters will do?

And why confine these acronyms to just Twitter? They make email, texting, and facebook (which don’t have character limits) more efficient, but also more confusing. You’d better know a few acronyms, just in case …

LOL: Laughing out loud

ICYMI: In case you missed it

SMH: Shaking my head (usually in disgust or disbelief)

B/C: Because

BTW: By the way

IMHO: In my humble opinion

ROTFL: Rolling on the floor laughing

GMAB: Give me a break

JK: Just kidding

I hope this list is helpful. You may never type one of these acronyms but your grandkids might. For them, it’s NBD (no big deal).


A Puzzling Text

A few weeks ago I pulled over to text a friend: Running late. Do you want to wait for me or meet me there?

She replied: iw84u

I was driving, I was rushing, and she sent me a puzzle*?

While I recognized her text-savvy shorthand (I finally got it: iw84u is “I wait for you”), I believe her response belongs in the “Let’s not get carried away” department, or maybe on a license plate.

Texts should be quick and easy communication for all parties to the conversation. My friend typed 5 characters instead of maybe 15; certainly quick and easy for her. For me? Not so much.

Look at your text before you send it. Be sure it is appropriate for the occasion.
*Bonus non-computer trivia: The text “puzzle” mentioned above is called a Rebus, a “representation of words with pictures, letter names, or symbols that suggest the sound of the words.” (I looked it up).

Group Texts

If texting to one person is good, texting to a group is better. Right? Maybe.   

A group text is a typed conversation among more than two people. You can get your message out to a group of your contacts at once and they can respond … to everybody.

Group texts are great if, for example, you text with select friends about the big game you are all watching from different places. Or if a few friends need to agree on a restaurant.

But, because every response to a group text goes to everyone in the group — that is, it’s an automatic “Reply All” — sometimes it’s just not the appropriate medium. Does everyone in the group need to know which entree everyone else prefers, or who can’t come to your event … and why?

Before you send a group text, consider the response factor; would you want to read all the responses if you received the text rather than sent it? Does everyone in your group even know everyone else? Trust me, your friends don’t want to read texts from your other friends they don’t know.

On some phones, and in some group texts, there is a way to “leave this group” so you are not bombarded by the responses of others. But, more often than not, you are stuck receiving the texts. So, if you don’t want random group texts, pass this message on to your friends … one at a time …. by email.

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