macOS High Sierra and iOS 11 May Fix Long-Standing Sync Issues With iCloud Text Replacements [Update: Soon]

by

Apple appears to have resolved long-running iCloud sync issues linked to its text replacement feature with the release of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. Originally introduced in Snow Leopard and iOS 5, text replacements let users create shortcut text that, when typed, expands to something longer, thus saving input time.

The feature can be found on iOS devices in Settings -> General -> Keyboards -> Text Replacement, and in System Preferences -> Keyboard on Macs. Ideally, changes to the text snippets list on one device should sync to all devices logged in using the same Apple ID, but that hasn't always been the case, as MacStadium's Brian Stucki attests:

Text replacement syncing is completely broken. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it will only sync back old snippets that you have deleted. Sometimes the sync will work one direction, but not the other. Every time I ask about this on Twitter, it brings a strong response of similar experiences.

After years of struggling to get text replacement syncing to work properly, Stucki recently decided to set up a weeks-long experiment to test the reliability of the feature across hundreds of Apple devices running various versions of iOS and OS X/macOS. In short, Stucki's results suggested that the text replacement syncing service was "a complete mess" and routinely failed to sync text snippets across devices.

Following the experiment, Stucki wondered why the syncing had remained so poor across several generations of OS, given that other iCloud syncing features such as Apple Notes had improved in recent years. As noted by Daring Fireball's John Gruber, these improvements corresponded with the introduction of the CloudKit API in 2014, suggesting that text replacements had not been upgraded to run on the newer syncing framework.

However, in an update to his experiment posted on Tuesday, Stucki reported that when he made text replacement changes on a Mac running macOS High Sierra, surprisingly his edits were recognized and synced across nearly every device on the same Apple ID, regardless of OS. "Perhaps a clean install of High Sierra is now saving snippets correctly?" he wondered.


Since then, iOS developer Guilherme Rambo has claimed that text replacements do sync through CloudKit on iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra, suggesting Apple has got around to updating the feature to run on the more reliable API. So if you're having trouble syncing text snippets, updating your devices to Apple's latest operating systems might be the best course of action.

Update: An Apple spokesperson informed John Gruber later on Wednesday that an update to move text replacement syncing to CloudKit should be rolling out to iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra 10.13 "in the next month or so".

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
37 months ago
100% NO.

Synching between my iPad Pro, iPhone 7 + (both running iOS 11.01) and my Mac Pro and MacBook (both running High Sierra) are as hit and miss as they’ve always been.

Created a shortcut on my iPhone - only syncs to MacBook
Created a shortbust on my iPad - synchs nowhere
Created a shortcut on my MacBook syncs to iPhone and iPad (but not always)

Text replacement is still a heap of *****.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
I didn't even know these text replacements were supposed to sync! :p
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
Added to article:

Update: An Apple spokesperson informed John Gruber later on Wednesday that an update to move text replacement syncing to CloudKit should be rolling out to iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra 10.13 "in the next month or so ('https://daringfireball.net/linked/2017/09/27/text-replacements-moving-to-cloudkit')".
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
While I’m glad, I just read posts in the iOS 11.0.1 update article commenting that it wiped their snippets on some devices and not others.

Personally, I find it maddening. After a clean install sometimes only half my snippets would appear, I’d manually redo them in that device and then 2 months later have 3+ copies of the same snippet on each device.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago

This is definitely not the case. I’ve been using iOS 11 since the betas and text sync has never worked properly. Even after getting my 7 Plus replaced by Apple and doing a clean install of iOS 11, I still can’t get text replacements to sync. This is by far the most infuriating thing about using iOS for me.

Your forgot to mention Safari offline reading list. That’s only just fractionally more reliable than Text Replacement synching.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
37 months ago
I .... I'm in shock! I don't know what happened but I imagine aliens are involved.

My text replacements have synced! They're THE SAME on my Macbook and my phone. I just deleted one that was a test and the deletion replicated within a few seconds. I'm too scared to turn my iPad on in case the aliens get stressed out and stop syncing them.

Edit: Turned iPad on this morning. It's still being fiercely independent. iOS9 is giving the finger to iOS11 and High Sierra.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone Users Who Experienced 'Batterygate' Can Now File to Receive Around $25 Settlement From Apple

Monday July 13, 2020 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to settle a U.S. class action lawsuit that accused the company of "secretly throttling" older iPhone models. Now, eligible iPhone owners are beginning to be notified about their legal rights and options. Under the proposed settlement, Apple will provide a cash payment of approximately $25 to each eligible iPhone owner who submits a claim, with its total payout ...

Apple Releases iOS 13.6 With Car Key, Toggle to Turn Off Automatic Update Downloads, Audio Apple News+ Stories and More

Wednesday July 15, 2020 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.6, major updates that come more than a month after the launch of iOS and iPadOS 13.5.1. iOS and iPadOS 13.6 introduce new Health, Apple News, and software update features. The iOS and iPadOS 13.6 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update. Apple has...

Possible 'iPhone 12' Battery Certifications Suggest Lower Capacities Than iPhone 11 Series

Monday July 13, 2020 4:22 am PDT by
MySmartPrice has spotted certifications for three new Apple batteries that it believes could be for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, despite them being less capacitive than the batteries in the current iPhone 11 series. The batteries are identified with the model numbers A2471, A2431, and A2466, and appear on Safety Korea, China's 3C, and the Danish agency UL Demko. Apple is expected to...

iPhone 12 Could Ship With New Braided USB-C to Lightning Cable

Tuesday July 14, 2020 10:57 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 12 models could ship with a new Lightning to USB-C cable that includes a braided fabric design, according to leaked photos from ChargerLAB that surfaced on Weibo today (via Twitter users DuanRui and L0vetodream). The photos depict a USB-C to Lightning cable that has a braided design rather than the standard non-fabric design of the current cables. Apple has never...

Apple Pays Samsung an Estimated $950 Million for Missing OLED Panel Purchase Targets

Monday July 13, 2020 10:03 am PDT by
Apple in the second quarter of 2020 paid Samsung approximately $950 million for not meeting OLED panel purchase goals established in agreements between the two companies, according to display analysts at Display Supply Chain Consultants. Samsung last week shared guidance on revenue and operating profit for the second quarter of 2020, which included a one-time gain related to its display...

Five Mac Apps Worth Checking Out - July 2020

Tuesday July 14, 2020 2:34 pm PDT by
Apps created for Macs don't typically receive as much coverage as apps designed for iPhones and iPads, so we crated a series here at MacRumors to highlight interesting Mac apps worth checking out. This month's apps focus on productivity and feature great tools for working from home. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Twobird (Free) - Twobird is an email app from...

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

Apple Shares Humorous 'Working-From-Home Thing' Video

Monday July 13, 2020 9:31 am PDT by
Apple today shared a funny video focused on the problems that people working from home have to deal with, including noisy children, chaotic schedules, communication issues, and more. The video focuses on showing off Apple products and their capabilities that can be useful when working from home, such as the ability to scan a document with an iPhone, mark up a PDF, Siri Reminders, and more.The...

SoftBank Considering Possible Sale of Arm Holdings as Apple Gears Up for Arm-Based Macs

Monday July 13, 2020 2:00 pm PDT by
SoftBank, the company that owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is exploring options that include a full or partial sale or a public offering, reports The Wall Street Journal. SoftBank is working with Goldman Sachs Group as an advisor, and the explorations are at an early stage. The Wall Street Journal says that it's unknown how much interest there would be in Arm from financial or industry...

Rumor Suggests New Apple App for Windows Could Be Coming Soon

Tuesday July 14, 2020 1:54 am PDT by
Apple could be working towards the release of a new app for Windows 10, according to a report this week from an Italian website. The blog Aggiornamenti Lumia suggests that an app from Apple is "coming soon" to the Microsoft Store, but stops short of providing additional details. Apple still maintains a Windows version of the iTunes app, which has been discontinued on Mac and replaced by...