Deleted keyboard shortcuts (Text Replacements) keep coming back

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2020

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Synchronizing keyboard shortcuts (text replacements) on iOS and macOS used to be incredibly unreliable. Often, deleted shortcuts kept coming back, thanks to a buggy and deprecated API called iCloud Core Data. Apple has mostly fixed those issues in recent updates to its operating systems.

A few years ago, I started using keyboard shortcuts (text replacements) in macOS to reduce the amount of repetitive typing I was doing. At some point, those keyboard shortcuts suddenly started appearing on my iOS devices. That was a sign that they were synchronized via iCloud. Unfortunately, Apple’s first implementation was using an unreliable and now deprecated API called iCloud Core Data.

Update: A spokesperson confirmed that over “the next month or so,” Apple will release an update to iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra that will fix the problem by replacing iCloud Core Data with CloudKit for text replacements.

Deleted keyboard shortcuts (Text Replacements) keep coming back
System Preferences –> Keyboard –> Text

Text replacements are even more useful on iOS because of the smaller keyboard. So I started adding more shortcuts for email addresses and set phrases I would use in the languages I communicate in.

Deleted keyboard shortcuts (Text Replacements) keep coming back
Adding a keyboard shortcut on iOS

Failed troubleshooting steps

Unfortunately, I mixed up the order when I typed in the “Phrase, ” and the shortcut and so both macOS/iOS started replacing [email protected] with “myem” instead of the other way around. To fix the issue I simply deleted the shortcut and created it again, this time entering [email protected]in the “Phrase” field and “myem” in the shortcut field.

The other day I restored my iPad from a backup and suddenly keyboard shortcuts that I deleted and changed months ago reappeared on all my iOS devices but not on my Mac. I didn’t think much of it and just deleted them again. Unfortunately, it turned out that those keyboard shortcuts are somewhat resistant and they have kept coming back since then – even after I tried the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Sign out of iCloud, delete local iCloud data and sign back in
  • Reset all settings

In fact, after the above steps, the previously deleted shortcuts started appearing on macOS, as you can see in the screenshot above. Several discussions with Senior Apple Advisors haven’t been successful so far, and we’re now checking if shortcut data can be deleted on iCloud directly by Apple, which appears to be the source of the problem.

I have had a similar issue in the recent past, where suddenly old email signatures popped up in Apple Mail but the issue disappeared by itself somehow. Apple unofficially confirmed that they had some synching problem in iCloud with the introduction of iCloud Drive, but those have been resolved by now.

Has anyone else seen this issue and maybe have a solution? If so let me know, please!

Previous Updates (obsolete)

Update 1

I got a call back from the Senior Advisor at Apple who asked me to upgrade to iOS 8.1.1 and OS X 10.10.1. I had done that already yesterday, and this morning I again deleted the keyboard shortcuts on my iPhone. Just now I realized that the deleted shortcuts were also gone from my MacBook Pro, so I’m hoping that the latest updates to Apple’s OS’s fixed the problems. If not Apple will switch my iCloud account into troubleshooting mode, so R&D can access it directly. I’ll keep you posted!

Update 2

It’s been a couple of days since the upgrade, and so far the deleted shortcuts have not come back. Problem solved!

Update 3

The shortcut issue is still resolved. However, I have noticed a similar issue with the weather widget in the Notification Center. Deleting a city has no permanent effect, and they keep coming back. In my case “Williams,” which I added to our trip to Grand Canyon refuses to stay out of my widget area :)

Deleted keyboard shortcuts (Text Replacements) keep coming back
Notification Center: Weather Widget

Update 4 

As one of the readers commented, the issue is unfortunately still NOT resolved. It sometimes takes a little while, but the shortcuts keep coming back. Based on what I have seen so far, it’s not an OS but rather a backend issue. Apple just hasn’t figured out syncing yet (MobileMe anyone?).

Update 5

I have not seen my shortcuts returning in a few weeks, but I’m not sure what has changed. In fact, my remaining shortcuts are actually out of sync between my devices now. I did upgrade my iOS devices to 8.4 Beta, and I got a new Mac that I installed from scratch, without restoring a backup. So the issue is still not resolved, but at least the shortcuts I wanted to get rid of haven’t returned in a long time.

Update 6

I found out where OS X stored its shortcuts database and deleted the apparently corrupted file. That alone doesn’t fix the problem if you have other devices with corrupted databases. But following JD’s suggestion below on deleting the corrupt database on a jailbroken iOS device, you may be able to get rid of this issue once and for all if you also delete the corrupt database from your OS X device(s).

The database in question is located in:

/Users/mk/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~TextInput/Dictionaries/.baseline/current.nosync/mk~F13BFE7E-DBB0-5D2B-9BC9-A74DA792AE84/UserDictionary/SAlQVUhF7208e6_gvZx_zdKx1U1AzKGem3HO2pLKjgY=/stores/CloudUserDictionary.sqlite

I found it by searching for the shortcut string using the following command:

Michaels-iMac:Dictionaries mk$ grep -r “omw” .

Deleted keyboard shortcuts (Text Replacements) keep coming back
Location of corrupted database

With this information, I’ll contact the Apple Business Support today and have them wipe the backend. I’ll update this post with my findings accordingly.

Update 7

I haven’t tried it myself, but other users are reporting the steps below outlined by Scott (September 29, 2015, at 2:53 pm) in the comments fix the problem once and for all.

Update 8

Apple seems to have disabled synchronizing text replacements altogether in one of the latest OS X and iOS updates. That’s certainly one way to fix the issue, but I hope they’ll bring that functionality back in a future update.

59 thoughts on “Deleted keyboard shortcuts (Text Replacements) keep coming back”

  1. hi Michael, thanks for your effort in solving this problem.
    i stuck in the procedure of searching the .sqlite file
    when i try to type grep -r “omw” in my terminal, it shows the message “warning: recursive search in stdin”
    It get stuck, until i use the ctrl c to cease the command.

    have any solution to this problem?
    my OS X ver. is 10.12.5 macOS Sierra

  2. It’s ridiculous how problems around text shortcuts continue to crop up with Mac. My latest is that some shortcuts I deleted long ago on my iphone and though were cleared up…are now showing up on my Macbook Pro! I checked the System Preferences/Keyboard/Text and it’s not there. Do you know where they live in OS X El Capitan Version 10.11.6? Thank you for your advice.

  3. And once again after restoring from icloud on iPhone 7 lost all my hundreds of text replacements, in my case it’s the other way around I switched iCloud Drive on and off many times they all gone :(

  4. Bloody hell !! THEY ARE BACK !!!!! …. dont ask me why but i turned on icloud drive and regretfully, after i did this, the stupid Duplicate text replacements ( zombies ) came back !

    So !,.,,, i have just RESTORED to an older version and ensure that Icloud rive was NOT on !

    God help us !

  5. Little late to the party, but I’ve had the same issue for awhile. I just tried deleting what I want to delete on both iOS and OSX. I added one the other day and it did not keep. I just re added it to both. I think what happens is, I delete it on one device and not the other so it re-syncs maybe? Anyone figure it out?

      • And that that fix is/was permanent!

        Those zombies bugged me so much (2 years!) that I’m happy to come back here if you run into any issues, Jake. Post back on how it goes.

        • I have just upgraded to iOS 9.2 and it is now ALL WORKING ! No more zombies ( I hope )

          I have had this problem for nearly two years and have been exhausted with the numerous ways that u have tried to resolve it.

          Thank you all for your help but j think Apple have finally spent some of their billions on looking after what is important – the customer !

          In summary – upgrade though this is not the solution if you have an older phone. I have a 5S

          Good luck.


    How To Permanently Delete ‘Text Replacements’ Zombies That Won’t Stay Deleted

    The following instructions are on how to permanently delete Text Replacements on Macs, iPhones, and iPads that just won’t stay deleted. The issue stems from hidden/corrupted backup files that keep refilling in the text replacements found in iPads and iPhones here:

    Settings: General: Keyboard: Text Replacements

    and on Macs here:
    System Preferences: Keyboard: Text tab

    These instructions are thanks to Apple Support members PIckinic, Pagemaker and others. You’ll find the original fix here: 

    Overview of Problem: For the past couple years, many Mac users have found that Text Replacements in both iOS and OSX become impossible to delete. You delete them, only to see them come back during the next sync or even weeks later.

    Overview of Solution: thanks to the sleuthing of the members mentioned above (and many more), the problem was isolated to hidden backup files stored at ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync, or for those without a computer, somewhere deep in ones device.

    Here are the steps to fix it:

    1. Manually delete all Text Replacements on iPhone and iPad (no easy way to do this, since they have to be deleted one at a time). Manually delete them all from your Mac/PC, too. IF there are ones you want to keep, keep them only on the computer, and zero out the iOS devices.

    2. Connect iPhone to Mac and backup to iTunes (Do this with a direct connection to your computer, not a backup to iCloud).

    3. Install the free app iBackupBot onto your Mac or PC (http://www.icopybot.com/itunes-backup-manager.htm)

    4. Run iBackupBot and in the left column, you should all your Backups. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: if you have or used to have multiple devices, be sure you see all of the backups for all devices, including iPhones, iPads, old devices no longer owned, etc. You’ll need to delete the following files from EACH device listed.

    5. Navigate to System files > KeyboardDomain. There may be more than one KeyboardDomain folder.

    6. Delete the “CoreDataUbiquitySupport” folder (it contains the corrupted CloudUserDictionary file(s) that are causing the zombies).

    NOTE: I personally have deleted ALL contents of ALL KeyboardDomain folders, but the above CoreData folder may be enough.

    7. Be sure you do this deletion process for EVERY device listed in that left-hand column in iBackupBot. You may need to scroll down to see all devices (past and present) listed. If you miss any, the Zombies will reappear (I speak from experience).

    8. Exit iBackupBot.

    9. Now restore the iPhone from the backup created in step 1 that now has the corrupted files deleted. Go to iTunes: Summary (half-way down): Restore Backup, and follow instructions.

    10. Do the same process for the iPad or any other devices you have other than a Mac.

    11. When done reboot everything. This will make all Text Replacements disappear.

    After dealing with these zombies for just over 2 years, this is what has worked for me (thanks again to the above-mentioned intrepid Apple Support Discussion members.)

  7. I went to a lot of trouble ditching bad shortcuts several months ago, but when I restored a backup to a new iPhone and updated to iOS 9 the bad ones came back and replicated across devices (except one running iOS 9 public beta). I have 2 Mac’s and 2 iOS devices syncing through my Apple ID. In the past I removed the Dictionary files from my Macs in ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~Textinput/Dictionaries, then I rebooted all my devices. All was good until now. Not sure whether the corrupted files are on the iDevices or in the backup I restored.

    So my new attempt with iOS 9 on one and 9.1 beta on the other was 1. Manually remove all the bad shortcuts from all devices/macs. 2. reboot macs, power off iOS. 3. Boot Macs and then remove the dictionary files per the thread form both. 4. Shut down macs. 5. Power on iOS devices. If any bad shortcuts, delete them and power off. 6. Boot macs. Result: after several more restarts of devices throughout the day the bad shortcuts have not returned. YMMV.

  8. I believe that what causes these shortcuts to keep returning is some old database files that are maintained on an iPhone that has been upgraded from iOS 7 (or maybe older). One way to fix this issue is to delete all your unwanted keyboard shortcuts from all your iOS and Mac devices (so that they sync to iCloud Drive), then Erase All Content and Settings from the iOS devices once it appears that the iCloud Drive state is how you want it (ie the desired changes propagate to your other devices, which should happen if iCloud Drive is on).

    The problem is that after doing this, there are still some zombie database files lurking in iOS that will eventually respawn the unwanted shortcuts. By wiping your devices (full restore or Erase All Content and Settings), that finally rids them from the world. But if you only do this with one device, the other device will respawn its zombie shortcuts and they will get synced to your other devices again via iCloud Drive (but as far as I know, they will sync in a way that doesn’t result in those themselves spawning zombies).

    If a full restore is not desirable but you can jailbreak, there may be a less time consuming solution that lets you keep all your other data.

    First, delete the unwanted shortcuts from the phone using the normal Settings->General->Keyboard->Shortcuts UI.

    Then, once you are jailbroken, you can install an App via Cydia called iFile.
    This is an amazing app and costs a few bucks, but it’s well worth the purchase because it allows you to do things like fix this issue.

    In iFile navigate to

    In my case, this directory contained seven subdirectories with names like:

    Within each of those is a directory tree that contains subdirectories like
    local/store, and many of those contain sqlite databases called

    By investigating the database tables like ZUSERDICTIONARYENTRY contained within those sqlite files, I could see many old, deleted shortcuts in there – in many cases they were in there dozens of times — probably the number of times they have been deleted!

    I then removed *all* of those directories, reset the keyboard dictionary (just in case), and rebooted the device.

    After this, the keyboard shortcuts that I actually wanted remained and all the other ones were gone.

    Several reboots later, they are still gone.

    Hopefully I have managed to stumble on to a solution to this problem, but I suspect that it will need to be performed on all devices that are affected.

    I haven’t yet figured out how things work on the Mac at a low level, but I worry that there might be the Mac equivalent of these zombie sqlite databases floating around on there too… *hopefully* this actually worked. If it didn’t, then the culprit might be the Mac this time, but time will tell. Fingers crossed!

  9. Hi guys. I´m truly impressed with the amount of people having this problem. I´m relieved I´m not alone though. I´m trying the solutions here and see if they work.
    If not, I have a simple one: STOP using iCloud! This shit has never really worked well.
    Even my Calendar (macbook pro) won´t sync or they will duplicate and delete the event, or show me the Error 403 of death. I´ve decided to upgrade to a Samsung Note 4. Apple had enough of my money.

  10. I’ve had the same problems! When I was back in middle school with a brand new iPod I played around and made some really weird shortcuts. Now I’m trying to make a movie and answer business emails and these weird shortcuts keep interrupting me. Sometime I catch them and other times I don’t and have to explain the embarrassing nature of my email. I’ve deleted these shortcuts multiple times and sometimes they don’t come back for a while and I think I’ve finally ridden myself of them but every time I’m wrong. Please tell me if you’ve found a solution

  11. Yes! This!
    I put in my shortcuts the wrong way and they keep coming back! I keep deleting them and I have the newest updates! So frustrating.

  12. With great hope that IOS 9 would remedy this situation, I upgraded to Beta 3. No such luck. All my shortcuts (including the duplicates) reappeared on my iPhone 6.
    For the record, I had deleted all shortcuts before upgrading. They all reappeared the next morning. And, I have not even backed up my phone yet to my pc (I do not backup to iCloud). You would think that Apple would address this before they release IOS 9 because of the changes they are making to “Text Replacements” – formerly
    “Keyboard Shortcuts”. Yep, they’ve even changed the name under Settings, General, Keyboard from Keyboard Shortcuts to Text Replacements.

    • apple was able to fix this for me
      1 edit the shortcut changed OMG =Oh my god to OMG = OMG
      2 reset network settings

      they also have rest keyboard dictionary now but I dont know anything about it

      • I’m testing a couple of things in IOS 9 Beta 3 and may be revising my previous post. I’ll update when testing is complete. It will be a few days.
        My fingers are crossed.

        • I upgraded my iPhone 6 to the new IOS 9 Public Beta two weeks ago. I almost immediately (same day) started to test the deletion of Keyboard Shortcuts. In IOS 9 Public Beta the Keyboard Shortcuts have been renamed to Text Replacement. I deleted about 6 entries, including a duplicate, and kept 6. I did a Reset Keyboard Dictionary. I did not do a Reset Network Settings.
          After two weeks, during which time I turned the phone on and off multiple times and did multiple resets (hold the off button and home button at the same time) and none of the deleted entries have reappeared. This is the first time I have been able to do this and I have tried a variety of suggested “fixes”. I now believe that Apple has addressed this problem in IOS 9. However, for your information I do not use iCloud for backup. Nor, do I use iCloud drive. I only use ‘Find My iPhone’. I backup to my personal PC running Windows 10. And, I have backed it up at least 6 times during the two week period.
          I would love to hear if anyone else has tried the IOS 9 Public Beta and what their experience has been with the new ‘Text Replacements’.

  13. Hello I think I found a couple of solutions,
    1. Go into iCloud and go into “documents and data” and turn off document anfd data saving, I don’t know if it works, but I will see in -36 hours.
    2. Change the shortcuts, for example, when I said “hi” it turned into “hello” so I think changing “hi” to “hi” and I’m pretty sure iCloud won’t override the pre-existing shortcuts, again I just tried this and will have to see if it works in -36 hours.
    I hope this helps, if it doesn’t work, I am terribly sorry for your trouble, but if it does, I’m happy to help you

  14. 1. delete all shortcuts from all devices and macs.
    2. turn off all dictionaries and auto correct options on all devices and macs. turn off everything underkeyboards.
    3. Settings-general-reset-dictionary.
    4. install a third party keyboard on all devices.
    of your devices. choose that and turn off the apple
    keyboard on all of them.
    5. dont ever turn that stuff on again. use textexpander.
    6. turn off everything. wait 15 minutes.
    7. turn everything back on. done.

  15. Totally annoying problem. I just changed all my keyboards (iPhone, iPad, and mac) to English (Canadian) and deleted English. I’m going to wait for 30 minutes and then switch back to english and see if the shortcuts come back. Worth a try.

  16. Ditto for me!!! I keep all my old devices to use in various iHomes as radios & music players, so syncing has become a major issue. In the beginning, I think with iOS 8, all my shortcuts would not appear on all my devices, however, now, sometime after iOS 8.2, I believe, they do, eventually show up on all devices. But, deleting shortcuts doesn’t work. They go away, but come right back. I’ve even tried deleting a shortcut on all devices at the same time, but they still come back, so they are being saved somewhere (iCloud?) that refuses to delete anything. My only work-around is to edit a shortcut, that I want to delete, as a new shortcut I want to add. The edits all seem to stick.
    My other problem, which was touched on, my iOS 8 shortcuts seem to have replaced my OS shortcuts that were on my Macs. The 2 lists were very different. The Mac list was more spelling & language related fixes (i.e. Noel = Noël), but they no longer seem to work, or are replaced by the iOS shortcuts. ALL VERY FRUSTRATING!

  17. I may have found a workaround. I deleted the English keyboard. Then I went to the shortcuts and first edited the ones I wanted to remove, adding “old” to the original shortcut and saved each. I then restored the English keyboard. Finally, I went back to the shortcuts and deleted the ones I had edited (now beginning with “old”).

    So far, after several hours, they have not returned. I agree that it’s not a Cloud issue, because I’ve seen the deleted shortcuts return even when I’m logged out from the iCloud.

  18. I’ve had the same problem. What I did was charge my phone to %100, deleted the short cut, than back up my phone and perform a soft reboot. (hold power button and home button simultaneously until apple logo appears) THIS DOES NOT CLEAR ANY DATA FROM YOUR PHONE. It has been a few days and so far the short cut has not reappeared. Hope this helped

  19. I think Apple keeps us unaware that any deletions from our phone remain in the icloud backup (they want us to buy more storage). Not just shortcuts but deleted photos, videos, and anything else stay there. I figured this out when my icloud storage was many times larger than the space used on my phone. By deleting the backup and starting over, I got the icloud storage back to match the phone. Evidently, backing up appends and not replaces. This would explain why old shortcuts are still out there. But, the appending does not explain why deleting the backup and starting over does get rid of the old shortcuts permanently. Also unexplained is why Apple thinks it needs to rebuild our shortcuts at all whenever we back up.

  20. Just did the latest update to IOS 8.3. Had to delete 35 shortcuts it brought back from the dead. Really frustrating.

    • It appeared to have worked half-way for me. Now only about 1/4 of my old shortcuts keep coming back. I wonder if that is related to timing the deletion on all devices. Really odd…and yes, frustrating.

  21. Had the same issue for a long time from iOS 7 – 8.3. It’s quite frustrating. What I tried recently that seemed to stick was delete all shortcuts. Reset keyboard settings. Reboot. Re-enter all shortcuts.

  22. This isn’t a small issue at our home. My teen boy turned each of 5 family members first name into a shortcut for various hateful slurs ?two? years ago. It isn’t a joke anymore, and it wasn’t ever funny, and my son has already taken the appropriate amount of grief for something thoughtless. Each time the shortcut slurs randomly re-spawn across all our devices I’m OH-SO-NOT happy with him or my Apple products.

  23. I was so hopeful you had a fix!! Just when I think it is gone it comes back a day or two later. Happens on iPad and iphone. Haven’t looked at Mac for this. I rarely use my Mac. (My son plays minecraft on it lol)

  24. Still struggling with the same thing… on the phone to apple technician now! (well, until they hung up on me).
    Have tried everything but restoring phone to factory without a backup, on the basis that I don’t want to have to start with a new iPhone.
    Happening to both my iPhones, but no shortcut on my Macbook Air.


  25. This problem is NOT fixed and it NEVER was fixed. The deleted shortcuts will return within 36 hours of deleting them, no exception. This problem did not come back with the latest IOS update because it never went away with any update, you just didn’t notice. Please update this page to NOT say “solved” for this ongoing problem.

    • Hi Nate,

      I tend to agree – just checked after the update to 8.2 yesterday I all my shortcuts were back. I then deleted them once again from my iPhone and they returned within minutes. Then I simultaneously (as best as I could) deleted them from both my iPhone and iPad and this morning from my Mac. Since last night the shortcuts have not returned to either iOS device. So I’ll give it another 24-36h and then change the heading.

      Thanks for your comment, it’s ridiculous how long Apple takes sometimes to fix stuff. Btw have you tried deleting ALL shortcuts from all devices? So far I have always only deleted select shortcuts.


  26. Same issue, on multiple iphone/ipad/macbook/imac all running the latest OS. :(

    I had a case opened with Apple – will give them a call back when I have a chance…

  27. Argggg I just deleated the shortcuts
    logged out of iCloud, hard reboot, logged back into iCloud and they were back!!!! God this is frustrating !!!

  28. Still can’t find a solution for this. I deleat them and over night they come back!!! Thi has been going on for 2 years I can’t believe Apple haven’t fixed it

  29. It’s now February and I am running iOS 8.1.3 and OS X 10.10.2 and I am still having the same issues. This is now the 4th time having an update and having all the old shortcuts return. It is beyond frustrating.

    Any news?

  30. iOS 8.1.1 and OS X 10.10.1 may have fixed the issue but it’s too soon to tell. If the shortcuts don’t come back by tomorrow, I consider the issue fixed, if they do switching my iCloud account into troubleshooting mode is the next step.

  31. The same thing is happening on my iPhone i keep deleting the shortcuts but they keep reappearing. How would I be able to stop that from happening?

  32. Yes!!! Exact same issue. A new 5s phone running IOS8.

    It must be an Apple cloud problem. In their Internet is full of proposed by people who are having this problem or the converse issue — their keyboard shortcuts keep disappearing.

    Please let me know if you have or hear about a fix for this until Apple fixes it.

  33. And as you can see from the first word I entered in the reply above, I’ve also had a problem with spell check on IOS 8. Not just me, but my kids have noticed its quirks as well. Such as changing words correctly entered into something unintelligible.

  34. i’EV been in a similar boat except I only have 1 shortcut. I had 3 , 1 of which is just a shorter version of the 1 I have left but my problem with the shortcut is that when I begin to enter it on a form or reply to a blogger & enter those letters, Safari freezes and I have to close it & then lose any information I’ve already entered on the form or blog post. I keep deleting the shortcuts but they keep coming back randomly. This getting past the point of frustrating and only started with Apple’s worst software yet–iOS 8.


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