Complete Guide to Using an External Keyboard With an iPad

Even with the multi-touch support on the iPad, the true typist in you will always be inclined to use a physical keyboard instead of the virtual one. Here’s a detailed guide on how using an iPad with a keyboard is now more seamless than ever, and how you can do it too.

Back in 2012 when the iPad made its debut at the hands of the late Steve Jobs, it was advertised as a tablet that wasn’t meant to be used by your fingers. Whether it was for viewing videos on the big screen or communicating via FaceTime, the iPad, along with its large screen was the perfect gadget that served everyone in the household.

Over the years, smartphones became larger, and more was expected from tablets than just communication and entertainment. In this era of the dwindling tablet market, Apple corrected course and turned the iPad into a laptop replacement like no other. The introduction of the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard for iPad changed the game for professional users, who began picking up the iPad for everything from graphic designing to notetaking.

iPadOS made keyboards on iPad even better

Although wireless Bluetooth keyboards have worked with the iPad for years now, it was not until the advent of iPadOS in 2019 that it really took off. As we extensively covered in our iPadOS Beginner’s Review, the typing experience is elevated with the inclusion of features for the Magic Keyboard.

Read more: Best iPad Cases with Keyboard

The best part is that features such as the shortcut keys, trackpad support, and mouse pointer are not limited to the Apple Magic Keyboard. No matter which third-party keyboard you have hooked up to the iPad, the software makes it possible for you to navigate through the system like a breeze.

If you’ve ever used the macOS before, adding a keyboard to iPadOS will seem significantly similar to using a MacBook. With complimentary features such as the Spotlight search, command key shortcuts, text editing tools, and so much more – all available right from the keyboard itself.

How to pair Apple magic keyboard to iPad

The Apple Magic Keyboard for Mac computers is natively supported by iPad as well. Regardless of whether you have a Lightning port iPad, or a newer one that sports the USB-C charging standard, there’s even Bluetooth connectivity for a wireless typing experience.

  1. Flip the switch on the Apple Magic Keyboard to turn it on.
  2. Open the Settings app on the iPad and head to the Bluetooth option.
  3. Here you should be able to see the Magic Keyboard appear in the search menu.
  4. Tap on the Magic Keyboard and wait as it pairs up with the iPad.

If you’re planning to hook up the Magic Keyboard through the cable, the process is even simpler. Either use the USB-C to Lightning cable that the keyboard comes with to hook it up to the iPad. If you have an iPad Pro or the newer iPad Air with USB-C connectivity, use the charger cable to hook up the keyboard and it will work flawlessly.

Note: The newer Apple Magic Keyboard even comes with a Touch ID button built right into it. However, none of the current-generation iPads support this security feature.

How to pair Apple magic keyboard for iPad

If you’ve got your hands on one of the premium Apple Magic Keyboards for iPad made by Apple or Logitech, the back connectors on the iPad would now come into play. Designed to make the pairing process even more seamless, the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad works only with the Pro and Air variant.

  1. Unpack the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad and put it in place.
  2. Place the iPad on the case.
  3. Make sure the connector points align perfectly.

That’s all! The keyboard will be connected to the iPad, and you can start using it right away.

How to pair a third-party keyboard to iPad

While Bluetooth keyboards for iPad have been out for a while now, wired keyboards were a distant dream for many, especially those who prefer mechanical keyboards. Thanks to the USB-C connector on the iPad Pro and newer models of the iPad Air, you can use most wired keyboards with the iPad through a USB-C to USB-A dongle.

Related: Cheaper Yet Effective Alternatives to the Magic Keyboard for the New iPad

Connect a wired keyboard to iPad (USB-C)

Depending on whether your iPad has a USB-C port or a Lightning port, you will need a dongle to connect it to your wired keyboard.

For the older iPads boasting the Lightning port, we recommend:

Krevi Lightning to USB Adapter

For USB-C iPad Pro or the newer iPad Air, we recommend:

Syntech USB C to USB Adapter

With the right adapter, using a wired keyboard with an iPad is just a matter of connecting the ends and wait for it to power up. There will most likely not be any message on the screen notifying you the keyboard is connected, so test it out by launching any writing app such as Notes and type away to see if everything works out.

Connect a wireless keyboard to iPad (Bluetooth)

The process to connect a wireless keyboard to the iPad is as direct as it is when you want to connect the standard Apple Magic Keyboard:

  1. Turn on the Power button on the keyboard and put it in pairing mode.
  2. The pairing mode feature depends entirely on the keyboard, so take a look at the manual to find out more.
  3. Open the Settings app on the iPad and head to the Bluetooth option.
  4. Here you should be able to see the Keyboard Name appear in the search menu.
  5. Tap on it and wait as it pairs up with the iPad.

Depending on the keyboard layout and the buttons available, you may or may not be able to use the additional function keys and shortcuts that iPadOS offers. This is where the Hardware Keyboard settings come into play, helping you with an array of typing assistance options to try out:

Read more: How to Create Keyboard Shortcuts on iPad for Typing Faster

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Logitech Keyboards good for iPad?

Apart from Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad, Logitech is the only other iPad case manufacturer with a keyboard that is built with the proprietary magnetic connector.

In short, we recommend Logitech as a reliable and more affordable ‘original’ iPad keyboard case, since it offers seamless connectivity and premium quality at a price that is lower than Apple’s very own Magic Keyboard for iPad.

Read More: Logitech Combo Touch vs. Folio Touch vs. Apple Magic Keyboard

How much battery does a keyboard for iPad use?

Most Bluetooth wireless keyboards for iPad come with a built-in rechargeable battery, which can last anywhere up to 15 – 30 days on a single charge, depending on your usage.

On the other hand, the amount of battery drain on the iPad is also higher since it is actively connected to a Bluetooth device when you’re using the wireless keyboard.

The addition of an always-on trackpad on some keyboards may add to the battery drain, but none of it is too significant to affect your overall user experience on the iPad.

Can I use trackpad gestures on an external iPad keyboard?

iPadOS not only brings a macOS style pointer for iPad, but the trackpad gestures along with it too. If you are using a third-party keyboard for iPad, you may still be able to use the following gestures on it:

1-finger gestures:

  • To open Control Center, hover the cursor in the top right corner.
  • When trying to access Notification Center, move the cursor to the top-left corner.
  • To locate the Dock, move your pointer to the bottom of the screen.
  • When editing, press and hold to select.

2-finger gestures:

  • Use Spotlight by swiping down with two fingers.
  • To zoom in and out of items on the screen, use pinch motions.
  • Use two fingers on your trackpad to swipe across web pages in Safari.
  • With two fingers, tap the text you want to cut, copy, or paste.

3-finger gestures:

  • To access the Home screen, swipe down with three fingers.
  • The Multitasking view is launched with a three-finger swipe up.
  • To access the App view, slide up with three fingers and hold.
  • To move between the different apps, swipe left or right with three fingers.

External keyboard for iPad not working?

If you are experimenting with a third-party Bluetooth or wired keyboard, experiencing issues with making it work is quite possible. Here’s what you need to do:

Force close the app and try again: Forcing the app to close may be able to fix any minor software bugs. To access the App Switcher, swipe up from the bottom of the screen (or double-click the Home button). Drag the App Card (such as Safari) up and off the screen at that point. Relaunching the app from the Home Screen, Dock, or App Library is the next step.

Reboot the iPad: The keyboard issue could potentially be fixed by restarting your iPad. To shut down your iPad, simply press and hold the Power button until the option to Slide to Power Off appears, and then swipe on the screen to turn it off.

Configure the Keyboard Settings: It’s a good idea to make sure the appropriate setting is enabled, for instance, if Slide to Type doesn’t function on the floating keyboard. Open the Settings app, then select General > Keyboard to make that change. Under the All Keyboards, Emoji, and Language sections, you’ll find a list of keyboard options. Check the respective apps for further setup options for third-party keyboards.

Verify the Compatibility: Even if you’re using an official Apple Magic keyboard, your iPad might not be compatible with your Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard, or Smart Folio Keyboard. For information regarding compatibility, look at Apple’s iPad Keyboards page or quickly search online. Instead, visit the website of the manufacturer if you use a third-party keyboard.

Check the Connection: If you use a Bluetooth keyboard, detaching and reconnecting it to your iPad can help you fix problems brought on by a faulty Bluetooth cache. Head To Settings and then select Bluetooth from the sidebar. Next, select the Forget This Device option by tapping the Info button next to the keyboard. Reconnect the keyboard to your iPad after that.

Final words

The only thing that the iPad lacked was full-fledged support for input devices such as a keyboard and a mouse. Although this problem has been resolved with the release of iPadOS, having only one USB-C port on your iPad Pro or iPad Air can be limiting to a great extent.

You can get a power USB hub in addition to the connection kit if you wish to use your iPad with several devices. You may then plug the powered USB hub into the connection kit, plug in the keyboard, microphone, and whatever else you want to utilize. We recommend that you take a look at the Anker PowerExpand Direct 6-in-1 USB C Adapter. A powered hub is essential since it allows you to charge your iPad while simultaneously powering all the other devices you use with your iPad.

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