Use a Bluetooth Keyboard with iPad

Jun 3, 2010 - 18 Comments

iPad with external Bluetooth keyboard used as a desk

Want to use an external keyboard with the iPad? You don’t have to use Apple’s official iPad keyboard dock, instead if you already own a Bluetooth keyboard the chances are good that it will be compatible with the iPad. If you’re looking to do a lot of typing on the iPad then it’s hard to beat a real external keyboard, as the touchscreen is generally just slower and less accurate for most users. To get a Bluetooth keyboard connected, all you need to do is pair the device to the iPad and adjust a few iOS settings, we’ll walk through exactly how to do just that.

How to Set Up iPad with a Bluetooth Keyboard:

This method will sync any Bluetooth keyboard with any iPad model, for use as an external keyboard.

  1. Put the keyboard into pairing mode, on the Apple Wireless Keyboard this is done by holding down the Power button for a few seconds
  2. On the iPad, tap on Settings > General > Bluetooth (make sure Bluetooth is enabled here too or else this will not work)
  3. Find the wireless keyboards entry in the Bluetooth devices list and tap on it to start the sync process
  4. The iPad will present a popup notification with a pairing code, type this into the keyboard to confirm syncing
  5. Now you can use your Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad

Once the Bluetooth keyboard has been connected and paired with the iPad, you can use it as your primary text input device. Launch any app where the virtual keyboard would normally appear and you can type with the external keyboard instead, and best of all, the virtual keyboard stays hidden when a wireless keyboard is connected, clearing up considerable screen real estate on the iPad screen.

iPad with an external keyboard

Another great thing about this feature is that you can use almost any existing bluetooth keyboard with the iPad and you’ll be completely wireless. Plus you get the benefit of being able to rotate the iPad to horizontal mode and still use an external keyboard, something you can’t do with Apple’s iPad keyboard dock. Additionally, using external keyboards with the iPad will introduce a variety of very helpful keyboard shortcuts for navigation that are not otherwise accessible on the software virtual keyboard of iOS.

Two quick troubleshooting tips: If the keyboard is not listed, check to be sure that the keyboards batteries are adequately charged and that it is in pairing mode, both of which may prevent the device from appearing in the Bluetooth menu on the iPad. The other possibility is that the Bluetooth keyboard doesn’t fit the ‘Bluetooth Human Interface Device Profile’ that allows for compatibility, but most Bluetooth keyboards do so the chance of you running into one that doesn’t is relatively slim unless it’s a pretty old keyboard from the Windows world.

With all this in mind, it makes a lot more sense to get the Apple Wireless Keyboard since you’ll be able to use it not only on your iPad or iPad Mini, but also any other Mac, and even the iPod touch and iPhone. Yes, that’s right, you can turn the tiny little iPhone or iPod touch into the worlds smallest workstation by connecting an external wireless keyboard to either device too. Also, if you have a newer Apple TV, you can even sync a bluetooth keyboard to that as well and use it as a way to control and search your media. This makes one of the Apple Wireless Keyboards an excellent purchase, since it will work flawlessly with quite literally just about any iOS device or Mac OS X based Mac you have in the house.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in How to, iPad, Tips & Tricks


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  1. the iPadHole says:

    iPad Stand Reviews, a Second Opinion…

    I found your entry interesting thus I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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  17. Ronalddon says:

    My name is Ronald. Am new here. Am getting a lot of help from this forum.

  18. Fernando says:

    Glad to have found this page. Was looking to use Dvorak with my new
    iPad Pro. Have bluetooth paired an apple wireless keyboard with it.
    Show up under Keyboard Hardware and just a check mark for Dvorak.
    Happy camper here. All the chatter is with the new Logic Tech keyboard
    and how wonderful the Smart connection eliminates pairing.
    My solution turn out cheaper and much more convenient since the
    keyboard needs not be attached magnetically or otherwise.


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