12 Essential iPad Keyboard Shortcuts

Sep 22, 2020 - 3 Comments

Essential iPad keyboard shortcuts

Using a hardware keyboard with iPad adds a large variety of helpful keyboard shortcuts that can greatly improve workflows on the tablet. While many apps have their own collections of keyboard shortcuts for use with iPad, it turns out that so does iPadOS itself.

With iPad keyboard shortcuts alone, you can immediately close an app and return to the Home screen, search with Spotlight, navigate within Spotlight search results and launch apps and documents from those Spotlight searches, open the iPadOS app switcher and quickly switch apps, show and hide the iOS Dock with a keystroke, take screenshots, and more. And best of all, these keystrokes and their actions can be activated from anywhere in iPadOS / iOS, whether in an app or at the Home Screen. If these sound like they would be useful to your iPad workflow, hook up an external keyboard to iPad and read on!

This is probably obvious, but you’ll need a hardware keyboard for iPad to use these keystrokes. Any Bluetooth keyboard, Apple Smart Keyboard, Apple Magic Keyboard, or iPad keyboard case will work.

Essential iPad Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Return Home / Close App – Command H
  • Search with Spotlight – Command Space
    • Within Spotlight: Return to launch first result
    • Within Spotlight: Arrow keys navigate within search results
  • Open App Switcher – Command Tab
    • Within App Switcher while holding Command: Tab to move forward an app
    • Within App Switcher while holding Command: Shift Tab to go back an app
    • Within App Switcher: Release keys to switch to selected app
  • Show / Hide Dock – Command Option D
  • Take Screen Shot – Command Shift 3
  • Take Screen Shot Directly to Markup – Command Shift 4
  • Unlock iPad – hit any key to wake iPad, hit any key again, then type passcode on keyboard

These keyboard shortcuts will work with any hardware keyboard connected to any iPad model, including iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad.

If you’re a Mac user you might have noticed some of these keyboard shortcuts for iPad are the same as what you’d find on the Mac, including for snapping screenshots, the application switcher, and Spotlight search.

If you’re in the market for an attached keyboard, the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard is a popular choice for iPad Pro users. As for detached hardware keyboards for iPad that can be used in a desk type configuration, the Apple Magic Keyboard (works with iPad, iPhone, and Mac) is fantastic, and there are many great third party iPad keyboards too. Some of the third party iPad keyboards and keyboard cases even have extra function buttons for additional capabilities too, including adjusting screen brightness, an Emoji key, bringing up Spotlight, taking screenshots, showing and hiding the screen keyboard, adjusting playing music, adjusting sound volume and mute, and a screen lock button too. iPad keyboards with those extra function key features include the Omoton iPad keyboard, Logitech iPad keyboard cases, ZAGG keyboard cases, the Brydge keyboard, and many others too, if you’re shopping for one just look to see if the keyboard has a function key row and what is assigned to those keys.

Whether you use iPad as a desktop workstation with a stand and external keyboard, or with a keyboard case, remember and master these keyboard shortcuts and you’re sure to improve your iPad workflow.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like some of the other keyboard shortcut posts we’ve covered, including for iPad apps like Safari, Files, Notes, Pages, Numbers, Word, Chrome, and more!

Do you know of any other helpful keyboard shortcuts for iPad? Did we miss any essentials? Share them with us in the comments below!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Noah says:

    IMO, you left out the best keyboard shortcut, which is that if you hold down command, it shows you the available keyboard shortcuts.

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