How to Use a Mouse or Trackpad with iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Mini, iPad Air

Jan 21, 2021 - 3 Comments

How to Use Mouse or Trackpad with iPad

Using a mouse or trackpad with iPad is easier than ever before thanks to the latest iPadOS versions having full and direct support for pointer devices. No longer is mouse and trackpad support relegated to Accessibility as it was in earlier versions of system software, now it’s main stage.

Setting up a mouse or trackpad, and customizing the appearance and behavior of the cursor / pointer in iPadOS, are all quite easy once you learn how it works. We’ll walkthrough the process for iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and iPad Mini, running any version of iPadOS at 14 or newer, and with any compatible Bluetooth mouse or cursor.

How to Pair a Mouse or Trackpad with iPad

To start using a mouse or trackpad with iPad, you’ll need to pair it with the device first:

  1. Open the “Settings” app on the iPad
  2. Open the “Bluetooth” settings and make sure Bluetooth is on
  3. Place the mouse or trackpad into pairing mode (usually this means holding down a button on the underside of the mouse until a light starts blinking on it, or something similar)
  4. Tap on the mouse / trackpad when it appears in the “Other Devices” list at the bottom of Bluetooth Settings
  5. How to pair mouse or trackpad with iPad

  6. When the mouse / trackpad is shown as “Connected” it has been successfuly paired, and the mouse will work automatically on iPad
  7. Mouse / trackpad successfully connected to iPad

Now that the mouse is working with iPad, you are ready to use it with iPadOS.

You’ll find that onscreen items like icons and menu bar items react to hovering over them with the mouse, typically either becoming highlighted or enlarging as the cursor hovers over them.

How to Change Mouse Pointer / Cursor Tracking Speed on iPad

If you want to change how fast or slows the cursor moves on the iPad screen, you can do that easily:

  1. Open Settings app, then go to “General” and to “Trackpad & Mouse”
  2. Adjust the tracking speed of the cursor to your preferences

How to change tracking speed of iPad cursor

How to Change the Appearance of Mouse Cursor / Pointer on iPad

You can change how the pointer / cursor of the mouse looks by going into Accessibility Settings on iPad, allowing you to adjust the size of the cursor, the color of the pointer, the pointers border size, whether or not it automatically hides, the contrast of the pointer, and whether or not things animate as the cursor hovers over them. The settings for these options are available as follows:

  1. Open the “Settings” app then go to “Accessibility”
  2. Go to “Pointer Control”
  3. Adjust “Color” of the cursor and “Pointer Size” as you see fit, along with any other cursor settings

Change the appearance of cursor on iPad

Once you have your cursor / pointer settings configured as you like, you’re ready to enjoy the mouse or trackpad on iPad.

Mouse Tips & Tricks for iPad

Here are some helpful tips and tricks for using a mouse with iPad, these will work with any mouse in use with the device:

  • Drag pointer to bottom of screen: show Dock
  • Drag pointer to top of screen and keep dragging up: show Lock Screen
  • Drag pointer to bottom of screen and keep dragging down: go to Home Screen
  • Right-click: serves as a long press, typically accesses contextual menus etc

iPad Trackpad Gestures

If you are using a trackpad with iPad, there are some specific gestures available that you might find useful. These apply to external Bluetooth trackpads like the Magic Trackpad, as well as a keyboards with trackpads like the Magic Keyboard for iPad, and many third party keyboards with built-in trackpads too.

  • Four finger spread out: go to multitasking screen
  • Four finger pinch in: go to Home Screen
  • One-finger drag to bottom of the screen, and keep dragging: go to Home Screen
  • One-finger drag to the bottom and clicking on the Home line (for iPad models without Home buttons): go to Home Screen
  • Three-finger swipe right or left: Switch between open apps
  • Three-finger swipe up and hold: Show multitasking / App Switcher
  • Two-finger swipe up or down: Scroll up or down on page
  • One-finger drag to bottom of screen: Shows the Dock
  • One-finger drag to top of screen: go to Lock Screen

The trackpad gestures are basically the same as touching the iPad screen, except of course they’re used on the trackpad instead of the screen itself.

Even if you have a mouse or trackpad connected to iPad, you can still continue to use the touchscreen as usual, as well as an Apple Pencil, there’s no limit to the devices input options in that regard.

If you setup the iPad with a mouse or trackpad and an external keyboard, you might find it functional to use iPad as a desktop workstation, particularly if you use a stand to prop up the iPad too.

These tricks work the same on any iPad Pro, iPad, iPad Air, or iPad Mini model, as long as they’re running a supported version of iPadOS.

Remember this article is aimed for modern versions of iPadOS, though earlier earlier iPadOS versions also support a mouse, but setup is different via Accessibility and some of the features are more limited. Nonetheless if your device is limited to an earlier iPadOS release, or you haven’t updated to a modern version (which you should if you can) you can still use the mouse or trackpad.

Do you have any helpful tips, suggestions, gestures, tricks, or other relevant information regarding using a mouse with iPad? What are your experiences or thoughts about using a mouse or trackpad with the iPad? Let us know in the comments!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, Tips & Tricks

3 Comments

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  1. Leonard Mendel says:

    I use Outlook on iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard. Please show me how to move cursor anywhere within the body of an email to correct or add to text. My email is above.

    Thanks.

    • Paul says:

      Once you connect a mouse to the iPad as shown here, you can drag the mouse cursor to anywhere including in the middle of a body of an email by using the mouse (or trackpad).

      You can also move and place the cursor with the touch screen by using a tap on where you want to insert the cursor, and you can also tap and drag the cursor itself to another location.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Charles says:

    Hi, can you please help me ? some months ago i activated something so that now i have a stamp across the photo on my desktop that shows the location of the photo in the hard drive et (7)/systems/libriary etc, etc. I want to remove it but for the life of me cannot work out how to do it. any suggestions ? thanks

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