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How to Connect a Bluetooth Keyboard to Your iPad (Plus Basic Troubleshooting!)

Typing on the iPad

Touchscreen typing is a pain, unless you happen to be one of the five people on the planet who prefers it. Personally, I’m constantly hitting the wrong keys, forgetting that it automatically capitalizes the first letter (which is important when you’re typing in a password), or worst of all, getting terrible hand cramps from hovering my fingertips just microns above the screen.

Find the Right Keyboard

If you are constantly using your lap to support your device, consider a folio like Zagg or Logitech. I have not used either of these devices, so let the Amazon reviews be your guide. If you’re like me and you usually work at a table, the standard Apple wireless keyboard should do the job, though you should be able to connect any keyboard as long as it’s bluetooth. The key is to find whatever is going to work for you.

Turn Bluetooth On

Go into Settings and select “Bluetooth” from the menu on the left. If it’s already on, do nothing, if it’s not, just slide your finger to turn it on. Keep it on this screen as you follow the next step.

Turn Your Keyboard on and Set it in Discovery Mode

Consult your product manuals for how to do this, as it varies somewhat from device to device. The Apple wireless keyboard only requires you to tap the power button, which will cause a small green LED on top of the keyboard to start blinking.

On your Settings>Bluetooth screen, you should see the device listed under the Bluetooth on/off switch, like so:

The iPad Bluetooth Menu
You may see more than one device listed – make sure you know which one is your keyboard!

Make sure you know which device is yours, and if it says “Not Connected,” tap it. You should see a progress wheel as your iPad and keyboard shake hands, and after a few seconds it should say “Connected.” The keyboard is now ready to type on the iPad, and you’re ready to go!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Keyboard is connected, but nothing happens when I type

While I don’t know the specifics of this problem, I can tell you what has worked for me – go back into your Settings>Bluetooth menu and switch the Bluetooth off on the iPad itself. After it has finished turning off (when the device menu underneath disappears and the small Bluetooth icon in the upper-right corner turns off), turn it back on and reconnect your keyboard.

Also, make sure you know your keyboard’s broadcast name. Don’t guess. If you connect to an unknown device, you are compromising your iPad’s security, and potentially invading someone else’s privacy. I work in various coffee shops around where I live, and I am constantly seeing other peoples’ unconnected (but active) Bluetooth devices in my device menu. Always make sure you know what device name your keyboard is using, you can usually find it in the documentation. If you can’t find it, email the manufacturer’s support department.

I need to use a special character letter, like this: ü

For this, it’s best to use the onscreen keyboard. How do you get it back without going through all the rigamarole of disconnecting the keyboard, using the onscreen, and then reconnecting? If you’re using an Apple keyboard, simply press the “Eject” key on the top right. This will pull up the onscreen keyboard, but still allow you to type with both.

To get the special character in mind, hold your finger on the base letter of the onscreen keyboard (in our umlaut – ü – example, this would be the letter “u.”), and after about a second you will see an assortment of alternate version of that letter. Keep your finger on the keyboard (don’t let it off!) and slide it to the character you have in mind. To get the onscreen keyboard off, just press the button again.

My Keyboard is typing in a different language

This will happen if you have multiple languages installed on your iPad, like me. The shortcut command (if you’re using an Apple wireless keyboard) is “Command + Spacebar” to switch between keyboard language layouts. Hold down on the Command button to keep the language menu onscreen. If you’re using a different keyboard (one that doesn’t have the Apple “Command” button), pull up the onscreen keyboard and press the key on the bottom left that looks kind of like a globe. Keep pressing that button until it gets to the language you have in mind.

Summing Up

Using a physical keyboard with the iPad helps prevent hand strain and frustration, and is a great way to accomplish large writing tasks as well as exercising faster and more intuitive control over the language input.