External Keyboard Shortcuts for the iPad

The iPad’s screen keyboard and the bluetooth one paired with it have a number of useful shortcuts that make a huge difference in creating content. I used to lament the lack of a mouse, but now that I’ve become accustomed to the bluetooth shortcuts, I find editing and moving around in a text to be quite pleasant. Below are some of the features I use the most. Others have posted exhaustive lists if you want to truly master these keyboard techniques.

Romanized Japanese

For people who work with Romanized Japanese, the virtual keyboard on the iPad has got you covered. Holding down on a vowel brings up the option for macrons (ā, ī, ū, ē, ō). Fortunately, the iPad also has great support for the external keyboard as well.

While we are getting the keyboard set up for the macrons, we might as well take the opportunity to set the iPad up to input Japanese and handwritten characters. First, install the Japanese keyboard by going into Settings -> General -> International -> Keyboards -> Add New Keyboard. Then, switch the English to “U.S. Extended.” Finally, add the “Chinese-Traditional Handwriting,” so that you can input characters through handwriting recognition.

If you are only interested in keyboard shortcuts like macrons, just switch the English to U.S. Extended.

External Keyboard

If you have the keyboard set to “U.S. Extended” (see above), then you can use the Alt/Option + A shortcut to enable macrons. In the default “U.S.” keyboard, the external keyboard will be unable to produce macrons.

Below are some of the keyboard shortcuts I think anyone will find especially useful. It pays to familiarize yourself with some or all of these.

  • F1 decreases screen brightness
  • F2 increases screen brightness
  • F11 decreases the volume
  • F12 increases the volume
  • Cmd A selects all text
  • Cmd C copies selected text
  • Cmd X cuts selected text
  • Cmd V pastes text
  • Cmd Z undoes an action
  • Option + Delete deletes a word (as opposed to just deleting a letter)
  • Shift + Arrow selects or deselects text by highlighting in that direction (right, left, up, or down)
  • Cmd + Arrow moves cursor to the beginning (up), end (down), left side (left), or right side (right)
  • Tab indents the text
  • Eject Button (top right corner) enables screen keyboard. This is very important if you want to insert a macron over a vowel
  • Cmd + Spacebar selects a different keyboard