Apple bluetooth keyboard and iPad

For Christmas my partner bought me an Apple bluetooth keyboard to go with my iPad Mini together with my other Apple devices (I am such a fan-girl). Since then I’ve been playing with it and finding out just how much I can control with it.

iPad Mini and Apple Bluetooth keyboard

iPad Mini and Apple Bluetooth keyboard

The keyboard itself is basically the same as the keyboard on my 13 inch Mac Book Pro except it has white keys and not black ones (and they’re not lit). The keyboard case machined aluminium and is at most 5mm thick except for at the rear where the battery holder (which takes two AA batteries) acts as the rear ‘feet’. One end of this is a screw cover for the batteries, the other is the power button. There is a small green LED by the power button.


Holding the power button puts it in to pairing mode.

Before pairing keyboard

Before pairing keyboard

To pair start ‘Settings’ then select the ‘Bluetooth’ option. The keyboard will be found and shown as un-paired. Tap on the description and you will be asked to enter a four digit code on the keyboard and then hit the return key. Once this is done, the keyboard will be paired, and takes over keyboard duties.

Pairing keyboard

Pairing keyboard

How do I get the on-screen keyboard back?

Using bluetooth keyboard

Using bluetooth keyboard

The first question I think everyone will ask is “How do I get the on-screen keyboard back?”. This is simple. Just press the Eject button on the keyboard in the top right corner. Press it a second time to use the keyboard again. Of course this means you need access to your keyboard. It has a pretty good range so if its say, locked in a draw, you will have to ‘forget’ the keyboard in settings and re-pair the next time you want to use it.

Using on-screen keyboard

Using on-screen keyboard

What else can it do?

Function keys

The function keys on the keyboard also double as control/media keys. The iPad supports the following keys:

  • The screen brightness keys (F1 and F2)
  • The player (iTunes) control keys for rewind, play/pause and fast forward (F7 to F9)
  • The volume control keys e.g. mute, volume down and volume up (F10 to F12)

Text selection

The arrow keys will move the caret around text input as you would expect. Holding down shift as you use them allows selection of text for cut, copy or delete as follows:

  • shift and left/right arrow selects previous/next character.
  • shift and option/alt and left/right arrow selects previous/next row.
  • shift and control and left/right arrow selects to start of line/end of line.

You can also use command and A to select all the text.

Cut, copy, paste, undo, redo

These are as you would expect if you’re a Mac user.

  • command and x – cut
  • command and c – copy
  • command and v – paste
  • command and z – undo
  • command, shift and z – redo

Alternative characters and accents

By now you’ll realise that this keyboard near enough supports all the functionality you would expect from a keyboard used with Apple’s desktop operating system (OSX). This isn’t a surprise since iOS and OSX are very closely related.

Holding alt down when typing a character will give you an alternative character. Usually this are related to the standard character for that key. For example on a UK keyboard shift and 3 gives you £ but alt and 3 gives you # (the reverse of the US case). Both # and £ are known as pound which is why Apple has mapped them that way. alt and ./> gives you ≥. alt and s gives you ß (which is a double S symbol used in German words such as Schloß).

The exceptions to the above rule is where the key is used to create accented characters. In that case you use alt and a key to create an accent modifier the you type the character you want to apply the accent too. Again the key used is related to the accent generated. For example back tick for a grave (accent that slopes down to the right), e.g. è. e for ecute (accent that slopes down to the left), such as é. u for umlaut (double dots) e.g. Mötorhead, and so on.

Other keys

When using Pages on the iPad I have found that the following are also supported:

  • command and B to toggle the bold on text.
  • command and I to toggle the italics on text.

When using Textastic the tab key can indent blocks of text (and shift tab to reverse indent).

Tab and shift tab will select the next/previous field in a form in Safari.

And that’s it. If I find any more I shall update this post. However I think that with the addition of a keyboard an iPad fulfils most of my day to day non-development requirements together with some minor development duties as well.

P.S. This post was written on my iPad.

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