IPadKeyboardAt the end of every episode of the In the News podcast that I record every Friday with Brett Burney, Brett and I each share a tip in a segment called “In the Know.”  In the most recent episode, I shared a large number of my favorite iPad keyboard shortcuts.  If you listened to that episode the way that I usually listen to podcasts, then you probably heard it when you were in your car, doing errands around the house, or in some other place where you were not directly in front of your iPad.  Thus, I thought it would be helpful to share the full list of shortcuts in a post.  Of course, you can always read the podcast show notes in your podcast player of choice for more information on the tips that we share, or you can go to the website for the In the News podcast and read the show notes there.

Here are the shortcuts that I find most useful when I am using an external keyboard with my iPad.  If there are one or more on this list that you are not currently using, I encourage you to try them out to determine if they make sense for you.

  • Command-Tab: Switch apps.  Most people use a similar keyboard shortcut on a computer, so this is one that you probably know.  On the iPad, it works the same way as on the Mac because it shifts to a different app.  On the PC, the Control-Tab shortcut is a little different than the iPad/Mac because it switches between each open window, and there can be multiple open windows from the same program.
  • Command-Space: Show (or hide) the Search field.  The #1 way that I use this is to search for and launch a specific app without lifting my hands from the keyboard.  I can do Command-Space, then type a few letters (such as the “wo” in “Word”) and then I will see matching apps, such as the Microsoft Word app.  I can then hit return to launch that app.  If the first app listed is not the one that you want, use the arrow keys to highlight the app that you want.  This Search feature doesn’t just work for finding apps; it also works for finding information within an app.  You can control which apps share their existence or their data with Search by going to Settings -> Siri & Search -> [app name] -> Show App in Search / Show Content in Search.  So for example, if you often type “wo” to search for the Word app and the first option suggested is a different app that you never want such as the Wowowo app, you can tap on the Wowowo app in Settings and tell your iPad never to show that app (or its contents) when you use the Search feature.
  • Command-F: Unlike the Command-Space shortcut, which searches across multiple apps, Command-F will typically perform the Find function in the app that you are currently using.  
  • Command Key: If you hold down the Command key without pressing any other key for a few seconds, you will see a list of all of the keyboard shortcuts in that particular app. T hat is useful for learning new shortcuts.  It is also a useful way to find out what an app can do, with different functions often organized into sections like File, Edit, Format, View, etc.—not unlike the “File” and “Edit” menus at the top of a window on a computer.
  • Command-H:  Hide the current app and bring you to the Home Screen.  You can remember this one either by thinking of the “H” as representing “Hide” or as representing “Home”.
  • Command-Shift-3: Take a screenshot.
  • Shift-Left-Arrow or Shift-Right-Arrow: Highlight text one character at a time, in the direction you press the arrow key.
  • Shift-Option-Left-Arrow or Shift-Option-Right-Arrow: Highlight text one word at a time, in the direction you press the arrow key.

There are also some useful keyboard shortcuts that use the Globe Key.  Only certain keyboards have a Globe key, such as the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad or the keyboard that Apple includes with some of the newest Macs.  If your keyboard doesn’t have that key and you want to use one of these shortcuts, you can tell your iPad to pretend that another key on the keyboard is the Globe key.  For example, if you don’t use the Caps Lock key on your keyboard very often, you can go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Hardware Keyboard -> Modifier Keys and tell the iPad to map the Caps Lock key to the Globe key.

  • Emoji picker.  The Globe key can help you to select Emoji more quickly.  This is helpful because one of the disadvantages of using an external keyboard is that it typically takes some extra steps to select Emoji. First, you can tap the keyboard button at the bottom of the screen and then tap Show Emoji.  Second, you can use the shortcut Control-Spacebar, which brings up a menu to switch between keyboards, and then you can continue to tap Control-Spacebar until the Emoji keyboard is selected.  The Globe key gives you a faster way to select Emoji: just press the Globe key and go directly to the Emjoi picker.  To enable this shortcut, you need to go to  Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> Hardware Keyboard -> Press GLOBE for Emoji.  If you prefer using Emoji more than you prefer using other Globe key shortcuts, then this setting is perfect.
  • Globe Key-A: Open/Close Dock.  If you have a keyboard close to the bottom of your screen, the keyboard might make it more awkward to swipe up from the bottom to display the Dock.  Thanks to this keyboard shortcut, you can show the dock without your hands leaving the keyboard.
  • Globe Key-C: Show the Control Center.  Thus, this saves you the trouble of swiping down from the top right of the screen.  However, you will still need to touch the screen to select an item from the Control Center.

Of course, there are many other keyboard shortcuts that you can use on the iPad, and your favorites may be different from mine. For example, I shared a very large number of text selection keyboard shortcuts in this post from 2016.  My advice is to find some that seem useful and then use them frequently for a period of time so that they become second nature to you. Once you get to that point, you will be much more efficient when using an external keyboard with your iPad.