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Summary:

Soon after receiving my bluetooth Apple keyboard, I found that most of the keyboard shortcuts I was hoping for were not there. So, after trying every keyboard shortcut I could think of, here’s a rundown of all the shortcuts that work on the iPad.

ipadkeyboard_thumb

I was pretty excited to hear that the iPad supported a hardware keyboard. With my history in Unix, I’ve become pretty comfortable as a touch typist, enough so that there is no faster way to get words out of my head and into the text editor. My excitement was short-lived, however. Soon after receiving my Bluetooth Apple keyboard in the mail, I found that most of the keyboard shortcuts I was hoping for were not there.

So, after trying every keyboard shortcut I could think of, here’s a rundown of all the shortcuts that work on the iPad.

  • CMD – c (Copy selected text)
  • CMD – x (Cut selected text)
  • CMD – v (Paste)
  • CMD – z (Undo)
  • CMD – shift – z (Redo)
  • CMD – Up Arrow (Jump to top of document)
  • CMD – Down Arrow (Jump to bottom of document)
  • CMD – Left Arrow (Jump to beginning of line)
  • CMD – Right Arrow (Jump to end of line)
  • CMD – Delete (Delete everything on the current line to the left of the cursor)
  • Option – Delete (Delete the word to the left of the cursor, and its preceding space)
  • F1 (Dim Screen)
  • F2 (Brighten Screen)
  • F7 (Back one song)
  • F8 (Play/Pause Music)
  • F9 (Skip one song ahead)
  • F10 (Mute)
  • F11 (Volume Down)
  • F12 (Volume Up)
  • Eject key (Show/hide on-screen keyboard)

Luckily, all of the standard shortcuts for special characters still seem to work, like our beloved option – shift – k.

If I’ve missed any shortcuts, please let me know in the comments!

Apple’s keyboard dock has additional keys for locking the iPad, search, and home. I’m disappointed that those keys did not find an equivalent on the Bluetooth keyboard. I’m also disappointed that not all applications have full access to the key events sent from the keyboard. Most third-party apps that I’ve tested only have access to basic text entry and ignore the escape key or control characters.

The good news is that the shortcomings of the iPad’s keyboard integration are software, and can be fixed. I’ve heard rumors of good things coming in iPhone OS 4, so I’m hoping that CMD-q, CMD-tab, CMD-i, and CMD-b make a comeback. I’m also hoping for some better integration of the keyboard with Safari. Safari will recognized the keyboard for any text entry, but little, if anything, beyond that. The biggest missing feature for Safari for me is the ability to search for text on a page, CMD-F. CMD-I would be great for sending a page via email, and CMD-1 through 9 would be nice for bookmarklets like Instapaper.

Part of the problem with keyboard integration is the melding of the old world and new world. The iPad is meant to be touched and gestured to, but many tasks still require text entry. Typing is faster, far faster for me, than handwriting, and not as awkward as voice recognition software like Dragon Dictation (App Store Link). Looking at Apple’s track record for developing its products, it introduces a new product with very, very few features, and then hones and perfect those features over time, and adds new ones as the product matures. I’m confident that the iPad will one day mature into a writers companion, and a power user’s dream.

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  1. Don’t forget the classic Emacs keybindings (where “C-” = “control”):

    C-e: end of the line
    C-a: beginning of the line
    C-k: delete to end of the line
    C-f: cursor forward
    C-b: cursor back
    C-n: next line
    C-p: previous line

    Curiously, the “delete right” keystroke (C-d), which is present in Cocoa on OS X, doesn’t work on the iPad.

    1. Oops. Sorry about the line breaks:

      C-e: end of the line

      C-a: beginning of the line

      C-k: delete to end of the line

      C-f: cursor forward

      C-b: cursor back

      C-n: next line

      C-p: previous line

    2. Emacs?! If only they were vi bindings instead!

      http://theappleblog.com/2009/06/23/dig-into-unix-vi/

      :)

  2. Yes… I too miss the Command+F to find text on a page. Almost critical when doing research. I would even settle for a menu command to do that… is there one?

  3. What about a keyboard shortcut to send an email via the bluetooth keyboard? How would that work?

  4. What about a keyboard shortcut to send an email via the bluetooth keyboard? How would that work?

    Shift-CMD-D doesn’t work like it does for Mail on my MBP.

    Shawn

  5. @Charlene

    There sure is. I turned on the bookmark bar, and have a bookmark called “find”. Make one yourself, and put this code in it:

    javascript:void%28s%3Dprompt%28%27Find%20text%3A%27%2C%27%27%29%29%3Bs%3D%27%28%27+s+%27%29%27%3Bx%3Dnew%20RegExp%28s%2C%27gi%27%29%3Brn%3DMath.floor%28Math.random%28%29*100%29%3Brid%3D%27z%27%20+%20rn%3Bb%20%3D%20document.body.innerHTML%3Bb%3Db.replace%28x%2C%27%3Cspan%20name%3D%27%20+%20rid%20+%20%27%20id%3D%27%20+%20rid%20+%20%27%20style%3D%5C%27color%3A%23000%3Bbackground-color%3Ayellow%3B%20font-weight%3Abold%3B%5C%27%3E%241%3C/span%3E%27%29%3Bvoid%28document.body.innerHTML%3Db%29%3Balert%28%27Found%20%27%20+%20document.getElementsByName%28rid%29.length%20+%20%27%20matches.%27%29%3Bt%3Dprompt%28%27What%20number%3A%27%2C%27%27%29%3Bwindow.scrollTo%280%2Cdocument.getElementsByName%28rid%29%5Bt-1%5D.offsetTop%29%3B

    1. Brian – WOW! Thanks for the bookmarklet tip. It works great. I wonder if it’s possible to create a companion bookmarklet that will effectively do a “find next” on the hits returned by your bookmarklet posted above? In other words, use your “find” bookmarklet to find/enumerate all instances of the search results like it does now, then tap Next, Next, Next, Next, etc. (the new bookmarklet) to step through all hits on the page.

  6. How about shortcut for “Home” button? The one that Dock Keyboard has.

  7. Yeah… bit disappointing. I plugged in my Logitech Dinovo and was a bit upset at the lack of functionality… Pressing Ctrl-D in iSSH is stupid :[

    It should be pretty easy to create a bookmarklet that does a find next. Learn Javascript and place the search text in a variable and then just search from current highlighted position.

    My media keys include Home – which does the same as the front panel button. Volume Up/Down, Next/Prev track, Play/Pause all work as you’d expect which is cool. The search button even takes you to the iPad search screen…

  8. F keys don’t work as shortcuts listed in this post with a USB Logitech PC keyboard connecting through an iPad Camera Connection Kit. I guess with the keyboard dock you have to press fn + F1 key to get F1.

  9. one more shortcut :

    to change the keyboard language: CMD-SPACE-‘

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