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iPad Keyboard Shortcuts

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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 (s aapl) 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.

30 Responses to “iPad Keyboard Shortcuts”

  1. anyone know a way to get return/enter to be submit? Like when i’m texting and I’ve finished typing, I have to touch my ipad or phone to send. Shouldn’t there be a way to do that from the keyboard?

    • Hi did you ever get a response to your question about being able to send an email from the portable keyboard used with the ipad?
      I hate typing emails and then having to send with my finger to the ipad.
      If you’ve figured it out your help would be appreciated.

  2. Jesse Davis

    CMD-space will open a popup of your international keyboards. Hold command and press space again and again to cycle the choices on the list. Great for switching to Japanese and back in a jiff.


    I was hoping to find out that the original apple keyboard can do more for me.

    Something like windows but easier and more intuitive.
    In example choosing and launching an app via bluetooth keyboard.
    “cmd and cursors” would do to go through the screen an “enter” to start the choosen app.

    I was also hoping that the keyboard would enable me to scroll up and down within weppages displayed by safari. But those things are not happening. Unfortunately.

    Having bought the stylish and very user-friendly bluetooth keyboard (apart from the missing NUMBERBLOCK -Which is by the way the #1 Reason why users speak with their dealers to get a wired one WITH NUMBERBLOCK) is disappointing.

    In the meantime I found out that some third party software (that can only be installed after a jailbreak) can do the job. -To me it´s bright clear not to ruin the waranty on the iPad by a so called jailbreak BUT I feel tempted. Not beeing able to use the 69,00€ original keyboard (the expected way) is unbelievable sad.

    Hope they do a good job and get our ideas to work.
    If anyone of Steve Jobs workmates see this: Please also enable us iPhone users to chose a contact from the saved contacts for forwarding calls. (Settings->Phone->Call Forwarding) -Yes the copy-paste does work – but still sad for the definite leader and inventor of an state oft the art smartphone.

    Found spelling mistakes? -Keep them! ;-) English ain´t my mother tongue.

  4. There is nothing like F1, F2, F3…….. etc keys on the iPad keyboard dock which I have purchased from the Apple Store in US. What about those shortcut mentioned by you. Please let me know.

  5. Sean Bishop

    The keyboard shortcuts make it easy to use the Apple Wireless Keyboard with the iPad. Only if you was able to use a mouse instead of having to use your finger to navigate around the screen lol. Does anybody now if there is a shortcut for the iPad to return to the Home Screen?

    • Pierre

      Don’t know about going back to the springboard with the keyboard, but if your iPad is jailbroken, there is an extension that lets you use a bluetooth mouse with it!

    • David Edwards

      Anybody else had issues with C-n (next line) and C-p (previous line)? Most of the other emacs commands work with the iPad wireless keyboard, but C-n, C-p and C-d (delete right) don’t work for me.

  6. Thanks for the info, i just got my keyboard today, i am using it now to type this message.

    I agree that it is much faster to input text this way. As i am in the UK i cant try out Dragon, they are worried about coming hear as St George might slay them….at least that seems to be the only reason i can find.

  7. Pierre

    I have the early slim keyboard (the one with 3 batteries) and it seems to work in the same way as the current one (2 batteries). Or is it?

    One thing that would be great would be to be able to use the arrows for navigation in Safari and in other apps that support navigation.

  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. Horse Dung

    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…

  10. Byran


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


    • 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.

  11. Shawn

    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.


  12. 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.