iPad and Bluetooth Keyboards

It’s no secret that I’m pleased with the virtual keyboard on Apple’s new iPad, but that doesn’t mean everyone is. Since Apple included Bluetooth support in the iPad, you can use external keyboards with the multimedia tablet, too, and you aren’t limited to Apple’s own wireless keyboard.

The Apple Wireless Keyboard is a perfectly usable option for the iPad, plus its light weight aluminum frame and compact size make it portable enough for regular travel or school work. The iPad, however, most likely supports the vast majority of Bluetooth keyboards available because it supports Human Interface Device Profiles — just like most Bluetooth keyboards on the market. That means if you already have a Bluetooth keyboard handy, it likely works with the iPad.

Enable Bluetooth to pair your iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard

Pairing a Bluetooth keyboard with your iPad is a fairly simple process:

  • On your iPad tap Settings, then tap General.
  • Now tap Bluetooth in the right column.
  • If the Bluetooth slider is set to Off, tap it to turn Bluetooth on. The slider will show On when Bluetooth is active, and you’ll see the Bluetooth symbol next to the battery indicator in the upper right corner of your iPad’s screen.
  • Now turn on your Bluetooth keyboard. Many keyboards enter a mode where other devices can find, or discover, them when turned on. Be sure to check the instructions for your keyboard to find out how to enable discoverable mode.
  • When in discoverable mode, your keyboard should appear in the Devices list on your iPad. Tap the name of your keyboard in the Devices list.
  • Some Bluetooth devices require special four-digit pass codes before pairing with your iPad. If a code appears on your iPad display, be sure to type it on your keyboard to complete the pairing process.

Once your keyboard is paired you can use it instead of the iPad’s on-screen virtual keyboard. Keep in mind that the onscreen keyboard typically isn’t available when a Bluetooth keyboard is in use, so be sure to turn off your Bluetooth keyboard when you plan to use the virtual keyboard.