In its own right, the iPad Pro is a great productivity machine. iOS 11 added handy features like simpler multitasking and powerful drag and drop functionality, but adding a keyboard to the iPad takes it to a whole new level.
You get more than just a physical set of keys. Navigating your way around iOS is faster, and you can use shortcuts you probably already known to interact with your apps.
The best keyboard for the iPad Pro is Apple’s Smart Keyboard. It attaches using magnets, there’s nothing to pair and the keys have great tactile feedback. You don’t even need to switch it on, it just works.
That said, the tips below apply to all external keyboards (including cheap Bluetooth keyboards).
1. Spotlight Search From Anywhere
No matter where you are, the keyboard combo Command + Space will bring up Spotlight search, just like it does on the Mac. Start typing and you’ll start seeing results.
Here’s the best part: even though the app results show up below the auto-suggestions, pressing the Enter key will automatically launch the first highlighted app (you don’t need to navigate down to the section using the arrow keys).
2. Switch Between Apps
Just like the Mac, pressing the Command + Tab combo will bring the familiar apps switcher. This won’t include all the apps running in the background, just the most recent apps. You’ll also find the option for your Home screen in there. When the app switcher is open, use the Command + ~ (tilde) shortcut to move in the opposite direction.
3. Go Home
Once you start using the keyboard for everything, stretching your fingers all the way to the Home button will feel archaic. Thankfully, there are multiple ways to get to the Home screen right from the keyboard. First of all, you can use Command + Tab to get into the App Switcher and find the Home screen option from there. Or you can just use the keyboard shortcut Command + H.
4. Access Emojis
When you’re typing messages, you might be wondering where the Emoji keyboard went. On the Smart Keyboard, you’ll find the keyboard switcher key in the bottom-left corner. It’s denoted by the Globe symbol. Press it once and up slides the emoji keyboard. Press it again and it goes away.
5. Press and Hold Command in Apps
Productivity apps are filled with awesome shortcuts. But it’s not apparent when you’re using the apps. iOS has a secret feature which tells you about all the available keyboard shortcuts in a given app.
Just press and hold the Command key. A popup will list all keyboard shortcuts. Let go of the Command key and the popup disappears.
6. Text Editing Shortcuts
If you’ve been using a Mac or a PC for years, you’ll be happy to know that all the text manipulation shortcuts you’ve learned will work on the iPad. Selecting and manipulating text on the iPad screen isn’t a reliable experience. So even if you don’t know about these shortcuts, I would advise you to spend some time getting acquainted with them.
- Command + Left: Jump to the end of the line
- Command + Right: Jump to the beginning of the current line
- Command + Up: Jump to the top of the page
- Command + Down: Jump to the bottom of the page
- Option + Left/Right: Move the cursor one character at a time
- Option + Shift + Left/Right: Select the previous/next word
- Shift + Left/Right: Begin text selection on the Left/Right of the cursor, one character at a time
- Shift + Command + Left/Right: Select the entire line, Left/Right of the cursor
- Shift + Command + Up/Down: Select all text in the document (above or below from the cursor)
Other than this, the keyboard shortcuts for bold, italics and so on will work on the iPad as well.
7. Level Up Your Screenshot Game
iOS 11 took the screenshot workflow to a whole new level. You’d take a screenshot and see a preview on the screen. Tapping the preview takes you right to the annotation screen. But if you have a keyboard attached, you can use shortcuts to speed up this process.
- Command + Shift + 3: Take a screenshot that’s saved to Camera Roll
- Command + Shift + 4: Take a screenshot and open it automatically in mark up mode
8. App Shortcuts for Popular Apps
Just remember these keyboard shortcuts for your favorite apps and you’ll be flying through as you work on your iPad Pro.
- Command + T: Open new tab
- Command + W: Close current tab
- Control + Tab: Switch to the next tab
- Control + Shift + Tab: Switch to previous tab
- Control + F: Bring up Find feature
- Command + L: Highlight the text input field
- Command + Shift + R: Activate Reader mode for the current page
- Command + Option + F: Search in your mailbox
- Command + R: Reply
- Command + Shift + R: Reply All
- Command + N: New Message
- Delete: Delete the current message
- Command + Control + A: Archive message
- Command + Shift + U: Mark as Unread
- Command + Shift + T: Title
- Command + Shift + H: Heading
- Command + Shift + L: Checklist
- Command + F: Find in note
- Command + ]: Indent Right
- Command + N: New Note
- Command + F: Find in spreadsheet
- Command + Shift + [: Switch to the previous sheet
- Command + Shift + ]: Switch to next sheet
- Command + Shift + N: Insert new sheet
- Command + N: New spreadsheet
Your Favorite Smart Keyboard Shortcuts
The iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard is one of the most useful tools you can use when you’re being productive on the go. Soon you’ll feel like the four-finger swipes for switching between apps are slow and inefficient.