Your iPhone’s tiny screen doesn’t make for a great keyboard. Fortunately, you can use your MacBook or Apple keyboard to type on your iPhone or iPad, without wrestling with the touchscreen.
With iOS 8, Apple finally introduced third-party keyboards for iPhones and iPads. And no doubt, they do make typing easier. But it still doesn’t match up to the experience of typing on your MacBook.
What we are looking for here is a seamless shift between typing on your computer and typing on your phone or tablet. And they should work with any Mac keyboard, like some of the best wireless all-in-one keyboards.
Connecting A Bluetooth Keyboard
These apps function by posing as real Bluetooth keyboards, so it helps if you know how to connect a Mac to your iPhone or iPad. It’s pretty simple.
- Click the Bluetooth icon in the customizable Mac Menu Bar and make sure Bluetooth is On
- On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Bluetooth and switch it On too. You can also use Control Centre (accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen) to access a Bluetooth toggle.
- On your Mac, click the Bluetooth icon in your menu bar then Open Bluetooth Preferences > Pair
- You’ll get a confirmation message on your iPhone or iPad, tap “Pair” again
That’s it! Couldn’t be easier, right?
1Keyboard is our favourite option for sharing your Mac’s keyboard with your iPhone. Install the app and it sits quietly in the Menu bar. It’s best to keep it there and have it become one of your favourite Mac Menu bar utilities.
Connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac via Bluetooth and 1Keyboard will recognise it. You can connect multiple devices too, and easily toggle between them using the menu bar icon.
Click the menu bar item, select the device, and start typing. Your letters will show up on the selected device. Click somewhere on your Mac’s screen and start typing to switch back to the computer. It’s one of those “it just works” apps that is an absolute delight to use.
1Keyboard also adds the ability to copy and paste clipboard content to your touchscreen device. For example, if you copied a few lines of text online, you could press Shift+Command+V to paste it on your iPhone. It’s a nice useful feature, but not as powerful as other tools to share and sync the clipboard between iOS and Mac.
You can set a custom shortcut to activate 1Keyboard, as well as further shortcuts for each device, toggling between all as needed.
In many ways, Type2Phone works like 1Keyboard. Download the app, connect your phone via Bluetooth, fire it up and start typing. It even automatically disconnects when not in use, and reconnects to the last device when you start using it.
More importantly, Type2Phone offers a whole lot of control over Function keys and lets you set small key sequences, like deleting a word to the left or right of where your cursor is. You can already use Option+Backspace on your Mac keyboard, and now you can do the same on your iPhone. Neat! Of course, it’s not got the full power of all the Mac OS X keyboard shortcuts, but it’s still pretty good.
This app also includes voice dictation, but that doesn’t seem to be particularly useful, especially since Siri already does a fantastic job of it on iOS 8.
The only problem with Type2Phone is that it seems more intrusive than 1Keyboard, what with its floating window and the big icon sitting in your dock.
What Should You Get?
If you have a Mac and an iPhone or iPad, and if you type often on the latter, then these apps are worth it. For example, if you’re having a long conversation on WhatsApp, you’d be stuck. But while Android users can get WhatsApp on their PC, you can now use your Mac keyboard to type directly into WhatsApp on your iPhone or iPad.
Of the two apps, my preferred choice is 1Keyboard, but that’s purely because of its unobtrusive nature. Type2Phone’s shortcuts and control over function keys seems like it might be the better tool for power users.
And if you’re looking to turn things around, here’s how to remotely access your Mac from your iPhone.
Image credit: Denys Prykhodov / Shutterstock.com