How to Use iPad Keyboard Shortcuts to Navigate Apps

Navigate Mail, Messenger, Notes, and other apps using an external keyboard and master iPad keyboard shortcuts! 

iPads are great tools for both business and entertainment. An external keyboard can essentially turn your iPad into a laptop. I will teach you the essential Apple keyboard shortcuts that can also be used on a third-party keyboard. I will even teach you how to navigate major apps using iPad keyboard shortcuts.

Related: How to Set Up Your iPad for Work

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How to Enable Keyboard Shortcuts

Once you’ve paired your keyboard to your iPad, you’ll be able to use it to type. However, in order to use the following shortcuts, you’ll have to enable Full Keyboard Access. To learn more iPad tips, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter.

  1. Open Settings.

    Open Settings.
     
  2. Tap Accessibility.

    Tap Accessibility.
     
  3. Select Keyboards.

    Select Keyboards.
     
  4. Tap Full Keyboard Access.

    Tap Full Keyboard Access.
     
  5. Toggle on Full Keyboard Access.

    Toggle on Full Keyboard Access.
     
  6. Tap on Commands to review and edit various shortcuts.

    Tap on Commands to review and edit various shortcuts.
     
  7. If you are wondering how to delete keyboard shortcuts on iPad, just select it under Commands and tap Clear. Alternatively, you can change it to something that you will never accidentally press.

    To delete a shortcut, select it under Commands and tap Clear.

iPad Keyboard Shortcuts Basics

Once Full Keyboard Access is toggled on, you can begin using shortcuts. If you are familiar with Apple Keyboard shortcuts, you will get the hang of these quickly. If you are new to Apple devices, you might be wondering, "Where is the command key?"

On an Apple keyboard, there is a command key on either side of the space bar. If you are using a third-party keyboard, the alternative to the command button might be right to the left of the keyboard or the next button down. Depending on the keyboard, some shortcuts might not work. 

You can find some useful external keyboard shortcuts here, including a Home button shortcut. You can also see and even edit shortcuts directly in your iPad settings. A great thing about shortcuts is that they can not only help you navigate between apps, but you can use them within apps too.

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Mail App iPad Shortcuts for External Keyboard 

There are many nifty external keyboard shortcuts that you can use within the Mail app. If you use a third-party app, keep in mind that there may be different shortcuts. Keep in mind that you can use other mail services within the Mail app.

  • Command + N: Open a new email
  • Command + R: Reply to an email
  • Command + Shift + R: Reply all to an email
  • Command + Shift + F: Forward an email
  • Command + Shift + N: Get all new emails
  • Command + Shift + L: Flag an email
  • Command + Shift + J: Mark an email as junk mail
  • Command + Shift + U: Mark an email as unread
  • Command + Down Arrow: View next email
  • Command + Up Arrow: View the previous email

While you are writing an email, you can also use these iPad shortcuts:

  • Command + Shift + D: Send the email
  • Command + M: Minimize the draft without sending it
  • Command + Option + B: Add a recipient to Bcc
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Safari App iPad Shortcuts for External Keyboard 

Safari is the default Apple browser that you can navigate using keyboard shortcuts:

  • Command + T: Open a new tab
  • Command + W: Close the current tab
  • Control + F: Open the Find feature
  • Command + L: Access the text input field
  • Control + Tab: Switch to the next open tab
  • Control + Shift + Tab: Switch to previous open tab
  • Command + Shift + R: Open Reader mode on the current page

People often wonder how to control F on iPad. In this case, you do use the control key. In other apps, you may have to use command + F instead, just like you would on a Mac.

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Notes App iPad Shortcuts for External Keyboard

The Notes app is incredibly useful and can sync your notes across all your Apple devices. Take full advantage of the Notes app on your iPad with these external keyboard shortcuts:

  • Command + N: Create a new note
  • Command + F: Find an existing Note
  • Command + B: Type bold text
  • Command + I: Type italicize text 
  • Command + U: Type underlined text
  • Command + Option + L: Add checklist box
  • Command + Option + T: Write text in the title (H1) format
  • Command + Option + H: Write text in the heading (H2) format
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Calendar App iPad Shortcuts for External Keyboard 

To quickly see your schedule and add events, check out these Calendar app shortcuts for iPad: 

  • Command +N: Add a new event
  • Command + T: View Today
  • Command + F: Open the Find feature
  • Command + 1: View calendar in day view
  • Command + 2: View calendar in week view
  • Command + 3: View calendar in month view
  • Command + 4: View calendar in year view
  • Command + R: Refresh your calendar
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Apple Maps App iPad Shortcuts for External Keyboard

Apple Maps is a frequently overlooked app that does a lot more than you would expect. Learn more about it in our Apple Maps Guide, available exclusively to Insider subscribers.

  • Command + F: Open the Find feature
  • Command + 1: Use Standard view
  • Command + 2: Use Transit view
  • Command + 3: Use Satellite view
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Shortctus to Edit Text on iPad

Whether you are typing text within Messages, Mail, Safari, Notes, or another app, the following shortcuts can help you edit faster:  

  • Command + A: Select all text
  • Command + C: Copy
  • Command + V: Paste
  • Command + X: Cut
  • Command + Z: Undo
  • Command + Shift + Z: Redo
  • Option + Left: Move the cursor one word to the left
  • Option + Right: Move the cursor one word to the right
  • Option + Shift + Left arrow: Select the previous word
  • Option + Shift + Right arrow: Select the next word
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Messenger App iPad Shortcuts for External Keyboard

Finally, a great shortcut within the Messages app is Command + Up/Down Arrow. These let you switch between message conversations.

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Now you know how to use basic keyboard shortcuts within the apps on your iPad. Most built-in and third-party have their own external keyboard shortcuts that can help you navigate them. Next, check out these iPad keyboards and accessories to level up your iPad game.

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life who lives in Hawaii. With a BA in International Relations from Anglo American University, Olena traveled the world. She has lived in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, and the USA. Olena won an excellence award for a controversial article, got a grant to blog from a war-zone, and published a short fictional story. She hopes to publish a full-length novel and continue writing up a storm on her blog The Travel Bug Bite! When she’s not typing or flying, she is loving on animals, crafting bizarre creations, and devouring all-you-can-eat sushi.