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How To Control iPad Cursor Using The Keyboard

control iPad cursor using the keyboard
Written by Hassan Abbas

Do you want to control the iPad cursor using the keyboard? If you want to control the iPad pointer using the keyboard, you must turn on and configure Mouse Keys. It’s an amazing feature in iOS and iPadOS 13.4. While moving the cursor using your connected pointing devices trumps using the keyboard. Certainly, you want high movement precision, like when doing some pixel-perfect editing in apps such as Pixelmator or Adobe Photoshop. Besides scrolling the pointer left, right, up, down, and diagonally, the keys on the attached keyboard imitate mouse actions such as tapping, releasing, or holding the button. Without much ado, just follow our guide for detailed steps on setting up Mouse Keys on your device. As it will enable you to control the iPad pointer using the keyboard.

Introducing Mouse Keys

Apple is calling the amazing cool feature Mouse Keys.

If the name sounds quite familiar, that’s due to Mouse Keys present in macOS for a few years now. Mouse Keys for iOS or macOS both serve the same job. However, as assistive technology, the feature was primarily built for people using the motor skill problems who might find it challenging to control the cursor by scrolling their finger across the trackpad.

It’s the best choice for those who just want precise cursor control when working in complex creative apps. Mouse Keys for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch were introduced as part of the iOS and iPadOS 13.4 software updates which commercially released on March 24.

Follow our easy guide below for tricks on how to control the iPad cursor with the keyboard keys or keys on a numeric keypad, if your physical keyboard is having the number pad.

How to control iPad pointer via the keyboard

Before using a physical keyboard to control your cursor. Initially, you enable the Mouse Keys assistive option in Settings. Also, we’ll cover the keyboard shortcuts for Mouse Keys and adjusting the feature to your needs by modifying the available settings.

How to enable Mouse Keys

Mouse Keys is the part of the AssistiveTouch features built for those who face difficulty while touching the screen or needs an adaptive accessory. As mentioned above, it’s also best for pro users and creative types who want to precisely control the iPad cursor using the keyboard.

To turn on the Mouse Keys feature on your iPad using iPadOS 13.4+ or your iPod and iPhone using iOS 13.4+, follow our below mentioned steps carefully:

Step 1:

Head over to the Settings on your device.

Step 2:

Select Accessibility from the root list.

Step 3:

Choose Touch.

Step 4:

Click AssistiveTouch located at the top of the list.

Step 5:

On the other screen, turn on AssistiveTouch at the top.

Step 6:

Turn off Always Show Menu at the bottom of the heading Pointer Devices. Doing so tells the OS to hide the AssistiveTouch’s special onscreen menu when cursor devices such as mouse or trackpad are connected. You’re also suggested to modify Idle Opacity of the AssistiveTouch on-screen menu to the lowest value (15%).

Step 7:

Now click Mouse Keys at the bottom of the heading Pointer Devices.

Step 8:

At last, slide the toggle located next to Mouse Keys to the ON position to turn on the feature.

You can also instantly toggle Mouse Keys on-the-fly by hitting the Option (⌥) key on the attached keyboard 5 times in quick succession, which is explained later in this guide.

Also, simply toggle off the Mouse Keys button to turn off the feature.

“Mouse Keys enables the cursor to controlled using the keyboard keys as well as a number pad,” according to the feature’s description.

How to use Mouse Keys

Using Mouse Keys turned on. You can also control the mouse cursor with keys on your Mac’s keyboard or a numbered pad. After using the regular keys, you can simply move the cursor right, left, up, down, and diagonally for whenever the Mouse Keys feature is enabled.

Once it’s disabled, the keys switch back to their normal functions.

Here’s the complete list of the Mouse Keys keyboard shortcuts for your ease:

  • Move the mouse pointer
    • Numeric keypad: 7, 8, 9, 4, 6, 1, 2 and 3
    • Keyboard: 7, 8, 9, U, O, J, K and L
  • Tap the mouse button
    • Numeric keypad: 5
    • Keyboard: I
  • Hold the mouse button
    • Numeric keypad: 0 (zero)
    • Keyboard: M
  • Release the mouse button
    • Numeric keypad: “.” (period)
    • Keyboard: “.” (period)

Come let’s check about Mouse Key customization.

How to change Mouse Keys settings

Apple enables you to customize the Mouse Keys feature to your liking. It includes turning on the built-in global keyboard shortcut. Also, how Mouse Keys moves the cursor, controlling the onscreen keyboard seems, and much more.

Follow the instruction below to modify your Mouse Keys settings:

  1. Head over to the Settings on your device.
  2. Select Accessibility from the root list.
  3. Choose Touch.
  4. Click AssistiveTouch located at the very top of the list.
  5. Select Mouse Keys located under the heading Pointer Devices.

Simply make your adjustments on this screen.

The following settings can be customized:

  • Option Key Toggle: Simply save yourself from having to click your way to the Mouse Keys settings whenever you want to disable or enable the feature. When this is on, instantly hit the Option (⌥) key on your physical keyboard 5 times to toggle Mouse Keys.
  • Use Primary Keyboard: Turned on by default, this decides whether you can control Mouse Keys using your primary keyboard, in addition to a numbered keypad that always gets used. If your external keyboard has a numeric keypad, turning off this feature enables you input normally on the keyboard (the 7, 8, 9, U, I, O, J, K, and L keys won’t pass input to Mouse Keys) while controlling the cursor with a number pad.
  • Initial Delay: Select the initial delay before the cursor begins moving by pushing the slider closer to the right to shorten the delay or to the left if you want to enhance the delay.
  • Maximum Speed: Scrolling this slider to the left or right side decides how fast the cursor moves when being controlled using the keyboard keys.

Unfortunately, there are no choices to use inertia using Mouse Keys.

Typing on the on-screen keyboard using Mouse Keys

Automatically iOS hides the stock on-screen keyboard whenever a physical one is connected. You can also easily switch b/w your external or internal keyboards on the fly or select to always display the onscreen keyboard while using Mouse Keys.

To do the latter, head over to Settings → Accessibility → Touch and turn on the option Show Onscreen Keyboard found under the heading Pointer Devices.

You can now use the Mouse Keys keyboard shortcuts, or a cursor device, to input on the onscreen keyboard while a physical keyboard is attached to the device.

Switching software and hardware keyboards

By default, connecting a hardware keyboard to your device turning off the stock on-screen keyboard provided by the OS. Also, you can switch between the external and internal keyboard on the fly.

If you want to use the onscreen keyboard when the external keyboard is connected to the device. Simply click the down arrow key on the external keyboard to bring up other controls. Once done, then simply touch and hold the chevron under the bottom-right corner to bring up the internal keyboard.

Once done using the internal keyboard, you can simply get back to using its physical counterpart quickly. Just click the bottom-right icon on the onscreen keyboard which is quite similar to a keyboard with a downwardly-pointed arrow to dock the internal keyboard.

The awesome Full Keyboard Access feature

If we talk about accessibility, another amazing feature in iPadOS 13.4 enables you to control your Apple tablet and the entirety of the iPadOS user interface using an external keyboard with the new accessibility shortcuts, grouped together under a new section dubbed Full Keyboard Access.

This feature also uses a focus rectangle to highlight the recently chosen onscreen element which receives input from you. Full Keyboard Access adds lots of keyboard shortcuts that can remap to your liking, also assigning your Shortcuts scripts to a custom keystroke.

Features such as the Notification and Control Center, also the device actions like restarting, can be run without issues using keyboard gestures available with Full Keyboard Access.


Here’s all about “Control iPad Cursor Using the Keyboard”. I hope this article helps you to control the iPad pointer using the Keyboard. In case you face any difficulty or have any doubts, feel free to comment us down the section below.

Till then! Stay Safe 😷

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About the author

Hassan Abbas

Tech enthusiast with too many items on his wish-list and not nearly enough money! Specializing in all things tech, with a slight Apple bent he has been writing for various blogs for the best part of (too many) years

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