Skip to main content

How to split and move the keyboard on an iPad

The iPad is a versatile tablet that can meet a variety of needs. Whether you’re a dedicated artist or an accountant, it’s likely you’ll pull up the iPad’s virtual keyboard to make a note or send an email. It’s a convenient feature, but it can be frustratingly awkward to use. As a result, you might opt for one of the great physical keyboard attachments that provide a more conventional laptop-style experience, including Apple’s own Magic Keyboard. Alternatively, the built-in software version still serves as a solid solution if you know how to make it work to your preferences. We’ll show you how to split and maneuver your iPad’s keyboard for the best typing experience.

Splitting the keyboard

iPad screen showing Notes app with a undocked keyboard split in half.

You probably use an iPad for several tasks in a day. It gives you a widescreen viewing area that’s great for entertainment, digital art, or scrolling webpages. When you bring up the keyboard to add text, though, holding the tablet and typing at the same time is a clunky task. A fantastic way to combat this is by splitting the keyboard. Here’s how to set it up. 

Step 1: Tap into any text field within iPadOS or an app to bring up the keyboard.

Step 2: At the bottom-right of the screen, tap and hold the keyboard icon until a menu of options appears above it.

Step 3: Slide your finger to the Split option.

This useful halved setup works in both landscape or portrait orientations. Splitting the keyboard also undocks it, meaning it releases from the bottom of the screen. Just lightly tap and drag on the keyboard icon to move the interface up or down the screen.

The same keyboard icon will allow you to revert to the traditional keyboard at any time. Just select Dock and Merge to go back to the standard arrangement. You can also drag the keyboard toward the bottom of the screen until it automatically merges and locks back into place. Unfortunately, this splitting feature isn’t available on either the 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Undocking the keyboard

iPad screen showing Notes app with keyboard being undocked.

If you prefer to shift around an intact keyboard, you can just undock the entire set of keys in one piece. Doing it is quite similar to the splitting process.

Step 1: Tap into any text field within iPadOS or an app to bring up the keyboard.

Step 2: At the bottom-right of the screen, tap and hold the keyboard icon until a menu of options appears above it.

Step 3: Slide your finger to the Undock option.

Once detached, lightly tap and hold the keyboard icon to drag your entire keyboard up and down the screen. You can also convert an undocked, split keyboard into this complete version by choosing the Merge option after long-pressing the lower-right keyboard icon. Conversely, you can split an undocked, full keyboard this way as well. 

Going back to a normal keyboard is the same as turning off the split feature. Select Dock from the keyboard icon’s menu or drag it to the bottom of the screen. Undocking the full keyboard is also unavailable on the iPad Pro range of tablets.

Floating the keyboard

iPad screen showing Notes app with floating keyboard in bottom-left corner.

If you’re running on iPadOS, a keyboard variant that’s available to all iPad owners is the floating keyboard. This miniature form factor resembles the keyboard you might be used to seeing on an iPhone. You can freely move it across the screen to almost anywhere you want. Activate the floating keyboard much like you would the others.

Step 1: Tap into any text field within iPadOS or an app to bring up the keyboard.

Step 2: At the bottom-right of the screen, tap and hold the keyboard icon until a menu of options appears above it.

Step 3: Slide your finger to the Floating option.

There’s also a pretty intuitive way to turn it on. Tap into any text field to bring up the iPad’s keyboard as you normally would. Then perform a two-finger pinch anywhere on the keyboard area to shrink the interface into the floating version of itself. You can move the keyboard by placing your finger on the bar at the bottom and dragging it in any direction. Simply pinch outward or drag the keyboard to the bottom of the screen to restore it back to its full size.

Another feature of this miniature keyboard is you can swipe to type like you would on an iPhone. Sliding your finger across the letters in desired words presents impressively accurate text. This is a helpful way to quickly add short bits of text on the fly without temporarily shifting to an awkward typing position.

Editors' Recommendations

Bill Utaegbulam
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Bill is a freelance writer for the Mobile team at Digital Trends, covering the latest and greatest devices and accessories on…
This could be our first look at iOS 18’s huge redesign
An iPhone 14 Pro Max and iPhone 14 Pro standing upright on a desk.

While iOS 17 fell short on a visual overhaul, Apple is rumored to be working on an updated identity for its next iOS version. Previous reports have claimed that the upcoming iOS 18 will feature visionOS-like elements introduced on the Apple Vision Pro. A new report confirms this with a leaked image of the iOS 18 Camera app.

According to a report from MacRumors, the next version of the Camera app could feature visionOS-style design elements. It is based on an iPhone frame template that the publication received from an anonymous source who claimed to have received it from an iOS engineer. It is said to have been included as part of the Apple Design Resources for iOS 18.

Read more
Apple’s new iPad Pro and iPad Air just got delayed
Someone holding an iPad Air against a wooden floor.

It seems like the countdown to the next iPad reveal has been stretched out a bit more, though not by an earth-shattering amount of time. So far, we’ve heard rumors of a late March or early April reveal, but that likely won’t happen, according to a new report from Apple insider Mark Gurman.

In his latest Bloomberg report, Gurman says the next Apple tablets should arrive in early May, and he cited the speeding up of production at Apple’s suppliers. Interestingly, production-related challenges apparently pushed back the launch of the new slates across the Pro and Air lineups.

Read more
We now know when Apple is adding RCS to the iPhone
The iPhone 14 Plus held in a man's hand.

Last November, Apple made a surprise announcement when it confirmed that RCS was coming to the iPhone in 2024. It's something iPhone and Android phone users alike have been waiting years for, but there was just one small problem: Apple never said when in 2024 RCS was coming. Thanks to Google, of all companies, we now have a better idea of when RCS is heading to the iPhone.

As spotted by 9to5Google, the Android website was recently updated with a new page dedicated to Google Messages. If you click on the "See more features" button for the section talking about RCS, there's a section titled "Better messaging for all" with the following text: "Apple has announced it will be adopting RCS in the fall of 2024. Once that happens, it will mean a better messaging experience for everyone."

Read more