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How to connect a mouse to your iPad

It’s official: As of iPadOS 13.4, you can use a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad with your Apple tablet, extending its capabilities. Paired with the ability is Apple’s Cursor for iPadOS, a newly designed cursor experience that adapts to content onscreen, automatically snapping to buttons and transforming into a text selector when needed. So, are you ready to get started? Grab your iPad and a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad, and we’ll show you how to get started with mouse support on iPadOS.

Upgrading to iPadOS 13.4

Updating iPadOS software
Michael Archambault/Digital Trends

Before we begin, we need to make sure that you are upgraded to the latest version of iPadOS; you can find whether or not your iPad is compatible with iOS 13 by heading to Apple’s Support website. As always, it is recommended to back up your data to either iTunes or iCloud as a safety measure before performing a major update. Once ready, follow these instructions:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad
  2. Select the General option
  3. Next, select Software Update
  4. If an update is available, click Download and Install
  5. Otherwise, your iPad will notify you that it up to date

Once you have installed iPadOS 13.4 onto your iPad, you have obtained mouse and cursor support. In the next few sections, we’ll teach you how to pair your mouse or trackpad, and how you can get the most out of your new pairing.

Pairing a Mouse or Trackpad

Pairing a bluetooth mouse with iPad
Michael Archambault/Digital Trends

To pair a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad with your device, you’ll follow the same steps as pairing any other Bluetooth device. Remember that your device’s Bluetooth function must be turned on to function. Follow the steps below for help pairing your device:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad
  2. Select the Bluetooth option
  3. If Bluetooth is off, tap the toggle to turn it green
  4. Place your mouse or trackpad into pairing mode — this varies on different devices, check your device’s manual or support website for assistance
  5. Under Other Devices, tap on the name of your device or trackpad
  6. Once your device moves up to My Devices and says Connected, you are ready

Once a Bluetooth mouse to trackpad is paired to your iPad, it will automatically pair in the future when both devices are on and nearby. Be sure to leave your Bluetooth on, or you will need to switch it on manually every time you wish to connect. To forget the device, go to the Bluetooth screen, tap the blue-i icon next to the device, and tap Forget This Device.

Using a mouse with iPad

To get started with your mouse on iPadOS, you may wish to adjust settings such as mouse speed and scrolling direction; to alter any of these settings, head to the Settings app, and then select the Trackpad & Mouse option under the General menu. Here, you can customize your mouse experience.

Similar to using a mouse on any other device, you can use the onscreen circular cursor to move around the display, and use a standard left-click to make selections. You will notice that the cursor automatically snaps to individual buttons to make them easier to click, or that the cursor will change itself when hovering over text content.

Basic mouse gestures 

Below is a list of mouse movements and tricks that can be used to navigate around your iPad with a bit more ease. These mouse gestures are possible to use with any third-party mouse, as well as the Apple Magic Mouse.

  • Wake your iPad: Click the left mouse button
  • Open the dock: Push the cursor past the bottom of the screen
  • Go to home-screen: Push the cursor past the bottom of the screen, then continue pulling once the dock appears
  • View slide over: Push the cursor past the right edge of the screen
  • Open control center: Click on the Wi-Fi and battery widget in the upper-right corner
  • Open notifications center: Click on the time and date in the upper-left corner
  • Open contextual menus: Click the right mouse button

Using a trackpad with iPad

If you are using a trackpad with iPadOS, you may also wish to adjust your settings. Open the Settings app and then select the Trackpad & Mouse option under the General menu. With a trackpad, you can use this settings area to adjust your mouse cursor speed, your scrolling direction, whether Tap to Click is enabled, and if you wish to use a Two Finger Secondary Click for context menus.

Again, similar to the mouse, you can use the onscreen circular cursor to move around the display, and use a standard left-click to make selections. The cursor automatically snaps to individual buttons to make them easier to click, or that the cursor will change itself when hovering over text content.

Basic trackpad gestures

When it comes to cursor support, Apple has stuffed iOS full of wonderful trackpad gestures. Both the Magic Trackpad and Magic Trackpad 2 can take advantage of these basic gestures with ease, making your iPad experience all the bit smoother.

  • Wake your iPad: Click the trackpad
  • Open the dock: Swipe a single finger down past the bottom of the screen
  • Go home: Swipe a single finger down past the bottom of the screen, then swipe the cursor down a second time
  • View slide over: Swipe a single finger past the right edge of the screen
  • Open control center: Click on the Wi-Fi and battery widget in the upper-right corner
  • Open notifications center: Click on the time and date in the upper-left corner

Advanced trackpad gestures

If you are utilizing Apple Magic Trackpad 2, you can take advantage of more advanced gesture features for scrolling, zooming, and accessing areas of your iPad with increased efficiency. It is important to note that these features are only compatible with the newest Apple Trackpad — the original Magic Trackpad will not recognize these gestures.

  • Scroll: Drag two fingers up, down, left, or right
  • Zoom: Pinch two fingers open or close to zoom in or out, respectively
  • Go home: Swipe up with three fingers
  • Open app switcher: Swipe up with three fingers, then pause before lifting your fingers
  • Switch between open apps: Swipe left or right with three fingers
  • Open today view: On the home or lock screen, swipe two fingers right.
  • Open Spotlight: From the home screen, swipe two fingers down.
  • Secondary click: Click with two fingers at once.

Customizing the iOS cursor

Altering iPadOS cursor
Michael Archambault/Digital Trends

If you don’t love the look of the iOS cursor, you can customize it a bit by heading into the accessibility settings. Access this menu by opening the Settings app, selecting Accessibility, and then Pointer Control. Here, you can increase the contrast of your cursor, choose to hide it after a set amount of time automatically, chose an edge highlight color, alter the pointer size, and more. These settings will be remembered for all mouse and trackpad devices.

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