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How to Connect and Use a Trackpad With Your iPad – MUO – MakeUseOf

iPads started as touch-only devices. But these devices have steadily become more flexible as they gained new input methods, starting with the Apple Pencil. In iPadOS 13.4 and later, you can connect a trackpad to your iPad for a fully immersive, cursor-based experience.

Learn how to connect and set up a Bluetooth trackpad to unlock an exciting new way to use your iPad.

Which iPads Are Compatible With a Trackpad?

The following iPad models are compatible with trackpads:

  • Every iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 2 or newer
  • iPad (5th generation) or newer
  • iPad mini 4 or newer

You’ll also need to be running at least iPadOS 13.4 to use the cursor.

What Kind of Trackpad Can You Use With Your iPad?

If you have a trackpad you use with your desktop or laptop computer, it’s probably compatible with your iPad as well.

iPads support a wide range of Bluetooth trackpads from third-party manufacturers. Apple’s own first- and second-generation Magic Trackpad devices are also compatible with iPads via Bluetooth.

You can even use the USB-C connector on an iPad Pro to connect a wired trackpad.

iPad Trackpad Cases and Covers

You can use a trackpad case or cover that works specifically with an iPad. iPadOS cursor support makes keyboard and trackpad cases must-have accessories for iPad Pro and other models.

Popular trackpad cases for the iPad include the following:

  • Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad: A magnetic cover for iPad Pro and the 4th-generation iPad Air that includes a backlit keyboard and trackpad.
  • Logitech Folio Touch: A case featuring a backlit keyboard and trackpad for the 11-inch iPad Pro and the 4th-generation iPad Air.
  • Logitech Combo Touch: A keyboard and trackpad combination for the iPad (7th and 8th generation), iPad Air (3rd generation), and 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
  • Brydge Pro+: An aluminum keyboard attachment for various iPad models that also features a trackpad.
Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad.

How to Connect a Bluetooth Trackpad to Your iPad

If you’re using a trackpad case that connects via the Smart Connector, such as the Magic Keyboard for iPad, you don’t have to do anything manually.

Connecting a Bluetooth trackpad to your iPad is also a simple process. Follow these steps to do it:

  1. Go to the Settings app and tap on Bluetooth. Make sure your iPad’s Bluetooth is on.
  2. Put your trackpad into pairing mode. Check the device’s user manual for the specific steps to do this.
  3. Watch for your trackpad’s name to appear in the list of Bluetooth devices on your iPad. It will appear in the Other Devices section.
  4. Tap on your trackpad’s name to pair it with your iPad.
  5. Some devices will show additional instructions on the iPad’s screen. Follow those steps to complete the pairing process.

If you’re using an Apple Magic Trackpad, your iPad might ask for a code. Use 0000.

When you connect your trackpad, the cursor might not appear until you touch the trackpad with your finger.

Connecting trackpad in Bluetooth settings on iPad.

Switching a Trackpad Between Your iPad and Another Device

Unfortunately, you can’t connect a Magic Trackpad to two iPads or devices at the same time, to quickly switch between them. Once a trackpad is connected, your iPad will remember it and automatically connect as long as both devices are powered on and Bluetooth is enabled.

To connect the Magic Trackpad to another iPad or Mac, you’ll first have to forget the device on the original iPad. Then, you can set it up as a new device on the second iPad or Mac.

Some third-party Bluetooth trackpads support multiple connections, allowing you to switch instantly between devices.

Using a Trackpad With Your iPad

The first thing you’ll notice is that the iPad’s cursor is nothing like the tiny arrows you’re probably used to on a Mac or PC. This cursor morphs and adapts to text, buttons, and app icons.

It snaps to buttons, transforms into an I-beam cursor for text editing, and highlights some UI elements as you hover over them.

It also features inertia—the cursor will continue to slide after you let go as if it has weight. Its momentum depends on the speed of your swipe.

Apart from its appearance, a trackpad works on an iPad similarly to the way it works on a Mac or PC. However, this simple addition completely transforms the iPadOS experience.

Related: The Basics of Using iPadOS: Key Tips, Tricks, and Features to Know About

Here’s a summary of some basic gestures to help you get started using a trackpad with your iPad:

  • Swiping with one finger: Moves the cursor.
  • Clicking with one finger: Works like tapping on the screen.
  • Swiping with two fingers: Scrolls vertically and horizontally.
  • Clicking with two fingers: Performs a secondary-click or “right-click.”
  • Pinching in and out: Zooms just like pinching on the touchscreen.
  • Clicking with one finger and dragging: Lets you highlight text and drag elements around the screen.

You can even combine trackpad gestures and touch gestures for advanced, two-handed operations!

Learn about all of the basic and advanced trackpad gestures on iPad to quickly navigate the iPad like a pro.

A Note on Trackpad Gesture Compatibility

Many advanced iPad trackpad gestures, such as three-finger gestures, are only available on Apple’s Magic Trackpad 2 and the Magic Keyboard for iPad.

Other accessories only support limited sets of gestures. For example, Apple’s first-generation Magic Trackpad doesn’t support scrolling or any other two- or three-finger gestures.

Adjusting the Trackpad Settings on Your iPad

To customize the general behavior of the trackpad and cursor on your iPad, open Settings and tap (or click!) General.

Then, tap Trackpad in the list of general settings to show your available options.

You can adjust the tracking speed, toggle natural scrolling, and customize the click settings to match your preferences.

Trackpad settings screen on iPad.

Adjusting Accessibility Settings for Trackpads

If you don’t like the morphing pointer or cursor inertia, follow these steps to adjust and disable these and other accessibility settings:

  1. Open Settings and tap on Accessibility.
  2. In the Physical and Motor section, tap Pointer Control.
  3. Toggle off Pointer Animations to stop it from changing shape when hovering over buttons and other elements.
  4. Toggle off Trackpad Inertia to make the cursor stop moving immediately when you take your finger off of the trackpad.

You can also adjust scrolling speed, pointer size, pointer contrast, and other options to make the experience perfect for you.

Pointer control accessibility settings on iPad.

Unlock a New iPad Experience by Connecting a Trackpad

Connecting a trackpad to your iPad transforms the touch-only device into a fluid hybrid experience. Whether you use a standalone Bluetooth trackpad or choose an iPad case that features a trackpad, you’ll unlock an entirely new way to use your iPad.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, move on to more advanced iPad gestures to take advantage of your iPad’s multitasking features and more.

Hand touching trackpad on Magic Keyboard for iPad
14 Trackpad Gestures to Start Using on Your iPad

There are lots of multi-touch gestures to learn when you use a trackpad with your iPad.

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