“Without mouse or trackpad support, I thought the iPad Pro would be the bane of my existence.”
I said that last night on a video appearance of Tech News Tonight when discussing my first few days of using the iPad Pro as a full-time computer. I’m pleasantly surprised to have been wrong.
I’ve used iPads with hardware keyboards in the past but really never took the time to learn keyboard shortcuts; both those native to iOS and those that third-party app developers have added.
Over the weekend though — I started using iPad Pro full-time on Thursday afternoon — I really started to dig around for shortcuts because they address most of issues brought by a lack of mouse or trackpad support for Apple’s large iPad.
After all, I knew that reaching out to touch the display dozens of times per day would result in “gorilla arms.” That repetitive motion is inefficient, not to mention tiring.
With keyboard shortcuts, however, I’ve greatly reduced the need to tap on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro display and I’m getting more work done in a shorter time because of them.
Just to set the stage, I’m using an old Apple Wireless Keyboard with my iPad Pro. I did pre-order an Apple SmartKeyboard but it hasn’t shipped yet. I suspect any keyboard compatible with the iPad Pro can take advantage of the many shortcuts. And while many of these shortcuts aren’t likely new, they’re new (and helpful) to me, so I thought they were worth sharing.
First and foremost, the Command button is your best friend. Tap and hold it in any iOS app to see all of the available shortcuts possible. This ranges from app to app, so the shortcuts will dynamically change depending on which software you’re using. Note that not all third-party app developers have implemented shortcuts, so if holding the Command key comes up empty, that’s why.
Perhaps my most used short cut is this one:
Command + Tab: Press these once to see all open iOS apps. Press it repeatedly to cycle through them and change to an app. You can hold the Shift key down and cycle backwards as well.
Of course, there are likely hundreds upon hundreds of key combinations so here are the ones I’m using the most at the moment.
For text manipulation (I currently write in Byword):
Option + Left (or Right) arrow: Moves the cursor forward or back one word at a time.
Command + Left (or Right) arrow: Moves the cursor to the beginning or end of a line.
Command + Up (or Down) arrow: Moves the cursor to the top or bottom of all text in a field.
Shift + Command + Left (or Right) arrow: Selects the entire row of text to the left or right of the cursor.
Shift + Option + Left (or Right) arrow: Selects the next word of text to the left or right of the cursor. Keep tapping to select more words.
Shift + Left (or Right) arrow: Selects the letter to the left or right of the cursor. Keep tapping to select more letters for a fine degree of control.
Command + C: Copies a selection into memory.
Command + V: Pastes a selection from memory. (I use this to add saved links in my blog posts.)
In a Twitter client (I’m using Tweetbot these days):
Command + 1: Opens the Timeline tab
Command + 2: Opens the Mentions tab
Command + 3: Opens the Messages tab
Command + 8: Opens Lists
Command + N: Compose a new Tweet
In Apple Mail:
Command + R: Reply to an email
Command + Shift + R: Reply to all
Command + Shift + J: Mark as Junk
Command + Shift + U: Mark as Unread
Command + Up (or Down) arrow: Move up or down through messages
Command + N: Compose a new message
Command + R: Reload a page
Command + [: Go back to the previous page
Command + Shift + R: Open current page in Reader Mode
Command + T: Open a new tab
Command + W: Close the current tab
Control + Tab: Show the next tab
Control + Shift + Tab: Show the previous tab
One other navigation hint that alleviates the lack of a mouse or trackpad is when using Split View mode, which is how I’m primarily using the iPad Pro for work.
I generally rely on one app for much of time — Byword for writing, typically — but often need another app open at the same time; i.e; Mail, a browser, etc…
The app on the right side of the screen in this mode is basically “fixed” meaning that when in Split Screen mode and opening up another app, the new one replaces the app on the left side of the display. By keeping Byword as the right-side app, I can easily switch apps with shortcuts and have them appear as needed on the left with Byword always visible.
Would a mouse or trackpad also help in using and navigating on an iPad? Sure it would. And perhaps Apple eventually allows for that support in iOS.
For now though, there are hundreds of simple shortcuts that keep my hands off the iPad Pro screen and on the keyboard to get work done. The focus on touch and keyboard support is far less of a problem for me than I thought it would be.