Special-Use Keys on Your iPad with iOS 10

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

The iPad keyboard contains several keys that don’t actually type a character. iOS 10 gives you so many ways to express yourself! Here’s the scoop on each of these keys:

  • Shift: If you’re using the alphabetical keyboard, the shift key switches between uppercase and lowercase letters. You can tap the key to change the case, or hold down shift and slide to the letter you want to be capitalized.

ipad-9e-shift

  • Caps lock: To turn on caps lock and type in all caps, you first need to enable the Caps Lock setting (if it’s not already enabled) by tapping Settings → General → Keyboard and then tapping the Enable Caps Lock item to turn it on. After the Caps Lock setting is enabled, double-tap the shift key to turn on caps lock. (The arrow will be underlined in black.) Tap the shift key again to turn off caps lock. To disable caps lock, just reverse the process by turning off the Enable Caps Lock setting (tap Settings → General → Keyboard).
  • Typewriter: Enable the Split Keyboard option (tap Settings → General → Keyboard), and you can split the keyboard in a thumb-typist-friendly manner. When you’re ready to split your keyboard, press and hold down the typewriter icon key, and tap Split on the menu. From that menu you can also dock the keyboard to the bottom of the screen. When you want to bring the keyboard back together, press and hold down the typewriter icon key again and choose either Merge or Dock and Merge from the menu. You can also tap this key to hide the keyboard and then tap the screen in the appropriate app to bring back the keyboard.

ipad-9e-typewriter

  • #+= or 123: If you’re using a keyboard that shows only numbers and symbols, the traditional shift key is replaced by a key labeled #+= or 123. Pressing that key toggles between keyboards that just have symbols and numbers.

ipad-9e-123

  • Emoji: Tap this key and you can punctuate your words by adding smiley faces and other emoticons or emojis.
  • International keyboard: You see this key only if you’ve turned on an international (or third-party) keyboard, as explained in the nearby sidebar “A keyboard for all borders.” From this key, you can also pull up an emoji keyboard with numerous smiley faces and pictures.

ipad-9e-international-keyboard

  • Delete: Tapping this key (otherwise known as the backspace key) erases the character immediately to the left of the cursor.

ipad-9e-delete

  • Return: This key moves the cursor to the beginning of the next line. You might find this key labeled Go or Search, depending on the app you’re using.

ipad-9e-return

  • Dictation: Tap the microphone icon and start talking. The iPad listens to what you have to say. Tap the key again, and the iPad attempts to convert your words into text. You can use this dictation feature in many of the instances in which you can summon the keyboard, including the built-in Notes and Mail apps, as well as many third-party apps.

ipad-9e-dictation

When you use dictation, the things you say are recorded and sent to Apple, which converts your words into text. Just make sure to proofread what you’ve said because the process isn’t foolproof. Apple also collects other information, including your first name and nickname, the names and nicknames of folks in your Contacts list, song names in Music, and more. Apple says it does this to help the Dictation feature perform its duties. If any of this freaks you out, however, tap Settings → General → Keyboard and slide the Enable Dictation switch to off. You can also restrict the use of dictation in Settings.

ipad-9e-split-keyboard
Press and hold down the typewriter icon key to split the keyboard.

The addition of iOS 9 brought a few fresh options to some of the keyboards on your iPad. On the top row of the keyboards that pop up in certain apps — Mail and Notes, for instance — you’ll find dedicated B, I, and U keys to the right of the three suggested word alternatives. These permit you to bold, italicize, or underline selected text.

And the addition of iOS 10 brought even more options. To the right of the B, I, and U keys are a camera icon, which lets you insert images from the Photos app, and a paperclip icon, which lets you choose files to add from iCloud Drive.

To the left of the three alternative word suggestions on various keyboards, you’ll see icons for undoing or redoing your last steps, plus a third icon that pastes the last selected word or passage that you copied.

What you see also varies by what you do. For example, after you select text in the Mail app, a scissors icon appears on the top row of the virtual keyboard; when you tap the icon, it cuts the selected text.