40+ tips to make the most out of your trackpad or mouse on iPadOS 13.4

Our excitement for the iPad Pro and the future of iPadOS continues to grow. From having a laptop-replacement touchscreen device to connecting a mouse to it, Apple has continued to deliver.

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Then, with iPadOS 13.4, Apple surprised everyone and included native mouse and trackpad support. In a lot of ways this is better than using a mouse or trackpad on your computer. But here are the ways you can get the most out of the experience.

Before getting started

Before you go “all-in” on using a mouse or trackpad with your iPad, there are a few things to know first. For example, the settings and controls only appear when trackpad or mouse are connected.

Logitech Pebble i345 Wireless Mouse for iPad
Image courtesy of Logitech

Additionally, Magic Mouse and Trackpad 1 owners will not have the same functionality as Mouse or Trackpad 2 owners. This includes many of the multi-finger gestures that you will find. In fact, Logitech has seemingly partnered with Apple to launch a new budget-friendly mouse that is designed for iPadOS.

Finally, when using a mouse or trackpad, it’s important to remember that touch input will always “come first”. This means that when you tap the screen, the cursor will automatically disappear. And controlling the screen with your finger, will take precedent over the mouse or trackpad.

How to pair your trackpad or mouse

Before you can even start interacting with a mouse or trackpad on your iPad, you’ll need to pair it. Make sure that either pointing device is put into its pairing mode. In the event of the Magic Trackpad, make sure it is no longer paired with your Mac or other device.

Pair Magic Trackpad with iPad

The process is the same for either a mouse or trackpad, and here are the steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Tap Bluetooth.
  3. Under Other Devices, select your Trackpad.

The mouse or trackpad will pair instantly, and the cursor will appear on your display.

How to unpair your trackpad or mouse

In the event that you need to pair your Trackpad back with your Mac, you’ll need to first unpair it from the iPad. In some instances, you can simply plug a Lightning cable from the Mac into the Magic Trackpad. But if you don’t want to deal with cables, here’s how to unpair your pointing device.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Tap Bluetooth.
  3. Find the mouse or trackpad you wish to unpair.
  4. Tap the circle with the blue “I” in it to the right.
  5. Select Forget This Device.

Even if you mouse or trackpad is not currently connected, you can still follow the steps above. As these are remembered in the system, they don’t need to be paired just to unpair them.

Start customizing the interface

Now that you have gotten your mouse or trackpad paired to the iPad, it’s time to have some fun. You’ll want to head into the Settings app so you can begin customizing a bit.

Customize Trackpad Menu

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Select Trackpad or Mouse.

If you have both a mouse and trackpad paired at the same time, this will be listed as Trackpad & Mouse.

From the Trackpad & Mouse menu, you are provided with the following options:

Trackpad Customizations

  • Adjust Tracking Speed
  • Toggle Tap to Click
  • Configure Secondary Click
  • Toggle Natural Scrolling
  • Turn off Mouse Keys

Trackpad Options with Mouse Connected
Trackpad Options with Mouse Connected

Additionally, if you have a mouse paired to the iPad, another sub-section will appear. This allows you to select which button on the mouse should serve as the Secondary Click. Clearly this is for the left-handed folks who want to switch things up to feel more natural.

Customize your mouse buttons

Unfortunately, Apple has yet to add the ability to customize the mouse buttons as a top-level feature yet. Instead, these options are still buried under Accessibility and the AssistiveTouch features.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap Accessibility.
  3. Scroll down in the right-menu and select Touch.
  4. At the top of the page, tap AssistiveTouch.
  5. Toggle AssistiveTouch to the On position.

Once enabled, the AssistiveTouch menu button will appear near the bottom edge of the screen. By default, this button will stay on your display at all times. But it will dim down in brightness when not being actively used. Now that AssistiveTouch has been enabled, here’s how to customize your mouse buttons.

  1. From the AssistiveTouch menu, swipe down and select Devices.
  2. Tap the name of your mouse at the top under Connected Devices.
  3. Select Customize Additional Buttons.

After tapping the button, a pop-up window will appear. This is the time to click a specific button on the mouse that you wish to customize. After the button has been clicked, you will be provided with a slew of different options. These include activating App Switcher, Control Center, or even Lock Screen.

Button Customization Options

Once an action has been selected, repeat the process for the other buttons on your mouse. And in the event that you want to change the buttons to another assignment, you can do so from this menu.

As a quick note for MX Master 3 users, the button under thumb acts as CMD+Tab menu to switch between apps. Must hold and then select the app to switch to. Releasing button takes you to home screen.

Navigate through your home screen

There are a lot of different things that you can do just from the home screen. These gestures and features make it easy to navigate and zip through your iPad faster than ever before. Although, we will say that some gestures (like pushing past the home indicator) will take some practice and getting used to.

  • When in another app:
    • Move cursor to the home indicator until it snaps and is highlighted, then click
    • Move cursor down past the indicator and dock and keep pushing to get back to home screen.
  • Anywhere in the system:
    • Move cursor to date and time and click to reveal Notification Center
    • Drag up past top left-hand corner to reveal notification center
    • Mover cursor to battery and signal then click to reveal Control Center
    • Click and hold to reveal additional Control Center options
    • Two-finger tap to reveal additional Control Center options
    • Two finger click/tap to reveal context menu for different apps

If you want to simply start organizing and rearranging your home screen it’s pretty simple. Just click and drag to rearrange apps on home screen. No more holding the icon for a context menu, just to tap the Rearrange Icons button.

Are there still Accessibility options?

So we’ve already covered that you can head into Accessibility to customize the buttons on your mouse. But Apple didn’t stop there, as there are some customization options for the cursor itself.

AssistiveTouch Pointer Control

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Scroll down and tap Accessibility.
  3. Under Physical and Motor, tap Pointer Control.

Here’s a list of what you can adjust from this sub-menu:

  • Increase contrast
  • Automatically Hide Pointer
    • Disable Pointer Timeout
  • Color
    • None
    • White
    • Blue
    • Red
    • Green
    • Yellow
    • Orange
      • Change “Stroke Size”
  • Adjust pointer size
  • Toggle Animations for cursor “snapping”
    • Animations still appear, the cursor will just stop snapping
  • Toggle Trackpad Inertia
  • Adjust scrolling speed

What gestures are available?

Now you may be asking yourself, exactly what gestures are available with the Magic Trackpad? Well, here’s a breakdown of what’s available:

  • One finger
    • Move cursor past home indicator to reveal Dock
    • Push cursor past home indicator and Dock to go home
    • Push cursor past right-side of screen to invoke Slide Over.
  • Two fingers
    • Scroll up and down
    • Swipe Left or Right on Home screen to hide or show widgets.
    • From Home Screen, swipe down to reveal Spotlight
    • Pinch open to zoom in
    • Pinch closed to zoom out
  • Three fingers
    • Swipe Up to go to the Home Screen
    • Swipe Up and hold up to open Multi-tasking view
    • Right and left to switch between apps
    • Swipe between Slide Over apps
    • Pinch out to go home

Once you start using the gestures, you will come to realize that these are pretty natural. As you continue using the Trackpad with your iPad, the gestures will become second nature. We are hoping to see even more functionality in the future, but this is a fantastic starting point.

Get into multi-tasking

One major point of contention when it comes to getting work done on the iPad is multi-tasking. Apple’s implementation of Split View is pretty great, but the frustrations come in when dealing with Slide Over and switching.

Split View with Slide Over activated

Nonetheless, when it’s time to get some extra work done, here’s what you can do:

  • Engage Split View
    • Click and drag app to the left or right from the dock
    • Grab middle bar to change ratio of app sizes
  • Engage Slide Over
    • Click and drag app to the middle of a split view bar
    • Add a second application using the same method
  • With Slide Over enabled, swipe to the right (or left) to hide Slide Over.

Multi-tasking with Slide Over

As for when you’re using Slide Over, there’s another nifty feature. If you have too many apps in Slide Over but need to get rid of one, you can hover the cursor over the window, swipe up, find the app you need to close out, and two-finger swipe up. Think of it as if you are trying to close out apps on your iPhone.

Interact with text easier than ever

Gone are the days of having to fumble with selecting the right text. You don’t have to worry about fat-fingering the wrong word or the wrong placement anymore.

Interact with Text Trackpad

In addition to the cursor transforming into the I-bar when editing text, there are some other nifty features.

  • Hover cursor over word and double tap to select single word
  • Triple tap over to select block of text
  • Tap and drag to select desired text
  • Triple tap, click and drag to reposition text

As someone who has turned to the iPad for more writing needs, these features are invaluable. We can finally manipulate text the same way compared to the Mac, and in some instances, better than ever before.

Odds & Ends

There are a few more features or questions that you may have when using a mouse or trackpad. Ranging from finding out the battery life, to dealing with the AssistiveTouch menu button.

Can you pair and use two tracking devices at the same time?

Mouse and Trackpad Connected to iPad

We were able to pair both the Magic Trackpad 2 and MX Master 3 at the same time. With both of these active, it can be a little tricky as your iPad needs to determine which is the primary device. Nonetheless, if you like to switch between a trackpad and mouse, it should be possible. However if you experience issues, we recommend disconnecting one of them.

How to show the battery level for your mouse or trackpad

Batteries Widget Home Screen iPad

A frustrating part about Bluetooth devices is that you never know how close they are to needing a recharge. When paired to the iPad, you can use the Batteries widget to view the remaining battery life of these devices.

  1. From your Home Screen, two-finger swipe to reveal the widgets.
  2. Scroll down and tap Edit.
  3. Swipe down and tap the + icon next to Batteries.

Then, you can use the drag bar on the right to place the widget wherever you want it to be. This will show the battery life of your various Apple devices, including connected Bluetooth accessories.

How to get rid of the AssistiveTouch button

Hide AssistiveTouch Button

This is for those users who want to use the custom mouse buttons, but don’t want the big AssistiveTouch menu button. That button is extremely useful for some, but can be a nuisance and an eyesore for others. And Apple actually included a way to keep AssistiveTouch active, while hiding the menu button.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Swipe down and select Accessibility.
  3. Tap Touch.
  4. Tap Assistive Touch.
  5. Under Pointer Devices, toggle Always Show Menu.

Now you can enjoy having your customized mouse buttons active all the time. And that large menu button will automatically be hidden from sight.

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