How can I use a regular wireless Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad iPhone or iTouch? (pictures)

Summary: While the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touchscreen keyboards are adequate for many uses, sometimes you may want to connect a regular fully sized keyboard to your iPad or iPhone or iPod Touch.  Here's how to do it.

Those of you who are familiar with the iPhone or the iPod Touch know that Apple's touchscreen keyboard is a bit different than a regular keyboard. Most importantly, because you're tapping a flat screen, there's no tactile response. The iPad's screen keyboard, when in landscape mode, is a bit better than a iPhone keyboard, because it's bigger, but the Apple iPad keyboard is still not the same as a regular keyboard.

NOTE: The iPad easily supports a Bluetooth keyboard with no modification. However, the iPhone and iPod Touch require that you “Jailbreak” your phone then install an app called “BTstack” before you can connect a keyboard.   (Update: 4/13/2010 see the comments below.  The older white Apple Bluetooth keyboard, model A1016,  is apparently incompatible with the iPad.   Most other Bluetooth keyboards are compatible with the iPad.)

[Related article: How to make free and cheap phone calls from your iPad. Click Here]

Fortunately you can easily connect any regular bluetooth wireless keyboard to the iPad iPhone or iPod Touch using the device's bluetooth wireless compatibility.

Adsense Below is the same iGo portable keyboard folded in half so that it can be tucked in a pocket, bag, or purse.


Operating Systems: Apple iPad

Difficulty: Easy
Time: A couple of minutes

Things you'll Need

  • A Bluetooth compatible keyboard
  • An Apple iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch


The X-pain Method

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How to Connect a Bluetooth Keyboard to your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch

How to connect a regular wireless Bluetooth Keyboard to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

Step 1 Step 1 From the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch home screen, tap “Settings”
Step 2
Step 2 On the left side of the screen, tap “General”
Step 3
Step 3 On the Apple Ipad, iPhone or iPod Touch, tap “Bluetooth” and slide the Bluetooth switch to “On.”

Step 4
Step 4 Use a search engine or your computer's manual to learn how to start “Discovery Mode” on your bluetooth keyboard. The “discovery Mode” allows bluetooth devices such as your iPad (iPhone, iPod Touch) to discover each other. Usually, Bluetooth devices stay in discovery mode for only a couple of minutes, so you'll need to have both devices in “discovery mode” at about the same time.   If the two devices are within range, the Apple device will display a message similar to this:

“Keyboard would like to pair with your iPad iPhone iPod Touch.  Enter the passkey “39291” on your Keyboard followed by the return or enter key.”

Step 5
Step 5 Use your wireless Bluetooth keyboard to type the random passkey number displayed on the Apple device.   Once you've successfully connected (or “paired”) the keyboard to the Apple device, you'll not need to do it again.  They'll automatically connect to each other whenever they're both in “Discovery Mode.”


Photo Credit

Image captures and photographs by Chuck Eglinton


12 Replies to “How can I use a regular wireless Bluetooth keyboard with my iPad iPhone or iTouch? (pictures)”

  1. Hey! I was trying to pair my ipad with my old school white apple bluetooth keyboard, but it wont work. any ideas?

  2. Why won’t it work? Does your ipod find the Apple Bluetooth keyboard when both are in discovery mode? Write me with the model of your Apple Bluetooth Keyboard model number and maybe someone here can help make it work.

  3. My old white apple bluetooth keyboard won’t pair with my iPad either. The iPad spins a long time and either nothing comes up or I get a message it can’t pair. Keyboard model number A1016. Thanks.

  4. iGo keyboards seen to be going for more on eBay since you published this one!

    Chuck’s reply: just keep watching eBay – Occasionally the iGo keyboards will still sell for less.

  5. A heads up, Chuck, regarding the old white Bluetooth keyboard. I’m also struggling with it, and one thing I’ve observed is that, when trying to pair, if I hit return on the keyboard I get a pairing key briefly displayed, which goes away right away and the pairing then fails. Seems like it may be displaying the pairing key on an invisible layer until the enter key is hit.

    Seen similar info on other sites, but have not found a solution yet.

  6. Same issue here with the old white bluetooth keyboard from apple. (Model A1016). Removed it from my Mac Pro bluetooth devices list and turned off bluetooth from all other computers in the house to be safe.

    Just as Rick said, the keyboard will spin indefinitely unless/until the return key is pressed. Once pressed, the info on what to type for pairing will flash for a split second and then a new info bubble pops up saying the bluetooth pairing failed.

    Thanks for your site/info by the way.

    ChuckEgg’s Reply: The iPad’s Bluetooth specifications are Bluetooth 2.1 + Enhanced Data Range (EDR) technology. The iPad’s Bluetooth 2.1 and EDR are supposed to be backward compatible with bluetooth keyboards all the way back to Bluetooth 1.2. Your White Apple Bluetooth Keyboard (model A1016) may simply be too old (or apple used some proprietary non-standard protocol or timing) so that particular model isn’t compatible with the iPad’s 2.1 Bluetooth.

  7. Great information, Chuck! I bought the Palm folding keyboard, at your recommendation (along with the iGo) and feel more productive on the iPad.

    Keep up the great work of showing us great gadgets and technology, and showing us how to use them.

  8. Okay, I bought an el-cheapo bluetooth keyboard on eBay.

    It mostly works. I’m typing on it right now. But, I can’t get it to type a backslash. Mostly the iPad seems to be interpreting the keystrokes based on the traditional location of various characters. For example, shift-3 gives me a # symbol even though it is labeled with the symbol for the British Pound (fancy L with a cross).

    When I connect this keyboard to my MacBook Pro, They key to the right of the single quote generates a backslash. But, when connected to an iPad, this key doesn’t do anything.

    Any ideas?

    I tried fiddling with different keyboard selections in the Settings app. This actually makes a difference. For example, if I picked an international keyboard, then typing a backquote followed by an e gives me an e with an accent on it. Like what you would get with a option-e e.

    I do need to type backslashes though!

  9. Can you tell me the specific brand and model of the keyboard? maybe I can diagnose it if I know more about hte keyboard

  10. While my Apple keyboard generally works fine with my iphone and ipad apps and allows me to use the numbers on the top row regulalry, for some reason, when I’m in the Digits Calculator app, those numbers wont work and I have to input the numbers by hand on the ipad/iphone screen. Any ideas to help this?

  11. Hi there,
    I have a question, i paired my apple bluetooth keyboard to my iPhone4, i use it for groupchat (whatsapp) and SMS, however i cannot send the message by pressing the ENTER. Does anyone know if there is a button for (of how to configure??)

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