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How to set your iPad’s external keyboard to have an escape key

Want to add an escape key to your iPad’s physical keyboard? Here’s what to know.

ipad with keyboard
Image: KnowTechie

Apple has designed both the Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard to make typing easy for iPad users. However, both products are missing one element that PC users have become accustomed to, namely the Escape Key.

An external keyboard can increase your writing speed when you use your iPad. Most are designed to mimic fully-fledged PC peripherals and have the same QWERTY designs.

However, your productivity may suffer due to the lack of specific keys that are only found on PC keyboards. Most people use the Escape Key more than they realize. Almost all software is designed to recognize it and it has a similar function in most apps.

iOS 15 allows users to redefine existing keys on external keyboards. In their place, you can add:

  • Control
  • Command
  • Caps Lock
  • Option
  • Globe

In other words, the Control key on an external keyboard can be redefined as Command. This also means that any of these keys can be set to work as Escape.

How to redefine keys on your external keyboard

If you want to set up your keyboard to have an escape key, or just want to reassign something, here’s how:

Open the Settings app
Select General
Tap on the Keyboard option and then on Hardware Keyboardhow to set up an escape key on ipad keyboard
Press Modifier Keys and a list will pop openhow to set up an escape key on ipad keyboard
Select the key that you would like to redefine as Escape
Once you’ve selected the key, tap Escape to replace its functionhow to set up an escape key on ipad keyboard

The key that you’ve chosen in the modifier list will now work as Escape.

Make use of the Escape shortcut that’s built into the iPad Keyboard

iPad keyboards also have a default shortcut for the Escape key. You simply have to press Cmd and Period (.) at the same time.

READ MORE: The best Windows and macOS keyboard shortcuts

The shortcut is built into the operating system, which means that it will work in any app that is configured to recognize it. In most cases, pressing the shortcut will quit the app.

Customize your device to suit your needs

Apple is constantly working on turning iPads into efficient productivity devices. The tablet’s OS offers a lot of customizability that enables users to bring their desktop preferences into the ecosystem of the mobile device.

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Krima Desai is a passionate technology journalist with extensive experience in leading online media outlets.

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