How to Install a Custom Keyboard for Your iPad

With the Swyft keyboard, you draw words instead of tapping them.

Did you know you aren't stuck with the on-screen keyboard that comes with the iPad? There are a number of great alternatives waiting for you in the App Store, including keyboards that allow you to draw words by tracing your finger from letter to letter. This method might sound awkward, but it's actually quite intuitive once you start using it.

So how do you install a custom keyboard?

First, Download a Keyboard From the App Store

Before you can use a third-party keyboard, you will need to download one from the App Store.

Once it is downloaded, you must enable the keyboard in settings and then switch to it when your keyboard is on the screen. It may sound confusing, but it's not that hard to set up.

The hardest part may be finding the right keyboard to replace the default keyboard that comes with the iPad. A few popular iPad keyboard alternatives are SwypeSwiftKey and Gboard, which is a keyboard from Google that helps facilitate search as well as typing.

How to Setup a Custom Keyboard on Your iPad

  • Open the iPad's Settings app.
  • Choose General from the left-side menu. This will bring up the general settings in the main window.
  • Scroll down the main window by swiping with your finger and locate Keyboard
  • Tap Keyboards at the top of the keyboard settings and then tap Add New Keyboard...
  • This will bring up a pop-up menu with different keyboards. Third-party keyboards show up just under the "Suggested Keyboards" section. If the keyboard app you downloaded supports replacing the default keyboard, it will be listed. Simply tap the keyboard's name and it will be installed as a third-party keyboard.
  • We aren't done yet! We have the keyboard installed, but we still need to tell the iPad to use it. But first, we need to go over "Full Access." Some keyboards want Full Access. This means they can gather what you type and analyze, which is usually done to improve word suggestions while you type. However, if you are security conscious, you may decide to not give the company Full Access. By default, keyboards are installed without Full Access.
  • You can turn Full Access on by tapping the keyboard's name in the Keyboards screen. This will list all of the keyboards you have installed, including the default English and Emoji keyboards. Tapping your keyboard's name will allow you to toggle Full Access on or off.

How to Select the Custom Keyboard While Typing

After you install the keyboard, you may be surprised that the old iPad on-screen keyboard comes up the next time you need to type something. While you've installed your keyboard, you haven't yet selected to use it. But don't worry, it's pretty easy to select your new keyboard.

  • You can select your new keyboard any time the on-screen keyboard is on the screen.
  • Hold your finger down on the Globe key. This key is right next to the microphone and space key.
  • When you hold down the Globe key, a menu will come up. This menu allows you to switch between the normal keyboard, the Emoji keyboard, and your third-party keyboard. Simply choose your keyboard and you are ready to go.
  • After you have chosen your keyboard, it will come up by default any time you need the keyboard. You can switch back to the standard iPad keyboard or the Emoji keyboard using the Globe key.
  • Tapping the Globe key cycles through the keyboards. So if you tap on the Globe key with the standard iPad keyboard up, the Emoji keyboard will appear. And if you tap on it again, your third-party keyboard will appear.

    Did You Know: You can use a real keyboard with the iPad, including a wired keyboard!