How to Connect a Wired Keyboard to Your iPad

Use a USB-C adapter to plug a keyboard into your Apple tablet

What to Know

  • Plug the Lightning to USB (or USB-C to USB) Camera Adapter into the iPad.
  • Connect the keyboard to the adapter and test the keyboard.
  • If the keyboard doesn't work, connect the devices in reverse order and restart.

This article explains how to connect a wired keyboard to an iPad using a Lightning to USB (or USB-C to USB) Camera Adapter. It includes information on other devices that can be connected to the iPad.

Several iPad models like the iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation or later), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later), iPad Air (4th generation or later), and iPad mini (6th generation), come with a USB-C port. You can use this port to connect to compatible devices that also support USB-C, or use a USB-C to USB adapter for standard USB devices.

How to Connect a Wired Keyboard to an iPad

When Apple jumped from the old 30-pin connector to the thinner Lightning connector, it changed the name of the Camera Connection Kit to the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. While it includes the word "Camera," the adapter essentially adds a USB port to the iPad. Many newer iPad models also include USB-C connector ports, and can make use of USB-C to USB adapters instead of Lighting to USB.

A USB port needs two things: a device such as a wired keyboard and a compatible host device. In this case, that host device is the iPad. The order in which you connect your iPad, adapter, and keyboard may affect whether the devices work together.

This process may not work with every wired keyboard.

  1. Plug the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, or USB-C to USB Camera Adapter, into the iPad.

    If both the iPad and the keyboard you're using have a USB-C port and plug, respectively, then you won't need the adapter. Just plug the keyboard's USB-C cable into the iPad's USB-C port directly.

  2. Connect the wired keyboard to the adapter.

  3. Test the keyboard in an app like Notes.

  4. If it doesn't work, connect the devices in reverse order by first connecting the wired keyboard to the adapter and then connecting the adapter to the iPad. You might also restart the iPad while everything is in place to see if it works.

Other iPad-Compatible USB Devices

Wired keyboards aren't the only devices you can get working in this manner. The iPad also supports sending MIDI signals through either the Lightning connector or USB-C port so that you can hook up an assortment of MIDI instruments.

MIDI is the protocol for musical devices like keyboards and electronic drum sets to communicate with computers. The adapter connects a music keyboard that supports USB MIDI and control apps like GarageBand on the iPad, which turns an iPad into a music workstation.

And, while you might not have thought about it much, the iPad can also work with a separate mouse. Additionally, you can also connect external storage devices (like a USB flash drive or some models of external hard drive) to your iPad with iPadOS 13 and above.

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