How to Connect a Wired Keyboard to Your iPad

Ditch the virtual keyboard on your Apple tablet

The Lightning connector port you use to charge the iPad can also communicate with other devices like your PC or laptop. To make the iPad work with cameras that often use a form of USB to connect to computers, Apple put out the Camera Connection Kit, which turned the original 30-pin connector into a USB port.

Tablet on white office desk with computer keyboard.
Arijit Mondal / Getty Images

When Apple jumped from the old 30-pin connector to the thinner Lightning connector, they changed the name of the Camera Connection Kit to the Lightning to USB Camera Adapter. And while it includes the word "Camera," the adapter essentially adds a USB port to the iPad.

Lightning to USB Camera Adapter Compatibility

A USB port needs two things: a device like a wired keyboard or flash drive to plug into and a compatible host device. In this case, that host device is the iPad. Unfortunately, you can't plug in a flash or external hard drive because the iPad doesn't support those type of devices. But it does support keyboards.

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How to Connect a Keyboard to an iPad

How to Connect a Wired Keyboard to an iPad

The order in which you connect your iPad, adapter, and keyboard may affect whether or not the devices work together. Here's how to get them working together.

This process may not work with every wired keyboard.

  1. Plug your Lightning to USB Camera Adapter into your iPad.

  2. Connect your wired keyboard to the adapter.

  3. Test the keyboard in an app like Notes.

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

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 the Lightning connector so that you can hook up a wide assortment of MIDI instruments.

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

The USB adapter also plugs into an Ethernet port, but this hack can get a little tricky. You must connect the iPad into a powered USB host with several ports, and then plug an Ethernet-to-USB adapter into an available port on that same host. The iPad isn't designed to receive network communications through its Lightning adapter, so this trick may not work reliably.