How to Change your iPad Keyboard Settings

Have you ever wanted to turn off Auto-Correct? Or turn off the automatic capitalization of the first letter of a sentence? Or perhaps set up shortcuts for commonly used phrases? The keyboard settings on your iPad will even allow you to install third-party keyboards, which is great if you prefer the swipe style of entering text rather than tapping.

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How to Open iPad Keyboard Settings

First, you need to know how to open the keyboard settings.

  1. Open your iPad's settings.This is the app with the icon that looks like gears churning.
  2. On the left-side menu, choose General. This will open the general settings on the right side of the screen.
  3. Scroll down the right side of the general settings screen until you see Keyboard. It is located close to the bottom, just below Date & Time.
  4. Tap Keyboard to enter the Keyboard settings.

The iPad Keyboard Settings will let you do customize your iPad by turning off Auto-Correction, choosing an International Keyboard or even setting up Keyboard Shortcuts. Let's go over the different options under Keyboard Settings to understand what you can do to modify your iPad's keyboard.

  • Keyboards.  The first option might seem a little confusing.  The iPad allows you to use third-party keyboards, such as Swype or the Hanx Writer keyboard.  Tapping this option and then tapping "Add New Keyboard" will let you add a new on-screen keyboard to your iPad. You can also change your keyboard's layout from QWERTY to another layout by tapping Keyboards and tapping "English" to get to the English keyboard options. Read more about custom on-screen keyboards
  • Text Replacement.  This is the old "keyboard shortcut" given a new name that better describes the feature.  This feature allows you to add corrections to the Auto-Correct feature, so if you frequently misspell a word and your iPad doesn't catch it, you can add a new text replacement here.
  • Auto-Capitalization. By default, the iPad automatically capitalizes the first letter in a new sentence. This setting will let you turn the option off.
  • Auto-Correction. Have you ever typed in one word only to have the iPad change it to a completely different word? That's Auto-Correction. It can be very helpful for common misspellings, but it can also be quite embarrassing when quickly typing up something to a friend only to find several words changed to something you didn't mean. More on Turning Off Auto-Correct
  • Check Spelling. Have you ever noticed those red squiggly lines under a word when typing on the iPad? That's the built-in spell checker. You can turn it off by switching Check Spelling to Off.
  • Enable Caps Lock. By default, the iPad will turn off the caps key after you type in your next letter, number or symbol. But if you double tap the caps key, it turns on caps lock, which will allow you to type in multiple capital letters without the need to hit the caps key before each one. If you don't like this feature, you can turn it off here.
  • Shortcuts.  This allows you turn Text Replacement on or off without wiping out all of the replacement text you may have entered.
  • Predictive. While you type, the iPad will attempt to predict the word you are typing and display it just above the on-screen keyboard.  Tapping these words will finish the typing for you and can be a handy shortcut.  Or it can simply be annoying.  This setting lets you turn the feature off.
  • Split Keyboard. Did you know you can split the iPad's keyboard in two by pulling it apart from the middle? This splits the keyboard in half with one side of the keyboard on one side of the display and the other side of the keyboard on the other side of the display. It is great for thumb-typing. But what if you never want to use it? You can turn off the split keyboard with this setting, which means you'll never accidentally pull your keyboard apart.
  • "." Shortcut. If you hit space twice in a row, the iPad will insert a period in place of the first space. This is a neat shortcut if you are typing in long paragraphs, but if you often find yourself two actual spaces, you can turn off the option here.
  • Enable Dictation. Voice Dictation lets you speak to your iPad and have your words converted to text.  This feature sends what you speak to Apple to be translated, so it is very accurate, but if you are concerned with privacy, you may want to turn this feature off.  More about using Voice Dictation on your iPad
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How to Create an iPad Keyboard Shortcut

A shortcut allows you to type an abbreviation like "idk" and have it replaced by a longer phrase like "I don't know." This is great if you constantly find yourself typing the same phrases over and over again and want to save time hunting and pecking about the iPad keyboard.

Keyboard shortcuts on the iPad work in the same way as the Auto-Correct feature. You simply type out the shortcut and the iPad will automatically replace it with the whole phrase.

If you haven't followed along with this entire guide, you can get to the keyboard shortcuts by going to your iPad settings, choosing general settings from the left-side menu and then choosing keyboard settings. From this screen, tap "Text Replacement" at the top of the screen.

When adding a new keyboard shortcut on the iPad, first type in the complete phrase and then the shortcut or abbreviation you want to use for the phrase. Once you have the phrase and the shortcut typed into the appropriate spots, tap the save button in the upper-right corner.

That's it! You can put in multiple shortcuts, so all of your common phrases could have an abbreviation associated with them.

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How to Install a Custom Keyboard

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

You can also install a third-party keyboard from these settings. In order to set up a custom keyboard, you must first download one of the third-party keyboards available in the App Store.  A few great options are the SwiftKey keyboard and Google's Gboard keyboard.  There is even a keyboard from Grammarly that will check your grammar as you type.

  • In the Keyboard settings, tap the Keyboard button at the top.
  • Tap Add New Keyboard...
  • You will get a list of available third-party keyboards that you have installed on the iPad. Tap the keyboard you want to activate.
  • You can remove a keyboard by tapping Edit on the custom keyboards page. This will display a red circle with a minus sign next to the available keyboards.  Tapping this button will remove the keyboard from the activated list. 
  • Deactivating a keyboard doesn't uninstall it. You will need to uninstall the app to delete the keyboard completely.
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How to Change the iPad Keyboard to QWERTZ or AZERTY

Did you know there are several variations of the standard QWERTY keyboard? QWERTY gets its name by the five letters across the top of the letter keys, and two popular variations (QWERTZ and AZERTY) get their name the same way. You can easily change your iPad Keyboard Layout to either of these variations in the Keyboard Settings.

If you haven't followed along with this keyboard guide, you can get to the keyboard settings by going to your iPad settings, choosing general settings and then scrolling down the right-side page to find Keyboard settings.

Once you are in the keyboard settings, you can access these alternative layouts by choosing "International Keyboards" and then choosing "English." Both of these layouts are variations of the English layout. In addition to QWERTZ and AZERTY, you can choose from other layouts like U.S. Extended or British.

What is "QWERTZ" layout? The QWERTZ layout is used in Central Europe, and it is sometimes known as a German layout. Its biggest difference is the exchanged placement of the Y and Z keys.

What is "AZERTY" layout? The AZERTY layout is often used by French speakers in Europe. The main difference is the exchanged placement of the Q and A keys.