How to Use the Virtual Trackpad on the iPad

Quickly scroll through text or move around the screen on your iPad

What to Know

  • Put two fingers on the screen, or do a long press on the space key to activate the virtual trackpad.
  • To select text, put two fingers on iPad for two seconds, then drag your fingers across the text.
  • If you make a mistake, tap Undo or shake the iPad.

This article explains how to move the iPad's on-screen cursor on iOS 9 and later. The virtual trackpad is one of the more advanced features of iOS that most people don't even know exists.

How Does It Work?

To use the virtual trackpad, put two fingers on the screen, or do a long press on the space key. When the keys on the keyboard go blank, the trackpad is active.

Virtual trackpad on an iPad

To move the cursor, leave your fingers on the screen and move them around just as you would on a normal trackpad. The cursor follows your movement. When the virtual trackpad is on, you can move anywhere on the display, and it will act as one giant trackpad.

You can also scroll through text by moving the cursor to the far top or to the far bottom of the screen. As you move your fingers in that direction, the text scrolls with you.

How to Select Text Using the Trackpad

You can also select text using the trackpad. Here's how:

  1. Start with the trackpad off.

  2. Put two fingers on the iPad display.

    You can't use text selection if you turn on the trackpad with a long press on the space key.

  3. When the trackpad turns on, keep your fingers where they are for a couple of seconds.

  4. The cursor changes to selection mode, which adds circles to the top and bottom of the cursor.

    iPad trackpad
  5. Drag your fingers on the screen to select text. You can only do this on pages and in apps in which the text can be edited.

Does the Trackpad Work in Third-Party Apps?

While the virtual trackpad should work in most apps that allow you to write text, not every app supports the functionality. Some third-party programs that don't use the trackpad now may include it in a future release. And, if the app doesn't support editing text — such as a web browser viewing a standard web page — the trackpad may not work.

Don't Forget the Undo Button

Apple has added a few app-specific buttons to the on-screen keyboard. In most apps that let you edit text, there's an undo button to the left of the auto-correct suggestions. This button is specific to certain apps, so it won't always be there. But if you make a mistake selecting, copying, or pasting text, tap Undo or shake the iPad to take it back.

Undo button on iPad
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