When Apple announced the iPadOS earlier this month, no one in the company has mentioned a major new feature: the support of the mouse. Apple probably has good reason to want to keep users focused on the touch interface, but the ability to use a mouse has the potential to completely change the way users act on the iPad Pro . Here's how it works and how to get started
First, you must run the public beta iPadOS 13who is now available for anyone to install. (It also works technically on iOS 13, if you really want to use a mouse on your iPhone.) The usual warnings about the beta software apply: it's just great, so do not try this on a main machine unless you have one. good Make sure to save everything first.
Then you will need to enable mouse support because it is disabled by default and buried in the Accessibility menu. This feature is an extension of AssistiveTouch, used in iOS for many years and used most often as a floating home button on the screen. Here are the steps to follow:
- Open the Settings app
- Go to accessibility
- Go to the touch, under the physics and motor section
- Enable AssistiveTouch Toggle
- Go to the pointing devices
At this point, you must have your pointing device ready to work. You can use a mouse on Bluetooth or USB; If you use the old one, you will have to make sure that it is paired. I had no problem using my Logitech MX Master. Or, if you do not have a USB-C mouse, you will need a USB-A to C adapter to connect a standard wired mouse directly to the USB-C port of the iPad Pro. I tried this with Mad Catz RAT and the tracking was actually more fluid than the Logitech. Wired mice may work better with the faster refresh rates of Apple's ProMotion screens, but I can not be sure.
I've also tested Apple's Magic Trackpad and it worked perfectly with a USB-C to Lightning cable, but I could not find a way to pair it wirelessly. I will also say that the cognitive dissonance of using a touch screen as a mouse for a touch operation system was a waste of time, especially as Mac gestures like two-finger scrolling do not work.
You will probably want to disable the usual AssistiveTouch Floating button – you can see it by pressing the Toggle Always display menu, although you still see it when a pointing knob is not connected. You will find various other options that you can change as you like, such as tracking speed (with nice turtle and hare icons) and the appearance of the slider.
If you think that "it surely looks like a lot of steps just to activate something fundamental for the user experience as a mouse support", you would not go wrong. It is clear that Apple does not consider this as a main feature for the moment and will not do the same.
Does this mean it's not for you? Not necessarily. It has happened many times to look for a mouse or trackpad for my iPad. The historical argument of Apple that touchscreen laptops are not available is that it is void to have to constantly access the keyboard to touch the screen. That's right, but the lack of trackpad is even more true for the iPad Pro than for Windows touchscreen laptops.
For tasks such as text editing requiring precise and consistent adjustments when typing, it is much more natural to have a pointing device on the same plane as your keyboard. The mouse support in iPadOS is rather rudimentary, but it is already strong enough to make a difference in my workflow. I'm using my iPad Pro today with three separate tracking devices and I think it's a very good start, even if it does not always work the way I want it.
The first thing you'll notice is that the slider is huge – it's a large, semi-opaque circle with a dot in the middle. This is probably due to a touch-sensitive operating system, iOS is designed for a fingerprint-sized input, but I would appreciate the option just to have the little one point anyway. The advantage of the big cursor is that it helps you to conceptualize the operation of mouse support for iPadOS at the most basic level: it simply gives you a virtual finger.
In other words, clicking on the mouse is like touching the screen, which means you have to get used to different gestures. Of course, there is no right-click concept in iPad, but by default, the right mouse button is set to display a customizable menu of shortcuts. It is much more convenient to right-click on the Control Center icon to move the cursor to the upper right corner of the screen and drag down, for example. The other mouse buttons are also reassignable. By default, a click on the wheel takes you back to the home screen.
This is useful because dealing with iPadOS gestures can be tricky with a mouse. I only had one practice, of course, but it is not natural to drag the dock from the bottom of the screen or to slide between applications. On the other hand, things like text selection feel better with a mouse than ever with a finger. Apple has made improvements in this area for iPadOS, but these improvements make even more sense with a separate pointing device.
And if, like me, you're probably one of the 37 people in the world who have already used their iPad Pro with an external USB-C monitor, the mouse function totally changes the game. IPad monitor support does not look much like this. What did it mean? There was no way to interact with anything while you were watching the screen – you would have to look at the iPad itself to use the touch. Now, though, I can use my iPad Pro at eye level on my desk. That's what I'm doing now. It's great!
It's also something I will not do very often because I have a MacBook Pro next to me and it makes a lot more sense to use it at my desk most of the time. But it's cool that it's even possible. If you are using your iPad Pro as the main computer, especially if you are writing or editing a lot of text, the new iPadOS mouse support is definitely worth studying.