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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to use a mouse with your iPad or iPhone

How to use a mouse with your iPad or iPhone



  Apple iPad Pro iOS 13 with the mouse
Justin Duino

With the announcement of iOS 1

3 and iPadOS 13, Apple surprised the world by adding support for mice. Mouse support is included in iOS 13 for iPhone. It comes on iPads with iPadOS 13, scheduled for September 30.

There are still early days for mouse support on iPhone and iPad, and the feature is not even enabled by default. Let's take a look at how to enable it, what devices it works with, and what are the benefits of using a pointing device on an operating system that has been designed from the ground up for touch input.

Mouse Implementation on iPhone and iPad

In its current state, mouse support feels more like finger simulation than proper mouse control. Apple has not made any changes to how the operating system works when you use it with a mouse. iOS and iPadOS are still a pure touch-based operating system.

An example of this is how text manipulation works with the mouse. On a regular computer, move the pointer over the text you want to select, then click and drag. But it does not work on the mobile operating system. You must either double-click and then drag, or double-click to select and then drag the text cursor and move it.

This, too, does not work quite as you expected. When you double-click and drag, select the entire word instead of making a selection from the exact location of the pointer. It sounds like a small question, and we didn't find it difficult to adjust to, but it still feels more like touch simulation than proper mouse control.

 Available mouse button inputs in iOS 13 (iPadOS 13)

Another example of this is button mapping. You can map the mouse buttons to common iOS and iPadOS features. By default, your left mouse button will "simply push" just as your finger would do.

There is no way to add a "left mouse button" or "right mouse button" action because the OS was not designed to receive input from a mouse.

It is unclear whether Apple will expand the concept in the future and equip its mobile operating system with the ability to accept correct mouse inputs. This would undoubtedly push the iPad Pro further into the laptop replacement area, a path that Apple has trampled very carefully.

How to connect a mouse to your iPad or iPhone

You can connect almost any type of mouse to your iPhone or iPad, including:

  • Bluetooth wireless mice
  • Wireless USB mice (or to and with PS / 2 with adapter)
  • Wireless mice using an RF dongle

Connecting a Bluetooth mouse

First, make sure your Bluetooth mouse is nearby and has sufficient charge. Now on your iPad or iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings> Accessibility> Touch.
  2. Select AssistiveTouch and turn it on.
  3. Scroll down to "Pointer Units" and press "Units."
  4. Click "Bluetooth Devices" to start the pairing process.
  5. Now place your Bluetooth mouse on discoverable (or in pairing mode) and tap its name when it appears on your iPad or iPhone.

  Pairing a Bluetooth Mouse in iOS 13 (iPadOS 13)

Can't pair the mouse? Try cycling your iPhone or iPad and the mouse itself and then try to reconnect. Apple has not specified which specific mice are compatible with iOS 13 or iPadOS 13, so you only know if your specific model works with tests and errors.

Connecting a Wired Mouse

To connect a wired mouse to your iPhone or iPad, you need the Apple Lightning to USB Camera adapter ($ 29), formerly known as the Camera Connection Kit. This neat little Lightning-to-USB accessory was originally designed to transfer images from a digital camera to the device's internal storage.

If you have a more modern iPad Pro with a USB Type-C connector and you use an older USB Type-A mouse, you should use USB-C to USB adapter ($ 19). If you have an iPad with a USB Type-C adapter and a compatible mouse, you can just plug it in straight.

Of course, this is not the only use for the Camera Connection Kit. In addition to mice, you can use it to connect USB MIDI instruments, USB microphones or even other smartphones (including Android) to your iOS or iPadOS device. Here we use it to add support for a simple USB cable:

  1. Connect your mouse to the USB port and then connect the Lightning jack to your iOS or iPadOS device.
  2. Go to Settings> Accessibility> Touch.
  3. Select “AssistiveTouch” and turn it on.

  USB and PS / 2 mouse connection in iOS 13 (iPadOS 13)

Connecting a wireless mouse with a Dongle

Wireless mice with dongles are actually the same as wired mice, except they use a small radio frequency dongle for communication over short distances. Since the dongle and mouse are already interconnected from the box, the instructions are the same as connecting a wired mouse:

  1. Connect your dongle to the USB port and then connect the Lightning jack to your iOS or iPadOS device. [19659016] Turn on the mouse and make sure it has power.
  2. Go to Settings> Accessibility> Touch.
  3. Select “AssistiveTouch” and turn it on.

Enable mouse support and configure the mouse

Mouse support is available after enabling AssistiveTouch under Settings> Accessibility> Touch. When your pointing device is connected you should be able to see the "cursor" on the screen as a circle of fingertips.

You can configure the mouse by going to Settings> Accessibility> Touch> AssistiveTouch. "Tracking Speed" lets you adjust how responsive the pointer is to input, and "Pointer Style" allows you to change the size and color of the pointer on the screen.

 Adjusting pointer tracking speed in iOS 13 (iPadOS 13)

Press “Devices” and select the mouse (either press it at the top of a wired mouse, or press Bluetooth devices and tap the little "i" next to your mouse). You should see a list of available mouse buttons. Click on each button and assign an input type.

If the mouse has more buttons than those specified, you can press "Customize additional buttons" to configure them. You will be asked to press one of the buttons on the mouse and then select an action. Continue until you have configured the mouse the way you want it.

 Mouse Button Configuration in iOS 13 (iPadOS 13)

The only setting we couldn't change for the two mice we tested was the behavior of the scroll wheel. These work perfectly in apps like Safari and Notes, but not when trying to browse some UI elements (instead, it required clicks and drag, just as usual as touch input).

What pointing devices work with iOS 13?

Apple doesn't have a list of iOS compatible pointing devices, so the only way you know if your mouse is working is to try it. iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 mark a major step toward Apple opening the floodgates for both third-party wired and wireless peripherals, with both mouse support and gamepad support coming in the same update.

This means that most generic USB and Bluetooth mice should only work. We tested two wired mice (one cheap HP-labeled one less cheap Microsoft-branded) and both worked out of the box as expected.

Apple's Magic Trackpad 2 works with iPhones and iPads, but only via a fixed connection. Magic Mouse 2 also works, but as a Redditor pointed out, you have to disable your Mac's Bluetooth and hold down the mouse button while pairing to make it work. There are still problems with touch-based scrolling on Apple's pointing device.

What can you do with mouse support on iPad or iPhone?

Make no mistake about it, mouse support on iPhone and iPad is first and foremost an accessibility feature. It is not designed to turn your iPad into a laptop replacement. If you have trouble using the touch interface due to a disability, it is a lot. You might even wonder why it took Apple so long to add the feature, given their excellent track record in terms of availability.

Nevertheless, there are some uses for mouse aid that you may be interested in. It is a convenient option for iPad and iPad Pro users who do not like to reach across the keyboard to interact with the screen. Now you can leave a mouse connected and surf the web like on a laptop or desktop.

Mouse support provides a more accurate method for selecting and editing large pieces of text, even if it does not work properly on a standard computer. This is the area where the feature stood out the most, but it can only depend on how cumbersome touch-based text manipulation usually is.

 Selecting Text in iOS 13

Some ads may benefit from the mouse's extra precision when editing photos or working with vector graphics. Since many creative types buy an iPad Pro for Apple Pencil support, this is not so great.

If you remotely access other computers via the local network or the internet, a mouse will make the experience feel a little more native. Unfortunately, you will still lack the correct mouse button support, but you may be able to configure the mouse to reflect the input methods used by your favorite remote access tool.

Finally, don't forget that you can pair your mouse with the correct keyboard if you want a more traditional user experience. Bluetooth keyboards like Apple's Magic Keyboard 2, like many generic USB keyboards, work with iOS and iPadOS – provided you have the USB adapter required to connect them.

A Promising Start

Mouse support in iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 is perfect for its intended use as an accessibility tool. For productivity purposes, there aren't too many benefits, but who knows what Apple has planned for the future. The company is slowly pushing on the iPad and iPad Pro as a tablet that can perform many tasks that you usually do on a laptop, without turning it into a hybrid laptop tablet.

If Apple is seriously considering placing the iPad as a laptop replacement, we may very well see the mouse support plated in iOS (or iPadOS) 14.


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