How to Use a Mouse With an iPad & Customize Controls

An overhead view of a bluetooth keyboard and mouse on a desk surface

When Apple released iOS 13.4, it included the ability to use a Bluetooth mouse or trackpad with your iPad. At first, it seems strange to use a mouse with an iPad, but you will be surprised at how quickly you get used to using one, especially if your main device is a laptop or desktop computer. It’s easy to get started, but the nuances of customizing it to meet your needs are hidden a little deeper than you might expect. In this post I will show you how to connect a mouse to your iPad and give you some options to customize it to work the way you want. Here’s what you need to know.

How to Connect a Bluetooth Mouse to Your iPad

Apple’s implementation of cursor support on the iPad is so broad that you should be able to pair just about any Bluetooth mouse or trackpad by following the instructions below.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad
  2. Tap Bluetooth and make sure it is turned on
  3. Put your mouse in pairing mode (see manual for help)
  4. Tap on the name of your mouse when it appears under “Other Devices”

That’s it! Once paired, you should see a circular cursor appear on your screen. You can use that in place of your finger to navigate around your iPad. The left-click button imitates a tap on the screen, while the right mouse button simulates a long press and can activate a context menu.

Customize Tracking Speed & Scrolling on the iPad

Once your mouse is connected, you will notice a new option in the Settings app called Trackpad & Mouse. You can find it by going to Settings > General > Trackpad & Mouse. Here you can change the tracking speed, (the speed that the cursor moves when you move the mouse), as well as the scrolling direction. Apple has Natural Scrolling enabled by default. It is not my preferred scrolling behavior, so the first thing I did was disable it to reverse the scroll direction. Lastly, you can choose whether the left or right mouse button will act as your secondary click. This is a great option for left-handed users who may want to switch the orientation of their mouse.

Screenshot of the trackpad and mouse settings for the iPad

The Best Mouse for the iPad

There are literally hundreds of mice you could use with your iPad. You can even use Apple’s Magic Trackpad if you want. However, when it comes to mice, I have always been drawn to Logitech. They have always made good, reliable products that feel natural in my hand, so when the time comes to get a new mouse in my house, that is the brand I am looking at.

A lot of people like the Logitech MX Master 2s for their iPad. It is a fantastic mouse, but it’s not cheap so if you want to save some money, I would encourage you to take a look at something like the Logitech M720 Triathlon. Not only is this mouse great value, but you can pair it with up to three different devices and switch between them by toggling the button under your thumb. The three illuminated numbers let you know which one you are connected to at any given time. The M720 has a 24-month battery life, and two additional scrolling buttons that can be programed to perform additional functions. It also works on both Windows or Macs.

How to Customize iPad Mouse Buttons

If you buy a mouse that has more buttons than a right and left click, then there is a good chance that you will be able to map those buttons to a different function. For instance, I have a mouse that lets you press on the scroll wheel to register a click. When I click that button on my mouse, I have the iPad set up to go back to the home screen. You need to dive pretty deep into the Settings to make this happen, but it is an option if you want it. Here’s how to set up your own mouse button actions on the iPad.

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch
  2. Turn on Assistive Touch
  3. Tap Devices, and then tap on the name of your mouse
  4. Tap Customize Additional Buttons and follow the on-screen prompts to recognize additional buttons on your mouse
  5. Choose a function for the buttons by tapping the button number and selecting an action from the list

Top Tip: If you are a fan of Apple’s Shortcuts app, you will notice that you can assign a shortcut to one of the extra buttons on your mouse. Simply scroll all the way down to the bottom of the button actions to find a list of your available shortcuts.

How to Adjust the Cursor Size and Scrolling Speed in iPadOS

If you head over to Settings > Accessibility and tap on Pointer Controls, you can make some additional adjustments that help fine-tune your cursor experience on an iPad. Here you can adjust the size of the pointer, add a colored outline to the cursor, and tweak the scrolling speed. These are really useful options to have and can make a big difference if you have been finding your mouse performance a little sluggish or unwieldy. You can also increase the contrast of the cursor and turn auto-hide on or off.

screenshot of the pointer control settings for the iPad

More Mouse Options for iPadOS

Personally, I don’t tend to use a mouse unless I am sitting at a desk with the iPad for an extended period of time. Cursor support is a relatively recent addition to iPadOS, but I am always surprised at how quickly I get used to using one. The way it was implemented feels very natural so I do enjoy using a mouse when I get the chance.

If the M720 Triathlon is not the mouse for you, take a look at these other mice that Logitech says are 100% compatible with the iPad. There is something here for all tastes.

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