iPad and Mouse Hero Image

Apple now lets you control your iPad with a mouse or trackpad, but navigating using a mouse can be cumbersome without the ability to quickly click and go Home. Luckily, there are several ways to access the iPad’s Home screen using only the mouse.

Connecting a Mouse to Your iPad

In case you haven’t connected a mouse to your iPad yet, know that mouse support only works in iPadOS 13 and up. So, if you’d like to use a mouse, make sure you update your iPad to the latest version of iPadOS.

Most people connect a mouse to their iPad wirelessly using Bluetooth. Others connect pointing devices through a wired connection by using a Lightning to USB or a USB-C to USB adapter, depending on whether your iPad includes a Lightning or USB-C port. Mouse compatibility will vary by manufacturer. If you’ve connected a trackpad, you can use trackpad gestures to control your iPad.

RELATED: How to Use a Mouse With Your iPad or iPhone

The Default Way to Go Home With a Mouse

Once your have your mouse connected, you may find it annoying to navigate between apps by taking your hand off the mouse to push the Home button (or swipe upward from the bottom of the screen) on your iPad. And, it’s not obvious how to get to the home screen using the mouse pointer.

If you have an iPad without a home button (such as an iPad Pro), you can move your pointer to the bottom of the screen and click on the Home bar below the Dock.

For iPads with physical home buttons, Apple’s default solution for reaching the Home screen using only the mouse is to quickly swipe downward with the mouse cursor at the bottom edge of the screen. The speed and positioning it takes to pull this off can be fiddly to get just right. Luckily, there are two other ways to trigger the Home screen with the mouse.

Access the Home Button Using AssistiveTouch

Apple includes a wonderful accessibility feature in iPadOS called AssistiveTouch. It provides a shortcut menu, useful for all users, that allows you to perform certain complex physical swipes, gestures, and other functions from a centralized interface. You can also access those features using a mouse. Here’s how.

From here on out, we’re assuming that you already have a mouse connected to your iPad.

Open Settings, then swipe down the list on the left side of the screen until you find Accessibility. Tap on that, then tap on Touch.

Tap on Accessibility then Touch

In the Touch menu, locate AssistiveTouch and tap on it. This opens up the AssistiveTouch options.

Tap on AssistiveTouch

In the AssistiveTouch options, tap on the AssistiveTouch switch near the top of the screen to turn the feature on.

Turn on AssisitiveTouch

Once AssistiveTouch is enabled, a movable menu button (that looks like a rounded gray rectangle with a white circle in the middle) will appear somewhere near the edge of the screen.

This button will remain on the screen in every app, and it will allow you to activate AssistiveTouch from anywhere by tapping on it or clicking on it with your mouse pointer.

AssistiveTouch button in iPadOS

To test it out, click on the AssistiveTouch button with the mouse pointer. From there, a small menu will pop up on the screen and present various options.

AssistiveTouch Menu in iPadOS

In this menu, you can click on the Home option, and you will go immediately to your Home screen from any app. There, you can pick another app to run or do other tasks.

There’s so much more you can do with the AssistiveTouch menu, including simulating gestures, accessing Control Center, or even taking a screenshot. We recommend taking some time to explore all the options, because it makes using a mouse on the iPad that much more powerful.

RELATED: How to Use an iPhone with a Broken Home Button

Turn a Mouse Button Into a Home Button

iPadOS also lets you assign different functions to extra mouse buttons, if you have any. Many mice include a third button accessed by pushing down on the scroll wheel. In this case, we’ll be using the scroll wheel button to access the Home screen.

First, open Settings. Enable AssistiveTouch using the guide above, or by navigating to Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch, then tap the AssistiveTouch switch to turn AssistiveTouch on.

While in the AssistiveTouch options (Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch), swipe down and tap on Devices.

Tap on Devices

You will see a list of connected pointing devices. Tap on the one that has the buttons you’d like to customize.

Tap on your device

Tap “Customize Additional Buttons…”.

Tap on Customize Additional Buttons

A pop-up titled “Customize Button” will appear in the center of the screen asking you to press a button on your mouse that you’d like to customize. Click the button you’d like to use to take you to the Home screen. We’ll use the center mouse wheel button as an example.

Customize Button pop-up in iPadOS

After clicking the button on your mouse you want to customize, a menu will appear with many options. Choose “Home” by tapping on it.

Next, navigate back out of this list by tapping the blue-colored name of your pointing device at the top of the screen.

Tap Home choice in menu

From now on, whenever you push on the mouse button you picked, you will be taken to the Home menu, which brings a whole new world of handiness to using a mouse on the iPad.

If you’d like to customize other extra mouse buttons to do other tasks (such as launching the App Switcher), use the same steps detailed above but click a different button when you reach the Customize Button pop-up.

A Few Extra iPad Mouse Tips

Here are a few other tips about using a mouse with an iPad that may come in handy. For a detailed look at using and customizing mouse or trackpad pointer on the iPad, check out our in-depth guide.

  • You can change the behavior of the scroll wheel on the mouse in General > Trackpad & Mouse > Natural Scrolling. On that screen, you can also change the tracking speed and choose which button works as the primary click button.
  • The “Trackpad & Mouse” options only appear in Settings if a mouse or trackpad is connected to the iPad, so don’t be alarmed if it doesn’t show up at first.
  • If you have a mouse with a scroll wheel that tilts to the left or the right, you can tilt it to move between pages of app icons on the Home screen.
  • You can customize the size and color of the mouse pointer in Settings > Accessibility > Pointer Control.

When paired with a keyboard, a mouse can unlock amazing productivity gains with your iPad, especially in apps (such as spreadsheet or photo editing apps) that require many precise taps to get things done. Have fun, and happy clicking!

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.