Apple Logo over an iPad Onscreen Keyboard

If the on-screen keyboard won't appear on your iPad, confirm that you don't have a Bluetooth keyboard connected first, or completely shut off Bluetooth. Try restarting your iPad if you use a third-party keyboard, like SwiftKey, that won't appear.

Sometimes, you’re using an iPad but the onscreen keyboard doesn’t show up where you expect it. There could be one of several things going on, including trouble with a Bluetooth keyboard or third-party keyboard apps. Here’s what may be wrong—and how to fix it.

You Forgot That You Have a Bluetooth Keyboard Connected

Whenever you have a Bluetooth keyboard connected to your iPad, iPadOS automatically disables the onscreen keyboard. That’s because the iPad thinks you don’t need an on-screen keyboard when you have a real one in front of you. But sometimes you have a Bluetooth keyboard sitting nearby that is still connected, and you don’t realize it.

To disconnect your keyboard, open Settings and tap Bluetooth. In the list of “My Devices,” locate your keyboard and tap on the info icon next to it (an “i” in a circle). On the next screen, select “Disconnect.”

Your iPad May Think There Is a Keyboard Connected (When it Isn’t)

Sometimes, your iPad may think there is a Bluetooth keyboard connected when it actually isn’t, so the onscreen keyboard will not show up. Navigate to Settings, tap on “Bluetooth,” then tap the Bluetooth switch to turn off Bluetooth.

Or, to do it even faster, pull up the Control Center with a swipe and turn Bluetooth off with a tap.

Turn off Bluetooth Switch in iPad Settings

Check again and see if the onscreen keyboard appears where you expect it.  If not, you might want to try restarting your iPad, which can fix this and other bugs.

RELATED: How to Use Control Center on Your iPhone or iPad

Your Third-Party Keyboard App May Have Crashed

If you use a third-party keyboard app, such as SwiftKey or Gboard, it’s possible that a bug in that keyboard app may have caused it to crash.

To fix it, restart your iPad, which will force the keyboard to reload and may temporarily clear the problem that caused it to crash. It’s also a good idea to launch the App Store and see if there are any updates for the third-party keyboard. If so, install them. The updates may fix the bug that caused the crash.

If that doesn’t help, you can delete the third-party keyboard app in Settings. Navigate to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards. Tap “Edit” in the upper-right corner of the screen, and then tap on the red remove icon (that looks like a minus sign in a circle) next to the name of the third-party keyboard you want to disable.

Delete Third-Party Keyboard on iPad

After tapping on the red minus sign icon, a “Delete” button will appear. Tap that and the keyboard app will be removed. You could then try reinstalling the app using the App Store, or use the iPad without it.

RELATED: How to Fix Crashing Apps on an iPhone or iPad

You May Need to Tap a Text Field for the Keyboard to Show

Usually, iPadOS does a good job of predicting when you’ll need the onscreen keyboard, and it pops up accordingly. But sometimes it doesn’t. In that case, you may need to tap on a text input field to make the keyboard appear.

Using the iPad's onscreen keyboard to search on Google

If it doesn’t appear, then check the other possible solutions listed above, including restarting your iPad to see if that fixes the problem.

If All Else Fails, Restart or Update

If there is a common theme among all the potential solutions listed here, it’s that if you encounter trouble on your iPad, it’s usually a good idea to restart it. Restarting your iPad forces the device to reload all of its software and reset its temporary settings, which may temporarily solve the issue you are having.

  • To restart an iPad with Face ID: Hold down the top button and either volume button until the power off slider appears. Swipe the slider with your finger and wait for the iPad to power off. Then, hold the top button again until you see the Apple logo on the screen.
  • To restart an iPad with a Home Button: Hold down the top button until the power off slider appears. Swipe the slider with your finger and wait for the iPad to power off. Then, hold the top button again until you see the Apple logo on the screen.

You could also try updating your iPad’s operating system (iPadOS) to the latest version. That may fix any bugs that are keeping the onscreen keyboard from appearing properly. Good luck!

RELATED: How to Update Your iPad to the Latest Version of iPadOS

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 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.
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