iPhone user using a third party keyboard
Khamosh Pathak

In case you didn’t know, there’s a whole wide world of third-party keyboards for the iPhone and iPad. Everything from GIFs, to emoji suggestions, to even Google search can be added to your device. Here’s how to install and use third-party keyboards on iPhone and iPad.

Because this is a system functionality, the process of installing a keyboard on the iPhone and the iPad is not as simple as just installing the app. In fact, it’s a bit convoluted.

Before we get there, you’ll need to start out by downloading a third-party keyboard from the App Store. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Gboard: A current all-rounder keyboard from Google. Any feature that you can think of is probably in the Gboard app. You get GIF search, Google Translate, themes, gesture typing, and a Google search feature right in the keyboard.
  • Microsoft Swiftykey Keyboard: A solid alternative to Gboard, specifically when it comes to auto-suggestions. The customization and gesture typing isn’t bad either.
  • GIF Keyboard: If you don’t want to use GIPHY, GIF Keyboard by Tenor is the best alternative for sending GIFs directly from your keyboard.

RELATED: 5 GIPHY Alternatives for Uploading and Sharing GIFs

How to Install Third-Party Keyboards on iPhone and iPad

Now that you have downloaded the keyboard app from the App Store, let’s start the installation process. You don’t need to open the app for this. Instead, head to the “Settings” app. Here, tap the “General” option.

Tap General in Settings app

Now, select the “Keyboard” option.

Tap Keyboard in General

Here, tap the “Keyboards” button.

Tap Keyboards in Keyboard section

You’ll see all of the keyboards that you have installed (including keyboards for different languages and for Emojis). Swipe down and tap the “Add New Keyboard” button.

RELATED: How to Change Your iPhone and iPad Keyboard's Language

Tap Add New Keyboard

Now, you’ll see a long list of languages at the top. Scroll all the way down till you spot the Third-Party Keyboards section. Select the keyboard app that you downloaded.

Choose the keyboard you want to add

You’ll now be back to the Keyboards screen, and you’ll see that the new keyboard has been installed and activated.

But we are not in the clear yet. If you want to use features like GIF search, you’ll need to allow full access to the keyboard. To do this, select the newly installed third-party keyboard from the list of keyboards.

Tap on the keyboard you added

From the next screen, tap the toggle next to “Allow Full Access.”

Tap on toggle next to Allow Full Access

From the popup, tap the “Allow” button to confirm.

Tap on Allow from popup

And now, finally, your keyboard is ready to go.

How to Use Third-Party Keyboards on iPhone and iPad

You can install multiple third-party keyboards on your iPhone or iPad and switch between them easily using the Globe key on the virtual keyboard. You might be familiar with it if you’ve used the Emoji keyboard.

Tapping the Globe key switches to the next keyboard on the list. But if you want to switch to a particular keyboard, tap and hold the “Globe” key. You’ll see a list of all available keyboards. Select the keyboard that you just installed. In our case, it was Gboard.

Tap Globe icon to switch to the new keyboard

Instantly, you’ll switch to the new keyboard.

Gboard keyboard enabled on iPhone

You can now use your new third-party keyboard and enjoy all of the features that you can’t access in the default keyboard on your iPhone and iPad.


Speaking of the default keyboard on the iPhone, it does have one advantage over third-party keyboards. You can use many hidden text editing gestures to quickly select, copy, and paste text.

RELATED: How to Use Text Editing Gestures on Your iPhone and iPad

Khamosh Pathak Khamosh Pathak
Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has seven years of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
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