Force Pairing (Connecting) an Apple bluetooth keyboard to an iPad (iOS device)

How to Force Pair (Connect) an Apple bluetooth keyboard to an iPad (iOS device)

The Problem:
Apple devices are common place in my home, and occasionally we like to connect a single shared Apple bluetooth keyboard to one of the iPads. If the bluetooth keyboard was last connected to another device that is within range and turned on, the normal steps to pair a bluetooth keyboard to an iPad will typically not work. The problem is because the keyboard immediately exits pairing mode as it connects to the other, unintended device. This can make the activity of pairing the keyboard to the intended device a bit frustrating.

The Solution:
Simply continue to hold the power button down on the bluetooth keyboard after the power LED light begins to flash. This will keep the keyboard in pairing mode and prevent it from automatically connecting to the last device it was paired/connected to.

General steps to pair an Apple keyboard to an iPad:

  1. Turn off the Apple keyboard by pressing the power button for three seconds.
  2. Ensure bluetooth is enabled on the iPad/iOS device you wish to connect: Settings > Bluetooth.
  3. On the Apple bluetooth keyboard, press and hold the power button. After about 5 seconds the keyboard power indicator (LED) will begin to flash indicating the keyboard is in pairing mode.
    1. To force pairing: Keep pressing the power button on the keyboard as you continue.
  4. On your desired iOS device, when the desired “Apple Wireless Keyboard” device appears in the list of discovered bluetooth devices on your iPad/iDevice, tap/select it to connect.
  5. The iPad will then prompt you with a 4-digit code to enter on the keyboard. You can now stop pressing the power button on the keyboard.
  6. On the keyboard, enter the 4-digit code and press the enter/return key. Your iPad should now be connected to the iPad.

I hope this helps.

Below are a few articles I found interesting and useful on using an Apple keyboard with your iPad.


42 thoughts on “Force Pairing (Connecting) an Apple bluetooth keyboard to an iPad (iOS device)

  1. Thanks, this worked for me the second time through (and would probably have worked the first time if I had actually read the instructions).

  2. I have to say ‘thank you’ for this…I just upgraded my iPhone 5s to ios 11 and could not get my Apple Keyboard to pair for anything. After checking several forums I started to consider doing a ‘factory reset’. I’m so glad I found your simple fix first!! It worked perfectly…now why didn’t any one else know to recommend this before going for the nuclear option?!!

  3. I struggled to pair a 2000 vintage Apple Bluetooth Keyboard to a brand new iPad 9.7″, and pretty much figured it wasn’t going to happen. But I searched the Internet for a way to pair the two, and found this set of instructions — which even though they took very long to take affect, worked finally — and my new iPad is now a complete writing tool!
    Thank you for good advice and instructions!

  4. Can I add my appreciation? Finally bought a new iPad this week intending to pair it with my Apple wireless keyboard from 2011 (which was when I bought the previous iPad), and couldn’t get the two to talk to each other. On the point of buying a new wireless keyboard when I came across this article. It works! Thanks so much. Why can’t Apple support its products in this way? You’re a genius!

  5. Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
    And everything I would like to be?
    I can fly higher than an eagle,
    For you are the wind beneath my wings.

  6. Wow! Every post says it worked. Well, it DIDN’T work for me. Using a 2011 model wireless keyboard and a MiBox 3 Android TV with Bluetooth. Followed instructions exactly, entered 6 digit code and got the “connecting…”,then a few seconds later it says “couldn’t pair”. Not sure if it’s because it’s Android and not an Apple device, but it’s standard Bluetooth and haven’t had a problem with any other Bluetooth devices connecting, although, non of them are Apple.

  7. Thank you so much! Bought a secondhand Mac that came without a keyboard and could not get my wireless keyboard to connect. I was going out of mind with my old board whose space bar was stuck. Thank you so much!

  8. No luck pairing my 2011 keyboard with 2020 iPad. The iPad recognizes the keyboard and generated pairing code. However the connection doesn’t get finalized. Any ideas?

    • I actually managed to pair using above technique. I did two other things that may or may not have made the difference. I took batteries out to check for voltage which was normal and shut off Wi-Fi on the iPad. Tried to pair Bluetooth again and this time it worked.

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