Advice Apple life hack

How To Use A Bluetooth Keyboard With Two Devices

This issue came up for me when I purchased an Apple Bluetooth keyboard. The reason I splurged on the $70 device was because I needed a keyboard for my aging Macbook (the spacebar had become unstable), and I wanted a keyboard for my iPad.

When I got the keyboard home, that’s when things went a little weird. The keyboard paired with the iPad without a problem. But then when I went to do the same with the laptop, it wouldn’t show up. Not a signal. I tried putting the iPad on the other side of the house. That still didn’t work. Clearly the iPad and the keyboard were still communicating, preventing the keyboard from pairing with the laptop.

The reality is that the fix is so simple. But when you Google “How to use a bluetooth keyboard with two devices” you’ll see a lot of crappy results. Even the “font of all knowledge” is only as good as its source.

So for you thrifty ones out there trying to get more for less…here is all you need to do to get 1 BT keyboard to work with 2 devices:

First of all you CANNOT have one bluetooth keyboard controlling two devices SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Think about it…

You don’t need to control your computer at the same time you’re controlling your iPad. Do you? Do you really need to have the characters you’re typing on one keyboard show up on both devices simultaneously? Who are you, Keith Emerson? So just get that notion out of your head. What you DO need is the ability to choose which device you want to interact with, and have the keyboard work with that device, without jumping through a bunch of hoops.

So what to do?

First of all, the key to this whole puzzle has to do with turning your Bluetooth on the target device on and off. If you want to use the Bluetooth keyboard on your computer, make sure the bluetooth radio is turned off on your iPad. and vice versa. I don’t just mean you’ve disconnected the Bluetooth device from your target machine. I mean you have to shut the radio down completely. This is easily done:

How to turn Bluetooth “OFF” on the iPad.

Settings—->General—-> tap Bluetooth, slide to OFF.

How to turn Bluetooth “OFF” on the Mac.

On the Menu Bar click the Bluetooth icon—>Turn Bluetooth Off

So now as long as you stick to the rules, the keyboard should play nice with both of your devices. Ahh, sweet harmony…Still…You Turn Me On.


  • John

    Hi Sorry not Keith Emmerson here but I am writing a novel and would like my keyboard to produce the same document on the PC in Word that it does in Pages on the iPad – OK so I’m weird. Can it be done – that is all I ask – have had the same problems with getting an answer as you have. Can get it to talk to either the iPad or PC but not both.

    • scotteallen

      Hi John, I’m not really following your question. You can use your bt keyboard on either your Mac or the iPad (one at a time) but not simultaneously. I can’t speak for Windows PCs. Btw, on the iPad, the app Index Cards is excellent for organizing your thoughts.

  • Jordan

    If you have a Bluetooth mouse paired with your desktop, have fun turning Bluetooth back on…

    • scotteallen

      That… is very true.

  • Julian

    i would like to find out for using the keyboard on a pc and a android i know they work together but not simultaneously, i would like to know if they could though example
    say you typing on your pc and you get a txt message that needs a rather long response say click the desktop so you wont type on anything, unlock your phone and swype to message and type from your bt keyboard, if this were possible that would be great instead of having to disconnect or connect.

    • scotteallen

      Julian, if it’s not already available, there should be an app for that. That’s for stopping by.

  • Ed Duran

    Well, I’m not Keith Emerson either but, I am trying to find a way for my typing to show up on two different tablets simultaneously. I transcribe things for deaf people. I want two different deaf people, holding two different tablets, to be able to read what I’m transcribing at the same time. They’d be using the same type of tablets and the same apps…can it be done? I find it hard to believe this hasn’t been addressed by anyone yet.

  • Lizz Aztec

    I also want my keyboard to drive two iPads. In my case it is to move two Powerpoints forward simultaneously, so it’s clearly a “thing” that people want, regardless of whether they are recently deceased rock stars.

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