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How to Type the Escape Key on iPad Keyboard


Have you ever noticed that dedicated iPad keyboards do not have an Escape key? If so, you might be wondering how to type the Escape key on an iPad keyboard. iPads using an external keyboard, whether it’s an external Bluetooth keyboard, a Smart Keyboard, a brand like Brydge, Zagg, Logitech, or any other dedicated iPad keyboard, will often find there is no Escape ESC key at all. Sometimes there’s either nothing at all, like on iPad Pro Smart Keyboards, or on some iPad keyboards you might find a square button that when pressed will take you to the iPad Home Screen.

So, how do you type the Escape key on an iPad, iPad Air, or iPad Pro keyboard then? Despite often not having an ESC key, you can type it on most iPad keyboards, and we’ll show you several different ways that you can type Escape on iPad using a variety of options.

4 ESC Escape Key Options for iPad Keyboards

Depending on what keyboard is in use with the iPad Pro, iPad, iPad mini, or iPad Air, you have several different options for typing the Escape key. Some of these keyboard shortcut options may work in some apps but not others, and some may work with some keyboards but not others, so try each option out on your own.

Control + [ as ESC

Pressing Control and [ will achieve the ESC escape key function on many keyboard and with many apps on iPad, including with the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, assuming the app(s) in question supports it.

Control (CTRL) and [ (Open Bracket) is not quite as easy to remember as simply pressing a hardware ESC key, but in many cases it will mimic the escape key and is therefore worth remembering, particularly if you’re using a terminal application like iSH linux shell, Prompt, vim, ssh, or anything similar.

FN + Square as ESC

If the iPad keyboard has a square shaped Home button in the upper left corner, you can use that with the FN key combined as a keyboard shortcut to function as an ESC key.

Pressing the fn function key and Home (square) button together will mimic pressing the Escape key button on most third party iPad keyboards that have the square / home button on the keyboard.

The Square / Home button is on many third party iPad keyboards, including the OMOTON Ultra-slim iPad keyboard shown here.

Using a Mac or PC Keyboard with iPad? Press ESC!

This is probably obvious, but if the keyboard you’re using with the iPad is a Mac keyboard, like the wonderful Apple Magic Keyboard, or many PC keyboards, then the hardware ESC escape key does exist in the usual spot at the upper left corner of the keyboard.

In that case, just press the ESC key to type the escape key on the Mac or PC keyboard that is connected to iPad.

Pressing a physical ESC key applies with basically any external Bluetooth keyboard that has been connected to iPad, whether a Mac keyboard and almost all generic Bluetooth keyboards for PC as well, as virtually every keyboard includes a hardware ESC escape button (unless of course it’s a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar with virtual escape key which hides and shows depending on what’s going on with the active app, but you probably wouldn’t be using that with iPad anyway so this is unlikely to apply).

Other ESC key options for iPad

Sometimes, but not always, Command + . can mimic the ESC key on apps that requires the escape key and with an external iPad keyboard. Command + Period often serves as a Cancel / ESC type of function on the Mac too, for what it’s worth.

Some third party apps have devised their own unique ESC escape key solutions for iPad as well. For example, Termius for iPad can use CONTROL ` to mimic the Escape key. Prompt and some other third party iPad apps with SSH and command line capabilities will have touch screen controls to mimic the ESC escape key too. The alternative ESC key options for third party apps depend on those individual apps, and are not always the same. The virtual onscreen iPad keyboard does not include ESC by default, unless a third party app added one in an additional function row.

Hardware ESC escape keys are wonderfully convenient things and used frequently by many computing users for many purposes, ranging from at the command line, to VIM, initiating force quit, to cancel, to many Office applications like Excel and Word, many video and photo editing apps, to myriad other functions on Mac, Windows, PC, iPad, and ChromeBook OS too, so perhaps future iPad keyboards will be graced with an ESC key (and maybe even future MacBook Pro models again too), or perhaps we’ll all be adapting to an ESC-less Apple world. Regardless, remembering the key combinations above to type the escape key on an iPad keyboard can be helpful.

This obviously focuses on iPad and the iPad keyboards without dedicated escape keys, but since some MacBook Pro Touch Bar models also don’t have ESC keys some Mac users may also have the same general question about using Escape on a Touch Bar, or, an alternative that is available specifically for Mac users is remapping Caps Lock to be the Escape key on a Mac, an option that is not available for iOS or iPad.

Do you know of another way to type the ESC or Escape key on an iPad or iPad keyboard? Do you have a particular ESC key trick for iPad that works best for your workflow? Share it with us in the comments below!