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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: A keyboard shortcut to bring up the emoji keyboard on iOS

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

My good friend Casey Liss was casting about for an answer to the question that has perplexed many an iPad user: if they use a Bluetooth keyboard–such as Apple’s Magic Keyboard or my favorite, the Logitech K811–how can they still access Apple’s emoji picker from said keyboard, without resorting to tapping the screen? Apple’s own Smart Keyboards have a dedicated key for switching the onscreen keyboards, but others, not so much.

Good news! There is a way. On any Bluetooth keyboard, just hit Control-Spacebar to bring up an onscreen keyboard switcher. (Make sure the cursor is in a text field; it doesn’t seem to work otherwise.) You can then either hit Control-Spacebar to switch between various keyboards, or use the Up and Down arrows on the keyboard.

iOS Keyboard Switcher

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to navigate the emoji picker via an external keyboard, so you’ll still need to use the touchscreen for that part. It would be nice to see that functionality added along with, say, a search box or something. Maybe in iOS 10.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]

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