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The iPad finally works with a mouse through a hidden iPadOS feature

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Image Credit: Apple (Image credit: Apple)
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The absolute biggest change to the iPad that Apple introduced via its new iPadOS received zero mention on stage at the WWDC 2019 keynote: mouse support. Eagle-eyed software developer Steve Troughton-Smith discovered the new feature buried deep within the first iPadOS beta release.

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If you’re into the iPadOS beta, then you’ll have to dig through several settings toggles to connect your mouse either wired (with a USB-A to USB-C adapter) or wirelessly (via Bluetooth). Our friends at Tom’s Guide (opens in new tab) did just that to see how it works.

First, you have to open the iPadOS ‘Settings’ app and then head to ‘Accessibility’. As you can already see, Apple doesn’t intend for this to be used widely, but for people who need physical assistance using its products.

Then, you head into ‘Touch’, followed by ‘AssistiveTouch’, which is Apple’s feature set for folks that require additional help using its product interfaces. Finally, you tap ‘Pointing Devices’ and select your connection method of choice.

According to Tom’s Guide, a thick, circular mouse cursor instantly appears “as if a phantom digit was hovering.” In photos, it looks exactly like other, touch-based accessibility iOS features readily available today.

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This is the iPad Pro working with a Bluetooth mouse. (Image Credit: Tom's Guide) (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

So, you’re saying there's a chance?

What’s important to drive home is just how deeply Apple has buried this support for mouse input for iPadOS, one of the most requested iPad features ever since Apple started positioning its tablet as a laptop killer. This is not something Apple is promoting – actually, almost the opposite is true.

Apple is hiding the feature outright. Why? Could Apple be testing wider mouse support through the guise of accessibility positioning? Is this what Apple considers the extent of mouse support on its new iPad operating system?

These questions are impossible to answer right now, but what we do know is that using a mouse on an iPad is finally possible. And, frankly, the iPad just got one helluva lot closer to throwing your laptop into question.

Joe Osborne
Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.