Jeff Perry

The Globe Key and iPadOS 15

Jason Snell from Six Colors recently wrote about the new universal keyboard shortcuts on iPadOS 15.

Down in the bottom left corner of Apple’s keyboards is a new key labeled with the picture of a globe. Initially intended for supporting multiple languages, in iPadOS 15 the Globe key has become something much bigger: it’s a symbol for global keyboard shortcuts.

If you hold down the Globe key on iPadOS 15 you will see the following pop up.

As you can see, there are a number of keyboard shortcuts on iPadOS 15 using this Globe key. Some of the more notable ones are things like Show App Library, Quick Note, Siri, Notification Center, and Control Center. These weren’t available via keyboard shortcut on iPadOS until now.

There are also some new multitasking keyboard shortcuts as well. Now, you can use the keyboard to initiate, select, and organize your multitasking. On top of that, you can also switch between apps as well with the Globe key and the arrow keys. So, instead of the 4 finger swipe to get to the previous or next app on your iPad you can leave your hands on the keyboard and use that to get to where you want to.

These additional universal keyboard shortcuts don’t interfere with the previous version of shortcuts on iPadOS either. In fact, all of the keyboard shortcuts that were previously in iPadOS 14 seem to still be baked in on iPadOS 15.

What if I don't have a Globe Key?

If you use a keyboard that doesn’t have the Globe Key Shortcut you can change that in Settings > General > Keyboard > Hardware Keyboard > Modifier Keys.

From there, is you can map something like the Caps Lock key and use that as the Globe key instead. Alternatively, you could make the Caps Lock key a dedicated escape key if you did have a Globe Key.

Future Additions

I am also hopeful, like Snell, that more functions will be added to the Globe key in due time.

It feels like it’s inevitable that Apple will add hardware and media controls to the Globe key. I’m writing this on Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, which is a great keyboard—but frustratingly lacks a function row. So when I want to adjust the device’s volume or brightness, pause music, or skip to the next track, I have to use Control Center [or physically use the volume button]. It would make sense for all of those controls to have key equivalents, and assigning them to the Globe means they won’t collide with keyboard shortcuts available in individual apps.

This is still a beta 1, meaning things can change before public release That said, I really want Apple to make this change for good. The added abilities to use the keyboard makes the iPad go from a touch-device that has decent keyboard support to a full-fledged computer that can be used with a keyboard or touch.