How to use a mouse with your iPad or iPhone

Apple greatly improved the experience of using a Bluetooth mouse with iPadOS and iOS 13.4—less so with a wired one. We've updated our guide with the changes.

mouse with ipad pro
Leif Johnson/IDG

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With iPadOS 13.4, hooking up a mouse to your iPad is a lot simpler than it was when iPadOS 13 first dropped, and the overall experience has improved, as well. And at long last, you can finally hook up Apple’s own Magic Mouse 2 without diving deep into the Settings app or worrying about support dropping after iPadOS updates. Below, we’ll show you how to hook everything up. 

How to set up a Bluetooth mouse on an iPad or iPhone

The easiest way to use a mouse with your iPad is to set it up with Bluetooth. Any old Bluetooth mouse should work. Before iPadOS 13.4, you had to dig in the Accessibility menu in order to pair some specific Bluetooth mice, but now you can do it straight through the regular Bluetooth interface.

Note: Unfortunately, if you want to use a Bluetooth mouse with your iPhone, you'll be better off using a third-party device. The Magic Mouse 2 doesn't appear to work at all. I could get the Magic Mouse 1 to pair, but only if I followed the pre-iOS 13.4 steps outlined below in the section "How to set up a wired mouse on an iPhone" (after pairing the mouse through Bluetooth). You'll also need a PIN to pair a Magic Mouse with your iPhone, which is 0000.

But back to business.

First, make sure the Bluetooth mouse you want to use is unpaired with any Mac or PC. On the Mac, you can do this by going to the Settings app on your Mac, pressing Bluetooth, and then right-clicking on your mouse in the list you see. Click Remove and the mouse will unpair.

When you’re ready to pair the device with your iPad, make sure you have Bluetooth turned on, and then set your mouse to pairing mode. 

  1. Go to the Settings app

  2. Press Bluetooth.

  3. Make sure Bluetooth is toggled on at the top. (The toggle will be green.)

  4. Put your mouse into pairing mode. If your Magic Mouse 2 is unpaired, you should simply have to turn it off and on again for it to show up.

  5. You should see your device appear under a header in the Bluetooth interface called Other Devices.

  6. Press the name of your device.

  7. You might get a “Bluetooth Pairing Request.” If you do, press Pair.

Your mouse should immediately start working. You’ll know it’s working if you can see the new circular pointer moving around the screen.

You can customize your mouse experience by going to Settings > General > Trackpad & Mouse. There you can change the tracking speed and choose whether the “Secondary Click” (i.e., “right-click”) will be on the right or the left. You can also turn off Apple’s “Natural Scrolling,” which I’ve personally never found natural.

How to set up a wired mouse on your iPad

You can also use a wired mouse with your iPad, but the setup is considerably more awkward than it is with Bluetooth. For one thing, you’re going to have a hard time hooking up anything besides a generic optical mouse to anything below the iPad Pro and you’ll likely get a message like the one below.

iphone logitech g502 ios13 Leif Johnson/IDG

For another, you’re going to need to buy the $29 USB-A to Lightning dongle before you can hook up most standard wired mice to iPhones and older and lower-end iPads. If you have a 2018 iPad Pro, you’ll need the $19 USB-A to USB-C dongle. Once you’ve attached the dongle to your mouse, you should just be able to plug it in and it will start working—at least if you’re on an iPad Pro.

If you’re on a weaker iPad, you might see the warning above unless you’re working on a weak, rinky-dink mouse like the HP N18ROU. That was the only model I had on hand that I could get to work on the latest iPad mini.

As with Bluetooth mice, you can change the tracking speed, the “Secondary Click,” and turn off Natural Scrolling by going to Settings General Trackpad & Mouse.

How to set up a wired mouse on an iPhone

You still have to use the comparatively awkward pre-iOS 13.4 method of setting up a mouse on iOS if you want to use one with your iPhone. You’ll almost certainly need a $29 USB-A to Lightning dongle for any iOS 13-compatible iPhone, and based on my tests with several different mice, only the most basic mice will work—even on a powerhouse like the iPhone 11 Pro. 

Once you’ve hooked up your dongle and plugged the mouse into your iPhone:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Scroll down to Accessibility and press it.

  3. Press the Touch section.

  4. In the next menu, you should see a menu item for AssistiveTouch at the top. It will likely read Off. Press it.

  5. You’ll then go to another menu. Turn on AssistiveTouch through the toggle at the top. It’ll turn green if it’s on.

After this, your wired mouse should start working, so long as it’s basic enough to avoid the warning we saw in the iPad section. Again, you can change the tracking speed, the “Secondary Click,” and turn off Natural Scrolling by going to Settings General Trackpad & Mouse.

Since Assistive Touch is now on, you may see a circular menu that stays on every screen, and which includes shortcuts to features like the Control Center or Siri. To hide it, you can go to Settings Accessibility Touch > AssistiveTouch and then untoggle Always Show Menu. Even if you take this step, the menu will stay visible if you disconnect the mouse. To make it vanish, you’ll have to turn off AssistiveTouch by redoing the numbered steps above.

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