Smart Keyboard Folio—fixing minor frustrations through software

Smart Keyboard Folio was the de facto solution before its heavier, more magical sibling existed. I haven’t upgraded to the new Magic Keyboard, so the Folio is still my daily go to for my iPad Pro. Sans trackpad, adjustable viewing angles and backlit keys, it’s a lighter but more limited solution—one that has a few minor frustrations. Most of these frustrations can be in iPadOS and that’s what we’ll look at today.

No escape and triggered emoji

The lack of a physical escape key is frustrating. There are plenty of apps that support escape for dismissing overlays, notifications, videos, etc.

There is an option however to remap certain keys in Settings. With the Folio connected, go to General / Keyboards / Hardware Keyboard / Modifier Keys. A common practice is to remap the Caps Lock key to Escape. This is a two-fold blessing—I get my Escape key back, but also I’ve found that when used as a traditional Caps Lock key, the lack of an indicator light makes it hard to tell when it has been accidentally triggered, rendering many sentences ‘SHOUTY’.

A second way to trigger Escape is to use Command + . a keyboard shortcut that goes way back on the Mac. However, I find remapping the Caps Lock key a more elegant solution.

Settings for Modifier Keys

I’ve also remapped the Globe key to ‘No Action.’ Why? Too many accidental triggers on my lap that would hurl the Emoji keyboard on screen. So what if I actually want to use an emoji? There are two solutions.

Control + Space will change the language. Because the emoji keyboard appears as a language, I use this keyboard shortcut to quickly switch between typing and picking an emoji.

Using Control + Space to trigger the Emoji keyboard

A second, more hidden solution, is to long press the arrow that appears on the right of the Keyboard Bar that appears when an external keyboard is connected. This will trigger the on-screen keyboard and from there, you can get your emojis. I don’t know who thought this was a good idea as it’s a very non-obvious solution.

Long press the arrow to trigger the on-screen keyboard

Conclusion

The ability to remap certain keys has helped make the Smart Keyboard Folio a better companion to my iPad Pro. Although the Folio lacks the bells and whistles of it’s magical sibling, it does a superb job at being a cover and keyboard.