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Go to Amazon (or any similar purveyor of online goods), type "Bluetooth keyboard" into the search box and by amazed at the selection of different shapes, sizes, styles and colors of keyboards available. Typical prices are $10 to $20 and the nice thing is, they will all work with your iPad.

Bluetooth is a standard that defines how different devices can talk to one another using wireless signals. It's a short range system typically used over a few feet. You have almost certainly seen people with widgets in their ear for talking wirelessly to their phones and you will probably know that these are called Bluetooth headsets. What you might not know is that Bluetooth can be used for getting other things to talk to one another, like keyboards talking to iPads.

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In Victorian times if a Lady and Gentlemen were not introduced they would stand in the same room studiously ignoring each other. Anything else would be an unthinkable breach of etiquette. iPads and Bluetooth keyboards are like that. You can put them together and they look pretty, but nothing will happen. You have to introduce them. That process is called pairing and here's how you do it:

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  1. On the iPad, click on the Settings icon.
  2. Go into the Bluetooth section.
  3. Make sure Bluetooth is switch on (the little switch in the top right shows in green).
  4. Puts some batteries into your shinny new Bluetooth keyboard and switch it on (there's a little bit of variation here. Some keyboards do not have a light, some do not have an on switch (they are always on), but you get the idea. Power up your keyboard in whatever way the instructions that came with say).
  5. Hold down the connect button on your keyboard until it flashes (again, there's some variation between different keyboards, but most have a connect button that if you hold it down long enough will cause the power button to flash. If your keyboard is different, it will tell you what to do in the instructions that came with it). What the flashing lights means is the keyboard is in paring mode. It's as ready to be mated as a spotting young male in a night club on a Saturday night. Only our keyboard has a much better change of actually succeeding in its task.
  6. The iPad will now list the keyboard in its selection of "DEVICES" on the Bluetooth. Don't be surprised if other devices are listed here, the iPad might have been paired with other things like speakers in the past. Or maybe there are other devices in a party mode within range right now. Either way, ignore those and press on the listing for the keyboard.
  7. When you press the listing for the keyboard a message will pop up telling you to type a code on your Bluetooth keyboard. Go ahead and press the number keys on the keyboard as requested and then press the "enter" key (that's the big one you press at the end of a line).
  8. The iPad will now say "Connected" against its listing for the keyboard. Cha Ching! We did it.
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Now what? Go send an email, or write a document. You will notice that the on screen keyboard does not appear. For the first half a minute this is disconcerting, because you are used to seeing in there. Then you will start to like it, because suddenly you have a lot of extra space to work in now the on screen keyboard is gone.

Now starting typing on the Bluetooth keyboard and by the magic of radio waves your text will appear on the screen.

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At this point you will realize you need a stand to prop your iPad up. If you have been using your iPad with the on-screen keyboard so chances are you will have been holding it with one hand and typing with the other. Now you have both hands on the keyboard the iPad is laying flat in front of it and it all feels wrong. You need to prop it up. Back to Amazon, search for "iPad stands", be amazed at the vast selection of options for propping it up to a better angle. Prices start at about $5.

Having a real keyboard is a fine thing indeed when you have a lot of text to type. Of course you always have the option to flip back to the onscreen keyboard when you want to go mobile, just switch off the Bluetooth unit and its back to normal.

Now you are typing on a real keyboard, have a look at the section on bigger screens.