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How to use the iPad's new keyboard on iOS 9

Your iPad's keyboard now doubles as a trackpad for quick text selection and editing tools sitting atop the keyboard at all times.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

After preparing, then updating your iPad to iOS 9, you'll quickly discover a lot of new features. New multitasking features enable a new slide-over mode, where you can peek at, and use, an app on the edge of your screen. Then there's split-view, which allows you to run two apps at the same time. You can even watch a video while using another app with the new picture-in-picture feature.

Last of the new multitasking features is a new virtual keyboard. The keyboard can quickly turn into a trackpad for quickly navigating and editing text, and constantly offers tool shortcuts just above the keys for simply editing.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When typing with the keyboard, you can convert it to a trackpad by placing two fingers on the screen anywhere inside the keyboard. The keys will turn dark gray, losing all letters and numbers. You can move the cursor by dragging both fingers across the screen, lifting your fingers when the cursor has reached its destination.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You can use the same setup to highlight large blocks of text. Instead of placing two fingers on the screen, however, you'll quickly double-tap with two fingers (leaving both on the screen on the second tap). The nearest text word or character will become highlighted, with more text becoming highlighted as you drag your fingers across.

The trackpad functionality is easy to use as long as you remember one thing: spread your fingers apart just a little bit. For the first month or so of the public beta, I kept placing my fingers right next to each other and had issues. Once I figured this little trick out, life got a whole lot easier.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

As you use the new keyboard throughout various apps, you'll notice just above the top row on either side of the QuickType suggestions are shortcut keys. The keys present will vary from app to app, but the gist is the same: these keys provide valuable shortcuts to commands such as copy, paste, undo and text formatting. Get in the habit of using then instead of long-pressing on the screen, highlighting the text, then navigating through the pop-up menu.

The same trackpad-like functionality will make its way to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, but not older models due to it requiring 3D Touch to activate.

For more iOS 9 tips, be sure to check out our complete guide to iOS 9.