I just got a Zagg keyboard and it is great for typing long sections of text on the iPad. But a big drawback is that it does not have an Escape ⎋ key. All the top row keys are mapped to iPad-specific features. This is bad when using vim or remoting into a Windows machine. Does anyone know how to get the Escape ⎋ key to work? Or is there a better iPad keyboard out there that has the Escape ⎋ key?

  • Purely out of curiosity, why do you need an escape key, and what does it do on the iPad? I know the eject button raises/lowers the keyboard, and the functions keys manage brightness, media playback, etc., but I've never used Esc apparently. – Jason Salaz Jul 20 '12 at 11:49
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    The OP says that its for use when remoting into other systems, and in particular mentions VIM which uses the escape key to switch from editing to command modes. It's understandable that an iPad keyboard does not have the key as it is unlikely to be used, and why many remote access apps include it as an extra on the on screen keyboard (which will be hidden if using a hardware keyboard) – Kevin Jul 20 '12 at 15:41

10 Answers 10


Give Ctrl and [ a try that should send the same as Esc (ASCII 27).

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    @ShaneHsu works perfect for me in terminal (switching to command mode) on OSX 10.8.3 – tomaszkubacki May 13 '13 at 4:39
  • works great for me with a logitech bt keyboard on a 4th gen ipad. Thanks for the tip. – JAMESSTONEco Dec 4 '13 at 20:34
  • I have a zagg keys cover keyboard for ipad mini and this answer works great for me – dvtoever Feb 1 '14 at 11:56
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    works on Smart Keyboard cover for iPad Pro - thanks! – RCross May 17 '16 at 21:22
  • I have a Microsoft keyboard (the foldable one), and I want to use escape key in safari. Is there a way to do that? I sometimes use vim in safari, with sharelatex or leetcode. Let me know if there is a way. Ctrl + [ did not work for me. – thenakulchawla Jun 18 '18 at 15:25

Try fn and the square button (where the Esc key would be)

  • Works on Windows 7 – Oleg Oct 10 '16 at 20:53
  • Thanks so much for this. This works great with my Logitech keyboard. I have been looking for this for weeks. It works just like the esc key on the Mac; i.e. It hits the Cancel button. Thanks again! – Calion Feb 13 '17 at 23:17
  • Awesome. I have a Zagg for my iPad mini and the fn+Home (i.e, square key) did it for me. – Art Geigel Feb 16 '17 at 21:39
  • Doesnt work on OSX :( – facundofarias Mar 20 '17 at 9:42
  • This worked for me on OS X with Targus Bluetooth keyboard, thanks! – karni Dec 8 '18 at 9:49

After much research I cound not find a solution to get the key to work. My solution was to return the Zagg keybard and simply get a standard wireless keyboard from the Mac store. It feels solid and works great. A tad more bulky than the Zagg, but I love that it works with more than just the iPad.

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    How is this a solution :) – Koray Tugay Jun 7 '14 at 18:11
  • i thought your solution was going to be to re-evaluate your life and join a monk monastery in Himalayas – Sonic Soul Nov 8 '18 at 21:52

For shell-level stuff I use an app called Prompt to SSH into servers and it has ESC and other commonly used VI keyboard sequences.

I am still looking for an escape key for use with the Amazon web services console, when it randomly tosses up a "Please wait..." browser dialog box which it also says to press Esc to end it. No solution yet with either Chrome or Safari that I know of so far. I could use my Mac keyboard, but don't usually have it with me.


Fn+Home = Escape ⎋. Easiest thing ever.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    Does this relate to the Zagg keyboard used by the asker or is this a general answer? I'm not sure that Zagg keyboards for iPads even have FN/Home keys. – nohillside Jul 8 '13 at 6:59
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    My zagg keyboard does. fn + home does equate to Esc. But it's awkward - a very long reach, and requires removing 1 hand from the keyboard. This makes it not ideal for vim. I've gotten in the habit of just staying in "insert" mode, and moving the cursor letter by letter using arrow keys. Incredibly inefficient, but saves mental energy and awkwardness. Another user recommended ctrl + [, which also works, and is a little easier to type. Hopefully easier enough that I train myself to use it, and switch modes more often than I have lately. – SherylHohman Feb 13 '18 at 20:53

If you have a keyboard with the "keyboard key" the fourth from the left On the top row of keys. This functions like the escape key on other keyboards.


The Zaggkeys keyboard for the iPad mini works well with vim.

On starting the program touch the centre of the screen twice and then press i for insert mode.

To leave insert mode and enter command mode use the backslash character. This can be obtained by holding the fn key and pressing the key that has the characters ]\} and | on it.

I haven't worked out how you get a \ character into your text.

  • This works on a Logitech ultrathin mini keyboard (for iPad mini). It has a separate backslash key, which functions like Esc in Vim. (Now I just have to figure out how to type a backslash.) – Mars May 17 '15 at 20:57

Take 3 fingers and swipe down on your i-pad screen. That brings up a menu bar at the bottom of the screen that has an escape button on it. Touch the escape button on your screen.

  • You must have one of those Samsung i-pads? I am not seeing anything like this. – beroe Oct 20 '13 at 6:32

Ctrl-[ (Ctrl + left bracket) is identical to Esc. Am using the Zagg with a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and really love it.

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    Welcome to Ask Different! This is a site focussed on Apple products, see the faq. – nohillside Mar 4 '13 at 7:05
  • As a user of both iPad and Galaxy Tab I can confirm that this answer relates equally to both (mostly because the feature is from the common software). So the comment and downvotes seem needless knee-jerking – sehe May 18 at 22:04

I don't know if the Zagg keyboard has a Control, but my iPad keyboard has one, and if I do Control-C, it forces Vim to quit (at least on my VPS).

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