Keyguard Attachment Methods

Keyguard Attachment Methods

Posted by Keyguard AT Design Team on 23rd Aug 2023

We get lots of questions about which iPad case is the best, and how to attach the keyguard to the case.  The best attachment method for each case depends on several factors, including the design of the case.  In this article, we'll describe each of the keyguard attachment methods that we can use when the case allows it.

Snap-In Attachment

By far our most popular attachment method is the snap-in attachment.  It's also the least expensive.  We add small tabs to the ends of the keyguard which slip under the edge of the case and hold the keyguard flush against the screen.  It's more difficult to insert than some other attachment methods, so it's the best when the keyguard does not have to be changed often, like for an iPad that's a dedicated speech device.

Many people like the snap-in attachment because it offers little in the way of distraction for the fidgeter who likes to pick at things.  It takes strong, dexterous fingers to pull it up from the screen, even more so with the lock-in variant described below.

Finally, the snap-in attachment doesn't obscure any part of the screen, like most of the other attachments do.

Foam Cases

To insert the snap-in attachment in an EVA foam case, you pull back the edge of the foam slightly and slip the tabs underneath.  You'll find the foam much stiffer than it seems sometimes, and it takes a little effort the first time.  But the stiffer foams have a memory, and subsequent insertions become much easier.  After the snap-in attachment has been in a foam case for awhile, it becomes a snap to remove and reinsert.

Rigid Cases

The snap-in attachment works a little differently in a rigid case, because you need to take the case apart in order to insert the keyguard.  For a case held together with screws, loosen the screws, then insert the keyguard and re-tighten the screws.  The keyguard will be secured in the case semi-permanently, making it the perfect choice for making the iPad a dedicated speech device. 

For a snap-together case like most of the rest, take apart the case, insert the keyguard, and reassemble it.  If there's an attached screen protector, you'll need to make room for the tabs that hold the keyguard in place at each end.  In most cases, the screen protector is held in with double sided tape or a light adhesive.  You can break the seal by pressing against the edge of the screen protector with your thumb.  For really tenacious screen protectors, you can cut it at the edge of the bezel with a razor knife.

Note:  Many of these built-in screen protectors are not very good.  They're too thick and require too much pressure for the iPad to recognize your touch.  In most cases, you're better off removing the built-in screen protector and adding a tempered glass protector right to the iPad's screen.

If your case claims to be waterproof, inserting the keyguard will break the waterproof seal, so don't try using your keyguard underwater.

To see if your case is suitable for the snap-in attachment, please check our page How to Identify an iPad Case.

Lock-In Attachment

The lock-in attachment uses tabs under the edge of the case, just like the snap-in attachment.  The difference is that the snap-in attachment attaches at the two ends of the keyguard.  The lock-in attachment attaches on all four sides.  The lock-in attachment doesn't work for most EVA foam cases, because the case is too stiff to stretch enough to get the keyguard inside.  It's fine for one of those really stretchy silicone cases, and it's fine for most rigid cases where you have to take the case apart, anyway, in order to insert the keyguard.

Rigid cases that have a removable front clip holding in the iPad are great for the lock-in attachment.  The keyguard fits under that removable frame and comes on and off with the frame.  Such cases (depending on the iPad model) would include the Griffin Survivor and its copy-cat cases from brands like SEYMAC, TimeCity, HERIZE, CLARKCAS, etc.

Rigid cases that are screwed together or that have a frame that has to be removed to change the iPad are great for the lock-in attachment, too, because it makes it really hard for even a determined user to remove the keyguard.  However, it's a little bit of pain to remove and replace the keyguard yourself, too.

To see if your case is suitable for the lock-in attachment, please check our page How to Identify an iPad Case.

Velcro Attachment

The Velcro attachment is our most popular attachment when the keyguard needs to be change alot, like when more than one app is used on the iPad.  There are 3 variants to the Velcro attachment, depending on the material and how much room the case gives us for mounting the Velcro.

  1. The standard Velcro attachment is placed under the keyguard and on top of the case.  This means the case must give us a suitable area to place the Velcro.  It also means that the keyguard is held off the screen by the thickness of the case and the two pieces of Velcro, resulting in very deep holes.  That might be fine on a small grid like a 2 x 2 or a 3 x 5, but with larger grids like a 6 x 10 or a LAMP WFL, it's going to require a very deliberate touch by the user in order to reach into those deep holes.
  2. If the case leaves us no room for attachment but gives us extra area around the visible screen, sometimes we can attach the Velcro directly to the screen protector.  This keeps the keyguard much closer to the screen, but then you have those fuzzy Velcro dots permanently attached to your screen protector.
  3. For polycarbonate keyguards, we make a 2-piece keyguard/frame that lowers the keyguard about 1/16" from the standard keyguard in variant #1 above.  It's still held off the screen by the thickness of the case and the Velcro, just 1/16" less.

So, the Velcro attachment is always a compromise, and usually means that the keyguard is way off the screen.  If the case is very thick, you probably won't like the Velcro attachment. To see if your case is suitable for the Velcro attachment, please check our page How to Identify an iPad Case.

Magnetic Attachment

The magnetic attachment is similar to the Velcro attachment, but the keyguard is secured to the case with powerful magnets.  The magnets snap the keyguard into the exact same position every time it is attached.  We reverse the polarity on two of the magnets so you can't put it on upside down!  

Variants #1 and #3 above are largely the same, except that the surface of the case where the magnets attach must be perfectly flat.  In either case, the magnets and the case will hold the keyguard high off the screen (1/16" less with the polycarbonate variant #3).

Variant #2 above is not possible with the magnetic attachment, since the magnets could damage the iPad screen.

To see if your case is suitable for the magnetic attachment, please check our page How to Identify an iPad Case.

Suction Cups

Suction cups are a simple and effective way to mount keyguards to an iPad.  However, the suction cups take up room on the screen, so unless you're working with a case that has plenty of room, the suction cups will obscure some of the screen, and may even block certain openings.  For that reason, suction cups are a better choice for layouts with only a few, large cells, and not as good for layouts with many, small openings.

Suction cups hold the keyguard securely about 1/8" off the screen. They work great when you're using an iPad without a case.  You can use them on a screen protector or the iPad screen itself.

To see if your case is suitable for suction cup attachment, please check our page How to Identify an iPad Case.

Suction Tape

Suction tape attachment is similar to suction cups, except that we don't need quite as much room, and the tape doesn't hold the keyguard up off the screen.  The tape is self-adhesive to the bottom of the keygaurd, and attaches to the screen or screen protector with thousands of microscopic pores, so there's never any adhesive placed on the iPad.  It's really cool and very strong when clean.  However, it gets dirty if the keyguard is taken on and off a lot, and must be occasionally cleaned, or it loses its grip.

We don't offer suction tape as a choice on our list of attachments, because too many people ask for it when it's not appropriate.  But if your iPad has room and you know it's what you want, you can choose "drilled for suction cups" as the attachment method, and in the special instructions tell us "don't drill - using suction tape".  You'll need to provide your own tape or order it here.

To see if your case is suitable for suction tape attachment, please check our page How to Identify an iPad Case.

Elastic Straps

Elastic straps are the last-resort keyguard attachment.  They'll work with just about any case, or even without a case, but they're our least favorite attachment.  They don't prevent the keyguard from being pushed out of position, and the kids tend to play with them, snap them, and try to take them apart.  There are two basic variants:

  • Attached straps.  The default is to attach the straps with nylon screws and nuts.  This leaves the keyguard about 1/8" off the screen.
  • Flush-mounted straps.  In this case, the keyguard is threaded and nylon screws are added from above, with spacers allowing the keyguard sit close to the screen.