Best Apple iPad tips and tricks: A masterclass in managing your tablet

Apple’s iPad and iPad Pro models push mobile working and entertainment to the limits without having to get out your laptop, but are you making the most of your new tablet? Here we look at some of the ways you can maximise your work-flow on the go or just enjoy your iPad more around the home.

These are the best iPad tips and tricks to help you master your Apple tablet and the iPadOS software.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) review: Best in class photo 26
Apple iPad (2022)

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Apple iPad Gestures tips

How to access the App Switcher

Swipe up from the bottom of your iPad screen and keep swiping upwards to access the App Switcher. From here, you can switch between the apps you have open.

How to access the Control Centre

Swipe down from the battery icon at the top right of your iPad screen to access Control Centre. Pressing and holding icons within the Control Centre will also offer more options and settings. You can customise controls by opening Settings> Control Centre> Choose which controls you want to add or remove.

How to see your Notifications

To see your latest Notifications in iPadOS, swipe down from the top left of the screen and your Notifications will appear in the centre of your iPad’s display.

iPad tips and tricks - Search bar

How to search on iPad

Swipe down from the Home page on your iPad to access the search bar. This will also bring up Siri Suggestions.

If you have a Smart Keyboard connected to your iPad, you can press Cmd + Spacebar to bring up the search bar on iPad.

How to quickly switch between apps

If you are using the iPad Pro (2018) models or later, iPad mini (2021), the iPad Air (2020), iPad Air (2022) or iPad (10th gen), you can switch between apps by swiping up on the long white bar at the bottom of the screen just like you can on the button-less iPhone models. For other iPad models, double tap the Touch ID home button.

How to close windows and apps on iPad

To close windows on iPad: Launch the App Switcher (see above)> Swipe up on the app or window you want to close.

How to get back to the home screen

To go back to the iPad’s Home screen, swipe up from the bottom of the screen quickly if you are using an iPad Pro, iPad Air (2020), iPad Air (2022), iPad mini (2021), or iPad (10th gen) or hit the Touch ID home button for other iPads.

How to wake up your iPad

If you have an iPad Pro 2018 model or later, the iPad Air (2020), iPad Air (2022), iPad mini (2021) or iPad (10th gen), you can tap anywhere on the screen to wake your iPad. If you have another iPad, press the Touch ID home button.

How to go back on iPad

If you’re reading a document in iBooks, tapping on the left side of your iPad’s screen will take you back to the previous page. If you’re in another app, like Safari, swiping from left to right across the screen of your iPad will take you back to the previous screen.

How to change orientation on iPad

To change the orientation on iPad, simply flip the iPad horizontal for a landscape orientation, or vertical for a portrait orientation. If you want to stop your iPad’s display from rotating when you turn it, swipe down from the top right corner of the Home screen to pull up the Control Centre and then tap the icon with the circle and arrow around the lock.

iPad tips and tricks - multi-tasking

Apple iPad multitasking tips

How to multitask on iPad

It’s possible to have one floating app window (Slide Over app) running on top of your main app in iPadOS. To bring up a secondary app: Tap on the three grey dots at the top of your screen and then tap on the Slide Over or Split View option.

The current app will shift to the side and the Home screen will appear to allow you to select a second app. In Slide Over, the second app opens in full screen and the original app moves to a smaller window that you can move to the right or left-hand side of your screen. In Split View, the second app appears side by side with the current app.

If you’re running iPadOS 15 or later, you can open the App Switcher and just drag one app over another app to launch Split View.

How to move the Slide Over app, or secondary app

To move the secondary Slide Over app to the other side of the screen: Drag from the top of the window. You can move it to the left or right side of the screen.

How to split screen on iPad

With your Slide Over app, or secondary app, floating on top of the main app on your iPad’s screen, drag the top of that pop-up window upwards or downwards. The app will fill part of the screen, alongside your primary app to split the iPad screen in two and allow you to use both apps at the same time.

Alternatively, if running iPadOS 15 or later, launch the App Switcher and drag one app over the other. If you’re already in an app, tap on the three dots at the top of the display and choose another app.

How to adjust the split point between two apps when multitasking on iPad

By default, the Slide Over app or secondary app takes up 50 per cent of your iPad’s screen when you launch the split screen mode. If you want to make the secondary app the primary or larger app or make it smaller, move the dark split line left or right and the screens will change size accordingly.

How to get rid of split screen on iPad

To exit split screen, or get rid of the Slide Over app: Tap on the three dots at the top of the app you want to close and press on the Close option.

How to drag and drop files/photos into emails or messages

Make sure you have the Photos app or files app running alongside Mail or Messages. You can then drag and drop files and images into emails or messages. Find the image/file you want and drag it across to the Message or email you’re composing.

How to copy text/URLs to Notes

Have Safari running alongside Notes in the Split Screen view. You can then drag chunks of text or a URL from Safari into Notes. Tap on the text you want to copy, then long press it, and drag it across to Notes. You’ll need to have both apps open on the same screen for it to work.

iPad tips and tricks - Stage Manager

Stage Manager tips and tricks

Stage Manager is available for some iPads – iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation and later), iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation and later) and iPad Air (5th generation).

Stage Manager allows you to resize windows to look the way you want, see multiple overlapping windows in a single view, tap to switch between apps and more. You can read all about Stage Manager in our separate feature but a few key tips are below.

How to group apps on Stage Manager

To group apps using Stage Manager: Open the first app you want to use. You can then drag and drop a second, third and fourth app from the Recent Apps section or the Dock. Apps will then be grouped and overlap each other.

How to ungroup apps on Stage Manager

In order to ungroup an app using Stage Manager, tap on the app you want to ungroup. You’ll then need to tap on the three grey dots at the top of the app’s window and tap on Minimize.

How to resize apps on Stage Manager

There’s a small black semi-circle in the bottom right corner of apps when opened in Stage Manager. Tapping and holding on this icon will allow you to resize the app.

How to turn off Stage Manager on iPad

To turn Stage Manager off: Swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen to open Control Centre> Tap the Stage Manager button which is a rectangle with three small squares on the left.

iPad tips and tricks - App Library

Apple iPad general tips

How to set a Focus

There’s a feature called Focus within iPadOS 15 and later that allows you to automatically filter notifications based on what you are doing. You can select from one of the standard Focus options – Do Not Disturb, Personal, Work, Sleep – or you can create a custom Focus.

Swipe down from the top right of your iPad to launch Control Centre> Tap on Focus> Choose a preset Focus or select New Focus. Tapping on the three dots next to a Focus allows you to customise it.

How to access apps quickly

If you’re running iPadOS 15 or later, the Dock will have an App Library where all your apps are easily accessible and pre-sorted for you. Tap on the icon with the four Apps in it to launch the App Library. At the top of the App Library, you can search for any app.

How to add widgets to your home screen

You can add widgets to your home screen on your iPad. To add widgets to your Home screen: Touch and hold the Home screen> Tap “+” in the top left corner to add more widgets> Done.

Add a Smart Stack to your Home Screen

Smart Stack shows you relevant information throughout the day, such as weather, your next calendar event or photos from your library. To add a Smart Stack to your Home screen: Touch and hold the Home Screen> Tap on “+”> Tap on Smart Stack> Add Widget> Done.

How to turn Dark Mode on or off

Any iPads that support iPadOS offer Dark Mode. To turn Dark Mode on or off: Open Settings> Display & Brightness> Tick or Untick Dark. If you tap on Options below, you’ll be able to set up a schedule.

How to find out what iPad you have

If you want to know what kind of iPad you have or find out the generation: Open Settings> General> About. From here, you’ll be be able to see what software version you are running, as well as what the model name of your iPad is and what model number. The Serial Number is also found here.

How to edit Today View for timely information quickly

Swipe left to right from the Home screen to see Today View. Scroll down to the bottom of Today View and press “Edit”. From here, you can add and remove widgets, as well as change the pinned favourites at the top and reorder how you want widgets to appear.

How to find your iPad if it’s lost

If you have lost your iPad and you have another Apple device: Open the Find My app (green circle with a blue dot on a white background)> Tap on Devices at the bottom> Tap on your iPad from the list> You can then choose a number of options, including playing a sound if you think you have lost your iPad nearby, or getting directions to its last known location.

How to use your iPad as a second display with Sidecar

With iPadOS and macOS Catalina or later, it’s possible to use an iPad as a secondary display to your Mac. You’ll need to be signed into both your iPad and Mac with the same Apple ID. Read our separate feature on how Sidecar works and how to launch it.

How to connect an external drive to your iPad

To work on files from an external drive on your iPad: Connect the external drive to your iPad using an adapter> Open Files> Tap on the external drive in the side bar. You can then just pull the drive out when you’re finished.

How to add apps to Dock

Add apps to the iPad Dock simply by long-pressing an app icon and dragging it into position in the Dock. The Dock can hold up to 13 apps or folders and a further two “most recent” apps. If you only have 11 apps in your Dock, you can have a further three “most recent” apps.

How to remove recent apps from Dock

By default, there’s a small section of the iPad’s Dock reserved for recently used apps. It’s on the right of the Dock and separated from other docked apps by a fine vertical dividing line. If you don’t want recent apps to appear at all: Open Settings> Home Screen & Multi-tasking> Toggle off the Show Suggested and Recent Apps in Dock.

iPad tips and tricks - Today tab

How to use the QuickType keyboard

The iPad keyboard makes it easy to get to the symbols and numbers you use frequently. Swipe down quickly on the corresponding key to get to your primary punctuation symbols and numbers. Secondary options are still accessible by tapping the symbols key.

How to resize and move the iPad on screen keyboard

In iPadOS, you can pinch to shrink the keyboard and move it wherever you like on your iPad’s display. This not only allows for one-handed typing, but you can also see more of what is on your iPad’s display without the keyboard getting in the way.

How to copy and paste on an iPad

To copy and paste on an iPad running iPadOS, select an image or text and pinch with three fingers to copy. To paste, pinch open with three fingers.

How to scan documents

Open up the Notes app> Tap on the camera icon in the top right> Choose “Scan Documents” and snap a picture of a document. You can choose to have it detect the document automatically, or do it manually. Once the picture is taken, the iPad can then automatically realign it to make it a flat, editable document.

How to take a screenshot on iPad or iPad Pro

To take a screenshot on the iPad with Home button, press and quickly release the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button. You can then tap on the thumbnail to mark up the screenshot or share it. All screenshots will appear in the Photos app.

For those with an iPad Pro (2018) or later, the iPad Air (2020), iPad Air (2022), iPad mini (2021) or iPad (10th generation), press and quickly release the volume up button and the Sleep/Wake button.

If you want to print screen, tap on the screenshot and then the rectangle with the arrow, followed by Print. You will need to be connected to a printer in order for this to work.

How to access all your photos

If you turn on iCloud Photos, any photos you take or edit on your iPad or another Apple device, will be accessible across all your devices. Open Settings> Tap on your name at the top> iCloud> Photos> Toggle on iCloud Photos.

How to organise apps with folders

You can create folders to help you organise your apps. To create a new folder, touch and hold an app> Wait for them to jiggle> Drag one app on top of another and a folder will be created. You can then rename the folder by tapping on the header at the top of the folder.

If you have several family members all using Apple devices, it’s worth setting up Family Sharing so you can share iCloud storage and apps across devices. You can read all about Family Sharing in our separate feature, but to get started, open Settings> Tap on your name> Set Up Family Sharing.

How to use a mouse with an iPad

You’ll need a Bluetooth mouse if you want to connect it to your iPad. Open Settings> Tap on Bluetooth> Make sure your mouse’s Bluetooth is turned on> Select the mouse from the Other Devices section> Follow the pairing instructions.

How to keep an iPad screen on

By default, your iPad will likely auto-lock after two minutes, meaning the screen will go dark if you haven’t used it for those two minutes. To keep an iPad screen on for longer: Open Settings> Display & Brightness> Auto-Lock> Choose between 2 Minutes, 5 Minutes, 10 Minutes, 15 Minutes and Never.

How to setup Face ID for more than one person on iPad Pro (2018) or later

The iPad Pro (2018) models and newer iPad Pros feature Face ID meaning like the latest iPhones, you can unlock them with your face. Face ID allows up to two faces to be stored to unlock the device without a passcode. Go to Settings> Face ID & Passcode> Type in your passcode> Set Up an Alternative Appearance.

How to add another fingerprint on Touch ID iPads

If you have a Touch ID iPad model, you can add up to five fingerprints so either different fingers or different people can use Touch ID to unlock your iPad without having to enter the passcode.

Open Settings> Touch ID & Passcode> Type in your passcode (if requested)> Add a Fingerprint.

How to use Memoji and Animoji in iMessage

Go to Messages> Compose a message to a friend> Tap on the Memoji icon> Tap a sticker> Drag it into the conversation.

How to reply to a specific message

To reply directly to an earlier message in iMessage: Open Messages> Open the chat> Double-tap the message bubble> Tap reply.

How to use Memoji and Animoji in FaceTime

For iPad Pro (2018) models and newer, you can use Memoji and Animoji in a FaceTime call. Make the FaceTime call to the person you want to talk to first and then when you’re in the call press the star icon to reveal the Animoji and Memoji characters. You can then carry on the conversation or change characters at the press of a button.

How to set the time on iPad

Your iPad should automatically display the correct time but if you want to change the time or set the clock on your iPad to a 12-hour or 24-hour clock, or change the time zone: Open Settings> General> Date & Time.

From here, if you turn off the Set Automatically toggle, you can change the time. You can also toggle 24-hour Time on or off, choose the Time Zone and choose whether you want the date to show in the status bar on the Home screen.

How to clear your search history on iPad

Open Settings> Scroll down to Safari> Scroll down to Clear History and Website Data> Clear.

How to set homepage on iPad

If you want to change the homepage on Safari – set it to Google for example – then you’ll need to open Safari on your iPad> Go to the page you want to set as your homepage> Tap the rectangle with the arrow in the top right of your screen> Add to Homescreen> Rename the page if you want to> Tap Add in the top right.

How to change what you can access when an iPad is locked

Open Settings> Touch ID & Passcode / Face ID & Passcode> Scroll down to “Allow Access When Locked” section. Toggle on or off what you want to be able to access when your iPad is locked.

iPad tips amd tricks - battery

Apple iPad Battery tips and tricks

How to tell if your iPad is charging

If your iPad is charging, there will be a lightning bolt symbol next to the battery icon in the top right of your iPad’s display. If your iPad is locked, a large battery icon will appear in the middle of the iPad’s Lock screen.

How to make your iPad charge faster

To charge your iPad faster, you could try placing your iPad into Airplane mode. To do this, swipe down from the top right corner of the iPad’s Home screen and tap the Airplane.

The best way to top up your iPad’s battery faster however, is to buy Apple’s 30W USB-C charger and a USB-C to Lightning cable or a USB-C to USB-C cable, depending on the iPad model you have. If you have a MacBook, you might only need to buy the cable as newer MacBook’s come with a fast charger in the box.

How to see your iPad’s battery usage

Open Settings> Battery. From here, you’ll be able to see the last 10 days of use, or the last 24-hours, depending on the tab you select. Below each tab will be a graph and a list of apps showing battery usage by app.

How to turn battery percentage on or off in the status bar

Open Settings> Battery> Toggle Battery Percentage on or off.

Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)

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Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)

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Apple Pencil tips

How to connect Apple Pencil to iPad

To connect Apple Pencil to iPad, plug it into the Lightning port at the bottom of your iPad if you have the first generation model. You’ll then need to confirm pairing and your iPad and the App Pencil will be connected and ready to use. If you have the second generation model, simply attach it to your iPad via the magnetic strip.

How to access Notes from Lock Screen with Apple Pencil

If you have an Apple Pencil and an iPad that supports it: Wake the screen> double tap on the Lock Screen with the tip of the Apple Pencil and you’ll be able to open Notes and start creating a new note. This works even if the screen is locked.

To make sure this feature is turned on: Open Settings> Notes> Set what you want the “Access Notes from Lock Screen” feature to do. You can have it always create a new note or resume the last note created on the Lock Screen.

How to take a Quick Note

If your iPad is running iPadOS 15 or later, then you can swipe from the bottom corner with your finger or the Apple Pencil to take a Quick Note. This might be a quick shopping list, or writing down a phone number for example.

How to draw perfect shapes with Apple Pencil

For iPads running iOS 14 or later, if you draw shapes with the Apple Pencil and pause at the end of the drawing, the perfect shape will snap into place.

Draw a star, heart, circle, square or another shape and then hold the Pencil at the end of the shape until the perfect shape snaps into place.

How to write a handwritten note

In the Notes app, use your Apple Pencil to start writing a handwritten note. You can switch between handwritten and typed notes within the same note.

How to copy handwritten text

If you’ve handwritten a note and you want to copy the text into another app, like Mail or Safari, it’s easy. Simply double tap on a handwritten word and drag the points to cover everything you want to copy. Once everything is selected, tap once to get the option bar and press “Copy as text”.

Open the app or place you want to paste the text and tap once again and then “Paste” from the options.

How to search handwritten notes

You’ll find the Search field in the side menu of Notes at the top of your notes. You can use it to search handwritten notes as well as the typed ones. If your handwriting is clear enough, Notes understands what you’re writing.

How to markup images/PDFs

With your Apple Pencil, you can quickly sign documents, annotate PDFs or web pages just by placing the Apple Pencil tip on the screen.

How to change the Apple Pencil double-tap shortcut

If you are using the Apple Pencil (2nd gen) with the iPad Pro (2018) models or newer, you can change what the double tap feature does.

Go to Settings> Apple Pencil. Here you can opt to have it switch between the current tool and the eraser, the current tool and last used, or show colour palette. You can also opt to turn the feature off completely. This feature isn’t available on the first generation Apple Pencil.

iPad tips amd tricks - keyboard

Apple iPad Smart Keyboard tips

With an Apple iPad Smart Keyboard, you can press and hold the “cmd” key to reveal all of your available keyboard shortcuts. In most instances, these match the ones you might be used to using on a Mac if you have one.

Keyboard shortcuts

Cmd + N: Opens a new window, which is handy for split-view in Safari.

Cmd + H: Takes you to the home screen.

Cmd + Space Bar: Takes you straight to search.

Cmd + Tab: Lets you scrolls though open apps.

Hold Cmd: Reveals in app shortcuts.

Cmd + Shift + 3: Takes a screenshot of the whole screen.

Cmd + Shift + 4: Takes a screenshot and then automatically opens it in mark up mode.

How to Unlock your iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard

If you’re using an iPad Pro (2018) model or later with Face ID you can simply tap on the spacebar and the iPad opens. Just make sure you’re looking at the Face ID camera when you do.