How to Use Drag and Drop on Your iPad in iOS 11

With the release of Apple’s iOS 11 in September, you can now drag and drop content directly from one app to another on your iPad.

By tapping into your tablet’s multitasking features, you can see and work with two or more apps on the screen at the same time. When working in Slide Over or Split View mode, you can then drag highlighted text, images, and even files from one app to another.

The downside is that drag and drop works only with the iPad Air 2, iPad Pro, and iPad mini 4 or later models. If you have one of those iPads, read on. If you own an older iPad, it might be time for an upgrade.

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  • 1iOS 11

    First, make sure you’ve installed iOS 11. You can check your version of iOS via Settings > General > About. Scroll down the About screen to the entry for Version. If you see 11.x listed, you’re good to go. If not, tap on the Back arrow to return to the General screen and tap on the entry for Software Update to download and install the latest version of iOS.

  • 2Gesture

    Next, confirm that Gesture is enabled on your iPad. In the Settings window, go to the General screen. Tap on the entry for Multitasking & Dock. Turn on the Gestures option if it’s not already enabled.

  • 3Notes

    Return to the Home screen. Launch an app with text that you want to copy to another app. Let’s launch Notes. Create a new note with text that you want to copy into an email. Next open the email app. If the email app resides in the Dock at the bottom of the screen, this process is relatively easy. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen just enough to display the Dock. Hold down the icon for email

  • 4Drag From Dock

    Move the email icon to the right side of the Notes screen until it turns into a small vertical window. Release your hold on the Notes app and it should slide into place as a floating window on the right. That places the new app in Slide Over mode.

  • 5Drag From Home Screen

    If the email app or another app that you wish to use in Slide Over or Split View mode isn’t in the Dock, you’ll need to snag it from the home screen. To do this, tap on the Home button. Drag the email app to an empty area of the screen. At the same time, tap on the Notes app. Notes opens full screen, while the email app resides in the floating window.

  • 6Split View

    You can use drag and drop with the apps in Slide Over mode. But we’ll arrange them into Split View mode so you can resize the two app windows. Press the top banner of the email app window and drag the window down. The Notes window should then shrink in size, allowing the email window to slide into place so that both apps share the screen in a split view.

    You can change the width of the two windows. Hold down the small vertical gray bar in the center of the border between the two windows. Move the border to the left, and the screen for Notes shrinks.

    Release your hold when the two windows are the same size. You can also play with the border until the app windows are sized the way you like.

  • 7Drag and Drop Text

    Start a new message in the email app. Now select the text in your note that you want to drag and drop to your new email. Hold down on the selected text for a second and then move your finger to the spot in your email where you want to drop the text. You should see the text displayed in a balloon with a green button in the upper right. Release your finger to drop the selected text. And then finish and send off your email.

  • 8Drag and Drop Links, Images

    You can also drag and drop hyperlinks and images. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display the Dock. Drag the icon for Safari to the left of the screen and then release it. You should see Safari on the left and your email app on the right.

    Start a new email. In Safari, surf to the webpage where you want to copy a link and image into your email message. Tap the URL in the address field for the webpage to select it. Hold your finger on the URL for a second and then drag it into your email. Again, you should see the link displayed in a balloon with the green button. Release your finger to drop the selected link.

  • 9Drag and Drop an Image

    Now let’s drag and drop an image. Find an image on the webpage or browse to a different page with an image. Hold down the image for a second and then drag it into your email. Release your finger to drop the image. Finish and send the email.

  • 10Drag Your Own Image

    Let’s try dragging and dropping an image but using one of your own. Maybe you have a photo you want to send to someone. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to display the Dock. Hold down the icon for the Photos app and drag it to the left side of the screen so it’s in Split View mode with your email app. (If the Photos app isn’t on the Dock, then follow the steps above to launch it from the Home screen along with your email app, or you can just move the Photos app to the Dock.) Make sure your photos are visible in thumbnail view. Start a new email. Hold down the thumbnail for one of your photos and drag it to the email. Release your hold to drop the photo. You should now see it in your email.

  • 11Drag and Drop Several Photos

    Let’s do this again, but we’ll drag and drop several photos in one shot. Hold down one photo in your Photos app and move it slightly to start dragging it. Now tap on each of the other photos you want to drag and they’re each added one by one.

    Drag the photos to your email message. Release your hold and you should see each photo in your email one after the other. Finish and send the email.

  • 12Drag and Drop Files

    One more drag-and-drop option: entire files. To do this, open the new Files app introduced with iOS 11. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to set up the app with access to one or more online services that store your files, such as iCloud Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Box. Let’s use Dropbox for this example.

    Swipe from the bottom to display the Dock. Press down on the Files icon and drag it to the left side so it shares the screen with your email app. In the Files app, open Dropbox to display your stored files. In the email app, start a new email.Drag and drop one of the files from the Files app to your email.

    Start to drag another file from the Files app and then tap on a few more files to add them to the mix. Drop them in your email message, and you should see all the files you dragged as attachments. Finish your email and send it, and you’re done.

  • 13iOS 11 Tips

    For more, check out 28 Hidden iOS 11 Tips You Need to Know.