Best Apple iPad tips and tricks

Do you have a favorite we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

We love our iPads, and from time to time we’ll discover a new thing that makes us love them even more. From Siri’s skewed sense of humor to the smart multitasking of the most recent models, every iPad has something to excite and delight its users.

In fact, there’s so much good stuff in iOS that many of us don’t know about some of the most useful, clever or entertaining things our devices can do.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide, covering everything from simple tweaks to really clever computing.


1. Create folders

You can create a new folder by clicking on an app, holding your finger down and then dragging it over another app. Let go and the two apps will now appear in a folder. Rather brilliantly you can put folders in the Dock for fast access to your favorite apps.

2. See what’s running

Double-clicking the home button shows you everything that’s currently running. To close an app that’s misbehaving or that you no longer need, just flick it upwards to get rid of it.

3. Use Control Center

Swiping up from the very bottom of the screen brings up Control Center, which gives you easy access to key features such as mute, orientation lock, Airplane Mode and so on. When iOS 11 drops, Control Center will get a simpler design and the ability to customize what it offers.

4. Booby-trap your data

Worried about your personal data falling into the wrong hands? In Settings > Touch ID & Passcode you can get your iPad to erase everything if there are 10 consecutive failures to enter the correct passcode.

5. Use the secret trackpad

If you touch the on-screen keyboard with two fingers in an app such as Mail, it becomes a trackpad: as your fingers move so does the cursor. It’s a real boon for editing documents.


6. Control what notifications you get

It’s easy to let notifications get out of control: it seems that every app wants to notify you about everything it notices.

If it all gets a bit too much you can go into Settings > Notifications and turn off the ones you don’t want. You can also change how specific notifications are delivered and whether they should make a sound.

7. Connect to a VPN

If you have access to a virtual private network, your iPad can connect to it. Just go into Settings > General > VPN and enter the relevant details. Unlike VPN apps, which may only protect data from within those apps, this setting applies system-wide.

8. Silence Wi-Fi network prompts

Are you troubled by endless offers of Wi-Fi networks you don’t want to connect to? Go into Settings > Wi-Fi > Ask to Join Networks and toggle the switch off. That’s better.

9. Explore your battery

Settings > Battery enables you to turn off the percentage display if you don’t want it, but it also does something more useful: it shows you which apps have been using the most energy, and it offers power-saving tips too.

10. Use text shortcuts

If you tend to use the same blocks of text again and again, set them up as Text Replacement items in Settings > General > Keyboards. This enables you to create shortcuts, so for example we’ve got a semicolon followed by “sorryno” to automate polite replies to product pitches.

11. Use emoji

To use emoji, just tap on the smiley face key at the bottom left of your iPad’s on-screen keyboard; to return to normal, tap ABC. No smileys? Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Add New Keyboard and select Emoji from the list.

12. Split the keyboard


Apple’s keyboard can do some clever things, such as splitting in two so you can use it with your thumbs. To split the keyboard just drag it apart (to the left and right) with two fingers; to put it back again just drag it back together.

13. Stream via AirPlay

If you have an AirPlay compatible device - an Apple TV, an AirPlay speaker - you can stream movies and music from your iPad by tapping the AirPlay icon in Control Center. If your device isn’t AirPlay-enabled look for an app such as Tubio, which streams to all kinds of things in pristine HD.

14. Take a screenshot

This works on the iPhone too: press the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons simultaneously and you’ll hear a click. The screenshot is automatically added to your Photos library.

15. See two apps at once

Slide Over works with iPads from the iPad Air / iPad mini 2 onwards, and enables you to quickly use another app without leaving the current one. With one finger, slide from the middle right of the screen towards the middle and you should see the Slide Over panel.

Choose the app you want to use and it’ll slide over the current app until you slide it back again. To change the app that appears next time you use Slide Over, open the panel and then drag from the top downwards to see the available apps.

16. Use gestures for multitasking

You can quickly access the home screen by pinching with four or five fingers, bring up the app switcher by swiping up with those fingers or switch between apps by swiping left or right. If you keep triggering these swipes by mistake you can turn them off in Settings > General > Multitasking.

17. Use two apps at once

You’ll need a recent iPad for this one: Split View, which allows you to run two apps side by side or two sites in Safari, only works on the iPad Air 2, the iPad Mini 4 and newer devices. To use it, drag as if you were using Slide Over and then drag the app divider to the middle of the screen.

18. Use Google

Apple would like you to use iCloud for everything, of course, but many of us prefer Gmail and Google Calendar. No worries: Settings > Calendar > Accounts takes you step by step through the process of adding Google Calendar, while Settings > Mail does the same for Gmail.

19. Watch videos while doing something else

Here’s another one for recent iPads: Picture in Picture is not available for iPads older than the iPad Air or iPad Mini 2.

When you’re watching a film or having a FaceTime video call you’ll see a little icon of a screen with an arrow in it. Tap it and the video scales down, tap it again and the video returns to normal size.

20. Use AirPrint

Printing wirelessly is easy if you’ve got an AirPrint printer: assuming your printer and iPad are both on the same Wi-Fi network it’s just a matter of tapping the Share menu in your app and choosing Print. Your iPad should automatically find the printer.

21. Control what apps do in the dark

Some apps like to do things in the background, which can be useful: it’s handy to have your newspaper ready to read when you turn on your iPad in the morning for example.

But background refresh could also mean apps using bandwidth for no good reason, which isn’t ideal if you’re on a cellular connection. And as ever, Facebook tends to demand more resources than it really needs.

You can control which apps can use background refresh in Settings > General > Background App Refresh.

22. Change the Share menu

The Share button in apps is a brilliant thing, allowing you to send data to printers, email or other apps.

And you can customize it: if you tap on it, scroll right and choose More, you’ll see which features can be turned on or off. One of our favorites is Send to Paprika, which we use to automatically download recipes to the recipe app.

23. Enable caps lock


24. Manage your storage

It doesn’t take long to fill up even the biggest iPad, and until iOS 11 drops you’ll often find you need to manually free up space for your apps.

Your iPad can help. Go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > Manage Storage and you can see what’s taking up space, and delete it if you don’t want it.

25. Attach things in Mail

To insert things into Mail messages, press and hold in an empty bit of the message and a toolbar appears. To add photo or video from your Photos library, choose Insert Photo or Video; to add files from iCloud Drive, Dropbox or other installed storage apps tap on Add Attachment.


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