10 essential iPad tips and tricks you need to know
iPads are powerful and versatile devices, but they can be easy to underestimate. Apple likes to hide complexity under a surface of simplicity, and getting the most out of your iPad may not be as simple as you think. With that in mind, we’ve compiled 10 essential tips and tricks for iPad owners that will be handy advice for anyone trying out one of Apple’s tablets for the first time—and maybe even teach experienced users a gem they weren’t aware of. was not
Return and refresh
From the start, there are two gestures that every iPad owner should know: tap to return to the top of the screen, and swipe to refresh the current page. Like the iPhone, they don’t apply to every single app, but they pop up so often and are so useful when they do, that they’re always worth a try.
If you’ve scrolled down a web page, a list of options, or any other long-running screen, a single tap at the top of the screen will likely jump you immediately back to the beginning. (It’s so handy that we’ve long argued that it should be available on the Mac.) Dragging the screen down for a second or so will refresh the page in the meantime—mostly on web pages and content-updating apps like Twitter .
The center of control
Swipe down from the top right corner of the iPad’s screen and you’ll bring up the Control Center. You’ll know it from the iPhone, and it’s just as useful here—a handy place to access a bunch of the most-used toggles and controls, like screen brightness, Airplane mode, Do Not Disturb, Focus modes, and orientation lock .
The top switches are set in stone, but you can pick and choose what appears below them. Go to Settings > Control Center to see a list of “Included Controls” (tap the red “minus” icon to remove any of these) and “More Controls” (tap the green “plus” icon to add any).
Everything everywhere at once
The iPad’s large screen is fantastic for multitasking, and Apple offers a few different ways to do it on the iPad. Tap the three-dot multitasking button at the top center of a supported app and you’ll open the multitasking menu, which has three options. The top option is to keep your app ion full screen, the middle option is Split View, which lets you open another app next to the one you have open, and the bottom one is Slide Over, which lets you open the app you have open turned into a smaller one. floating window and let you open a new app behind it.
There’s a third multitasking mode called Picture in Picture, which lets you watch a video while doing something else. While using a video-based application like YouTube, look for an icon that shows two overlapping rectangles with an arrow pointing down and to the right; it will make the video float above other programs. (If that doesn’t work, then go to Settings General > Picture in picture and enable the Start PiP auto toggle.)
Finally, there’s Apple’s latest and most advanced multitasking interface, Stage Manager, which is only for certain iPad Pro and iPad Air models that support the feature. Stage Manager functions similarly to how it works on macOS Ventura by resizing the current app as a floating window and showing the dock at the bottom of the screen and recent apps on the left. You can tap on one of the application windows to switch to it or drag it out to have both on the screen at the same time. To turn on Stage Manager, open the Control Center and tap the icon that shows three vertical dots next to a rectangle.
Your iPad should serve you, not the other way around. To avoid constant distractions, customize your notifications by going to Settings > Notice and bringing things back to the essentials. Use the most discreet alerts where possible, and we recommend avoiding sounds except for programs that you really need to react to immediately. Think of your iPad like your Mac—you’ll want to keep working or playing for as long as possible without interruption.
Limit screen time
While in Settings, visit the Screen Time page to monitor your daily usage, and set limits on the time when the iPad or specific apps can be used without entering a special code. This can help reduce the strain on your eyes, improve sleep patterns and free up time for activities away from a screen.
This is especially helpful if you’ve generously handed an iPad to a child. Set pause to limit use to a set period during the day: remember to start it when they are supposed to turn the iPad off and end it when they are allowed to use the iPad again. You can also specify certain apps—Messaging, perhaps, or something educational—that will always be allowed, block inappropriate content, and limit who can contact the user.
Learn to focus
There will be times when you want to use the iPad (or at least have the iPad turned on and available), but in a specific and limited way. There are many options of this kind under the Settings > Focus menu.
Do Not Disturb is pretty self-explanatory—it blocks messages, video calls, and notifications except for specified apps and contacts—but it’s worth noting that you can set a schedule or automation for when it activates. Sleep is similar, but will be linked to the sleep schedule on your iPhone, and Drive does the same for your iPhone’s vehicle trigger (like when you connect to CarPlay).
But it doesn’t stop there. You can also schedule or manually activate fitness, work and personal modes, and in each case specify allowed apps and contacts, notification settings and even a custom home page to display.
Clear your home screen
Tap and hold anywhere on your iPad’s home screen and after a few seconds you’ll enter Edit Mode. (If you tapped and held an app icon, you’ll first need to select “Edit Home Screen” from the pop-up menu.) From here, you can move around app icons, including those in the dock at the bottom of the screen, and uninstall or remove apps you don’t want more
Note that there is a difference between removing an app from the home screen and actually deleting it. These days, an app can stay on your iPad without its icon appearing on any home screen, and you can delete entire pages of apps in an instant. You’ll use the app library as you would on the iPhone, but it’s even more useful on the iPad’s large screen. If you uninstall any apps, you can use Spotlight search (swipe down from the center of the screen) or visit the App Library that sits to the right of your last Home screen page to find them.
Customize your home screen
While in Edit mode, tap the “plus” symbol at the top left to open the widgets menu. From here you can search for and choose from a wide variety of mini-apps to put on your home screens: the weather for a selected area, the time in various zones, recently played albums or Apple TV shows, a summary of Reminders or upcoming Calendar events, and so on.
Once you’ve chosen a widget, you’ll likely be given the option of several styles and sizes, so consider how much information you need and how much space you’re willing to take up. They’re a little limited by the grid, but widgets are still a fantastic way to get bits of information without constantly opening apps.
Protect your privacy
Apple’s reputation as the pro-privacy tech company took a hit this year, but the iPad is still an excellent choice if you want to protect your data, habits and personal details. Go to Settings > Privacy and security to refine your setup.
The list of privacy settings here is not organized by apps (a list of which would be overwhelming), but by what the apps request access to. Choose Camerafor example, and you will see a list of all the apps that currently have access to it and you can tap the green switch to deny this access from now on.
Pay particular attention to the Tracking entrance near the top. This is for apps that have asked to track your activity on other apps and websites. We routinely deny this request (and recommend that the global toggle for “Allow apps to request tracking” is turned off), but this menu makes it easy to withdraw consent retroactively.
Elevate your keyboard
Especially in landscape orientation, the iPad’s keyboard takes up a lot of screen space. To shrink it down to a more manageable size, pinch in with two fingers (the same gesture you’d use to zoom out of an image). The smaller floating keyboard can sit anywhere on the screen, just use the bar at the bottom to move it around. If you want to go back to the full-size keyboard, do a “pinch out” gesture with two fingers.
A third option is the split keyboard, but remember that not all iPad models support this feature. To turn it on, go to Keyboard settings (or via Settings > General > Keyboard or by tapping and holding the emoji key) and switch Split Keyboard to On.
Finally and perhaps most useful of all, your iPad’s on-screen keyboard can also act as a trackpad. Tap and hold the keyboard with two fingers and the keys will all be grayed out. and a cursor will appear in the text Then move your fingers to control the cursor and find the text you want to edit. Hold still for about a second and the cursor will change shape to indicate that you are now in text selection mode.