Become an iPad pro: Must-know iPad tips and tricks

Become an iPad pro: Must-know iPad tips and tricks
Since its humble beginnings as a portable entertainment and web browsing device, the iPad has evolved to become a viable computer replacement for many users.

Back in 2019 it received its own operating system – iPadOS – which itself is a fork of iOS. So, your iPhone and iPad might share a lot of the same apps, but those often look different on the iPad, and offer better functionality too. You can't beat a big screen!

These days you can do almost anything on your iPad – from the basics, like web browsing, gaming and watching movies, to the pro stuff – video editing for your YouTube channel, music production, sketching and writing, and so much more.

And if you're one of those people, who either has an iPad Pro or just owns an iPad and is a 'pro' at heart, wanting to make the best out of your Apple tablet, you're in the right place…

With help from our friends at Apple, here we've provided for you a number of pro iPad tips and tricks you should definitely know about.

Let's go – it's time to learn more about your iPad, and master it in the process!

Jump to a category:

iPad and Apple Pencil tips and tricks; Notes, Scribble

Quickly jot down notes with Quick Note

If you own an Apple Pencil, you'll love Quick Note. This feature was introduced with iPadOS 15, so first and foremost, make sure your iPad has been updated to the latest iPadOS version.

Whether you're doing research, or you suddenly get an urge to jot down whatever's on your mind, just swipe from the lower right corner of the screen towards the center. You can use either your Apple Pencil or finger for that.

The Notes app will show up in an unobtrusive popup window, so you can write something down quick and easy, then click Done or simply drag that popup back to the lower right corner of the screen to hide it.

You'll also get handy suggestions in Quick Note, about things you may want to add to your current note. For example, if you have Wikipedia open in Safari and you open Quick Note, it will suggest that you add the current web page into the note – so you can do that with a single tap, quick and easy. Great if you're doing research!

And since this is basically the Notes app in a popup window, whatever you write down in Quick Note will also be available on your iPhone and Mac too!

Say goodbye to keyboards, use your Apple Pencil to handwrite into any text field

Once upon a time you had to rely on either an on-screen keyboard or a physical one, when you wanted to search the web on your iPad, look up an app on the App Store, and so on. You would click on a text field, a virtual keyboard would appear, and that was your main way of input.

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But now the iPad has Scribble! This feature basically lets you handwrite anything, into any text field, with your Apple Pencil.

For example, you can open the Safari web browser and write down "pancakes" in the search bar, with your Apple Pencil, instead of by pressing virtual keys on a virtual keyboard like a caveman! And web search results for "pancakes" you shall get!

Just start handwriting into any text field with your Apple Pencil, because, again – you don't need to deal with an on-screen keyboard when you have a handy stylus… at hand.

Can't draw perfect circles? It's okay, your iPad has shape recognition

This is just good to know if you're a student who relies on the Notes app, for example. Occasionally in between your notes you may find yourself having to draw a circle, square, arrows, maybe a nice little heart…

Well, you can draw the shape as best as you can and leave it at that. Or, you can let your iPad draw it perfectly for you!

Just draw your heart, square, etc., as per usual, but instead of immediately lifting your Apple Pencil from the screen, after you draw your shape just hold it down for a second – and the shape will automatically be transformed into a perfect one. A perfect circle! Or heart, or arrow… Handy, right?

Tips and tricks for your physical iPad Keyboard

If you own a physical iPad keyboard that you use with your tablet (like it's a laptop), you'll be happy to know there are a number of handy keyboard shortcuts for doing things quickly.

Shortcuts, of course, are keys you can press to perform quick actions. They save time! Let's get into the ones you should definitely know about…

Basic iPad keyboard shortcuts you should know about

It's not a stretch to assume you've used a Windows PC, and you know what alt-tabbing is. Basically, you press the Alt and Tab keys together to quickly switch between your open apps.

Well, you can use the exact same shortcut on your Mac and iPad too, but here it's Command+Tab instead, since there's no Alt key. The command key is marked "cmd" on your iPad keyboard, and it's right next to the space bar. Press it and the Tab key together to switch between your open iPad apps quickly, at any time.

Now, how to copy and paste on iPad? I know most of you consider this obvious, but we should cover it anyway, because not everyone's an iPad expert (just yet). To select text on your iPad, with a physical keyboard, hold the Shift key and press either the left or right arrow keys to mark it.

Once your text has been marked, press Cmd+C to copy it, after which you can press Cmd+V to paste it somewhere else. Those two shortcuts work for copying and pasting files too, by the way.

You can also undo an action by pressing Cmd+Z on your iPad keyboard. This is handy if you've made a mistake somewhere in your text and would like to revert it – that's what "undo" means – "undoing" something.

It's a shortcut that works in many apps for undoing more than just text errors. Say you're video editing and you just deleted a clip on accident – at least in an app like LumaFusion, pressing Cmd+Z would undo that and restore your clip.

Other handy iPad shortcuts you can use anytime are:

  • Globe + H – Returns to the home screen.
  • Globe + A – Shows the app dock.
  • Globe + Q – Opens Quick Note.
  • Globe + S – Activates Siri.
  • Globe + N – Shows the notification screen.
  • Globe + Left arrow – Switches back to the previous app.

See what keyboard shortcuts are available for each iPad app

You don't need to memorize those shortcuts up there. At any time, in most apps you can just press and hold the Cmd key for about two seconds to reveal all of the available keyboard shortcuts.

If you press and hold the Cmd key on the home screen, you'll see system-wide shortcuts you can use anywhere.

And again, press and hold Cmd in, say, a video editing iPad app, and you'll see its unique keyboard shortcuts. Press and hold Cmd in Safari, and you guessed it – you'll see some handy Safari shortcuts too. Use this to find shortcuts in your favorite apps, and with those – to work on your iPad faster!

Step-up your iPad multitasking game

Run two or more apps at a time with Split View and Slide Over

You don't need to be restricted to a single app at a time! Pull up the dock and drag another app over the one you already have open, and that second app will launch in a popup over the first one.

This tall popup mode is called Slide Over. You can move the popup around, hide it in the left or right corners of the screen for when you need it, or expand the app by pressing the three dots on top of it.

If you pull up the dock and drag an app to the left or right corners of the screen, it will open in Split View with your current app. As the name suggests, now you'll have both apps splitting the screen evenly with one another.

If you want one app to take a larger chunk of the screen than the other, simply press and drag the little line that separates the two apps. Move it a bit to the right, and now the left app will take two thirds of the screen instead of just half.

You can also always use the three dots on top of each app in Split View to shuffle the apps around, switch them between Split View and Slide Over, or exit Split View by expanding an app to full screen. Feel free to experiment!

Drag and drop files

Moving photos from the Photos app into another one, or files from the Files app from one folder to another, is easier than ever on iPad.

Simply press and hold a photo or file, and it will start following your finger. Now with your other hand you can swipe up from the bottom and open another app, while still holding that photo or file. Once you have the app you want to drop it into, just… drop the file!

It's as easy as that. Say you want to send a photo to the Notes app – that's how to do it – just drag and drop it! Easy peasy, and intuitive too!

Example: You can drag and drop videos into your video editing app of choice like that, besides the traditional "Import" way. Granted, not every app supports the drag and drop feature, but most do.

Multitask with Picture in Picture on iPad

If you're watching a Netflix video but want to do something else at the same time, don't pause the video – just go ahead and jump to the home screen or move to another app, and your video will run in a popup window.

So this way you can continue watching your show while doing other things – browsing the web, maybe even opening Quick Note and jotting down notes, the sky's the limit!

Well, actually the limit is which apps support Picture in Picture. FaceTime does for video calls, and like I said Netflix does too, plus most of the other streaming apps you may want to use. So you can freely play a video in those, then jump out of them and do something else on your iPad, while the video continues playing in a popup.

Supposedly YouTube is also finally going to let both paid and free users play videos in Picture in Picture at some point, but we don't have concrete dates on when, and in which regions, yet.

Improve your iPad home screen with widgets

While once your iPad home screen was just app icons, nowadays you can add widgets among those app icons to make things more interesting. And, of course – to get more information at a glance.

To personalize your iPad home screen with some widgets, press and hold it until the apps start jiggling. Now that those are dancing, you'll see a little plus icon on the top left corner of the screen – press it.

Now you'll see a list of all the iPad apps you have that support home screen widgets. Not all do, but some that you may find useful (at least I do) would be the Mail app and its Mailbox widget, the big Reminders widget, the Clock widget and the Weather widget, for example.

By adding those to your home screen, you'll be able to see at a glance your latest incoming emails, your upcoming reminders for today, a large clock, and this week's weather respectively. Of course, you can add any other widgets that you want, and as you can see, they really spruce up the home screen.

Safari tips and tricks: make the most of your iPad web browsing experience

Choose your Safari look, as you have two choices

As of recently, the Safari web browser has a new, compact look. All open tabs, along with the search bar are now in the same single row, which saves a bit of vertical space for the actual websites that you visit.

However, you can revert back to the old Safari look, where the search bar is separated from the tabs, if that one is easier for you to use. Simply open the Settings app, scroll down to Safari and tap it, then scroll down to the TABS section.

Here you can switch between the two available Safari looks, and see which one is better for you!

Add new functionality to Safari for iPad with extensions

Safari for iPad now supports web extensions, similarly to the desktop Safari app on your Mac. Extensions are downloaded from the App Store like regular apps, and add extra functionality to your browser.

Open the Settings app, then scroll down to Safari, tap it, then scroll down to GENERAL and tap Extensions. This is where you'll find your installed Safari extensions, but since you're reading this, I'm guessing there are none yet, so tap on More Extensions to find some!

Popular iPad Safari extensions include 1Password, which, as the name suggests, is a password manager.

Achoo HTML Viewer & Inspector is a good one for some users, adding the "Inspect" option many desktop browsers have. It shows you the HTML code of a currently-open website. So obviously it's mainly for web developers.

But back to the more casual stuff. Noir is another iPad Safari extension that attempts to give you a "dark mode" for every single website that you open, which can be much easier on the eyes.

So yeah, dive into those paid and free iPad Safari extensions, see if you find something that will make your web browsing experience even better! And as you can see, if you're a developer, you'll definitely find some of those extensions must-have.

Got any iPad tips and tricks of your own?

There we have it – some of the most useful iPad tips and tricks you should know about, if you're looking to master your iPad. Got any of your own pro tricks you can share with us?

Let us know in the comments if we missed something you think people should know about, or just share an iPad story – like how you use yours!

And stay tuned! We're currently on iPadOS 15, but as 2022 nears its end, iPadOS 16 will be released, and it's reasonable to expect it to also come with fun new features and changes you should know about. We'll include them right here!

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