For many people, their iPad isn’t just a tablet — it’s their entire computer. And make no mistake, that’s intentional on Apple’s part. In the past few years, Apple has been campaigning for computer owners with outdated PCs to swap to an iPad for their daily needs. And for the most part, this gamble has paid off. iPads are now one of the most popular products in America, and their reach will only continue to grow as Apple adds new features.
But for those of us who already have iPads, there are a plethora of hidden tricks that make owning this magical little tablet even more fun — no apps required.
Whether you use your iPad for work or play, you won’t want to miss these handy iPad secrets. Get your fingertips ready — because you won’t believe how many more things you’ll be able to do on your machine.
1. Put your keyboard into “trackpad mode” for easy editing
One of the biggest differences between a tablet and a traditional laptop is the lack of traditional “mouse” style controls. On a tablet, a trackpad isn’t as necessary since you touch what you need on the screen itself — but what about when you need to scroll through text and pages more precisely.
It’s true that editing large amounts on text can be tedious on the iPad, but fortunately, Apple has enabled “trackpad mode” for the first time on iOS 12.
With trackpad mode, you can easily scroll through text that you’ve typed and instantly jump from the top to the bottom of a page (or vice versa). To enable trackpad mode, simply hold the space bar down on the keyboard until all the keys go gray. As long as you don’t remove your finger, you can easily scroll through the entirety of your content.
2. Turn off background app refresh to conserve battery, speed up memory
iPads are pretty good at maintaining themselves at a steady pace — but sometimes you’ll notice your battery draining more than usual. This is usually because of apps running in the background and continuing to use data.
While it can be useful to have Apple’s “Background App Refresh” downloading and preparing the latest updates to your Twitter timeline, turning the feature off can help you save critical battery life for when you need it most.
To disable the Background App Refresh, navigate to your Settings app and select General. Then, select Background App Refresh and turn the feature “Off” from the top. Your apps may take a few seconds longer to load when you first open them, but the extra battery life is well worth the wait.
3. Keep your personal photos in private albums
There’s a lot of joy to be had in passing the iPad around to show off your photos. But sometimes, we might not want everyone to see all of our business in one place. Thankfully, there’s now a way to instantly hide your private photos by default into an album that’s separate from your current camera roll.
To hide photos, simply open your Photos app and tap Select in the upper right-hand corner. Next, tap the photos you want to hide and select the Share button from the bottom left of the screen (it looks like a box with an arrow coming out). Select Hide from the menu that appears at the bottom of your screen. Now, your photos are hidden in a separate album for you to access at your convenience.
4. Tap to go to the top of any webpage instantly!
This trick is super simple and you’ll find yourself using it on a daily basis.
When you’re neck-deep in text while you’re browsing the web, simply tapping the title bar of the app or web page will send you zooming right back to the top with no delay. Since it was designed to make browsing easier, all you need to do is touch the black bar at the top of your display (where the time shows) and you’ll find yourself right on top of where you need to be.
Try it on any page or app, and you’ll quickly see it’s the only way to fly!
5. Scan your documents using the notes app
Does anyone remember scanners? Unless you work in an office environment, you probably won’t need to use one again thanks to the Notes app on your iPad. If you have something that needs to be scanned, you can use your iPad’s camera to take a photo of your document and add it directly to your Notes.
To use it, open the Notes app and tap the plus button in the bottom center of the display. Then, choose Scan Documents. In addition, options like black and white, grayscale, or color can help make the document stand out for easier reading — whether its typed, handwritten or printed.
6. Run two apps at once in split-screen mode
One of the iPad’s biggest successes recently has been its ability to “multitask” apps. All this means is that your tablet — just like a laptop — can run more than one app side by side.
To make use of this feature on the iPad, all it takes is a little techno-know how and gesture knowledge, but we’ll break it down for you here:
To start, open the Home Screen of your iPad and make sure both apps you want to use are stored in the Dock at the bottom center of the screen. Then, open the first app you want to use.
From the bottom of the display, swipe up to reveal the Dock again. Then, tap and hold the icon of the second app you wish to use. While continuing to hold on to the app icon, drag it into either the right or left side of the display. This will open the app right next to the first one.
To even the screen-space each app is taking, simply touch and drag the dividing line between the two apps towards the center of the screen.
Now, you can get more power out of your device with much less effort than it takes to keep switching apps. Your fingers will thank you.
7. Use the split keyboard to type like you’re on a smartphone
The iPad’s size is one of its biggest strengths, but sometimes, we don’t always want to set it on our lap or on a desk in order to type. Wouldn’t it just be easier if we could type with our thumbs like on a smartphone?
Well, believe it or not, Apple already thought of this! By default, you can easily split the keyboard of the iPad so each side retreats to the bottom corners of the device. This makes it perfectly possible for you to type using nothing but your thumbs — just like if your iPad was a giant smartphone.
To split your keyboard, simply hold the keyboard icon on the bottom right of the screen until a menu pops up. Without lifting your finger from the screen, move it up to Split and the keyboard will immediately separate. To put it back to normal, the process is the same except you’ll select Merge instead.
8. Get this accessory to charge your iPad even faster
It’s no secret that iPads can take a long time to charge. It’s for a good reason though — the battery is absolutely massive. And it has to be in order to properly power that gorgeous display.
Even still, there is a way to get your iPad in fighting shape much faster than normal. Apple’s USB-C charging block is designed for its laptops — but with a lightning adapter, your iPad can enjoy increased charging speeds with zero additional effort. Have somewhere to go? Just drop your iPad on the USB-C charger and give it a go. You’ll be back to green in no time.
The USB-C charging accessory can be found on Apple.com, as well as the compatible Lightning adapter.
9. Record your screen to share what you’re doing on your iPad
Sometimes, sharing what you’re doing with your friends and loved ones goes beyond a simple photo or screenshot. Let’s say you’re playing a game on Facebook like Words With Friends — and you really want to show your family members across the country the epic combination you just came up with. A photo isn’t gonna cut it. What you want is a screen recording.
Luckily, iOS12 gives you the ability to record your screen by default.
On your iPad, simply swipe down from the upper right corner of the display to bring up the Control Center. Then, tap the icon shaped like a target. Then, hit Start Recording. While you’re recording, a red band will appear at the top of your screen — so that way you’ll know if you’re live or not. To stop, simply tap the red bar and hit Stop.
10. Search your entire device using the Spotlight tool
Did you know your iPad comes with a built-in search engine that can help you locate anything stored on your device or on the cloud? No, it’s not Google — it’s just a part of iOS! But just like Google, it’s extremely handy at helping you find anything within the confines of your tablet.
To access the Spotlight tool, simply touch the center of your display and pull down. You’ll see a menu appear with a search bar, Siri Suggestions of apps to use, and some recommendations based on previous activity. From here, just type to search for your query, and touch the results to open them. It’s that simple!
Bonus: A sneak peek at the cool new features of iPadOS
At this point in time it’s important to remember that a slew of new stuff is on the way for iPads this year — all thanks to the launch of Apple’s first native tablet OS: iPadOS.
Not merely content to borrow iOS from its smaller cousin, iPadOS rethinks the tablet’s operating system from the ground up, and includes a range of cool new features like split-screen windows for the same app, a new home screen with more room for icons, and best of all, the ability to use your iPad as a second monitor for your desktop!
Despite the fact that iPads are getting a new operating system, most likely Apple will continue to use most of the features that we’ve discussed here. But as new changes emerge, we’ll continue to update you on the latest from Apple and its software development team.