When Apple delivered its new iOS 11 operating system in September, we received a bounty of new features, including improved ways to handle notifications, organize apps, and interact with Siri. But iPad users are in for a special treat. The new drag-and-drop ability in iOS 11 is tailor-made for multitasking tablet warriors, but it might take some getting used to.
Get to know drag and drop
You’re already familiar with the basic idea of drag and drop from using any regular computer. For example, you write an email and drag a photo from a folder into the message window to attach it. Simple. So what’s the catch with iOS 11? Drag and drop has a little bit of a learning curve when it comes to using it on your iPad.
On your iPad, drag and drop works for moving text, images, links, and files from one app into another. For example, you can use this to drop a link or text from your Safari browser into an email or add a photo into a note.
Apple implemented drag and drop system-wide, so it works in a lot of places, including the Home screen, Calendar, Pages, Maps, Dock, Keynote, Spotlight, Reminders, and Numbers. While Apple has naturally embraced the new feature, not all third-party apps support it. As iOS 11 spends a little more time in the wild, expect more app developers to include the feature in future updates.
How to use drag and drop
It’s time to train your fingers. The easiest way to learn drag and drop is to give it a try. Here’s one example of how it works:
- Open up your Photos app, pick out a photo, and tap to open it. Hold your finger down on the photo and move it slightly until it lifts up and a thumbnail of the image appears under your fingertip.
- While still holding your finger down, use another finger to press the home button. Find the Notes app and click to open it (while still holding the photo with your first finger).
- Hold the photo over a note. When a small green circle with a plus sign appears, you can let go and the photo will drop into the note.
Drag and drop also works in split-screen view or slide-over view. If you’re having trouble with using drag and drop in a supported app, it may just be a matter of making sure your apps are updated after you’ve installed iOS 11. Visit the App Store and check if you have any updates available. Is a favorite app not working? Here's why some apps aren't compatible with iOS 11.
Become a drag-and-drop ninja
Now that you’ve got a handle on the basics of drag and drop, it’s time to get more advanced. You can select multiple items by touching the first item, holding it, moving it slightly (so it “separates” from the background), and then keeping your finger on it while tapping more items with a spare finger. A small circle will appear with the total number of items you’ve grouped together. You can then drop these items into another app.
Again, not every app supports all of the iOS 11 drag-and-drop capabilities, but Apple’s Photos app is a great place to test out the process by selecting multiple pictures and dropping them into another app.
One more tip: Using multiple fingers while dragging and dropping can feel a little awkward at first, but you can change fingers and still keep one or more items ready to drop. Just set your spare finger directly on the item (or stack) and let go with your first finger to change over.
Once you start playing around with drag and drop, you will find a lot of situations where it can come in handy. It makes the compact iPad feel a little bit more like a full-size computer.
Turn yourself into an iPad master
Your iPad is full of settings and features that let you customize your tablet to your liking by taking control of everything from alerts and text size to the kind of keyboard you use.