Your iPad is living a secret life. You probably know a lot of tips and tricks you’ve picked up just from using your tablet, but there are some less well-known options and features you can tap into. You just have to know where to look and which Settings to tap.
You can change the appearance of your display and discover hidden depths to your keyboard. Some of these options are hiding in your Settings, while others you can reach through easy shortcuts. It’s all about uncovering the secret ways of your iPad.
Check out these five hidden tricks that will make your iPad more fun and more productive. From keyboard tips to a stealthy dark mode, we’ve got you covered.
Lock the screen orientation
A rotating screen can be an annoyance if you’re moving around a lot with your iPad, or if you just prefer to keep the screen oriented in one direction. To lock it, open the Control Center by swiping down from the top right-hand corner of the screen. Look for the icon with a lock and an arrow surrounding it. Tap on this to lock your screen in place.
If you have an older iPad, you may have a physical switch located on the side of the tablet. Push this switch to the side to lock the screen orientation.
Split the keyboard
Typing on an iPad is very different from using a regular keyboard, but thumb-typers can turn to the tablet’s split-keyboard feature for a more comfortable experience. First, head to Settings, tap on General, and then on Keyboard. Make sure the Split Keyboard option is turned on.
Open an app and tap on a text field so the keyboard appears. Tap and hold down on the keyboard icon in the lower right-hand corner, then drag your finger up to select the split option. Your keyboard will break out to either side so you can hold the tablet and type with your thumbs. To merge it back to whole, tap on both sides and pull them back together. You can also hold down on the same keyboard icon and slide up to choose "dock" to put the keyboard back down at the bottom of the screen.
There's one caveat: the split-keyboard option isn’t available for the 12.9-inch or 11-inch iPad Pros.
Use Key Flicks
Here’s another nifty keyboard trick that Apple introduced with iOS 11. Take a close look at your iPad keyboard. The regular letters and numbers are easy to see as usual, but the keys also have a grayed-out number or symbol on them.
Let’s zoom in on the "S" key. It also has a gray hashtag or pound symbol on it. If you tap on this key, you will get an "S." To get a "#" instead, touch it and then slide your fingertip slightly downward. These key flicks can help you type faster and access common numbers and symbols quickly without having to switch to another keyboard view.
Go dark with Smart Invert
Your iPad display has a very familiar look with lots of light colors. You can go dark by opening Settings, tapping Accessibility, and then choosing Display Accommodations. Next, tap on Invert Colors. Smart Invert is a smart choice here.
As Apple says, "Smart Invert Colors reverses the colors of the display, except for images, media and some apps that use dark color styles."
While this feature is designed to help people who may have visual challenges, some users simply prefer the darker look. Keep in mind this will disable the Night Shift feature and may radically alter the look of some apps. Notes is a good example of just how different an app can look after you apply Smart Invert.
Have your iPad read to you
Your iPad can act like a narrator when you want it to. Head into Settings, tap on General, and choose Accessibility. Tap on Speech and then turn on Speech Selection and Speak Screen. The first will add a Speak button to your options when you select text. The second will trigger your iPad to read out the contents of the screen when you swipe down with two fingers from the top.
Before you leave this Settings screen, take note of the Speaking Rate slider. This lets you adjust how fast or slow the voice is. The speech feature isn’t always perfect, but it’s handy when you want to listen to an article or email while keeping your eyes on something else.
Bonus: Use your iPad as a document scanner
Apple’s Notes app now works as a built-in document scanner, so you can digitize important papers or tax documents, or preserve handwritten letters or your kid’s artwork. Check out our Komando guide to using your Apple device as a document scanner.
Find your lost Mac, iPhone or iPad
Your Apple gadgets are the beating heart of your personal technology collection. You can take steps to get them back should you lose them, whether you’ve misplaced them in the house or left them at a coffee shop.