Great iPad Tips Every Owner Should Know

Man using iPad to video chat with young boy
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The iPad is a fantastic tablet, yet most users don't know all the handy tips and shortcuts that make life simpler with it, much less being an iPad pro user. New iOS updates are continually adding cool new features, too, so you can be forgiven if you don't know everything your iPad might be able to do for you. We'll help you learn some of those key features here.

Find apps quickly

How do you find a particular app you installed on your iPad when you have lots, and some collected under groups? Don't waste time flipping through the screens; instead, use the iPad's Spotlight search, which can be accessed by swiping down on the screen.

Once you get used to searching the iPad, you won't know how you had the patience to do it any other way. You can also use this method to search through your contacts or even your email.

Skip the apostrophe when typing

The iPad's autocorrect can sometimes get on your nerves, but at other times it can really be nice. If you type a lot, you'll no doubt need to use the apostrophe regularly, especially when you are typing in a contraction like "can't" or "won't." But did you know you can skip the apostrophe? My favorite iPad typing tip is using the autocorrect to change "cant" to "can't" and "wont" to "won't."

Quick onscreen music controls

The iPad has buttons on the side for changing the volume, but how about skipping a song? You don't need to launch the music app just to skip a song. The iPad's control panel will let you do things like adjusting the brightness of the screen, turn Bluetooth on, and even reach the timer. Simply slide your finger up from the very bottom edge of the screen. You can pause, play, or skip forward or backward.

Connect your iPad to your HDTV

You aren't limited to the iPad's display if you are watching a movie or playing a game. You can also connect the iPad to an HDTV. The easiest way is through Apple TV, which supports AirPlay and lets you wirelessly cast your iPad's screen to your TV.

But even if you have no interest in Apple TV, you can buy an adapter to plug your iPad into your TV. The best solution is Apple's Digital AV Adapter, but you can also get composite or component cables.

Split the safari web browser in two

You'll need a newer iPad to make use of this tip. The iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4, and iPad Pro or newer tablets can utilize a split view feature with the Safari browser. This splits the browser into two windows side by side, which allows you to view two websites at the same time. Because the iPad needs a little elbow room for this one, you must be holding the iPad in landscape mode.

To enter split view in the Safari browser, tap and hold the Pages button: the button in the upper-right corner of the Safari screen that looks like a square on top of another square. When you tap this button, you will see all of your open web pages, but when you hold your finger down on it, a menu appears that offers you the choice of opening split view (if your iPad supports it), opening a new tab, or closing all of your Safari tabs.

When you are in split view, this menu appears at the bottom of the display. To close out of split view, do the same thing: hold down the Pages button to get the option to merge all tabs.

Install a custom keyboard

Even better than skipping the apostrophe when typing is installing a brand-new screen keyboard on your iPad. Now that widgets are supported, you can install a custom keyboard. These keyboards can come with many different advantages, including the ability to draw words by keeping your finger pressed against the display while moving from letter to letter, a technique that sounds odd but actually saves a lot of time. You can install a third-party keyboard by downloading one from the App Store and turning it on in the iPad's keyboard settings.

Add apps to the home screen bottom tray

The iPad comes with four apps on the bottom tray of the home screen, but did you know you can add up to six apps to it? You can even remove the ones that are there by default and add your own.

Simply tap and hold an app icon until all the apps start shaking. This allows you to move apps around by dragging them with your finger. To get an app into the bottom tray, just drag it down and drop it on the tray. You'll see the other apps move over to make room for it, and that lets you know it is okay to drop it.

Pro Tip: You can drop entire folders into the bottom tray, too. So if you have a bunch of games you always want quick access to, simply put them all in a folder and then drop the folder on this tray.

Organize your apps with folders

While using Spotlight to search for apps is great, typing in an app name each time you want to access it may not be for you. Folders let you get to apps with a couple taps or swipes. You can use folders to easily organize your iPad and separate apps into personalized categories. The iPad will create a default folder name that is often a pretty good description of the apps it contains, but you can rename the category title to anything you want.

To create a folder, simply hold your finger down on an app's icon until all of the apps begin to shake. Next, drag the app on top of another app, and the iPad will create a folder containing the apps. To add more apps to the folder, simply drag them over and drop them on the newly created folder.

As mentioned earlier, you can drag folders to the bottom tray. You can use this to create a menu-system of sorts containing your favorite apps by dragging multiple folders to the tray. You can even arrange your iPad so that most of your apps are stored in folders lined across the bottom tray and your most used apps are on the first page of the Home screen.

The iPad's virtual Touchpad will make you forget your mouse

Did you know there's a virtual touchpad built into your iPad? This touchpad may not be as good as the real thing, but it's close. You can use it any time the on-screen keyboard appears. Simply hold two fingers down on the keyboard and move them around the screen. You will know it is activated because the letters on the keyboard will go blank.

As you move your fingers around the screen, the cursor will move with them. If you tap and hold for a moment before moving your fingers, you can even select text this way. And you don't need to tap your fingers on the actual keyboard for this to work. You can tap two fingers anywhere on the screen to engage the touchpad.

Reboot the iPad

Did you know you can solve many problems with the iPad by simply rebooting it? Is your iPad running slow? Reboot it. Does an app quit every time you launch it? Reboot it.

Unfortunately, it's easy to confuse putting the iPad into suspend mode with a hard reboot. To really give your iPad a fresh start, you can reboot it by following these quick steps:

  1. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button at the same time as pressing the Home button. Hold these for a few seconds. The iPad will then go blank as it shuts down.
  2. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button again to boot it back up. When you see the Apple logo appear, you can release the Sleep/Wake button. The iPad's home screen will appear momentarily.

Save battery life by turning down screen brightness

A quick way to conserve your iPad's battery is to reduce the screen brightness. You can do this by going to the iPad's settings and choosing Display & Brightness from the left-side menu. (If you have an older iPad, the option may be called Brightness & Wallpaper.) You can move the slider to adjust the brightness. Adjust the slider to change the brightness of the display—the dimmer the display, the less battery power is used.

Disable in-app purchases

One thing every parent should know how to do is turn off in-app purchases on the iPad. Otherwise, that seemingly free game may end up costing a lot of money after your seven-year-old buys a bunch of in-game currency at $4.99 a tap.

It's pretty simple to prevent this. First, you need to enable parental controls by going into your iPad's settings and choosing General from the left-side menu. On this screen, locate Restrictions. In the Restrictions menu, you'll need to enable restrictions, which will ask you for a four-digit passcode.

Once you have enabled these parental controls, it is just a matter of scrolling down the page until you see the option for In-App Purchases. When you slide this to the Off position, most apps won't even show the screen for purchasing items, and those that do will be prevented from going through with any transactions.

Control your PC from your iPad

Want to take things a step further? You can actually control your PC from your iPad. This works on both Windows-based PCs and Macs. You will need to install software on your PC as well as an app on your iPad, but it is actually simple to set it up. There is even a free software option, although if you plan on using it extensively, you might want to go with a premium solution.

Project Gutenburg

Project Gutenburg endeavors to bring public domain books to the digital world for free. These books are available through the iBooks Store, though (unfortunately) Apple doesn't make it quite so easy to find them.

You can find a list of all the free books by going to the store within the iBooks Store, tapping Browse and then Free from the tabs at the top. Not all the books here are from Project Gutenburg; some are just books that newer authors are giving away for free, but you'll see plenty listed if you prefer to browse.

Project Gutenburg includes a lot of great books like "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." If you have a particular book in mind, you can simply search for it.