A mobile device has changed the ways you interact with the computer. It neither needs a mouse nor a giant physical keyboard any more, but you still can find the ways to work around with it.
Just like the iPad, it has only one hard button—the Home button—facing you. Some frequently used keys turn ‘soft’ and appear only when you're running the apps, and special keys like Ctrl, Alt, Esc and Function keys are removed from the onscreen keyboard.
Shedding some light on this trend, these tips and tricks might be of interest to you and come in handy especially when you've just got an iPad in your hand. Most of them may also work well on other iOS devices like the iPhone and the iPod touch running on the same mobile operating system.
Note: The steps described in this article work with the iOS 4, 5 and 6, where applicable. See this article if you're using a new version of the system.
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When running an app, you can minimize it by simply clicking the Home button. Getting back to it is not just one click on the taskbar like the way you do in Windows. But the iPad way is not difficult either.
On the iOS 4, 5 & 6
- Double-click your iPad's Home button to reveal the open apps on the multitasking bar at the bottom of the screen.
- Flick left to see more running apps.
- Tap an icon to instantly switch to an open app.
On the iOS 5 & 6 only
You can use four or five fingers to swipe left or right to switch between open apps, or swipe up to reveal the open apps on the multitasking bar.
The iPad doesn't need you to close a running app for every instance. But in some cases like playing a game, you may need to actually close the app in order to start a new level rather than continuing the last. Here are the steps to follow:
- Click your iPad's Home button to minimize the app if it's running.
- Double-click the Home button to see a row of running apps at the bottom of the screen.
- Touch and hold any icon until the icons start wiggling, then tap the minus sign on the icon of the running app to close it.
- Double-click the Home button again to hide the row.
Installing apps from the App Store to your iPad is convenient, likewise removing them is pretty straightforward.
- Touch and hold an icon on your screen until the icons start wiggling.
- Tap the X sign on the icon of the app you want to remove.
- Select the Delete button to confirm.
- Repeat the same for others and click the Home button to finish.
Note: If you have synced your apps with the iTunes on your computer, uncheck this app in the iTunes or else it will be restored to your iPad when syncing.
If you're downloading or updating more than one app at a time from the App Store, it shows the first one as "Loading...", and the rest "Waiting..." But some apps can be very big and take time to download, and you need to get the one waiting to download first. That's easy:
- Tap the one which is loading, it will then be paused and the next one waiting in line starts loading.
- Repeat the same to the rest until the one you need to start loading.
- You can also tap the one which has been paused to start waiting, or loading when no others are loading or the rest are paused.
When you install new apps to your iPad, the system stacks up the icons automatically without asking you to select a home screen. But you can subsequently re-arrange the icons on the home screens and on the Dock.
- Touch and hold any icon on your screen until the icons start wiggling.
- Drag an icon to a different spot on the screen, or even to or from the Dock, which allows for six icons.
- You can also drag an icon to the left or right edge of the screen until it starts sliding, then drop the icon to another screen.
- Click the Home button to finish.
Other than the apps on the dock, sometimes it's difficult to quickly look for an app to open if you have many icons spreading across a few screens. Why not create a folder to group similar apps together? It's much easier than you might think.
- Touch and hold any icon until the icons start wiggling.
- Drag an icon over the top of another. The system then automatically makes a named folder, with the two icons put under it. Drag more similar apps to the folder when needed.
- Click the Home button to finish.
You can rename a folder at any time—touch and hold the folder icon to make it wiggle, tap it to expand, then edit the folder name after selecting it.
While the system auto creates a folder for you, it does the same to removing a folder automatically—make the folder icon wiggling, tap it to expand, then clear all items inside the folder either by dragging them out or deleting them one by one, and the empty folder clears by itself. Smart?
Instead of typing a period at the end of each sentence and follow by a space, you can double-tap the space bar, or tap once with two fingers, to get the same result.
Ironically the iPad soft keyboard doesn't have a Tab key, but you can tap the space bar with three fingers at the same time to get three spaces, or four fingers to get four spaces. It works for five spaces too if you put five fingers together to press the space bar :)
If you often need to switch between the on-screen Alphabet and Number keyboards just to type quotation marks in a sentence, then why not check out below to find out more?
While on the Alphabet keyboard:
- ' (single quotation mark) => touch and hold the Comma key (,)
- " (double quotation mark) => touch and hold the Full-stop key (.)
- Turn caps lock on/off => double-tap the Shift key to lock, single-tap to unlock.
- Special letters not on the keyboard? => touch and hold a key, then slide to choose a variation. (See the screenshot).
- Need just a digit or symbol from the Number keyboard? => touch the .?123 key and slide to a digit or symbol key, and you're back to the Alphabet keyboard automatically.
While on the Number keyboard:
- Symbols not on the keyboard? => touch and hold a key, then slide to choose a variation, or tap the #+= key to find out more.
- Often type an equation? => touch and hold the #+= key, tap a sign and you're back to the Number keyboard when you release the #+= key.
- Need just a letter from the Alphabet keyboard? => touch the ABC key and slide to a letter key, and you're back to the Number keyboard automatically.
Now you don't need to rely on third party software to type smiley or emoji characters as the iOS 5 and 6 include a built-in Emoji keyboard.
To type a smiley or emoji character, tap the "International" key on the keyboard (or touch and hold the key, then slide to Emoji), a plethora of emoji characters are then at your fingertips.
On my device upgraded to the iOS 6, the Emoji keyboard is enabled by default. In the iOS 5, you can enable it in a few steps:
- Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.
- Tap "International Keyboards" and "Add New Keyboard..."
- Select "Emoji".
Need to type and re-type certain phrases over and over again? Then why not use a keyboard shortcut so that you type faster and it saves your time. This feature is available in iOS 5 and 6, and you can set a keyboard shortcut easily.
- Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.
- Tap "Add New Shortcut..."
- Enter a phrase, e.g. in my opinion
- Enter a shortcut, e.g. imo
- Tap "Save".
The next time you type a shortcut, e.g. imo, the system will suggest to expand it to a phrase that you've set.
This looks simple but can be tricky sometimes when you use different apps. In general, these steps can be used in Mail or some other apps:
- Double-tap to select a word, or tap once with two figures to select a paragraph. (Note)
- Drag the handles to adjust the area if needed, then select Cut or Copy.
- Tap an insert point then tap the cursor, or more directly, touch and hold an insert point.
- Select Paste.
Note: Step 1 doesn't work in a browser like Safari since "double-tap" has been used to enlarge a webpage. Instead, use "touch and hold" to copy text or an image. If "touch and hold" shows a block on a certain webpage, try "tap and touch-and-hold".
When you accidentally cut away some text and need to undo your last action using such apps as Mail or Notes, you can tap the Undo key on the Number keyboard. To redo, switch to the Symbol keyboard, then tap the Redo key. As an alternative, you can also shake your device to undo and redo, like this:
- After deleting some text, hold your iPad firmly with your both hands and give it a quick shake, and the Undo button (like the screenshot) slides in for you to undo.
- To redo, shake it again, but don't drop your iPad!
When you're typing through, the system checks your spelling and suggests a word. Unless you've rejected it by tapping the x button, the suggested word overwrites your word when you finish typing it followed by a space, punctuation mark or return character. If you feel that's annoying, you can turn off Auto-Correction.
- Open the app Settings and select "General" on the left panel.
- Select "Keyboard" on the right panel.
- Turn off "Auto-Correction".
Note: As an alternative, you can opt for an audio alert whenever the system suggests a word using the "Auto-Correction". To do so, go to Settings > General > Accessibility, and turn on "Speak Auto-text".
If you're holding your iPad with both hands and you know how hard it is to thumb type either in a portrait or landscape view. The good news is that the iOS 5 or 6 gives you an option to split and undock a keyboard.
- Touch and hold the "Keyboard" key, choose an option to split or undock a keyboard, and do the same to merge or dock it.
- Or use two fingers to unpinch the keyboard to split it, and pinch to merge it.
The iPad screen switches to either the portrait or landscape view in response to the way you hold the device. What if I want to lock the screen orientation to one view so that the screen doesn't rotate to another? Easy.
- Double-click your iPad's Home button to see a row of icons at the bottom of the screen.
- Flick right until you see the Orientation icon (see the screenshot).
- Hold the device to the orientation you want and tap the icon to lock it.
To unlock it, tap the Orientation icon again.
Where’s the PrintScreen button when you need to take a screen shot of your iPad? Instead of using one button, try a combination of two:
- Press and hold down the Sleep/Wake button at the top right corner of your iPad, and click the Home button.
- Open the app Photos, and you can see your screenshot already saved in the Camera Roll album.
You can easily select a wallpaper from a collection of a few in your system and set it as your Home and/or Lock Screen.
- Open the app Settings and select "Brightness & Wallpaper" on the left panel.
- Choose the Wallpaper box twice and select a wallpaper.
- Tap "Set Home Screen", "Set Lock Screen" or "Set Both".
You can also select a picture from the Camera Roll or Photo Library, but in some cases it might not fit into the iPad screen which has a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.
Ideally, since the iPad screen can be orientated in portrait (768 W x 1024 H) or landscape view (1024 W x 768 H), this type of wallpapers is more suitable—a square image of 1024x1024 pixels, with the significant part visible in the central area of 768x768 pixels so that it won't be cropped away when your iPad is held in either view, as illustrated on the right.
Just like the current Android system, the iOS 5 or 6 allows you to quickly access a notification by swiping down from the status bar at the top of the screen, saving you the trouble of finding alerts on the app icons in various home screens.
- To clear a pending alert right away, press the X sign where available, and then the "Clear" button.
- To access a notification, tap it and you're taken to the related email, reminder, message or app. The notification then clears automatically from the Center.
Better still, you can customize notifications the way you want from Settings > Notifications.
Don't know the meanings of a word when reading an article in a web browser or ebook, a text message in an email or some where? No problem. A dictionary is always around with you as it has been built into the iOS 5 and 6. To use it:
- Touch and hold to select a word.
- Tap "Define" (or "Dictionary" in some apps like iBooks).
The dictionary slides up and the word is defined. This however does not apply to proper names or words which have not been defined or recognized in the built-in dictionary.
When browsing the articles of Gizmo's Freeware, you can tap the link Back to the top of the article we often add at the end of the pages for your convenience. But what about other web pages without the link?
Using the iPad, you just need to tap the Status bar at the top of the screen to quickly scroll back to the top of the page.
This works in Safari or Terra Browser, and does the same in other apps such as Mail, Notes and Photos.
Just like most browsers, the app Safari allows you to add bookmarks and folders easily for getting to the websites fast when browsing.
Add a bookmark
- On the page you like to bookmark, tap the Action button and select "Add Bookmark".
- Change the bookmark title if needed.
- Tick a bookmark folder, for example "Bookmarks Bar" if needed, and tap "Save".
Add a bookmark folder
- Tap the Bookmark button, and select "Bookmarks Bar" if you wish to add a folder under it.
- Tap "Edit", then "New Folder" and give a title.
- Re-order items, if any, by dragging the Sort button and tap "Done" to finish.
Remove a bookmark / folder
- Tap the Bookmark button, and browse to a folder when needed.
- Tap the Edit button, then tap the minus sign on the item to remove.
- Press "Delete" to confirm and tap "Done" to finish.
Safari doesn't display the Bookmarks Bar by default. You can enable it in just a few steps:
- Open the app Settings.
- Select "Safari" on the left panel.
- Turn on "Always Show Bookmarks Bar" on the right panel.
You will then see the Bookmarks Bar shown right below the Address bar in Safari. Though it takes up a small space on your iPad screen, but you can easily see your bookmarks and access them more directly.
If you frequently visit a web page, you can tap a web clip icon on your home screen and quickly access the page without the need to touch the Safari icon. This web clip icon can be added to your home screen easily:
- On the page you often visit, tap the Action button in Safari.
- Select "Add to Home Screen" and a web clip icon appears.
- Edit the page title if necessary, then tap the "Add" button.
Next time you visit the same web page, just tap the web clip icon on your home screen. Some websites including Gizmo's Freeware have a web clip icon which has been customized for you (see the screenshot).
While you read a web page in a browser, you can either double tap or unpinch a page to enlarge the size for ease of reading.
Safari browser takes a step further by taking the ads or other clutter out of a web page. It automatically detects a web page with substantial text, such as online articles, and presents you with a Reader button at the address bar.
Tap the Reader button when it appears and you can read or even email the articles in a clean layout without ads or other distractions, re-tap the button and you're back to the original page.
Safari running on the iOS 5 and 6 supports tabbed browsing. If you're using the iOS 4, you can have up to nine pages open at a time in Safari and you need to flip between a large full page and small tiled pages. It's certainly not so convenient as tabbed browsing.
If tabbed browsing is your preference, you can either use Safari running on the iOS 5 or 6, or try other free browsers such as Terra Browser.
With this alternate browser, you can switch between tabs as easily as you do with most desktop browsers. Among other features such as bookmarks support, you can touch and hold a web link to copy, open in the current page, in a new tab or in the background (see the screenshot). But unfortunately you can't get a bookmarks bar with folders like in Safari.
The iPad allows for adding multiple mail accounts including GMail, iCloud (in iOS 5 & 6), Exchange, Yahoo, Hotmail and others. To set up a mail account is straightforward especially for this example, GMail.
- Open the app Settings and select "Mail, Contacts, Calendars" on the left panel.
- Tap "Add Account...", select GMail, then enter name, address and password.
- Tap "Next" for verifying.
- Leave the sync settings "On" for Mail, Calendars and Notes, tap "Save" to finish.
After this setting, you can then open the app Mail to send emails and read incoming mails, check and edit entries in the apps Notes and Calendar, which are automatically synced with your GMail account over the air.
Each time you send out an email using the Mail app, it adds a signature "Sent from my iPad". If you dislike this signature, clear or replace it with your own.
- Open Settings, select "Mail, Contacts, Calendars", and tap "Signature" on the right panel.
- Clear the signature "Sent from my iPad", or replace it with your signature or name.
- Tab the "Mail, Contacts..." button when done.
Becoming a competitor to BlackBerry Messenger, iMessages developed by Apple gives you a real-time instant messaging service via Wi-Fi or 3G for all iOS 5 and iOS 6 users. To use this service and send an instant message from your iPad is pretty straightforward.
- Tap the Messages app icon.
- Tap the plus sign and add a contact, who will be idenfied by the service if running the same app.
- Add text, photos or videos and tap the Send button.
The service supports group messaging, tracking with delivery receipts and encryption of messages.
The iOS 5 and 6 add a Reminders app to your iPad so that you can set up a task or reminder easily.
To add a task or reminder
- Tap the "Date" button and select a date from the calendar.
- Tap the plus sign, enter a task name and press the return key.
- Adjust details such as date/time to remind, repeat, priority, list and notes by tapping a task item and tap "Done" when finished.
To add and adjust lists
- Tap the "Edit" button.
- Tap "Create New List..." to add a list, tap the minus sign to remove it, or drag a "Sort" button to reorder lists.
Reminder items appear in the Notification Center depending on your settings from Settings > Notifications > Reminders.
With PC-based iTunes, you can sync your Contacts on your iPad with a sync provider.
- After connecting your iPad to your PC, open up iTunes manually if it's not set to auto start, then select the iPad item under "Devices".
- Click "Info" next to "Summary" in iTunes.
- Tick "Sync Contacts with", select a sync provider, e.g. Google Contacts, and configure your ID and password.
- Click the "Sync" button.
Open the app Contacts on your iPad, and check if the contacts are synced with your GMail contacts, for example. See also: How to Sync iPad with PC-based iTunes.
The Notes app on your iPad applies a font called "Noteworthy" by default. If you find this font not easy to your eyes, why not change it?
- Go to Settings > Notes.
- Tick "Helvetica" on the right panel if you prefer a widely used sans-serif typeface easier for reading and editing.
- Run the Notes app again and check if the font has been changed.
When you set up a mail account on your iPad, you can opt for turning on Notes to sync it with your account. If you do so, you can then select an account to add your notes, which are then synced automatically with the account. See also How to Setup Mail Accounts and Sync Options.
With the default Photos app, you can easily slideshow your collection of photos, with options for transition effects and music.
But even before you unlock your device, you can turn your iPad into a digital photo frame—just tap the "Picture Frame" icon (see the screenshot) and enjoy.
Can you show each photo faster or slower? Yes. Open the app Settings, select "Picture Frame" on the left panel, then on the right panel, select a time interval you need. You can also choose a transition effect, select zoom, shuffle and albums.
The app iBooks developed by Apple is free to install and it supports PDF format. When you download and read a PDF file in a browser such as Safari, you can also transfer the PDF file to the library for reading in iBooks anytime anywhere.
- In Safari on your iPad, tap a PDF download, e.g. "9 Great Freeware Programs that Should be on Every PC", the browser then displays the PDF content after download.
- Touch the screen, and tap the "Open in iBooks" button at the top.
- When opening up in iBooks, the PDF file is automatically added to the library for you.
Syncing iPad with your PC-based iTunes provides a backup copy of your apps, music, videos and other data files on your PC. In case you've accidentally deleted some files from your iPad, you can restore them back with syncing. It's also a way to get apps, songs and videos from your PC to your iPad, besides getting them directly with the App Store and iTunes apps on your device.
To get this to work, iTunes is required on your PC. If you've not installed it, you can get it here, then follow these steps for syncing your iPad with the PC-based iTunes.
Syncing your iPad using a cable
- Launch iTunes and connect your iPad to your PC using a cable.
- Select the iPad device on the left panel in iTunes and click the "Sync" button for syncing. (Syncing may be done upon connection depending on the settings.)
- Click the Apply button to sync again if you've changed any options in the settings.
- Click the Eject button in the iTunes to disconnect it from your iPad when finished.
Syncing your iPad via Wi-Fi (iOS 5 & 6)
The iOS 5 and 6 add an option to allow you to sync your iPad over Wi-Fi. You can enable this feature by the steps below.
- Launch iTunes (version 10.5 or newer) and connect your iPad to the PC using a cable.
- Select the iPad device on the left panel in iTunes.
- Scroll to the bottom of the "Summary" view, check "Sync with this iPad over Wi-Fi" and click "Apply".
Disconnect the cable, restart your computer and iTunes, check if your iPad device is shown up in iTunes for syncing when your iPad is plugged in to power and connected to the same Wi-Fi network with your PC.
Using the iOS 5 or 6, you can back up your data, such as photos and videos in the Camera Roll, app data, home screen, device settings and messages on your iPad, to the online iCloud storage up to 5 GB for free.
- Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup
- Turn "iCloud Backup" on if it's switched off
- Backup is then done automatically to the iCloud storage when your iPad is plugged in to a power source, screen locked and connected to Wi-Fi. Or you get it done immediately by tapping "Back Up Now".
If you opt for iCloud Backup, it will turn off automatic backups to your PC when you sync with iTunes. But you still can do a manual backup—just connect your iPad to iTunes, then in iTunes, right-click the iPad device on the left panel and select "Back Up" from the context menu.
When you need to restore your iPad or set up a new device, you can have an option "Restore from iCloud Backup" with this online service, besides an opportunity to restore from iTunes.
Don't like your kids to mess with your device or someone to read your emails on your iPad? Lock it with a password.
- Open the app Settings and select "General" on the left panel.
- Select "Passcode Lock" on the right panel.
- Tap "Turn Passcode On".
- Enter a 4-digit passcode, and the same again to confirm.
Each time when your iPad is turned on, you'll have to enter the 4-digit passcode to access your iPad.
In iOS 6, you can lock your iPad to a certain screen of an app you choose, or disable touch access to certain areas of that screen. To enable this feature, turn on Guided Access as follows:
- Open the app Settings and select "General" on the left panel.
- On the right panel, select "Accessibility", then turn on "Guided Access".
- Tap "Set Passcode" and enter a 4-digit passcode twice to confirm.
To lock your iPad to a certain screen of an app:
- Open an app and select a screen you want to lock, triple-click the Home button.
- Turn off "Touch" to lock the whole screen, or circle areas on the screen you would like to disable.
- Tap "Start" to begin with Guided Access.
To end Guided Access, triple-click the Home button, enter the passcode then tap "End".
Is there a way to locate your iPad if it gets lost or stolen? Yes. Not only possibly can you locate it, but you can display a message or play a sound on your iPad, lock it using its existing passcode, or even erase all data on your device remotely, with help of the feature "Find my iPad" that can be enabled on your device.
- Open Settings app, select "Mail, Contacts, Calendars" and check that "Fetch New Data" is set to Push.
- Select "Add Account...", choose iCloud (or MobileMe in iOS 4), then enter your Apple ID and password.
- When prompted, click "OK" to allow the service to use the location of your iPad.
- Keep the setting "Find My iPad" on and tap "Save".
Then try to find your iPad:
- Sign in with your Apple ID at icloud.com (or me.com for iOS 4 users) using a PC web browser, or another device installed with Find My iPhone.
- Once your device's location is updated on a Google map, click the right-angle or info button next to the device name.
- Click "Play Sound or Send Message", "Remote Lock" or "Remote Wipe" as you need to.
In the event your iPad apps freeze or the system becomes unresponsive, you can try to reboot the system as follows:
- Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button at the top right corner of your iPad until a red slider appears. Slide your finger across the slider and the system will turn off. (Alternatively, press and hold down the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button at the same time until the system turns off.)
- Turn the system on by pressing and holding the Sleep/Wake button until the Apple logo appears.
In addition to these tips and tricks covering some quick and easy points, if you wish to read a full manual on iPad features, controls and the built-in apps, you can get a free copy of the iPad User Guide from Apple here in PDF format or here in a handy eBook format.
If you've installed the free app iBooks on your iPad, open the app, tap the "Store" button and search for "iPad User Guide", you can then download the Guide directly into your iBooks for reading.
- The Best iPad Tips and Tricks [Updated for iOS 7 and iOS 8]
- Best Free iPad Apps
- Best Free iPhone Apps
- Best Free Android Apps
- The Best Android Tips and Tricks
This category is maintained by volunteer editor Jojo Yee. Registered members can contact the editor with comments or suggestions by clicking here.
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