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Home / iPad / How to use an iPad: Tips, tricks & hidden features

How to use an iPad: Tips, tricks & hidden features

Since the iPad launched back in 2010, it has been the go-to tablet of choice for millions of consumers around the world. As with any product, if you want to get the most out an iPad you have to know the ins and outs – which is where we come in, with our list of top tips that show how to use an iPad.

There are tips here for everyone, from beginners to masters of iOS. Whatever your level of expertise, we feel confident that at least some of the tips, tricks and secret features we’ll be revealing will be new to you.

For advice on how to buy Apple tablets rather than use them, you should turn to our iPad buying guide and our roundup of the best iPad deals.

The basics

Change the background wallpaper

It’s easy to change the wallpaper of your iPad, both on the lock screen and home screen. Head to Settings, tap ‘Wallpaper’ and then tap ‘Choose a New Wallpaper’. You can browse from a selection of Apple’s own wallpapers, with ‘Dynamic’ wallpapers moving slowly in the background, or browse for a photo from your photo library.

How to use an iPad tips: Change wallpaper

Once you’ve found the wallpaper you’d like to use, tap it to bring up a lock screen wallpaper preview. From here, you can preview what your wallpaper will look like, along with specifying whether you want to set it as a universal wallpaper, or if you want it specifically for the lock or home screen.

We cover this in a it more depth, including some of the options we’ve not mentioned here, in a separate article: How to change the wallpaper on an iPad.

Manage storage on your iPad

Maybe your iPad won’t let you take another photo. Perhaps it refuses to let you download one more app. Because iOS storage space isn’t expandable, it’s important to monitor what’s gobbling up the available gigabytes on your device.

Open the Settings app and go to General > iPad Storage, then wait for a moment or three: when it’s ready, iOS will list your apps by storage used, together with the date you last used them (which is handy information when trying to decide which ones you can live without).

iOS is also likely to have a few recommendations for how best to optimise your use of storage, and these will be listed on this page too.

How to use an iPad: Manage storage

How to use an iPad: Manage storage

Set up reminders for specific locations

If you want to be reminded to do something when you leave your home, work, current location, or any address in your address book, that’s pretty easy to set up with iOS’s Reminders app. But what if you want to remember to buy something when you’re at the shops? You probably don’t want to add their locations in your address book just to get that feature.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. When you create a reminder, tap it and turn on Remind Me at a Location. By default, Reminders will populate your current address – tap that and you’ll get a host of options, including, at the bottom, a text box to enter a custom address.

Get your iPad to read to you

Enabling the Speak option makes it possible for your iPad to read aloud any selectable text. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility. Scroll down to Speak Selection, and tap to turn it on. You can also adjust the speaking rate, choose from a wide variety of voices and highlight words as they are spoken.

Now, go into any app that lets you highlight text. Your options include Mail, as well as Safari, Notes and a fair few others. Select some text, and you’ll see a new option appear in the contextual menu (you may have to tap the right arrow to view more options). Tap the Speak command, and your iOS device will start reading the text aloud.

Enable the Emoji keyboard

The Emoji keyboard lets you insert all kinds of fun images wherever you can type, including the tacos, unicorns and, y’know, the middle finger. Your iOS device can speak the names of those symbols, too.

Perhaps you’ve seen these iconographic symbols in emails, iMessages and tweets, and wondered how on earth people managed to type them. Maybe you’ve mistakenly assumed that you need to purchase a third-party app to gain access to those special symbols.

How to use an iPad tips: Emoji keyboard

How to use an iPad tips: Emoji keyboard

You don’t: Apple treats those symbols, called Emoji, as an international keyboard. Go to Settings > General > International > Keyboards. Then tap Add New Keyboard and find Emoji. Now open an app where you can type some text.

Next to the spacebar, you’ll see a little globe icon. Tap it to switch between your normal keyboard and the Emoji one.

How to multitask on an iPad

Now, this tip only applies to those using the iPad mini 2, iPad Air or later.

The multi-tasking features are split into three groups; slide over, split view and picture-in-picture. All iPads mentioned can use slide over, which brings up a small side pane (using 1/3 of the screen) displaying an iPhone-esque app, alongside the first. You can then change the app by swiping from the top of the app, and selecting a new one.

The only downside is that you can’t interact with both apps at the same time, and if you want to use the app you originally had open, you have to close the ‘slide over’ app first.

Split view is more impressive, but is limited to the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 or later. When using slide over, applicable users can ‘pull’ the app into a split screen mode where both apps can be used at the same time, and the amount of space can be adjusted by tapping and holding the divider between the apps.

Finally, ‘Picture-in-picture’ mode allows recent iPad users to watch videos or FaceTime people while using other apps. When in a FaceTime call, or watching a movie (not just in Videos – some third-party apps are supported) simply tap the home button and the video will be minimised and displayed in the bottom corner of your iPad. Feel free to drag it to the other corners of the iPad if needed, and pinching the video will expand it.

The dock

This follows on neatly from the multitasking features, but we feel it deserves a section of its own. There has always been a ‘dock’ at the bottom of the iPad’s Home screen, but since the launch of iOS 11 this has become both smarter – with recently used apps popping into the dock when the system feels this is useful – and more omnipresent, since you can access from any screen and within any app by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

How to use an iPad tips: The dock

How to use an iPad tips: The dock

You can tap and drag an app from the dock on to the righthand side of the screen and it will open there in a splitscreen window. It’s an incredibly handy of switching between apps and improving your productivity.

Tap to top

You won’t believe how much time this will save you. If you’re halfway down a web page in Safari, tap the top bar to jump back to the top of the page. Try it in other apps too – lots of them, third-party apps included, use this navigational trick.

Take photos with volume

Did you know you can take photos using either of the volume buttons? Their location is much more convenient when shooting in landscape mode, especially when using an iPad.

How to share your current location

With iOS, it’s easy to let loved ones know where you are at any given time – and this can be achieved in a number of ways. First of all, you can open Maps, tap a pin (or your current location marker), tap the arrow, and finally tap the Share button. You can then choose where to share your location to, with options including Messages, as well as Facebook and Twitter (which we wouldn’t recommend).

Of course, that method becomes irrelevant if you want constant location information. For that, you have to open Find my Friends and invite the person you want to share your location with, by entering their Apple ID when prompted. Once accepted, they’ll be able to see your location whenever they desire – unless of course, you disable Location Services.

How to download a single track from Apple Music

Apple Music users can stream music from the internet to their mobiles wherever there’s signal – but what about when you’re on the tube or on a plane with no connection? Thankfully, you can download any individual track from the streaming service onto your iOS device – just tap the menu button displayed next to each song in the ‘My Music’ tab and tap ‘Make available offline’.

Next: Mail tips for iPad owners >>


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