14 Must-Know iPad Tips & Tricks

Mar 20, 2012 - 16 Comments

iPad tips and tricks

Whether you’re new to the iPad or a longtime user, here are some great tips to help you get the most out of the device. A few of these are intended for using on the new iPad, but most of them will be relevant to all iPad models of all ages.

Switch the Mute Button to Orientation Lock

Tap on Settings > General > Use Side Switch to: Lock Orientation. The side switch defaults to mute, but with volume buttons right underneath it this makes no sense, and there’s nothing more annoying than an iPad screen that’s constantly rotating if you’re reading in bed.
Orientation Lock

Double-Tap Home Button to Access Brightness

The iPad screen is extraordinarily bright, this is wonderful for daytime use but give your eyes some rest in dimmer environments and at night time by manually adjusting the brightness, just double-tap the Home button and swipe right until you see the brightness indicator, and adjust manually as the lighting fits.
iPad Brightness Control

Use the Split Keyboard

Typing while holding the iPad is made much easier by using the split keyboard. Just pull apart the keyboard by swiping with both thumbs from the center outward, or tap the little keyboard icon in the lower right corner and pull it up, the keyboard will split in two and be much easier to type on using your thumbs while holding the device.
Split Keyboard on iPad

Use Speech Dictation

Speaking of typing, why type when you don’t have to? The dictation feature works really well, just tap the little microphone icon and speak, tap it again when you’re finished for your words to be translated into text
iPad Dictation

Remember the Multitasking Gestures

You have three basic multitasking gestures which are enabled by default, remember these and use them. Arguably the most useful is the four-fingered app switcher, but learn them all.

  • Four finger swipe to return to Home screen
  • Four finger swipe up to reveal multitasking bar
  • Four finger swipe left or right to switch between open apps

Add 6 Items to the Dock

By default the dock contains four items, but it can hold up to six on the iPad. Just tap an hold on an icon until it jiggles, then drag a couple more apps, folders, or website that you use frequently into the dock.
Use Six Dock Icons

Move Unused Apps into a Folder

Everyone has a handful of default apps they don’t use at all but that can’t be deleted, for me that’s Game Center, iTunes, YouTube, Contacts, and iBooks. Move them all into a folder and put it on another screen to get them out of the way. Unfortunately you can’t move Newsstand into another folder, so just throw that onto a second page if you don’t use it.

Bookmark Favorite Websites to Home Screen

While in Safari, load up your favorite websites (like this one) and tap on the box with an arrow in it, alongside the URL Bar. Select “Add to Home Screen” and give each site a short name so it doesn’t abbreviate itself. Better yet, make a whole folder full of your favorite websites bookmarks.
Bookmark Websites to Home Screen

Don’t Use Black or Dark Wallpaper

The darker the wallpaper, the more you’ll see screen smudges and glare. Try to use a lighter wallpaper image and you won’t see all the oils and fingerprints nearly as much

Disable In-App Purchases

This is mostly for those who share an iPad with other people or with kids, but the last thing you want is someone accidentally charging up your iTunes account with nonsensical or accidental in-app purchases. Disable these easily by tapping on Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions, then scroll down to “Allowed Content” and swipe In-App Purchases to OFF.

Take Screen Shots

Want to show off your iPad home screen or a cool app? Take a screen shot! Hold down the Home button and tap the Power button briefly, you’ll hear the familiar screenshot sound and the screen flashes white. Screen shots are stored within the Photos library, and can be messaged, emailed, or just preserved for posterity.

Set Up Mail and iMessage

The iPad makes a great communication device, be sure to set up iMessage and Mail so you can talk to people easily and for free.

Use iCloud

iCloud syncs messages, mail, reminders, bookmarks, enables Find My iPad, and provides for the most painless backup solution there is. It’s easy to configure and free, here is how to set it up if you haven’t done so already

Enable Find My iPad

Find My iPad lets you locate your iPad (or iPhone, Mac, or iPod touch) on a map, allowing you to see exactly where it is, and even letting you send messages and remotely wipe your data. This goes along with setting up iCloud, but if you don’t have it enabled you can turn it on after configuring iCloud by tapping on Settings > iCloud > Find My iPad > ON. Hopefully you won’t need this, if you ever lose your iPad you’ll be happy to have it enabled.
Find My iPad

Want more? Check out our iPad archives!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, Tips & Tricks


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  1. […] 14 Must-Know Tips & Tricks for iPad These usability tricks will help you get the absolute most out of your iPad. […]

  2. Renga Haka says:

    Awesome tips. Thank you very much..

  3. minor correction:
    Four finger pinch to return to Home screen

    anyway that for a quick revision, an “original iPad” user here. :-)

  4. […] the Screen Brightness – We discussed this in a recent iPad tips post, but other than being easier on the eyes this will make the single biggest difference in battery […]

  5. Mutz777 says:

    I tried the website on the home screen tip for the iPhone, but I get a different icon. Any ideas?


  6. […] for using on the new iPad, but most of them will be relevant to all iPad models of all ages. · Go to 14 must-know iPad tips & tricks → Published on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 · Permalink Topics: howto, ipad, technologyFiled in […]

  7. The Mac Man says:

    You can put Newsstand in a folder if you put it in one directly after having created a new folder. Try it and feel empowered. Regards The Mac Man

  8. BigBBL says:

    Tip for Dictation: How to make dictation in different languages in the same time

    You must add the language you want as new keyboard, to do this goto :

    Setting -> General -> Keyboard -> International keyboard -> Add New Keyboard…

    for exemple, you wanna use dictation for English and French, add new French keyboard

    Go back and start using dictation, you gonna notice new little globe icon next to the microphone.. hit the new icon to change language to french (from exemple) and now start dication in french, hit the icon again to go back to english and and dication gonna be in english

    This tip works with the supported languages US, UK, Australian English, French, German and Japanese

    • Paul says:

      Great tip, thanks!

    • katbel says:

      I do not have the microphone key on my iPad
      I have 5.1 IOS and an iPad2. What do I need to do to have it on my keyboard?

      great tips BTW!

      • BigBBL says:

        Sorry that don’t work on older iPad, as with Siri for iPhone 4S only… this tip works only for the new iPad

        however doing the same tip on older iPad (1 and 2) will bring auto-correction to works when you type in different languages.

  9. Paula says:

    I didn’t realize you could set the rotation lock, what a life saver!

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