How to Drag and Drop on the iPad

Move text, links, and photos between apps

What to Know

  • Tap and hold an object. Once it pops out of its original place, move your finger around the screen to drag it.
  • To pick up additional objects, tap them with one of your other fingers.
  • Or, open the dock on an iPad, then tap and drag the icon of the app you want to drop content into.

This article explains how to drag and drop on the iPad. These instructions apply to iPads running iOS 9 and later.

How to Drag and Drop on the iPad

Dragging an object like a file or a photo from one spot to the next is as easy as moving your finger, but when you take into account multiple items and apps, you may need to lay the iPad on a table or your lap and use both of your hands.

Here's how to move photos, links, and text between apps on an iPad.

  1. Open the app containing the item you want to transfer.

    Objects you can drag and drop include photos, links, highlighted words, and a combination of these.

  2. To pick up an object, tap and hold on it for a few moments. Once it pops out of its original place, you can move your finger around the screen, and the photo or object will remain stuck to your finger.

    Picking up a link on an iPad
  3. To pick up additional objects, tap them with one of your other fingers. Every additional item you pick up will join the "stack" you're moving around. Stacks can contain different types of objects; for example, you can move a link and a photo at the same time.

    The number in the blue circle on the stack shows how many items it contains.

    Picking up multiple items on an iPad
  4. Keeping your finger on the screen, press the Home button to return to the main page of your iPad. The stack will stay under your finger.

    Place another finger close to the one holding the stack to transfer it if you need to free up a hand for other operations.

    Holding a stack of objects on the Home page of the iPad
  5. Tap the app you want to move the objects to.

    Moving a stack of objects to a new app on an iPad
  6. Drag the stack where you want to place it, and then lift your finger to drop it in.

    Dropping a stack of links from Safari into Messages on an iPad
  7. You can use the iPad as usual while you're dragging a stack, so you can also open the destination app using the Dock or the App Switcher.

How to Drag and Drop Using Multitasking

Not every app on the iPad supports multitasking features like Slide Over and Split View. But you can drag and drop between two compatible programs without having to close either of them. Here's how.

  1. Open the app containing the items you want to drag and drop.

  2. Drag your finger up from the bottom of the screen to open the Dock.

    Opening the dock on an iPad
  3. Tap and drag the icon of the app you want to drop content into.

    Apps compatible with Slide Over and Split View will appear in a rectangular window when you drag it out of the Dock. Ones that aren't will be in a square.

    Dragging an app out of the Dock on an iPad
  4. Move the icon to either side of the screen until a space opens for it, and then drop the app.

    Dropping an app into Split View on an iPad
  5. Both apps will be open side by side. Drag the handle in the middle of the screen to adjust how much screen room each of them gets.

    Adjusting the balance in Split View on an iPad
  6. Just like in the other method, tap and hold on the objects you want to move to add them to a stack. Move the stack to the second app, and then drag it where you want to insert it.

    Dragging and dropping between two apps in Split View on an iPad
  7. Lift your finger to drop the stack.

What Is Drag-and-Drop on iPad?

Drag-and-drop on the iPad is an alternative to cut and paste. When you move a file from one directory to another on your PC, you're using your mouse instead of menu commands. Apple devices support a universal clipboard. So you can copy a picture from the Photos app to the clipboard, open the Notes app, and then paste it into one of your notes.

But on the iPad, you can open the Photos and Notes apps side-by-side and drag photos from one to the other, which makes the process smoother. More importantly, you can pick up multiple pictures and move them all at once to the destination app. The feature also makes sending images to an email quick (and something that copying and pasting can't do).

You can even choose photos from multiple sources. So you can pick up an image in the Photos app, open Safari to add a picture from a web page, and then open your Mail app to drop them into a message.

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