10 Fun Tricks You Never Knew Your iPad Could Perform

man on ipad
Getty Images / Peter Macdiarmid

One of the biggest selling points of the iPad is the ecosystem of apps and accessories that make so many things possible. This list of fun iPad tricks gives you ideas on how to amaze your friends or, at least, get the most out of your iPad.

All the tips in this article are available in iPad OS 13 and iOS 12, but most have been available in one form or another for much longer.

Multitask With Picture in Picture

When you want to take notes while on a Facetime call or monitor your email as you watch a video, Picture in Picture is ready. Scale down a FaceTime screen or video by pressing the Home button (on models that have them) or the reduce screen size icon. The video scales down to a corner of the iPad screen. You can see the Home screen and open any other app. When the app opens, move the video around the screen or resize it.

Picture in Picture feature on iPad

Use a Virtual Touchpad on Your iPad

Do you miss the touchpad on your laptop? The touch controls of the iPad are a usually sufficient—and in many cases even preferred—way to control the iPad. However, when it comes to selecting text or placing the cursor, it's hard not to miss having a mouse or a touchpad. That is, of course, unless you know about the Virtual Touchpad.

When you have the iPad's on-screen keyboard displayed, you usually have access to the Virtual Touchpad. Touch two fingers down on the screen at the same time to activate it and don't lift them. The keys on the virtual keyboard turn blank, and you move your fingers to move the cursor as if you were controlling a real touchpad.

Virtual touchpad on an iPad touch

Get Familiar With Control Center

You've probably stumbled across the Control Center by swiping down in the right corner of the screen (or up from the bottom on some models). Go back and see that you can control many aspects of your iPad experience right there in the Control Center. Turn on or off Airplane mode, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and AirDrop. Change the lighting and sound settings or set a timer. If those aren't the settings you use, customize the Control Center in Settings to add an alarm, magnifying glass, notes, or screen recording.

Connect the iPad to Your TV

You can view your iPad on your HDTV. If you don't have an Apple TV, one option is to buy Apple's Digital AV Adapter. This adapter lets you plug your iPad into the HDMI input of your TV and mirror the iPad display.

You can accomplish this without the wires if you own the AppleTV. Select Screen Mirroring in the Control Center on the iPad and tap Apple TV. After that, AirPlay does all the work.

Control Center on an iPad showing Screen Mirroring option

Create a Movie Trailer or Edit Videos on Your iPad

If you bought a new iPad (or iPhone) in the past few years, you have free access to iMovie, which is a full-featured video editor you can use to create your own movie trailer or edit videos on your iPad. It is easy to cut and splice video together from multiple sources, add features, such as slow motion, and bring music to the video.

iMovie has some fun templates. When you launch a new iMovie project, you choose between creating a Movie, in which you work without a template, or a Trailer that gives you fun themes such as Fairy Tale, Indie, and Romance, among others.

iMovie trailer screen on iPad

Watch TV on Your iPad

There are a lot of great apps for viewing movies on your iPad, but what about watching cable television? There are a few ways you can get your favorite TV stations on your iPad, one of which is Sling TV and the Sling Player. Sling TV is internet TV in the most literal sense, allowing you to stream channels to any of your devices. Sling Player is a bit different. It operates by intercepting your current cable broadcast and "slinging" it to your iPad.

If you have an Apple TV or a smart TV, check the app store for your favorite channels' apps. Many cable providers have them now, although you may need a cable TV provider to access them. These are a few of the ways to watch TV on your iPad.

Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

If you have an iPad running iPadOS 13 and a compatible Mac, you can use the Sidecar feature that comes with the iPad to quickly turn it into a second monitor. Earlier models of the iPad need an app to help out.

Apps like Duet Display and Air Display turn your tablet into a monitor. The ability to have two monitors can do wonders for productivity, and if you already own an iPad, there's no need to spend $200 or more on another display when cheaper alternatives are available.

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Launch Apps Using a Magical Incantation

OK. So maybe the magical incantation sounds a lot like "Launch Mail." It still seems like magic. Siri is an extremely powerful tool that most people don't use enough. One of the useful features is the ability to launch apps verbally. If you've ever hunted through screen after screen of app icons looking for Facebook, you could save a lot of time by just telling Siri to "launch Facebook" for you.

You can also use Siri to play music (even a playlist), dial a phone number from your contacts, or read your text messages.

Siri screen of example voice commands on iPad

Turn Siri Male or British

Does Siri's voice grate on your nerves? You aren't stuck with it. You can select from American, Australian, British, Irish, and South African dialects in either male or female versions.

Change the gender and accent by launching the Settings app, choosing Siri & Search from the left panel, and tapping Siri Voice toward the bottom of the Siri options. Pick your favorite combination.

If you want to have some fun, change Siri's language to open up even more options. The Language option is just above Siri Voice in the Settings.

Siri voice settings on iPad

More Ways to Play With the iPad

The iPad's popularity has led to a fantastic ecosystem of cool accessories ranging from an arcade cabinet that turns your iPad into an old-fashioned game to race cars that are completely controlled by the iPad. One of the coolest kid's accessories is the Osmo system that uses a mirror and the iPad's camera to recognize shapes and interact with your child to play games. Kids draw in front of the iPad and interact with their objects on the display, creating a whole new way to play and learn with the iPad.