10 Great iPad Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

Hidden music controls, a virtual touchpad, and more

The iPad doesn't come with an instruction manual, although you can download one from Apple's website, but how many of us actually do that? The iPad has always been an easy device to pick up and use, but it's also packed with a variety of cool features you may not know about.

of 10

Put an Extra App on the Dock

Detail of Facebook social media app icon on iPad tablet computer screen
Iain Masterton / Getty Images

The easiest shortcut isn't always the most obvious, and that's true for the iPad. Did you know you can squeeze up to five of your favorites apps on the dock at the bottom of the screen? This makes for a great shortcut, allowing you to quickly launch the app no matter where you are on your iPad. You can even put a folder on the dock, which can really come in handy if you have a lot of apps you use on a regular basis.

of 10
Spotlight Search on iPad

Speaking of launching apps, you can quickly find one without hunting through pages and pages for an icon, courtesy of Spotlight Search, which is accessed by sliding your finger right while on the home screen. Spotlight search finds and launches an app no matter where it's located on your iPad. Type in the name or press the microphone and speak it, then tap the app's icon when it appears in the results list.

of 10
A screenshot of the iPad's hidden control panel

The Control Center provides access to some of the iPad's most common settings. You access it by swiping down from the top of an iPad running iOS 13 or iOS 12 or up from the bottom edge of the iPad where the screen meets the bevel in earlier operation system versions. When you start from this edge and move your finger up, the control panel reveals itself.

The most popular controls on this panel are the music settings, which let you raise or lower the volume as well as skip songs. You can also use these controls to toggle Bluetooth on or off, change the iPad's brightness or lock the rotation among other settings.

of 10

The Virtual Touchpad

iPad Keyboard

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images


One of the best additions to the iPad's operating system in the last few years is the virtual touchpad. The iPad is a little clumsy when dealing with the cursor. This is especially true when you need to go all the way to the left or right edge of the screen. The virtual touchpad solves this problem by allowing the iPad's on-screen keyboard to act as a touchpad when you place two fingers on it. This makes it easy to move the cursor to an exact position in the text or to quickly highlight a section of text.  

of 10

Add Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts

Screenshot of the iPad's keyboard settings in iOS 11

Sometimes, the auto-correct feature can get in your way when you're typing on the iPad, but you can customize it to put it to work for you If you go to Settings > General > Keyboard, you'll find a button that allows you to add your own shortcut. This feature lets you type in a shortcut, such as your initials, and have that shortcut replaced with a phrase, such as your full name.

of 10

Shake to Undo

An example of the shake to undo typing feature on iPad

Speaking of typing, there's an easy way to undo a mistake you've made. Just like PCs have an edit-undo feature, the iPad also allows you to undo your last bit of typing by shaking it. It prompts you to confirm whether you want to undo the typing.

of 10

Split the Keyboard in Two

Screenshot of an email being written with the iPad's split keyboard feature

If you're better at typing with your thumbs than your fingers, you might find the iPad's onscreen keyboard a little too big. Fortunately, there's an option in the settings to split the iPad's keyboard in two, allowing easier access for your thumbs. You don't need to hunt through the iPad's settings to find this particular feature. You can activate it by pinching out with your fingers when you have the keyboard displayed, which splits the keyboard into two halves on your screen.

of 10

Tap a Word to Get the Definition

Text from the book "Garlic and Sapphires" by Ruth Reichl with the word "perennially" defined on iPad

You can quickly look up a word's definition on your iPad Just tap and hold your finger on the word until the magnifying glass pops up; then, lift your finger. A menu pops up asking if you want to copy the text to the clipboard or define the text. Choosing define gives you the full definition of the word. This feature also works in other apps such as Books.

of 10

Download Previously Purchased Apps

Screenshot of a person's purchased apps on the Apple App Store

Have you ever deleted an app, then changed your mind and wanted it back? Not only can you download previously purchased apps for free, but the App Store makes the process easy. Rather than searching for the individual app within the store, you can tap on your Profile icon in the top right, then select Purchased. The Not On This iPad tab at the top of the screen narrows it down to apps you've deleted.

of 10

Take Quick Screenshots

Ipad2 Comparison

Justin Sullivan / Staff Editorial / Getty Images

If you want to take a screenshot of your iPad's screen, you can do so by quickly pressing the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons simultaneously. The screenshot goes to your Photos app, where you can choose to share it with others.

If your iPad doesn't have a home button, take a screenshot by pressing the top button and volume up button simultaneously.

Was this page helpful?