8 Hidden iPad Secrets That Will Turn You Into a Pro

How to use text-to-speech, download free books, and more

Each year, Apple releases a new version of the operating system that runs the iPad. And with each new version, features are introduced that can increase productivity by helping you do certain tasks faster and more efficiently. There's only one problem: not everyone knows about them. Here are a few of the secret features that arrived with the original iPad and some that were added throughout the years to help you navigate the iPad like a pro.

Tap the Title Bar

Man using iPad
Getty Images / Peter Macdiarmid

We'll start with a secret tip that can really help speed up your ability to manipulate your iPad. Have you ever scrolled down a long list or been at the bottom of a large web page and needed to get back to the top? There's no need to scroll. Most of the time you can tap the title bar of the app or web page to return to the beginning of the list. This works with most apps and most web pages, although not every web page is designed to be iPad-friendly.

Skip the Apostrophe

On-screen keyboard in iOS

Skipping the apostrophe is also a great time-saver and ranks as our number one keyboard tip. The auto-correct feature on the iPad can be quite annoying, but at times it can also save you some time by doing the typing for you. The coolest trick is the ability to insert an apostrophe for most contractions like "can't" and "won't." Simply type the words without the apostrophe and auto-correct will usually insert it for you.

You can also use the predictive typing suggestions that appear at the top of the keyboard to help speed up your typing, and if you really don't like the on-screen keyboard, you can install a third-party keyboard from companies like Google or Grammarly.

The Virtual Touchpad

Using the on-screen keyboard in iOS Notes

Possibly the number one thing people miss about their desktop computers is the mouse. The ability to tell your tablet what to do by touching the screen is great for ordinary uses, but when you want to do a lot of typing, the ability to move the cursor with a touchpad or mouse is...well, there are few substitutes.

This might be why Apple added a virtual touchpad to the iPad's on-screen keyboard. This often-overlooked secret can make a world of distance if you frequently create long messages or lists using the iPad. Simply hold two or more fingers down on the on-screen keyboard and move your fingers without lifting them from the display and a cursor within the text will move with your fingers. 

Open Apps and Find Music and Quickly Using Spotlight Search

Using the search feature in iOS

Did you know the iPad has a universal search feature? There's no need to go hunting through pages and pages of apps for just the right one. Spotlight Search can find music, videos, contacts, apps, and more on your device. It even suggests websites to visit.  

You can launch Spotlight Search by swiping down with your finger while on the Home Screen. Any time you are on the Home Screen (i.e. not inside an app or using Siri), you can swipe down to initiate a Spotlight Search. The key here is to swipe down somewhere in the middle of the screen. If you swipe from the very top of the display, you'll open the Notification Center.

The great thing about Spotlight Search is that it searches your entire device, so you can even use it to search for a specific text message or email. It even searches through Notes. You can turn on and off different results through your iPad's Settings app under Spotlight Search.

Garage Band, iMovie, and iWork

iMovie on an iPad

Did you know a whole suite of secret apps come with the iPad? For the last few years, Apple has made the iWork and iLife suite of apps free for those who buy a new tablet. These apps include:

Download Free Books on Your iPad

The iOS book store

Everyone likes free stuff, and you can get plenty of freebies with your iPad if you know where to look. For book lovers, the best-kept secret on the iPad comes from something called Project Gutenberg. Its goal is to take the world's library of public domain works and convert them to a digital format. Treasure Island, Dracula, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan are just a few of the books you can download for free on your iPad. 

You can find free ebooks to download by going to the iBooks app and selecting Book Store > Browse Sections > Special Offers & Free.

Do you want a shortcut to some great books? Check out our list of the best free books on the iPad

Move an App to the iPad's Dock

Rearranging the icons in the iOS dock

Do you hate scrolling through multiple screens of apps looking for your favorite one? There are a number of tricks for finding an app on your iPad quickly, including using Spotlight Search, but one of the most overlooked tricks is simply docking your favorite app.

The dock is the final row of apps at the very bottom of the iPad's display. These apps are always present on the Home screen, which means you don't have to scroll through page after page to find them. And the best part is that you can move any app you want to the dock. 

The iPad comes with five apps on the dock, but the new flexible dock can hold many more. The last two spots are reserved for your most recently used apps, which helps when you multitask using the iPad, but the rest of the dock is yours to customize. You can even move an entire folder full of apps there.

To place an app on the dock, activate edit mode by touching and holding your finger on the app, then drag it to the dock. Place it between two existing apps and wait until they move apart to provide space for the app you want on there.

Let Your iPad Read Selected Text to You

Using text-to-speech in a book on iPad

Do you want to give your eyes a rest? Let your iPad do the heavy lifting—or, in this case, the heavy reading—for you. The iPad can speak selected text to you, but first you need to turn this feature on in the accessibility settings. The text-to-speech feature is designed to help the vision impaired, but it can be very useful to most people. For example, the iPad can allow you to multitask by reading an interesting news article to you while your cook dinner. 

To turn on the iPad's text-to-speech feature, go to Settings>General>Accessibility>Speech and tap the Speech Selection slider to turn it on. This setting adds a new Speak option to the menu that appears when you select text.

If you think you may use this feature often, you can also turn on Speak Screen. This allows you to slide two fingers down from the top of the display to read the entire screen to you. This doesn't work so well with web pages where the top of the screen is filled with menus, but it works well with other apps like Mail.

You can also change the voice text-to-speech uses by tapping the Voices button within the Speech settings. Meanwhile, the Speaking Rate can be adjusted to have the iPad speak faster or slower. 

One great way to use the text-to-speech feature is within iBooks, where the iPad can read the book to you. This isn't quite as good as a book on tape, where the reader can give the right inflection to the words and sometimes even portray the character's voices. But, if you choose to speak the screen, the iPad will automatically turn pages and keep reading the book.