How to Open and Use the iPad's Task Manager

Multitasking on iPad

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The iPad's task manager is one of the easiest ways to toggle between apps or switch to a recently opened app. It also gives you access to the control panel and lets you quit an app you no longer need open.

These instructions apply to iPads running iOS 4.2.1 and later.

How to Turn On the iPad's Multitasking Features

To use features like the App Switcher, you'll want to make sure you have the options switched on first. Here's how to do that.

  1. On the Home screen, tap Settings.

    Settings app on an iPad
  2. Select General.

    General menu in Settings on iPad
  3. Tap Multitasking & Dock.

    Multitasking & Dock setting on iPad
  4. The next screen has the switches you'll need to turn on other multitasking features like Slide Over and Picture in Picture. But the one you want to make sure is on is Gestures.

    Gestures toggle on iPad
  5. With that setting activated, you'll have all the options you need to get to the App Switcher.

Open the App Switcher in one of two ways:

  • Double-click the Home Button, which is the physical button just below the iPad's display when holding it in portrait mode. On later models, this is also the sensor for Touch ID.
  • Swipe your finger up from the very bottom edge of the iPad's display where the screen meets the bevel

When you have the task manager screen open, your most recently used apps will appear as windows across the screen. Here are a few things you can do on this screen:

  • Tap on an app's window to switch to it.
  • If you swipe from the left side of the screen towards the right side, you can scroll through your recently-opened apps. This feature helps to switch to an app even if it has been a few hours since you last had it open.
  • You can also close an app by holding your finger on the app's window and swiping toward the top of the screen. This gesture closes the app completely. You should not usually need to quit an app like this, but if you have an app that is behaving erratically, closing it and relaunching is a good troubleshooting step.

How to Switch Between Apps on the iPad

Quickly switching between apps is a great way to increase productivity, but while the task manager makes it very easy, it's not always the fastest. There are two other methods for quickly moving between apps. 

How to Switch Apps Using the iPad's Dock

The iPad's Dock will display the three most recently used apps on the right side of the dock. A vertical line separates the recent apps from the ones you've permanently fixed to the Dock. 

The iPad's Dock is always visible on the Home Screen, but you also have quick access to it within apps. If you slide your finger up from the bottom edge of the screen, the Dock will appear.

Once the Dock is visible, you can use it to launch one of your most recently used apps or any of the apps you've pinned to its left side.

How to Multitask Using the Dock

The Dock also makes multitasking a breeze by giving you a quick and easy way to display several apps on the screen at the same time using Slide Over, Split View, and Picture in Picture. Here's how to have up to three apps open on your iPad at once.

Expert Tip: Important:

You must have at least an iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad Mini 2 to display multiple apps on the screen.

  1. Open the first app you want to use.

    Photo app on iPad
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to pull up the Dock.

    Pull up the Dock on the iPad
  3. Drag the icon of the next app you want to open to the right side of the screen.

  4. Release the icon, and the apps will appear side by side.

    Slide Over on iPad
  5. You can adjust the width of both apps by dragging the tab between them to the left or right. Pulling it to either edge of the screen will close the app on that side.

    Using Slide Over on iPad
  6. To open a third app in Slide Over, pull up the Dock again and drag the icon of the app you want onto the line between the two apps that are already open (where the adjustment slider is).

    Opening three apps on iPad
  7. Once you release the icon, the third app will open in a tall, rectangular window on top of the other two. You can use the slider at the top of this app to slide it off of the screen temporarily. Swipe over from the edge of the screen to pull it back.

    With multiple apps open, you can drag photos, text, and videos between them.

    Three apps open at once on an iPad
  8. Not all apps support multitasking. If the app appears as a square window instead of a horizontal rectangle when you drag it toward the middle of the screen, it will launch in full-screen mode.

How to Switch Apps Using Multitasking Gestures

The multitasking gestures built into iOS are some cool secrets that can help you get the most out of your iPad. 

Use these gestures to switch between apps by holding four fingers down on the iPad's screen and swiping left or right to navigate between recently used apps. You can also swipe up with four fingers to reveal the App Switcher.