How to Use the iPad Dock In iOS 12 and Up

Keep your favorite apps handy and unlock multitasking

The Dock at the bottom of the home screen of the iPad has always been a great way to easily access your favorite apps. In iOS 11 and iOS 12, the Dock is much more powerful. It still lets you launch apps, but now you can access it from every app and use it to multitask.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 11 and later.

Revealing the Dock While in Apps

The Dock is always present on the home screen of your iPad, but you don't have to leave the app you're using to open it. You can access the Dock at any time. Here's how:

  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen (in earlier versions of the iOS, this gesture revealed Control Center).
  • If you're using an external keyboard with your iPad, you can bring up the dock by clicking Command (or ) + Option + D at the same time.

If you're using the iPad Pro models (or any other iPad models) that don't have a home button, the swipe-up gesture that reveals the Dock is similar to the one that takes you back to the home screen. Use a short swipe up to show the dock. Use a longer swipe to go back home.

How to Add Apps to and Remove Apps from the iPad Dock in iOS 11 and iOS 12

Since you mostly use the Dock to launch apps, you'll probably want to keep your most-used ones there for easy access. Just follow these steps:

On iPads with 9.7- and 10.5-inch screens, and the 11-inch iPad Pro, you can put up to 13 apps in your Dock. On the iPad Pro, you can add up to 15 apps thanks to the 12.9-inch screen. The iPad mini, with its smaller screen, accommodates up to 11 apps.

  1. On the home screen, tap and hold the app that you want to move.

  2. When all of the apps begin to wiggle and X's appear in the corner of their icons, you've entered the mode that lets you move and delete apps.

    Delete app from iPad
  3. Drag the app down to the dock.

    You can only add apps to the left side of the dividing line in the Dock. The ones on the right side are the last three programs you've opened.

    An app in the Dock on an iPad
  4. Click the Home button to save the new arrangement of apps. On iPads that don't have a home button, the new arrangement saves as soon as you release the app into the Dock.

Use the same process to remove an app from the dock.

  1. Tap and hold the app you want to take out of the Dock until all of the icons start shaking.

  2. Drag the app out of the Dock and into a new position.

  3. Click the Home button. Again, on models without a Home button, the new arrangement saves immediately.

Managing Suggested and Recent Apps

While you can choose which apps are in your Dock, you can't control all of them. At the end of the Dock, you'll see a vertical line and three apps to the right of it. These three apps are the most recent ones you've used. If you'd prefer not to see those apps, you can turn them off by following these steps:

  1. Tap Settings.

    The iPad Settings app
  2. Tap General.

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

    Multitasking & Dock setting on iPad
  4. Move the Show Suggested and Recent Apps slider to off/white.

    Multitasking & Dock settings on an iPad with the Show Suggested and Recent Apps switch highlighted
  5. With this setting off, you'll only see apps in your Dock that you've placed there.

Access Recent Files Using a Shortcut

The built-in Files app lets you browse the files stored on your iPad, in Dropbox, and elsewhere just like you would browse items on a desktop or laptop computer. Using the Dock, you can access files you've used recently without even opening the app. Here's how:

  1. Place the Files app into the Dock following the instructions above.

  2. Tap and hold on the Files icon in the Dock.

    iPad home screen with the Files app highlighted
  3. A window pops up that shows up to four recently opened files. Tap one of the files to open it.

    Files preview on an iPad
  4. To view more files, tap Show More.

    Files preview window on an iPad with the Show More button highlighted
  5. Close the window by tapping elsewhere on the screen.

How to Multitask on the iPad: Slide Over

Prior to iOS 11, multitasking on the iPad and iPhone took the form of being able to run some apps, like those that play music, in the background while you do something else in the foreground. In iOS 11 and up, you can view, run, and use two apps at the same time.

There are two ways to do this. The first is called Slide Over, which puts one app on top of the other. Here's how to use it.

  1. Make sure both apps are in the Dock.

  2. Open the first app you want to use.

  3. Swipe up to reveal the Dock.

    Swipe up to reveal the Dock
  4. Drag the second app out of the Dock towards the center of the screen and then drop it.

    Drag an app out of the Dock
  5. The second app opens in a smaller window at the edge of the screen.

    Three apps open at once on an iPad
  6. To close the Slide Over window, swipe it off the edge of the screen.

How to Multitask on the iPad: Split View

The other way to multitask on the iPad is by using Split View. Rather than putting one app on the top of the other, Split View divides the screen up into two sections, one for each app. This is best for when you're working and need to see content in two apps or move text or photos back and forth between them.

Here's what you need to do to use Split View:

  1. Make sure both apps are in the Dock.

  2. Open the first app you want to use.

  3. While in that app, swipe up to reveal the Dock.

    Swipe up to reveal the Dock
  4. Drag the second app out of the Dock and towards the left or right edge of the screen. If it's compatible with Split View, its icon will appear in a tall rectangle.

    Slide View on iPad
  5. Drop the app into the black space at the edge of the screen to open it in Split View.

    Slide Over on iPad
  6. Drag the divider to control how much of the screen each app uses.

    Using Slide Over on iPad
  7. To return to a single app on the screen, swipe the divider to one side or the other. The app that you swipe across will close.

You can pair apps that you use together often and then switch between those pairs when working on different tasks. Split View multitasking lets you keep two apps running together in the same "space" at the same time.

If you have two apps open in Split View and then double-tap the Home button to open the app switcher, the programs will still appear in the same window.

How to Drag and Drop Between Apps

You can use the Dock to drag and drop some content between apps. For example, imagine you come across a passage of text on a website that you want to save. You can drag that into another app and use it there. Here's how:

  1. Find the content you want to drag to another app and select it.

    A website open on an iPad with some text highlighted
  2. Tap and hold the selection so that it becomes moveable.

    Moveable text in Safari for iPad
  3. Reveal the Dock by swiping up or using an external keyboard.

    Keep the finger holding the selection on the screen while you open the Dock.

    Opening the iPad Dock while holding selected text
  4. Drag the selected content onto an app in the Dock and hold the content there until the app opens.

    Selected text from Safari ready to drop into Notes
  5. Drag the content to where you want it and remove your finger from the screen to place it into the other app.

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