Pro Tips: How to Operate the iPad Like an Apple Genius

Switch apps, navigate web pages, and adjust settings like a pro

Woman Working on iPad

Tatiana Kolesnikova / Moment Open / Getty Images

New user guides can cover iPad basics like moving apps and creating folders, but they don't always address some of the less visible shortcuts. These tips can make the tablet easier and faster to use and take full advantage of the touchscreen, voice-recognition features, and navigation options available on the iPad.

Here are some ways to get around your iPad like a pro.

These instructions apply to iPads running iOS 12 or later.

Get to the Top of a Page Instantly

Tap near the top of the screen to reach the top quickly

You don't have to scroll to return to the top of your Twitter or Facebook feeds, email threads, and websites. To instantly reach the top of a page you've scrolled down, tap the top of your screen. If you're using a web browser, tap above the address bar. In other apps, tap near the clock.

This trick doesn't work in every app or browser. But when it does, it saves time and frustration.

Double Click for Fast App Switching

Multitasking in iOS 12

If you double-click the Home Button, the iPad will open the App Switcher. It's a screen that shows all the apps you've opened recently. From this screen, you can swipe a finger to navigate through the apps and tap on one to switch to it.

You can also close an app from this screen by swiping its window to the top of the display. Closing apps can cure small problems within the app. If your iPad is running slowly, it's a good idea to close a few of the most recent apps just in case they are taking up some processing time.

Spotlight Search

Spotlight Search on iPad

Spotlight Search is a feature in iOS that lets you search both within your iPad and the apps you've loaded on it as well as the web. If you have Netflix, for example, you can search for a movie via Spotlight Search and have a search result take you directly to the movie in the Apple TV app.

Spotlight Search can also launch apps. Type the name of an app you have on your iPad to pull it up in the results, and then tap it to open it instantly. This is convenient if you have a lot of folders on your Home screen and forget where everything is.

You can reach Spotlight Search by swiping down on your Home Screen.

Don't swipe from the top edge of the display, or you will open the Notification Center instead.

If you swipe from left to right while on the very first page of icons on your Home Screen, you will reveal a different Spotlight Search. This page also displays events on your calendar and other widgets you've set up. But it also includes a search bar that can access all of the Spotlight Search features. 

The Control Center

Opening the control panel on iPad

The Control Center contains both standard and optional switches that you can access anywhere without opening the Settings app. Access the Control Center by swiping your finger from the upper-right corner of the screen.

What can the Control Center do?

Control Center can Airplane Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, and Mute on or off. You can also use it to lock the iPad's orientation, so if you are laying in bed on your side and find the iPad keeps switching from landscape to portrait, you can lock it down. You can also adjust the brightness of the display with a slider.

You can also use AirDrop to quickly share pictures and files and AirPlay to share your iPad screen with your TV. Additional options are also available. Here's how to choose them:

  1. Open Settings.

    The iPad Settings app
  2. Tap Control Center.

    Control Center in Settings
  3. Tap Customize Controls.

    Customize controls
  4. The next screen lists all the available widgets for Control Center. Tap the plus sign next to ones you want to add (under More Controls) or tap the minus symbol to remove ones you've installed.

    Control Center widgets
  5. The icons next to the widgets in this menu will be the same ones that appear in the Control Center the next time you open it.

The Virtual Trackpad

The iPad has a Virtual Trackpad which can do many of the same things a real trackpad can do. It makes it possible to move your cursor while typing, select text, and move around a screen quickly.

To use the Virtual Trackpad, place two fingertips on the iPad screen while the keyboard is available. The keys will blank out, and moving both fingers will move a cursor around the text on the screen.

If you tap your two fingertips on the keyboard and hold them down for a second, little circles will appear at the top and bottom of the cursor. This change means you are in selection mode, allowing you to move your fingers to select some text. After you are done selecting, tap the highlighted text to bring up the menu allowing you to cut, copy, or paste. You can also use the pop-up menu to bold the text, speak it, or share it. 

Finding Your iPad When It's Lost

The Find My iPad feature helps if your iPad is stolen or if you lose it somewhere. It's a good idea to have Find My iPad turned on even if it never leaves home if for no other reason than to find it should the iPad ever slip between the cushions of the couch or some other unusual location.

You don't need the app to access Find My iPad. You can also get to it by pointing your web browser to www.icloud.com. The iCloud website lets you locate any iPhone or iPad with the feature turned on. And along with showing you where your devices are, you can lock them to prevent tampering, reset them to factory default, or play a sound to help you track them down. 

Search a Webpage From the Address Bar

The Safari browser on the iPad has a built-in search feature that lets you find specific words on a website. Type into the address bar (where you'd typically type a URL or a web search term), and look for the "On This Page" section to see instances of the text you're trying to find.

After you execute the search, a bar will appear at the bottom of the Safari browser. This bar will let you navigate through the text search matches or search for some other text.