Using Multitasking Gestures on Your iPad

Girl reading on tablet at school

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Multitasking gestures on the iPad let you quickly switch between apps, making the limited form of multitasking iOS offers as fluid as the real thing. You can also get back to the Home Screen and open the Task Manager using multitasking gestures without touching the Home Button.

These instructions don't apply to Split Screen and Slide-Over multitasking introduced in iOS 9. These gestures are shortcuts to switch between full-screen apps.

Turn Multitasking Gestures on or off in Settings

By default, the multitasking gestures should already be turned on and ready to use. However, you can ensure they are turned on by going into your iPad settings.

  1. Open Settings on your iPad.

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  2. Tap General.

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  3. Tap Multitasking & Dock.

    Multitasking on iPad
  4. Tap the slider next to Gestures to turn them on or off.

    Multitasking on iPad
  5. The text below the Gestures heading lists the different multitasking gestures, which you access by using four or five fingers on the display.

What Are Multitasking Gestures? How Do You Use Them?

Multitasking gestures are multi-touch, which means you use four or five fingers on the screen to activate them. Once you turn them on, these gestures carry out specific functions that help the multitasking features of the iPad become more fluid. 

Switching Between Apps

The most useful of the multitasking gestures is the ability to switch between apps by using four fingers and swiping left or right on the screen. You can have Pages and Numbers both open on the iPad and switch between them seamlessly.

You need to have recently opened at least two apps to use this feature.

Bringing up the Task Manager

You use the Task Manager to switch between apps or close apps completely, which is handy if your iPad is running slowly. Usually, you bring up the Task Manager by double-clicking the Home Button. But with multitasking gestures, you can also swipe up toward the top of the screen with four or five fingers.

To open the Task Manager, you'll only swipe partway up the display. Swiping farther will return you to the Home screen. You can also get to this section by placing four or five fingers on the display and bringing them closer together.

Getting Back to the Home Screen

Instead of clicking the Home Button, you can swipe up to the top of the display using four or five fingers to return to the Home screen. This is the same gesture that opens the Task Manager, but it's a longer swipe.

You can also use your fingers to pinch in on the screen, just as you might use two or three fingers to pinch in when trying to zoom out of a website or picture. Place four or five fingers on the display and bring them together slightly to open the Task Manager and even more to return home.