How to Use Multitasking Gestures on Your iPad

Quickly switch between open apps with a swipe

Girl reading on tablet at school

 Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Use multitasking gestures on the iPad to quickly switch between apps and make the limited form of multitasking iOS offers as fluid as the real thing. You can also go 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 are turned on and ready to use. However, you can ensure they are turned on by going into the iPad settings.

  1. Open Settings on your iPad.

    How to delete movies from iPad
  2. Tap General.

    How to delete movies from iPad
  3. Tap Multitasking & Dock.

    Multitasking on iPad
  4. Tap the Gestures toggle switch to turn gestures on or off.

    Multitasking on iPad
  5. The text below the Gestures heading lists the different multitasking gestures, which are accessed 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 these gestures are turned on, these gestures carry out specific functions that help the multitasking features of the iPad become more fluid. 

Switch Between Apps

The most useful of the multitasking gestures is the ability to switch between apps. Use four fingers and swipe left or right on the screen. For example, you can have Pages and Numbers open on the iPad and switch between them seamlessly.

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

Open the Task Manager

The Task Manager is used to switch between apps or close apps completely, which is handy if an iPad is running slowly. To open the Task Manager, double-click 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 returns 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.

Go Back to the Home Screen

Instead of clicking the Home button, 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.

Or, use your fingers to pinch in on the screen, just as you might use two or three fingers to pinch in when zooming 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 to the Home screen.