What is the iPad Home Button? And What Can It Do?

The iPad's Home Button
Image © Apple, Inc.

The iPad's Home Button is the small, circular button decorated with a small box and located at the bottom of the iPad. The Home Button is the only button on the face of the iPad. Apple's design philosophy revolves around the idea that less is better, which makes the home button one of the few ways to control the iPad outside of the onscreen controls.

The most important use for the Home Button is to take you to the Home Screen.

This is the screen with all of your app icons. If you are inside of a particular app, you can hit the Home Button to exit the app, revealing the Home Screen. If you are already on the Home Screen, pressing the home button will take you to the very first page of icons. But there are many other very important features of the iPad that are activated using the Home Button.

The Home Button Is Your Gateway to Siri

Siri is Apple's voice-activated personal assistant. She can do anything from look up movie times to check for nearby restaurants to tell you the score of a sports game to remind you to take out the trash or go to a meeting.

Siri is activated by pressing down on the Home Button for several seconds until you hear two beeps. A display of multicolored lines will flash on the bottom of the screen indicating that Siri is ready to listen to your command.

Quickly Switch Between Apps or Close Apps

One common practice I see people doing with the iPad is closing an app, opening a new one, closing it and then hunting for the icon for that original app.

There are a number of ways to open apps that are much quicker than hunting through page after page of app icons searching for just the right one. The quickest way to get back to an app you recently used is to launch the multitasking screen by double clicking the home button.

This screen will show you windows of all of your most recently opened apps.

You can slide your finger back and forth to move between the apps and simply tap an app to open it. If it is one of the most recently used apps, it may still be in memory and will pick up where you left off. You can also close apps from this screen by using your finger to swipe them up toward the top of the screen.

As with any screen on the iPad, you can get back to the Home Screen by clicking that Home Button again.

Take a Screenshot of Your iPad

The Home Button is also use to take screenshots, which is a picture of your iPad's screen at that moment. You can take a screenshot by pressing down on the Sleep/Wake button and the Home Button at the exact same time.  The screen will flash when the picture is taken.

Activate Touch ID

One of the newest ways to use the Home Button comes with Touch ID.  If you have a recent iPad (that is: either iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad Air or iPad mini 4), your Home Button also has a fingerprint sensor on it. Once you have Touch ID set up on your iPad, you can use a finger to do many things such as opening the iPad from the lock screen without typing in your passcode or verifying that you want to make a purchase in the app store.

Create Your Own Shortcut Using the Home Button

One pretty cool trick you can do with the iPad is create your own shortcut using the Home Button.

You can use this triple-click shortcut to zoom in the screen, invert the colors or have the iPad read you the text on the screen.

You can set the shortcut in the accessibility settings by launching the Settings app, tapping General in the left-side menu, tapping Accessibility in the general settings and then scrolling down to choose Accessibility Shortcut. After you have chosen the shortcut, you can activate it by rapidly clicking the Home Button three times in a row.