22 Useful iPad Tips
22 Useful iPad Tips
by Jeff Carlson <http://db.tidbits.com/author/Jeff%20Carlson>
As many companies have discovered, you can't successfully slap a desktop
operating system onto a tablet device. The iPad uses Apple's iPhone OS,
which, although based on the guts of Mac OS X, was designed with a touch
interface in mind. And when you're designing something from scratch, there
are numerous opportunities to enhance the experience.
Now that I have an iPad in my hands, I've discovered some new techniques and
hidden shortcuts, and also found myself making heavier use of existing
iPhone shortcuts (including a few I didn't realize were there).
*Small Swipes for Large Actions* -- No doubt the iPad's biggest selling
point is its large screen, especially compared to an iPhone or iPod touch.
But it can also feel like a liability at times.
In the Home screen or the Photos app, for example, you'll be tempted to
swoosh across the entire width of the screen, which is what I've always done
on the iPhone. Instead, only a small swipe motion is required. For example,
to advance images in the Photos app, position your left thumb at the left
edge of the screen (where it likely is if you're holding the iPad with your
left hand supporting its weight) and just flick the thumb half an inch
right-to-left or left-to-right.
(This tip also applies to the iPhone and iPod touch, but the small size of
the screen makes it less useful.)
*Add Up to Six Apps to the Dock* -- The iPad ships with a basic iPhone
layout, which includes four apps on the Dock that appears at the bottom of
all Home screens. Take advantage of the extra screen size and add up to two
more. Tap and hold an app you want to add until all of the apps begin
jiggling. Then drag the app to the Dock. Press the Home button when you're
Unfortunately, you can't put more than 20 apps on a screen, but there are 11
screens. This will change with folders in iPhone OS 4.
*Jump to the Top* -- This behavior was introduced on the iPhone, but you
need it more on the iPad's large screen. Tap the status bar at the top of
the screen to jump back to the top of the page or window you're viewing.
I wish there were a similar action for jumping to the end of a page (such as
when I want to read comments at the end of an article, for example). The
closest there is to a workaround is Vais Salikhov's free End of
which is actually a clever bookmarklet that works in Safari. (He also
has a similar Find in
that enables searching inside Web pages.)
*Lock That Rotate* -- This may not qualify as much of a secret, since Apple
promotes the feature, but in my early experience, it's terrifically useful.
Flick the switch above the volume controls to lock screen rotation. The iPad
is quite sensitive to orientation, and rotates its screen with little
provocation. Locking rotation means sticking with the view you're in, even
as you shift position, or place the iPad flat on a surface.
*Quick Mute* -- With that switch repurposed for rotation lock, what happened
to the iPhone's capability of using it to mute the volume? On the iPad,
press and hold the volume down button. After about two bars of volume, the
iPad's volume jumps to zero. (Take Control author Sharon
Zardetto<http://ipadpunditry.wordpress.com/>gets credit for pointing
out this tip.)
*Use Spotlight to Launch Apps* -- Again, this is something not unique to the
iPad, but I never used it on the iPhone. Once you've accumulated a bunch of
apps, it can take a while to flip through several home screens to find the
one you want. Although there's no equivalent to LaunchBar for the iPad
(believe me, I'd buy it in a heartbeat), here's the next best thing.
When you're on a home screen, press the Home button to get to the first
screen, then either press the button again or swipe to the right to expose
the Spotlight search interface. Tap the Search field and start typing the
app name; you'll see that Spotlight also grabs everything similar, including
Mail messages, song titles, contacts, and events, as well as the app. Then
tap the one you want to launch.
The iPad returns results on this page enormously faster than on an iPhone
3GS or current iPod touch.
*Type an Apostrophe from the Basic Keyboard Layout* -- The iPad's onscreen
keyboard approaches the dimensions of a full-size keyboard (in wide
orientation, at least), but accommodations still had to be made to get it to
fit. One of the most maddening is the lack of an apostrophe key. I keep
hitting the Return key with my right pinkie finger when I mean to type an
apostrophe. You need to tap the ".?123" button to reveal the correct key,
which itself is in an odd position at the bottom of the layout.
Instead, press and hold the comma key. A pop-up variation appears with an
apostrophe, and it even appears highlighted, which means you don't have to
move your finger to select it. Simply tap, hold for a moment, then release
to create the apostrophe.
*Type Curly Quotes* -- Similarly, tap and hold the single or double-quote
key to get a selection of real quotes (the curly kind) as used in major
languages that use the Roman alphabet. This feature is in the iPhone, too,
and I'd never discovered it, probably because I didn't notice typography as
much on the small screen. When putting together a Keynote presentation,
however, those curly quotes make a big difference. (Straight quotes -
disparagingly referred to by typographers as "typewriter quotes" - often
indicate the person is a graphics amateur.)
The onscreen keyboard hides all kinds of other goodies, too, which seem more
useful in extended typing on the iPad than on the iPhone or iPod touch. For
instance, hold down the period key on some keyboards, and a list of domain
extensions (like .com and .org) appear.
*Access Alternate Characters* -- This tip isn't specific to the iPad, but
it's worth remembering. Touch and hold a character on the onscreen keyboard
to view related characters. For example, holding the E key brings up
accented E characters, or holding the $ key brings up other currency
symbols. (Thanks to reader "Arthur" for the reminder.)
*Better Word Suggestions* -- This one isn't so much a tip as it is an
observation. I've noticed that the iPad's word assistance is better than the
iPhone's. When I miss the space bar while typing (especially now as I'm just
getting accustomed to the onscreen keyboard), the iPad automatically
suggests that something like "feellike" should be "feel like".
*Practice Good Typing Form* -- I never realized that I rest my hands on the
keyboard when I type until I started using the onscreen keyboard where every
contact on the screen creates an action. Keep those fingers and palms up as
*Zoom Way, Way In* -- The Zoom accessibility option that's in the iPhone OS
is even more helpful on the iPad than on a smaller device because of the
additional screen territory. You can turn this on from Settings >
Accessibility > Zoom by flipping Zoom to On.
The Zoom screen explains the three options: double tap with three fingers to
zoom in; drag with three fingers for panning around the screen; and use
three fingers to double tap without releasing, and then drag up or down to
zoom in or out.
*Use an External Keyboard* -- When you want to do some extended typing, pair
the iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard or plug it into Apple's iPad Keyboard
Dock. In addition to better ergonomics, this setup gives you access to
common keyboard commands like Copy (Command-C) and Paste (Command-V), and
lets you make selections of text by holding down a Shift key and using the
arrows for navigation. You can also delete words with Option-Delete, and
entire lines with Command-Delete.
It's also helpful for navigating a document. Press Command-Up arrow to jump
to the top of a document (like a Home key), or Command-Down arrow to jump to
the end (like an End key). Option-Left arrow and Option-Right arrow move the
insertion point by words, as you'd expect.
*Manage a Bluetooth Keyboard* -- If you've paired a Bluetooth keyboard, be
sure to turn it off or disable Bluetooth when you're not using it. If you
enter any editable text field that requires text input and the keyboard is
within range, the onscreen keyboard won't appear.
You can press the Eject button on the Bluetooth keyboard to toggle the
appearance of the onscreen keyboard. But it's easier just to turn off the
external keyboard when you're not going to use it for a while, or taking the
iPad to another room.
To turn off the Apple Wireless Keyboard, press and hold the power button for
a few seconds. The status light will come on; wait until it goes out. Then
the keyboard's power is off, and the iPad will resume using its onscreen
You can also go to Settings > General > Bluetooth and set the Bluetooth
switch to off, which both reduces battery usage and disables any other
paired Bluetooth connection.
*Master Shifting* -- The iPad has territory enough to offer a Shift key on
both the left and right sides of the keyboard and for your hands to lie flat
on the screen. This lets you take advantage of a feature found in the iPhone
OS, but not quite practical to use on the iPad's smaller siblings: you can
hold down the Shift key while typing a letter to a get a single capital
letter, then release, as with normal physical keyboard touch typing. This
can dramatically increase your typing speed. You can still tap a Shift key,
which turns blue, and then tap a letter to get a single capital letter.
I've actually disabled the Caps Lock key on my MacBook Pro because I hate
accidentally hitting it and TYPING IN ALL CAPS, but there are times where
turning on Caps Lock is helpful (such as writing about topics with lots of
acronyms like AVCHD, HDCP, HDTVs, or
You can do this in the iPhone OS too, though I never felt the need for it
when typing on those devices.
Go to Settings > Keyboard > Enable Caps Lock and set the switch to On. Then,
when you're typing, double-tap one of the Shift keys. The entire key becomes
illuminated in blue, with a white arrow in the middle, to indicate that caps
are locked. Tap a Shift key again to exit the Caps Lock mode.
You can also hold down either Shift key and type letters to create a series
*Easier Text Selection* -- This feature is also not unique to the iPad, but
it's worthwhile and something I never knew about until a few days ago.
Double-tap and hold a word to select it to circumvent the need to tap the
Select button that appears, and then drag to extend the selection to
additional words. It works on both sides of the selected word; when you're
moving just the selection handles, that's not the case.
*Replace Text* -- When you select a word, the familiar pop-up options
appear: Cut, Copy, and Paste. The iPad adds a new option: Replace. Tap it to
view alternate spellings or corrections.
[image: Image] <http://www.tidbits.com/resources/2010-04/ipad_replace.jpg>
*Use the Spell Checker* -- The iPad includes a built-in spell check feature
that acts the same as the one in Mac OS X. If you misspell a word, it
appears with a dotted red underline. Tap the word to view suggested
spellings. (Thanks to reader "Rivka" for pointing this out.)
*Watch iTunes-Purchased Movies on an HDTV* -- Movies in the iTunes Store are
wrapped in Apple's FairPlay DRM, which uses HDCP to ensure that only devices
that support HDCP can play the video. If you bought the iPad Dock Connector
to VGA Adapter and hope to play video on your recent HDTV, you're out of
luck because it won't carry the digital signal. If your television has
component connections (red, green, and blue cables), buy Apple's Component
AV Cable kit and hook your iPad to the TV. Voilą! It's like having a
portable Apple TV with you at all times.
*Always Show Bookmarks Bar in Safari* -- I use MobileMe to sync my Safari
bookmarks to the iPad, and keep my most-used bookmarks handy by storing them
in the Bookmarks Bar on my MacBook Pro. Safari on the iPad also features a
Bookmarks Bar, but it's hidden by default. In fact, the only way to make it
appear is to tap the Address field to position the cursor there. Instead, go
to Settings > Safari and turn on the Always Show Bookmarks Bar setting to
make the bar appear at all times.
*Two-Finger Zoom for Web Video* -- Reader "Joe" pointed out that when you
encounter a video on a Web page that the iPad can play, touching it with two
fingers and expanding (the opposite of the pinch gesture) zooms the video to
*iBooks Easter Egg* -- I haven't heard of any Easter eggs - hidden
programming surprises that developers sometimes include in software - in the
iPad's software, but I did discover something similar. In the iBooks app,
touch and hold the shelves that display your library, then drag down as far
as you can to reveal a little surprise hidden behind the faux wood.
Have you discovered any iPad tips? Share them in the article's
comments<http://db.tidbits.com/article/11167#comments>and we'll update
this article or write a new one (with full credit, of
The "'" (asterisk) one made my day......
I thought asterisk was <*> ?
Originally Posted by Bremen
Good tips especially for those that have never used an Apple product.
Good information , thanks.
One more I discovered yesterday is if you encounter a frame of any kind (including really full text boxes) you can scroll them by using 2 fingers instead of one.
had them mostly all figured out already, but thank you for the couple I had missed.
thanks for your work here... outside of the airport kiosk, I have never used a touch screen before & I am sure your information will be useful... IF & WHEN I ever receive my 3G version.
wait....so if I buy the component AV cable kit from Apple, I can play the netflix app over my HDTV?!?! Has anybody tried this? I was about to buy a Roku player, but I'll totally just get the kit if it works.