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14 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPad Could Do

If you're not using these features, you're missing out on the chance to make your iPad experience a whole lot better.

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iPad Air 2 on wood table. says, "Hello" on the screen.
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Make your life even easier

What did we ever do before iPads? These handy devices give us something to do on long plane trips, keep our kids entertained, and allow us to stay connected with a bigger screen and more adaptability than our phones, but with less bulk and weight than carrying our laptops around would require. Of course we love our iPads! But, according to tech experts, most of us are missing out on some of the features that would make them even better. Here’s what you need to know. And once you’re up to speed, check out the hidden iPhone hacks you never knew about and how to unlock iPad without password.

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New features Sidecar on macOS in Macbook pro and iPadOS on iPad2018. Sidecar have Extended desktop, Mirrored desktop features for sharing and presentation.
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Pair your iPad with your Mac

David Lynch, content lead for Payette Forward, an Apple help website, says that your iPad can act as a second display for your Mac with the help of an app called Sidecar. “You can use it to mirror your Mac’s screen or extend it so you have more space,” Lynch explains. “To use Sidecar, you’ll need a 2016 Mac or newer and an iPad running iOS 13. To connect your devices, click the AirPlay icon in the menu bar on your Mac and select your iPad. You can now drag windows back and forth between your Mac and iPad.”

For more information, Apple has a great guide on how to set this up. And while you’re at it, you might want to check out these 9 keyboard shortcuts every Mac user should know.

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close up of ipad camera lens and volume buttons
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Use the volume buttons to snap pictures

“Taking pictures on your iPad can be a little difficult,” Lynch says. “It can be hard to reach the virtual shutter button, and if you miss it, you might screw up the camera’s focus. Fortunately, you can use the volume buttons as a camera shutter. Simply press either volume button to take a picture when the camera app is open!” That’s it—your photos are already looking better! And if you have a tendency to blink in your selfies, Photoshop’s got you covered.

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ipad screenshot showing the control panel
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Access the control panel

New iPad users often find themselves scrambling to access the various features all iPads provide. “If you’re new to iOS, you may not realize that you have a shortcut to a few things with just a swipe of your finger,” says Amy Smith, a technology assistant at FitSmallBusiness.com. “Yes, there’s a Settings icon on your iPad’s screen, but you can access airplane mode, Wi-Fi, flashlight, screen lock, and more. The control panel is easy to reveal by just swiping down in the top right corner of your screen.”

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ipad screenshot. customize control center options.
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Customize the control center

“Ever since iOS 11, users have been able to customize the control center,” Lynch explains. “You can add the features you use most often and access them more quickly directly from the control center.” To customize, start by opening “Settings” and tapping “Control Center.” Next, tap the green plus button to the left of the feature you’d like to add. “Now when you open the control center by swiping down from the upper right-hand corner of the screen, you’ll find the features you just added!” Lynch says. “Tap on the icon to access the feature.”

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ipad screenshot siri
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Launch apps with Siri

You know to ask Siri about the weather and upcoming appointments, but are you using the full functionality that your voice assistant brings to the table? “This seems so mundane, but I find it super helpful,” says Smith of one of her favorite Siri tricks. “I’m notorious for having a messy desktop for months at a time as I install new apps, and then I clean things up and it starts all over again. So, it can be difficult to find a particular app on my multiple screens. Instead, I just use Siri. ‘Hey Siri, open [name of app].’ I’ve found it’s helpful in opening apps quickly but also making me aware when I don’t even have that app. That’s happened a few times.” You can also have a little fun with your devices: Say these 8 words to Siri and she’ll break out into song.

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ipad screenshot auto lock settings
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Keep your data safer

“Always ensure that your iPad is set to auto-lock in two minutes,” says ProPrivacy digital privacy expert Ray Walsh. “This will ensure that if the device is lost or left unattended, it locks up and stops anybody from being able to access its contents.” Without doing this, Walsh explains, “if someone finds your iPad and it is unlocked, they can go into the settings to set the auto-lock to ‘never,’ which will give them ongoing access to the device and its contents. An unsecured lock screen will display snippets of emails, app notifications, messages, and other potentially sensitive data.” That’s why he says it’s important to, head into your settings and secure the lock screen so that it doesn’t display anything potentially private or sensitive.

Beyond that, it is essential to keep your software up to date. “Always ensure that you accept iOS updates, as these are designed to protect you against potential vulnerabilities and exploits,” Walsh advises. “If you are concerned that the device might not have been updated recently, head to Settings > General > Software Update and then tap Download and Install.” You’ll also want to steal these 18 secrets from people who never get hacked.

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ipad screenshot app settings
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Manage app permissions

“Although iPads are often considered much better for consumer privacy, researchers have found that many apps on the App Store are able to collect invasive amounts of data from iPad users,” Walsh says. “To control and limit the amount of data that apps can harvest from you, be sure to properly manage your app permissions. To do this, open Settings and scroll down on the left until you see each individual application. Then click on each app and manage the permissions on the right.”

Common permissions he says you might want to consider removing include:

  • Access to the microphone
  • Access to Photos
  • Access to the camera
  • Access to Contacts
  • Access to GPS location services

Also, just so you know, if these apps are still on your device, someone may be spying on you.

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ipad screenshot Find My settings
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Find your iPad

“If you lose your iPad, you will want to be able to locate it again, and iOS has you covered, thanks to the Find My iPad feature,” says Walsh. “To make sure it is set up, head to Settings and click on your name in the top-left pane. Now click Find My iPad and turn on all three settings to ensure that you can find the device via your iCloud account on another device.” For privacy reasons, Walsh adds, you might prefer not to turn on Send Last Location, but this is up to you. However, if your device is lost or stolen, this will help Apple Services locate the last place the device was just before the battery ran out.

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ipad screenshot night shift
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Reduce your exposure to blue light

“The impact of blue light on sleep can be profoundly negative yet so easily avoided,” says Rupert Pople, founder of Your Smart Home Guide. “It can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us tired and sleepy.”

But while many people may be aware of the effect of blue light on sleep, they may not realize that they can easily reduce their exposure to it on all of their devices—iPad included. “Just go to Settings > Display and Brightness > Night Shift,” Pople says. “From there, set your schedule based on your wind-down hours. Always set the Night Shift to start from at least three hours before bed until you wake.” However, there is also a hidden benefit to that blue light exposure.

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ipad screenshot select copy to paste to a connected device
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Copy and paste to other devices

Have you ever typed something on your iPad that you wanted to transfer to your computer, but you didn’t know how? “All you need to do is hold your finger over text, images, or links on your iPad,” says Rob Watts, a technology analyst for FitSmallBusiness.com. “Hit Copy on the submenu that pops up on the screen. Then, go to any text field on another Apple device and you can paste that content. This can save you a lot of time and effort.”

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ipad screenshot picture in picture
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Put a picture inside a picture

“If you’re a multitasker, you can watch your favorite movies and TV shows while running your favorite apps,” says Watts. “On many video players such as Netflix and Apple TV, tap the Picture in Picture icon. From there, you can adjust the size and location of your video to your preference.” What should you put on your to-watch list? Start with these classic shows you didn’t know you could watch on Netflix.

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ipad screenshot. compose email screen showing keyboard
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Save typing time

According to Jovan Milenkovic, cofounder of KommandoTech, one of the most underrated tips for iPad users is one he just discovered himself a few months ago. “It’s pretty straightforward,” he says. “You can double-tap space to create a period when you’re typing on any iPad!”

Milenkovic says this tiny trick has increased his productivity exponentially. “It changed my life and increased my words per minute on the iPad significantly,” he explains. “If you think about it, that extra second it takes to tap and then space to continue typing adds up. So it’s much more intuitive to just double-tap the space bar, hit space, then continue your sentence. At first, it might feel awkward and take some mental adjustment, but it’s totally worth it.”

If you like keyboard shortcuts, you’ll definitely want to check out this definitive list of what those F1 – F12 keys can do.

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ipad screenshot drag and drop muliple items
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Drag and drop multiple items

“With the new iPad, you are able to select and move multiple items at once,” says Bruce Hogan, co-founder and CEO of SoftwarePundit, a technology research firm. “This works for applications, files, images, and more. To do this, click on the first item with one finger. Then, hold that finger down and use another finger to click on additional items that you want to move.”

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ipad screenshot guided access settings
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Set limits with Guided Access

Kenny Trinh is the managing editor of Netbook News, a gadget review publication. He says that Guided Access is a great solution for parents handing the iPad over to their kids. “Guided Access forces the end-user to use the iDevice in the specific app or way,” Trinh explains. “It can be enabled by going into Settings > Accessibility. You can enable Guided Access by pressing the home button thrice (triple click).” Once you do that, you’ll be shown a screen with options regarding what you would like to lock or disable. “You can also disable the touchscreen completely, disable the hardware home button, and disable motion,” he adds.

Basically, this is just one more way to control what your kids can (or can’t) access when using your iPad. And when you want to stop the Guided Access, all you have to do is enter your password. If you’re a parent, here are some apps you need to know about to keep your kids safe.

Leah Campbell
Leah Campbell covers technology for Reader’s Digest as well as sites including Reviewed.com. She has a degree in developmental psychology and has written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. A single mother by choice after a serendipitous series of events led to the adoption of her daughter, Leah is also author of the book Single Infertile Female. She lives in Alaska.