How to use your iPad Pro to replace your laptop (Part 3)

We’ve looked at some of the equipment we should carry and learned everything we need to type effectively on an iPad Pro. Now we’re going to take a look at the built-in multi-tasking features in the Apple tablet.

Welcome to the third episode in the multi-part guide to help you use an iPad Pro instead of a notebook.

Episode guide

  • Part One: iPad Equipment
  • Part Two: Keyboard, Typing, Shortcuts, and Dictation tips
  • Part Three (this episode)How to multitask on iPad Pro.
  • Apple has been working hard to develop multitasking on iPad Pro. Features like Slide Out and Split View help you work within multiple apps while the Most Recent apps included to the right of the Dock helps to make sure the software you need to use is easily available to you.

    Essential gestures for working with apps

    All the multitasking tools are useful, but you should also learn a few gestures first:

    Access App Switcher: Swipe up with one finger from the bottom of the screen and hold your finger in place until the App Switcher shows up. Now you can see all the apps you currently have open. You can also get there by raising the bar at the bottom of the screen.

    Swipe life: When working in an app swipe left or right with four or five fingers to quickly switch between active apps, on 2018 iPad Pros you must swipe the bar at bottom edge of the screen left or right.

    Back to Home screen: Command-H on a keyboard, swipe up from the bottom to the upper half of the screen, or (my favorite) place all your fingers splayed on on the display and close them in a pinching gesture.

    Open Notifications and Today view: Swipe down from the top left of the display.

    Access Control Center: Swipe down from the top right of the display.

    Open the Dock: Option-Command-D, or swipe up slightly from the bottom of the screen.

    *Tip: If you use a keyboard Command-Tab opens a Mac-like App Switcher so you can swiftly navigate through open apps.

    Let’s start Multitasking

    Apple’s multitasking features are designed to make it more intuitive and (dare I say it?) more Mac-like when using an iPad Pro instead of a notebook.

    The idea is that you can use these features to work on different apps side-by-side, to copy-&-paste information between apps and more.

    One weakness in this implementation is that you can’t yet open two instances of the same app side-by-side, which makes it difficult to (for example) compare and share notes from documents made in Word (but see the tip below).

    You should check that these multitasking features are active.Look inside Settings>General>Multitasking & Dockand ensure Allow Multiple Apps, Persistent Video Overlay, Gestures and Show Suggested and Recent Apps are all toggled to green (on). With that out the way, here are the Multitasking gestures you’ll find in iOS 12 on an iPad Pro.

    Open apps in Slide View

    If you’re in an app you can open another app above the first in Slide View. It’s easy: While in the first app open the Dock and simply drag-&-drop the second app you want to use from the Dock to one side of the main screen. It will open as a floating window above the first app, but you will be able to use that second app in the floating window. You can change the position of the window by dragging the drag line at the top of the window, or get rid of it by swiping it to the right until it disappears. (You can get that window back by swiping from the very edge right to the left on the screen).

    Or open apps in Split View

    Opening a second app in Slide View is generally a good first step to opening two apps side by side in Split View. To do so, open the second app by dragging it from the Dock and once it is open drag the drag line at the top of the window down until the first app moves slightly to the left. Now you will be able to see both apps beside each other in Split View. You can also adjust the amount of screen space given to each app by dragging the grey drag bar in the dark line between the two apps to the left or the right – or drag the line all the way left or right to close one of the visible apps.

    How to use three apps at once

    While working in two apps using Split View you can also open a third app in Slide View: 

    NB: You must ensure the third app is open and available in the Recent Apps section to the right of your Dock (tip below).  

    Once its icon is visible and you are in Split View just drag that icon upwards from the Dock to open it in Slide View. Now you will have two apps open beside each other with a third app also visible on your display.

    Be careful, by the way: it is quite easy to accidentally replace one of the already open app windows with the third app if you happen to have clumsy fingers like mine.

    How to drag-&-drop between apps

    Once you have two or more apps open you can easily drag-&-drop items (such as text, images, files) between apps.

    Here are three examples of how this works:

    • Select some text in Safari and then touch and hold that text until it appears to lift up slightly, now you can drag it to another app, and drop it in. Use this to take words out of the web and into a document or email, for example.
    • Select an image in Photos, touch and hold it until it appears to lift up, now you can drag it into a new Mail message.
    • Select a file in Files, touch and hold it until it appears to lift, and you can drag and drop that item into a new Message.

    In each case, if the item you are dragging over can be used in the destination app you will see a small green plus sign appear to the top right of the item you are dragging.

    When that plus sign appears you can drop the item into place in the destination app. You will need to make sure the item has somewhere to go – so you’ll open a new Mail message before dropping an item into that message from another app, for example.

    You can also drag items into apps that are not open.

    Try this: Tap and hold a link in Safari until it appears to lift and then drag it, with one of your fingers (I usually use my thumb) you should then swipe up to open the Dock while keeping that link ‘object’ active. Now drag it to a compatible app icon in the dock and you’ll see that icon shiver slightly and it will then open. Keep dragging that item to where you want to use it in the newly-open app.

    You should use this Safari talent

    One of the big problems when multitasking on an iPad Pro is that you cannot open two instances of the same app side by side in Split View. There is one exception to this, and that’s Safari – and that means you can have (for example) two instances of Word online, or Pages in iCloud or any other Web app you want to use open in Split View.

    (You may need to use the Request Desktop Site feature in the search bar to access the best version of these online services).

    This is very useful as there are many highly capable web equivalents of key productivity  solutions available, some equipped with more extensive tools and features than the iOS app versions.

    In combination with the drag-&-drop and multitasking features the iPad Pro provides, you may now have found a way to use two app windows at once.

    A Dock tip

    You’ve probably noticed the need to have apps in the Dock when you need them for most of these multitasking tips to work. That’s fine, but what if they aren’t there?

    What to do: Make a folder of apps you use but don’t need enough to give them their own place in your Dock and then drag-&-drop the collection into the Dock.

    That folder will now be visible in your Dock and you can very quickly open any of the apps held in there in order to open it in Slide Over. You can also drag-&-drop items from other apps into apps inside that collection – when you hold the item over the folder the folder opens up and you can then drop the item you want to move onto the relevant application.

    Introducing Recently Used

    Some apps, including Files offer a Recently Used feature.

    To expose this, do a longish tap on the Files app icon in the Dock and you will see a the Recently Used popover appear. This shows you all the apps you’ve recently opened in that app, making it super-easy to open that item. You can also drag-&-drop items out of the Recently Used popover into other apps on your iPad.

    This is very useful, but I do feel it is inconsistently applied – I’d like to be able to access Safari’s history menu here in order to shift links between apps, for example.

    Putting it all together

    Once you become fluid in using these gestures you should find it much easier and more natural to move items between apps, work in two or more apps and swap items between apps using a combination of copy-&-paste and drag-&-drop.

    You’ve also learned how to work in two Word documents online using Office 365 and Safari, and hopefully picked up a couple of handy little tips along the way. At this point you should be able to use your iPad Pro to get many administrative and productivity tasks done without a laptop.

    I hope you are enjoying this short series of posts that explain how to use an iPad Pro to replace your notebook. Tune in soon for the next in this series: Getting more from tags and using Apple’s Files app.

    Previous episodes:

    Part One: iPad Equipment

    Part Two: Keyboard, Typing, Shortcuts, and Dictation tips

    I’ll let you know when I publish the next article in this series: Please follow me on Twitter and join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

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