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iGBHow-toHow to multitask on iPad (iPadOS 15): An ultimate guide

How to multitask on iPad (iPadOS 15): An ultimate guide

iPads are powerful devices with unparalleled multitasking capabilities. So much so that they can easily replace your Mac. And thanks to the iPadOS 15, multitasking on an iPad becomes more intuitive, smoother, and manageable.

Check out this all-inclusive guide to know more about the new features and how to use them efficiently on your iPad. Let’s start with the compatibility quotient!

Which iPads are compatible with multitasking?

iPads running iPadOS 15 will support all multitasking features. Here’s the list of compatible models.

  • iPad 5th generation and later
  • iPad mini 4th and 5th generation
  • All models of iPad Pro
  • iPad Air 2 and later

However, a few old iPads support limited features like Slide Over and PiP Mode:

  • iPad Air
  • iPad mini 2 and 3

If you need help identifying your iPad models, check out this guide.

Multitasking features available on iPads

An iPad majorly comprises of the following multitasking components:

  • Multitasking Menu – Incorporated in iPadOS 15, the three-dot button placed on the top of apps acts as a menu to enter/exit multitasking options.
  • Split View – A self-explanatory term, it divides the iPhone screen into two halves. You can use two different or similar app windows together.
  • Slide Over – While one app remains in full-screen, a second window hovers over it. You can slide it in or out as needed.
  • Center window – In iPadOS 15, you can open a quick preview window centered on the screen. Although, it currently supports only limited functionality:
    • Notes
    • Email messages
    • Message conversations

      Center window for multitasking in iPadOS 15
  • Shelf – In iPadOS 15, the multi-window shelf lines up all open windows of an app at the bottom of the page for quick access. You can switch, close, or open a tab with just one tap.
  • Picture in Picture mode – Dubbed as the PiP mode enables you to watch videos in a floating window above other apps/sites.
  • App Switcher – iPadOS 15 has given more power to App Switcher. You can create Split View spaces and view all Slide Over apps.

Turn on or off multitasking features (iOS 14)

  1. Launch Settings and select Home Screen & Dock.
  2. Tap Multitasking.

    Tap on Home Screen and Enable Show Suggested and Recent Apps in Dock
  3. Here toggle on/off Allow Multiple Apps, Picture in Picture, and Gestures accordingly.

    Allow Multiple Apps and Gestures for Multitasking on iPad

How to reveal the Multitasking Menu (iPadOS 15)

  1. Open any app.
  2. Tap the three dots at the page’s top center.
  3. The menu will hold 3 or 4 options, depending on the app you are using
    • Full Screen
    • Split View
    • Slide Over
    • Center window
How to reveal the Multitasking Menu on iPadOS 15

In addition to this, you’ll also see the Shelf at the bottom if multiple windows of an app are active.

How to split screen on iPad using Split View

I. For iPadOS 15

  1. Open the first app you want to use in Split View.
  2. Invoke the Multitasking Menu by tapping the three dots.
  3. Tap the Split View icon (the second option in the menu).

    Tap on Split View icon on iPad
  4. The app will slide to the screen’s edge; now select the second app.
  5. Both the apps will open in half & half setting instantly.

    How to use Split View on iPad in iPadOS 15

II. For iPadOS 15 and earlier

  1. Open the first app.
  2. Swipe up from the screen’s bottom to reveal the dock.
  3. Hold and drag the second app icon to the screen’s left or right edge.
  4. Now, drop it to the black space that appears.

    How to Use Split View on iPad

Adjust Split View settings on iPad

Switch apps

  • For iPadOS 15 – Swipe down the app you want to replace. The remaining app window will automatically slide towards the edge; now, choose the other app.

    Adjust Split View Settings in iPadOS 15
  • For iPadOS 15 and earlier – Hold, drag, and drop the app over the app you want to replace.

    Adjust Split View Settings in iPadOS 14

Manage the window size

Touch the app divider (small vertical line) and drag it to the left or right to adjust the window size.

Reverse app positions

Hold the three-dot icon, drag, and drop the window over the other app. The second app will move left or right, making space for the first one.

How to close Split View

  • For iPadOS 15 – Tap the three dots at the app’s top and select the Full Screen (first option).
  • For iPadOS 15 and earlier – Tap and drag the app divider over the other app you want to close.

How to enter Split View via App Switcher

  1. Swipe up from the screen’s bottom and hold to call the App Switcher.
  2. Now, touch, hold, and drag the app window over the other app window.
  3. Tap the window to open the new Split View.
Enter Split View via App Switcher on iPad

What’s more? You can also

  • Switch Split View apps – Drag and drop the app over the other app.
  • Close an app in Split View – Touch and swipe up the app.

How to enable Slide Over on iPad

I. For iPadOS 15

  1. Open the app you want in a floating window.
  2. Tap the three dots to invoke the Multitasking menu.
  3. Tap the Slide Over icon (the third option in the menu).
  4. Select the main full-screen app when the current app slides towards the edge.

Tada! Just like that, the initial app will float over the second app.

Enable Slide Over view on iPad

II. For iPadOS 15 and earlier

  1. Open the main app and swipe up from the screen’s bottom to reveal the dock.
  2. Drag and drop the second app to the screen’s left or right.
How to Use Slide Over on iPad

Note: Don’t drag the app to the corners; drop it before the black screen appears, or else it will enter Split View.

How to adjust Slide Over settings on iPad

Reposition the Slide Over window

Place your finger on the three dots/small vertical line at the top of the Slide Over app screen and drag it to the left or right.

Hide the Slide Over app

Touch the edges of the floating window or the three-dots/small vertical line and give a slight push towards the screen’s edge, whether it’s placed on the right or left. To bring back the Slide Over window, swipe in from the screen’s edge.

Open a different app in Slide Over

The Slide Over window can boast multiple apps at a time. The mantra here is to drag and drop the next app you want on the floating window.

Open a different app in Slide Over on iPad

Switch between apps in Slide Over

Swipe left or right on the horizontal line at the bottom to access the next app.

Switch between apps in Slide Over on iPad

You can swipe up from the bottom or use App Switcher to view all Slide Over windows currently active. And to close an unwanted app, swipe up the app window.

Change the background app

If you want to maintain the Slide Over window while changing the background full-screen app, bring up the dock and tap the new app.

Use the Center Window feature on iPadOS 15

  1. Open a supportive app.
  2. Long-press a note/email/message from the sidebar.
  3. Select Open in New Window from the contextual menu.

    How to use Center Window feature on iPadOS 15
  4. A new quick preview window will instantly open at the screen’s center.

    Quick preview window will open at center of screen on iPad

This feature works even when Split View or Slide Over is active. However, it is designed only for previews and moves away (hide in the Shelf) when you press anywhere else on the screen.

How to switch between various views

A masterstroke of iPad multitasking is that you can switch between various modes with just a tap. Let me show you how it’s done.

Turn Split View into Slide Over

For iPadOS 15 – Tap Multitasking Menu (three dots) and select Slide Over (third option)

Turn Split View into Slide Over for iPadOS 15

iPadOS 14 and later – Hold the three-dots/small vertical line to drag and drop the window anywhere on the screen.

Turn Slide Over into Split View

For iPadOS 15 – From the Multitasking Menu, select Split View (second option). The current Slide Over window will instantly enter half-n-half mode.

For iPadOS 14 and later – Hold the three-dots/small vertical line and drag the Slide Over window to any edge until a black window appears; drop the window here.

Turn Slide Over into Split View on iPad

Turn Split View or Slide View into center window

There are two ways to do so, but remember this feature is available to a limited set of apps.

  • Multitasking Menu – Tap the three-dot icon and select the center window (fourth option), if available.
  • Drag and Drop – Place your finger on the three-dot icon, drag, and drop it to the screen’s center.

To move back from the center window to Slide Over/Split View, just reverse the above steps.

How to use Shelf in iPadOS 15

When you call upon the Multitasking Menu, the Shelf appears at the bottom. It helps you access all active windows for an app. A feat previously managed only through the App Switcher. In addition to that, here’s what more you can do with the Shelf:

  • Open a new app – Tap the + icon to add another app window into the mix.
  • Switch between windows – Tap the window you want to switch to.
  • Close windows – Swipe up the window you want to close down.
Close windows using Shelf in iPadOS 15

Use Picture in Picture mode on iPad

Continue playing your videos or FaceTime calls while continuing your work, all thanks to PiP mode.

But before we continue, let’s first ensure that PiP mode is enabled. Go to Settings → General → Picture in Picture  â†’ Toggle on Start PiP Automatically.

Use Picture in Picture mode on iPad

When you play a video or attend a FaceTime call, swipe up to go to the Home screen. The video will start playing automatically in PiP mode, even over the Split View/Slide Over.

Start playing automatically in PiP mode on iPad

Note: You can increase or decrease the window size, hide it, or go back to the full-screen video. Our separate guide on using YouTube in PiP on the iPhone and iPad will tell you more about these things.

How to open multiple windows of the same app on an iPad

Though added in iPadOS 13, iPadOS 15 has further simplified running multiple windows of the same app.

Open multiple windows of the same app on iPad

When one of the app windows is opened, either

  • Invoke the Multitasking Menu – Select the Split View or Slide Over option and tap the same app icon.
  • Invoke the DockHold, drag the same app icon and drop it on the screen to enable Split/Slide Over.

Use drag and drop between apps on iPad

One of the best use cases of having multiple apps/windows open simultaneously is that you can easily drag and drop the content.

For instance, you can drag text from Safari to Notes, pictures from the Photos or Files app to Messages, or calendar events to the Mail app, and so on.

  1. Open two apps/windows in Split View or Slide Over.
  2. Touch and hold the image, file, or selected text; it will lift a bit.
  3. Now, drag and drop it.
Use drag and drop between apps on iPad

You’ll notice a green + badge on the top-right corner; this means the app supports the drop.

To select multiple images (or files), touch and slightly drag the first one. Next, tap other images to select them. A green badge will tell you about the number of selected items. After this, drop them in the other app.

Additional features to help you in iPad multitasking

While all these features make the basis of multitasking on the iPad, many features further enhance the capabilities.

  • Keyboard and trackpad shortcuts – Who doesn’t love shortcuts? An iPad offers a variety of trackpad and mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts.

    They ensure that you don’t have to repeatedly touch the iPad screen, saving time and effort.
  • Focus mode – iPadOS 15 brings in a relaxed focus-centric mode, available in various options like work, personal, reading, etc. Along with notification management, it lets you customize Home Screen for specific modes.

    So, when in a multitasking zone, you can limit the apps on-screen to only the ones you’ll need.
  • Quick Notes – An iPadOS 15 unique feature to enhance your productivity. Build to make note-taking swifter; this window will prop up on your command.

    You can add text, handwriting, links, Safari highlights, tags, and mentions. Consider it an extension of drag and drop to Notes app, but without actually opening the app. Let’s see in detail how to use Quick Note on iPad (iPadOS 15).
  • Live Text – While not a multitasking feature, it can come in real handy. The built-in OCR-reader iPadOS 15 feature allows you to recognize text from images or live scenarios.

    The cherry on top of the cake is the Text from Camera feature. You can copy and use text directly from the camera in apps like Messages, Notes, Safari, Mail, and more.
  • Universal Control – Another gem from iPadOS 15 treasure chest. You can control your Mac and iPad with a single keyboard and mouse or trackpad.

    Now isn’t that a masterstroke for professionals and multitaskers?

Oh boy! How I love all these features, they do make work and life more manageable and fun. And I hope this guide helped you through multitasking on iPad.

If you have any questions, queries, or hacks, feel free to share them in the comment section below.

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  • Arshmeet

    A self-professed Geek who loves to explore all things Apple. I thoroughly enjoy discovering new hacks, troubleshooting issues, and finding and reviewing the best products and apps currently available. My expertise also includes curating opinionated and honest editorials. If not this, you might find me surfing the web or listening to audiobooks.

    View all posts

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