Saturday, 29 October 2016 04:59

40+ Super Secret iPad Features and Shortcuts


We all want to get the very best out of our devices! Who doesn’t love finding out a new trick or shortcut?

This roundup aims to enlighten those new to the iPad, and guide old hands to a few new tricks – the heading might be laced with hyperbole, but you’re going to have a look anyway…

For those of you who are super-confident about your iPad knowledge, I’d like to propose a challenge. Go through and see how many features and shortcuts you didn’t know about, leave a comment with the number at the bottom of the post – and be honest!

40+ Super Secret iPad Features and Shortcuts

1. Take a Screenshot

Let’s start gently, taking a screenshot is one of the simpler things on this list. However, it can be invaluable when you grab a particularly smashing high score and need to immediately gloat on your social network of choice…

Simultaneously hold down both the Home button and the Lock button for almost a second, and voila! A screenshot appears in your camera roll.

2. Double-Click Home

While we’re talking about the Home button, you can double-click it to bring up the Multitasking bar (more on that in a minute).

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Double-Click Home

3. Triple-Click Home

Yep, that’s right. The great thing about triple-clicking the Home button is that it’s configurable! Have a look at the options and take your pick…

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Triple-Click Home

4. Zoom

Ever thought it might be useful to magnify the entire screen? You’re in luck, simply (hmm?) turn on Zoom and double-tap the screen with three fingers. You can then move around by dragging with three fingers – useful if you, or a relative, are struggling to read something and pinch to zoom isn’t available.

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5. Alter Zoom

To alter the zoom, double-tap with three fingers and drag up or down. On my iPhone I once activated zoom by accident, before I was in the know, and found it very difficult to turn it off! To get to settings and turn it off I had to figure out that I could only drag with three fingers…

6. Bring Up Multitasking Bar

We’ve just done complicated tapping configurations, we may as well move onto gestures! We’ve already noted how you can double-tap Home to bring up the multitasking bar, you can also do a four-fingered swipe upwards to achieve the same result.

Swipe up to bring up the bar, and down to hide it – easy once you know how!

In order for Multitasking Gestures to work they must be activated in the General tab of Settings.

7. Quick App Switch

Again using a four-fingered swipe, this time left or right, you can quickly switch between apps. It takes a second before the app you’ve selected is fully active, but it’s a very useful way to go back and forth between apps.

Your iPad remembers where you are in a sequence of apps for a while, try swiping back and forth!

8. Pinch to Home

This one of my absolute favourite gestural additions in iOS 5 – never use the Home button again! Simply pinch with five fingers to return to the Home Screen, enjoy…

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Multitasking Gestures

9. Multitasking Bar

It’s worth going over the use, and misuse, of the multitasking bar while we’re in the vicinity. The multitasking bar is basically an easy way to access your most recently used apps, just tap and go. The absolute most recent apps are often frozen and awaiting your return, meaning you can pick up exactly where you left off, but the number of apps in this state varies.

iOS 5 manages your apps so that there is always enough free memory for everything to run smoothly, closing previously frozen apps if need be. It’s designed to be as easy-to-use and painless as possible.

It’s a waste of time manually closing apps using the multitasking bar, it won’t change the performance of your iPad. The one exception being if there’s a specific app that’s got stuck, if the app you’re on has become unresponsive then it’s worth manually shutting it down.

10. Find My iPad

If you didn’t know this existed, now you do. Revel in the joy that is Find My iPad!

For the forgetful, Find My iPad is a dream come true, simply turn it on in iCloud settings. If you ever need to find your iPad, just head over to the iCloud site on the web and enter your iTunes details.

To help you find your iPad you can display a message that informs any potential finder what they should do, you can also get the iPad to play a sound – this overrides the volume and mute setting, allowing you to find it when you’re nearby!

11. Remotely Secure Your iPad

If you’re worried that your iPad has been left in mortal peril, you can use the online iCloud site to remotely set a passcode. For ultimate privacy protection you can press the figurative self-destruct button and erase all of your data!

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Find My iPad

You can use the Find My iPhone app on your iPhone to access these feature if you’re away from a computer.

12. Street View

Here’s a great one for you! Did you know that you can seamlessly access Google’s Street View on your iPad – right from the Maps application? Just open Maps, drop a pin (or search for somewhere) and tap on the red person icon to the left of the address.

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Just tap the red person icon!

You can the move about like you can on the web, heading down roads and looking for hilarious anomalies!

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Street View

13. Change Map Type

Most people have got this down, but it’s still worth mentioning. You can easily change the type of map you’re viewing by peeling back the map from the bottom right corner and selecting a different type. I, personally, am a big fan of the terrain view – giving you an idea of the hills you might encounter on that walk you’re planning…

14. Find My Friends

I’m always surprised by how many people don’t know about Find My Friends! Apple publicised it in the App Store for a while, but hasn’t really pushed it – it’s a take it or leave it feature really, understandable given it’s slightly unnerving use.

Download Find My Friends from the App Store and you can easily locate friends and family, presuming they give you permission!

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Find My Friends

It can be astonishingly useful in the right circumstances, a real vision of the mind-boggling times we’re entering!

If you’re only going to need it for a weekend with someone, just use the Temporary section to share your location with them.

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Who could this be?

15. Double Tap Space

This is a feature that I’m certain will be coming to the Mac any day now. On all iOS devices you need only double tap the space key to insert a full-stop (period). Making writing in sentences, rather than text drawl, that much easier.

16. Other Characters

Easily access a host of unusual characters and symbols by holding down a letter on the keyboard. Need an umlaut, look no further!

17. Hidden Apostrophe

In a similar fashion to the last tip, hold down the comma key to find a hidden apostrophe. Have you been changing to the punctuation page?

There is a hidden quote button under the full-stop (period).

18. Quickly Type Numbers

This is a useful, and well known, tip for easily typing numbers and punctuation. Rather than using three button taps to add a dollar sign, just hold your finger on the numbers button and drag to the dollar sign. When you let go you’ll be right back on the normal keyboard!


To enable Caps Lock you merely double tap the shift key. Tap once to turn it off. Couldn’t be easier than that!

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20. Undock the Keyboard

Hold down on the keyboard button, in the bottom right, and select Undock. This simple command puts your keyboard in the middle of the screen, obscuring anything below it. I’m not sure when this would ever be useful, answers in the comments…

21. Split the Keyboard

Now this I can see being useful. Follow the instructions as above, but select the Split command – your keyboard will divide in two, shrink, and move up slightly. This allows you to type using both of your thumbs!

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Split the Keyboard

To type while holding your iPad I would recommend using Split, it’s much easier than bashing away at the keyboard with one hand while trying to keep it steady with the other.

22. Phantom Buttons

Kudos to Finer Things in iOS for spotting this one! It appears that there are some phantom keyboard buttons when you’re in split keyboard mode, which mean that iOS 5 recognises when you hit the empty space and adds the correct letter.

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Phantom Buttons

23. Throw Away Notifications

A small, but enjoyable, tip for getting rid of notification banners that pop down from the top of your screen – pull them down with your finger and throw them up to quickly get rid of them!

24. Picture Frame

This is a great little feature that often goes completely unnoticed. Remember when you could spend $100 on a digital picture frame? One that you had to transfer pictures to using a USB, and then would leave on the side showing a slowly transitioning slideshow.

The iPad has a feature that allows you to easily turn it into an upgraded version of the digital picture frame (with a much better screen), simply tap the flower icon on the lock screen!

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Picture Frame

25. Zoom in on Faces

Following on from the use of the iPad as a digital picture frame, you can edit all kinds of settings relating to that very thing. My favourite is the option to Zoom in on Faces, fully utilising the fact that you have a distinctly clever iPad rather than some cheap photo paper…

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Zoom in on Faces

26. Side Switch

I don’t know if you remember, but originally the Side Switch on the iPad was only for locking the rotation of the screen. Well, that’s not the case any more (and hasn’t been for a while). Head into General in Settings to select whether you want the Side Switch to Lock Rotation or Mute.

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Side Switch

27. Restrict Spotlight Searches

Head to General in Settings and tap on Spotlight Search to edit what items show up when you search in Spotlight.

Useful for turning Spotlight into a more efficient app launcher!

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Restrict Spotlight Searches

28. Find Definitions

Ever wondered what a word meant and used the app (others are available) to find out? Took you several taps and half a minute, didn’t it?

Just tap and hold to select the word and tap Define, the built-in Dictionary is at hand!

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Find Definitions

29. Send Read Receipts

Want people to know when you’ve read their iMessages? Turn on read receipts, in the Messages tab of Settings, to make iMessage that much more like BBM.

30. Add Subject Field

Another iMessage feature, albeit a slightly pointless one. In the same section as before you can add Subject Fields to your iMessages. Why you would want to do that, however, is another matter entirely…

31. Find Text in Safari

Ever wanted to find something on a webpage in Mobile Safari? You can!

Simply type your desired word in the search bar and you’ll find a section under the Google Suggestions called On This Page. Not only does it list the matches, but you can hit the button beneath to have them all highlighted.

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Find Text in Safari

A bar appears at the bottom that allows you to easily scroll through the found words.

32. Easily Download Previously Purchased Apps

This might seem obvious, but new additions to commonly used apps often go unnoticed. Hit the Purchased tab in the App Store to see a list of all previously downloaded (paid and free) apps across all of your devices. Simply hit the iCloud icon for any that you want to get on your iPad…

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iCloud's pretty useful...

33. Redeem a Promo Code

If you’ve ever won an AppStorm giveaway you may have wondered what you’re supposed to do with a promo code. The good news is that you can now use promo codes, including iTunes Gift Cards, right on your iPad – head to the Featured section of the App Store and scroll to the bottom, hit Redeem and you’re away!

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Redeem a Promo Code

34. Add Extra Contact Fields

I briefly mentioned this in my article on getting your contacts sorted, but it’s worth noting here. You can add a myriad of extra information to all of your contacts should you be that way inclined. You can add;

  • Address
  • Website
  • Phonetic Names
  • Twitter
  • Birthday
  • Relation

Phonetic names and Relation could be useful with the possible future introduction of Siri, while adding someone’s Birthday and having it appear on your calendar is handy!

35. Change Sounds

It might be obvious, but you can very easily change almost every sound that your iPad makes! Grown weary of the notification bing, head to the Sounds section in the General tab of Settings and remove it from your life.

It’s nice to be able to set a specific Tweet sound!

36. EQ Your Music

You’ve been able to do this since the iPod days, but if you’re having trouble hearing that bass-end simply head over to the Music settings and select an EQ style that’s suits you.

You can also Volume Limit the iPad, stopping it from teaming up with those new in-ear headphones and blowing your mind!

37. Edit Slideshow

Head over to the Photos section in Settings to edit how photographic slideshows work. Set them to repeat and alter the slide length to your heart’s content… So long as your heart’s content is 2, 3, 5, 10, or 20 seconds.

38. Change Notes Font

Bored of the font used for your Notes? There are now THREE fonts to choose from! Go to Notes in Settings to enjoy the spice of life.

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Redeem a Promo Code

39. Overload Your Dock

It doesn’t appeal to me, but you can add six items into the dock of your iPad – just hold and drag in the normal way.

Looks fine in Landscape, but cramped in Portrait.

40. Show Camera Grid

I rarely take photos with my iPad, but when I do it’s useful to turn on the Grid to line things up. Nobody wants a skewed shot, right?

Open up the Camera, hit Options and toggle the Grid – note that it’s not available for the front-facing camera.

41. Add Shortcuts

Like the idea of using a program like TextExpander on the iPad, but frustrated that it doesn’t work everywhere? You can add systemwide Shortcuts in the Keyboard section of the General tab.

Simply add a Shortcut, head into any application, and pow!

42. Restrictions

If you have children, this needs to be the first section you head to! Find it under General in Settings. You can stop certain apps from being used, stop changes being made, and adjust what content can be viewed.

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