How to Master the iPad in 2024


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You just spent like 1000$ on a new iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. Great, now you’ve got the professional tools. But do you know how to use it?

If you’re going to spend this much money on something, you better figure out how to get the most out of it. You want a return on your investment right? In this article I’ll teach you how to become the iPad Pro and take your mobile computing to the next level.

It is no secret that I do everything from my iPad Pro. From creating and managing this website to my day job activities to running an automated homelab. It all happens on the iPad. So I’ve got a lot of experience with Apple’s slate. Specifically the 11” version.

Essential Understandings

A few things to get in your head off the bat. The iPad does not operate like a normal computer. By default, when you open an application it will be in a full screen window.

Unlike a desktop computer, iPad OS handles things like RAM and running applications for you. You do not need to manually close applications on the iPad. It will intelligently close programs to free up resources for other programs automatically. Don’t waste time closing all the apps in the multitasking view – you will actually make the iPad slower because it then has to load all those apps from the disk again instead of RAM.

Another thing to note, iPad OS does not handle applications like Windows or Mac OS. An application is deleted simply by holding down on its icon on the home screen and tapping the “X” button. In iPad OS, applications are sandboxed. This means that each application gets its own little folder, and can’t access any folders of other programs.

This means to move files across applications, you’ll often be using the share function.

The Home Screen

This might seem a bit simplistic, but I feel like an explanation of the home screen is in order. The home screen is populated by widgets and shortcuts to open applications. Mine looks like this.

You can place multiple app shortcuts into one icon using a folder. A folder opens when tapped and displays all the app shortcuts contained. You can also add shortcuts to your homescreen (more on that later.)

The home screen is broken up into pages. Each page is represented by the small white / gray dots at the bottom above the dock.

The dock is a set of shortcuts that will be visible at the bottom of every homescreen page. It can also be accessed while within apps by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.

The dock can also contain folders. In my screenshot above you will see that there are some folders in the dock, one containing shortcuts.

Tapping an app will open it in the default full screen view. You can place multiple apps on the screen at once using split view, slide over, or stage manager.

You can add widgets to the home screen by long pressing anywhere on the screen and tapping the “+” icon in the upper left hand corner.

The Multitasking View

By swiping up from the bottom of the screen and holding your finger for a moment, you can summon the multitasking screen. This gives you a chronological list of your recently opened applications.

You can simply tap an application to return to it, or swipe up on the thumbnail to force close the program. Note that you don’t need to force close programs unless they are not working correctly. iPad OS manages your running applications – you don’t have to.

Multitasking Modes

There are a few ways to multitask on an iPad. First is the simplest, just switching between apps from the multitasking view. There are three other options for multitasking, slide over, split view, and Stage Manager.

Slide over is simple. You just have one application full screen, and you tap the three dots in the top middle of the window and choose “slide over.” This is also how you choose the split view option.

Tapping slide over will push the open application to one side of the screen and show you your home screen. You then select a new application to open and it gives you the former app floating on the side like a iPhone sized display.

Split view is similar, but instead of one window floating on the side two windows split the screen in half. You simply click the three dot icon in the top middle of the open window and choose “split view.” This will take you to the home screen where you can select the second app you’d like to split the screen with.

The third method of multitasking is Stage Manager. Stage Manager can be enabled by tapping its icon in control center. This makes it so that windows can float and overlap with one another – like a regular Windows or Mac desktop! You can have up to four windows open on the screen at any given time.

In stage manager, opening a new app sends the new window to its own workspace. You can then drag and drop windows from other workspaces, listed across the left hand side, to place them together on the same space.

Stage manager is useful for tasks that require lots of switching between windows. It is however less efficient with screen real estate than split view or just opening an app normally. There are more wasted pixels.

The Files App

iPad OS includes an application called “files” for managing your files on the device and in the cloud. The neat thing about the Files app is that it integrates your different cloud storage accounts in one place. This means you can have your iCloud Drive, OneDrive, and Google Drive etc. all in the same place.

This means you can easily copy or move files from one cloud storage to another. You can also set up shortcuts to move and manipulate files if you do it often.

The iPad Files app has a functionality called “tags.” These are color coded and customizable tags you can set on folders or files. This is useful for situations like a project. Let’s say you have a lot of different documentation and diagrams across multiple cloud storage locations and folders. You can tag each folder or file with a color coded tag, and view them all at once by tapping on the tag in the navigation menu on the left.

Control Center

Control center is a menu that displays commonly manipulated settings like screen brightness or volume. You get to control center by swiping down from the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Control center can be customized by going to settings > control center. From there you can add or remove shortcuts.

Long pressing an icon in control center will bring up additional options for the setting.

The Lock Screen / Notification Shade

Swiping down from the top of the screen from any application will open the lock screen / notification list. This displays a list of your recent notifications and optionally any widgets you have configured for the lock screen. You can customize your lock screen by long pressing on it. There isn’t a lot to say about this feature – it is pretty simple. Notifications and quick info.


Shortcuts are very powerful visual scripts that you can trigger based on a variety of factors. If you find yourself doing something often on your iPad, you should consider making a shortcut that does it.

For example, I often found myself opening documents from my downloads folder and sharing them into an app. So I made a shortcut that lists all the documents in that folder and lets me pick which one to share. I placed this shortcut as an icon on my dock so it is easy to summon.

Another shortcut I made is to enable / disable my different VPNs. It opens a menu that lets me select which VPN and what state it should be in.

I will post links to my shared shortcuts at the bottom of the article so you can get an idea of how they work.

Focus Modes

Focus modes allow you to automate some functions of your iPad based on factors like time of day or location. These modes also let you choose what apps show notifications while in each mode. For example, I have a work focus mode that silences iMessage notifications, enables Teams and Outlook notifications, and enables my work VPN.

You can also choose what lock screens / home screen pages show up in each focus mode. Meaning you can have only your work apps show up in the work focus mode, or only your personal apps in personal. All apps will still be available in the app library.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully this helps you master the functionality of your new iPad. I am sure you will enjoy it – if you ask me the iPad is the best personal computer someone can own. They last for years and have incredible hardware. If you’re lucky enough to own one, maybe this guide will help you get the most out of it.