The iPad is a fantastic tablet, and the crazy part is that most of us don't even know all the little tips and shortcuts that make life simpler with it. I've been writing about the iPad since it was first launched, and I still find neat tricks all the time. And the iPad is evolving. The latest iOS update added a bunch of cool new features like the ability to download new updates without plugging the iPad into our computer.
Here are some of the best iPad tips I've come across:
- Organize your apps with folders
Added in the 4.0 release of iOS, folders allow you to easily organize your iPad and separate apps into different categories. The neat part is the iPad will create a default folder name that is often a pretty good description of the apps it contains. To create a folder, simply hold your finger down on an app's icon until all of the apps begin to shake. Next, just drag it on top of another app and the iPad will create a folder containing the apps. To add more apps to the folder, simply drag them over and drop them on the newly-created folder.
- Reboot the iPad
Did you know you can solve more problems with the iPad by simply rebooting it than any other troubleshooting step? Is your iPad running slow? Reboot it. Does an app quit every time you launch it? Reboot it.
Unfortunately, it's easy to confuse putting the iPad into suspend mode as the same thing as rebooting it. To really give your iPad a fresh start, you can reboot it by following these quick steps: (1) Hold down the Sleep/Wake button for a few seconds. (2) When the iPad prompts you to slide a button to shutdown, follow the directions. (3) Wait a few seconds after the screen goes blank and then hold down the Sleep/Wake button again to boot it back up. (4) When you see the Apple logo appear, you can release the Sleep/Wake button. The iPad's home screen will appear momentarily.
- Turn down the brightness to save battery life
A quick way to get the most out of your iPad's battery is to turn down the brightness of the display. You can do this by going to the iPad's settings and choosing "Brightnesss & Wallpaper" from the left-side menu. The further to the left you move the slider, the less bright the screen will be (and thus the less power it will use). I have mine at about 33%, but your setting will depend upon the amount of ambient light in your house and how bright you need your iPad.
- Skip the apostrophe when typing
The iPad's auto-correct can sometimes get on your nerves, but there are other times when it can really be nice. If you type a lot, you'll no doubt need to use the apostrophe on a regular basis, especially when you are typing in a contraction like "can't" or "won't". But did you know you can skip the apostrophe? My favorite iPad typing tip is using the auto-correct to change "cant" to "can't" and "wont" to "won't".
- Quick onscreen music controls
The iPad has buttons on the side for changing the volume, but how about skipping a song? You don't need to launch the music app just to skip a song. The iPad's control panel will let you do things like adjust the brightness of the screen, turn Bluetooth on and even get at a timer. These controls are a little hidden, but they are easy to locate if you know where to look. Simply slide your finger up from the very bottom edge of the screen. You can pause, play, skip forward or skip backwards.
- Lock the screen orientation
I don't think there is anything more annoying than trying to view the iPad with one orientation like landscape mode and having the slight tilt of the iPad change it to a different orientation like portrait mode. This is especially true if you are trying to watch a movie or play a game, but you are sitting at an angle.
You can actually lock the screen orientation through two different methods. First, you can flip the switch next to the volume controls on the side of your iPad. Depending on how you have it set up in your iPad settings, this will either lock the orientation or mute the sound. If it muted the sound, you can get to the orientation lock the same way you got to the onscreen music controls in the tip above this one. The icon for locking the orientation is just to the left of the music controls.
- Find apps quickly
As you can imagine, I download a lot of apps. In fact, I have the app store on my dock because I am constantly in it searching for new apps or just checking out what is available on a subject. So how do I find a particular app I have installed on my iPad? I don't waste time flipping through the six screens filled with different icons. Instead, I use the iPad's Spotlight Search, which can be accessed by clicking the home button while on the first page of the home screen.
Once you get used to searching the iPad through this screen rather than flipping page by page looking for a particular icon, you won't know how you had the patience to do it any other way. You can also use this method to search through your contacts or even your email.
- Disable in-app purchases
One thing every parent should know how to do is turn off the ability to make in-app purchases on the iPad. Otherwise, that seemingly 'free' game may end up costing tens or even hundreds of dollars after your seven-year-old buys a bunch of in-game currency at $4.99 a pop.
Luckily, it's pretty simple to keep this from happening. First, you need to enable parental controls by going into your iPad's settings and choosing general from the left-side menu. On this screen, locate restrictions. In the restrictions menu, you'll need to enable restrictions, which will ask you four a 4-digit passcode.
Once you have enabled these parental controls, it is simply a matter of scrolling down the page until you see the option for In-App Purchases. When you slide this to the off positions, most apps won't even show the screen for purchasing items within the app, and those that do will be prevented from going through with any transactions.
- Turning on multitasking gestures
A neat feature brought to the iPad with the iOS 5.0 update was the addition of multitasking gestures. These gestures allow you to switch between open apps by putting four fingers on the display and sliding them to the left or right. You can also bring up the home screen by pinching in with four fingers or bring up the "task bar" by pinching out.
But first you need to turn on the multitasking gestures. This is done in the iPad settings under the General settings on the left-side menu. Scroll down until you see Multitasking Gesture and slide it to the "On" position.
- Add apps to the bottom tray of your home screen
The iPad comes with four apps on the bottom tray of the home screen, but did you know you can add up to six apps to it? You can even remove the ones that are there by default and add your own.
How? Simply tap an icon and hold down your finger until all the apps are shaking. This allows you to move the app. To get it on the bottom tray, just drag it over and drop it on the tray. You'll see the other apps move over to make room for it, and that let's you know it is okay to drop it.
Here's a really cool iPad tip: You can actually drop folders on this bottom tray. So if you have a bunch of games you always want quick access to, simply put them all in a folder and drop it on this tray.
- Project Gutenburg
Project Gutenburg is a project to bring public domain books to the digital world for free. And these books are available through the iBookstore, though (unfortunately) Apple doesn't make it quite so easy to find these books.
You can find a list of all the free books by going to the store within iBookstore, choosing browse and choosing "Free" from the tabs at the top. Not all the books here are from Project Gutenburg -- some are just books that newer authors are giving away for free-- but you'll see plenty listed if you prefer to browse.
Project Gutenburg includes a lot of great books like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. If you have a particular book in mind, you can simply search for it.
- Delete old games you no longer play
When we buy something, we have a built-in urge not to get rid of it. But the coolest thing about the iPad is that you only need to buy an app once and you can download it however many times you want. You can even download an app on your iPad that you bought on your iPhone so long as both are connected to the same iTunes account.
So if you have a game (or any other app) that you never use anymore, you can feel safe in deleting it to free up some more room. And, if you ever have an urge to play it again, there is a whole section in the app store dedicated to previously purchased apps. That makes it easy to find again. When you combine this with the ability to stream your movies and music through home sharing, you may not need that 32 GB or 64 GB iPad after all.
Remember: if you delete an app from your iPad, any data associated with that app will be lost. So think twice before you delete that word processor, but unless you want to keep your save game, deleting most games should be fine.
- Bonus Tip: Connect Your iPad To Your HDTV
You aren't just limited to the iPad's display if you are watching a movie or playing a game. You can also connect the iPad to an HDTV. The easiest way to do this is through Apple TV, which supports AirPlay and lets you wirelessly "throw" your iPad's screen to your TV.
But even if you have no interest Apple TV, you can buy an adapter to plug your iPad into your TV. The best solution is Apple's Digital AV Adapter, but you can also get composite or component cables.