Just unwrapped an iPad? Here are 15 features to make it even more useful
1. Take a screenshot
If you need a screenshot, whether it's to prove your high score in a new game or to send an important chart to the office, taking one is quick and easy. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button (on the top of the iPad, on the right-hand side) and the Home button at the same time. The screenshot will be added to your camera roll.
2. Multi-touch gestures
It won't have escaped your notice that the iPad is a touchscreen device but even those who have mastered swiping, tapping and pinching to zoom often don't know about some of the more complex controls. Turn them on in Settings - General - Multitasking Gestures and then try the following:
- Place four fingers on the screen and swipe upwards to reveal the multitasking bar; swipe down to close it again.
- Swipe left or right with four fingers to switch between apps
- Pinch four fingers together to close the running app and return to the homescreen. Do this very slowly and you can watch the animation as the app fades out and the homescreen fades in. Hours of fun. Probably. Don’t forget a single-finger swipe up from the bottom reveals frequently used settings and from the top information about today.
3. Typing tricks
There are several ways to make typing easier on your iPad. Here are a few suggestions:
- Caps Lock: sometimes you need to type all in capitals and hitting Shift before each letter is a pain. Don't worry, Caps Lock is easy: make sure the Caps Lock function is turned on in Settings - General - Keyboard, and then double-tap either shift button whenever you are typing to turn on Caps Lock.
- Hidden punctuation: Apostrophes and speech marks can be fiddly on the iPad's virtual keyboard because they are tucked away on a second keyboard. Or so you would think. In fact, there are shortcuts to both on the main keyboard. Just tap and hold the exclamation mark to get an apostrophe and tap and hold the question mark for speech marks.
- Split the keyboard: It can be hard to type on the iPad when you are holding it in your hands. Apple has an option to make this slightly easier by allowing you to split the keyboard into two. Just place two fingers near the centre of the keyboard and drag them apart. The keyboard will split into two, smaller halves - one on each side of the screen - making it easier to hold the iPad in two hands and type with your thumbs.
- Shortcuts: If there are certain phrases, names or other terms that you type frequently, you can create shortcuts for them under Settings - General - Keyboard. Type "omw", for example, and the iPad will enter "on my way".
4. Parental controls
Children love iPads and there are some great apps available for children. However, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to control the things your children are able to do with your iPad. You might not want them to have unrestricted access to the web, for example, and it might be irritating if they delete your favourite apps. You certainly don't want to let them loose in the App Store if they're spending on your credit card. All of those things and more can be set within the Settings - General - Restrictions menu. Once set, the Restrictions settings are pin-protected so that only you can change them.
5. Tap titlebar to return to top
Scrolling all the way up to the top of a long page can be irritating. That's why Apple included a shortcut: just tap on the title bar at the top of the screen to automatically jump to the top. This should work across most apps, except for the odd perverse developer who opts to turn it off, thus condemning users to an irritating time swiping screen after screen. I'm looking at you, The New Yorker app.
6. Find text on a page
On a computer CTRL+F is a handy way to find a word or phrase on the page you're reading or in a document. You can do the same thing on an iPad too. Type the word or phrase you are looking for into the search box in the top and if it appears on the page then you will see an 'On This Page' section in the search results. Tap that to see the word highlighted on the page.
7. Conserve battery life
The iPad has pretty impressive battery life: but turning down the brightness (found in the Settings menu) will help, as will switching off 3G, or even going to Airplane mode completely when you don't need any connectivity. If you do need to stay connected, try fetching data less frequently (see Settings: Mail, Contacts and Calendars).
8. Airplay mirroring
One of the best features of the iPad is the ability to mirror the display to a television using AirPlay. You'll need an Apple TV connected to your television for this to work but assuming you have one of those, this is a handy trick for sharing photos with the family or just showing everyone that hilarious video of a skateboarding cat. Here's how it works: first, open the iPad's multitasking menu by swiping upwards with four fingers or double-tapping the home button, then swipe left. You'll see a range of player controls and, if your iPad is on the same WiFi network as an Apple TV, you'll see the AirPlay logo - a rectangle with a black triangle over the bottom edge. Tap that to mirror your screen.
9. Fast app switching
If you have followed the tips above then you will have seen this by now. Switching apps quickly is very easy. It's not necessary to close one app and then scroll through your apps to find the one you want. Just open the iPad's multitasking menu by swiping upwards with four fingers or double-tapping the home button. You'll see all of your recently opened apps. Scroll right and you'll see even more. Just tap the one you want to switch quickly. This is especially useful if you want to copy-and-paste between one app and another. Swipe one up to quite it.
This is a tremendously useful feature. If you need to copy text between, say, a document and an email, just tap and hold on the text you want to copy. The word you have tapped will be highlighted and you'll see a bar with a blue circle on it at each end of the word. Drag these bars to select the text you want and then tap 'copy'. Then go to the app you want to paste the text into, tap and hold and then hit 'paste'.
11. Access your home computer
This one costs a little money, but by downloading iTeleport, it means you can access your home computer from anywhere in the world through your iPad.
Control downloads, play music to the empty house to make potential burglars think you are home, email yourself files from your desktop.
The possibilities are endless, provided you leave the computer switched on of course.
Want to see something close up, then this feature might be for you.
This feature sits in the accessibility folder under general settings. when turned on, double tap on the screen with three fingers to zoom into a spot.
To navigate around while zoomed in, drag three fingers around the screen.
And if things still are not magnified enough, then double tap again while zoomed in with three fingers before dragging them up or down. This will zoom you right in and out of the action.
13. Shake to undo
Made a mistake when typing and wish there was a handy undo button just like on your desktop word processor. Actually there is, but you have to get physical.
Simply pick up your iPad, hold it tightly and give it a rigorous shake. A box will flash up on the screen asking if you would like to undo the typing you have just inputted.
14. Triple click the home button
While most people know that a double click of the home button will bring up the multitasking bar, allowing you to access apps that are open, few will know about triple click.
Hidden in the accessibility menu in general setting, there is an option to turn on triple click.
You can then chose to activate a number of features when the round button at the bottom of the screen is pressed three times in quick succession.
These include the ability to invert the colours on the screen or to zoom. The iPad's VoiceOver function, which helps people with visual difficulties navigate around the screen, can also be activated in this way.
15. Find my iPad
Are you one of those forgetful people who leaves your portable technology lying around in rooms and then forgets where you put it? Then this feature is for you.
Turn it on in the iCloud settings and next time your iPad vanishes from the face of the Earth, log in to the iCloud on your nearest computer or phone with your iTunes details.
You can then ask your iPad to display a message telling any potential finder how to return it to you.
You can ask the iPad to play a sound that overrides any volume and mute settings. Have you found it yet?
There it is, buried under that stack of newspapers.