50 really useful iPad tips and tricks

Go pro with your iPad

26. Punctuate without stopping

You don’t need to switch the keyboard to symbols when you need a punctuation mark. Swipe up on the comma/exclamation mark key to get an apostrophe and on the full stop/question mark key for a quotation mark.

Press and hold any letter to see accented versions, such as é. Double-tapping the space bar at the end of a sentence adds a full stop and a space.

27. Make VIPs for mail

Mail offers a useful feature to tame unnecessary notifications: you can ask it to notify you only when a message comes from a Very Important Person. To make someone a VIP you need to add them to Contacts first. You’ll then see an Add to VIP option when you tap their name in Mail.

28. Control the kids

iPads don’t have multiple user accounts, and that means a shared iPad can give the kids access to things you don’t want them anywhere near. Use Settings > General > Restrictions to pin code-protect your iPad, add age restrictions for media or disable specific apps and/or in-app purchases.

29. Lock down an app

Guided Access mode is another handy feature if you’re letting kids use the iPad: it locks down the current app and even enables you to disable specific bits of the screen, such as the settings button or the upgrade banner.

Enable it in Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access and then start it by triple-tapping the Home button.

30. Use iCloud tabs

In Safari on your Mac, iPhone or iPad you can share open tabs with your other devices. To do it from a Mac go into System Preferences > iCloud and make sure Safari is switched on; on iOS go into Settings > Your name > iCloud and again, check Safari is switched on.

Now in Safari clicking on the tabs icon - it looks like one square on top of another - brings up not just the tabs on your current device, but on your other device(s) too.

31. Catch the bus with Maps

Maps offers real-time public transport information: when you search for a location in the app, tap on the Transit icon at the bottom right of the panel.

It’ll tell you the best way to get to a particular place from where you are, and it knows about buses, trains and undergrounds too. There’s live traffic information as well, so congested roads appear as red.

32. Find a place to stay or eat

Apple has been beefing up Maps’ capabilities over the years, and it can offer a lot of useful information about places: photos, contact details and TripAdvisor reviews of hotels, whether retailers accept Apple Pay and whether dentists are sadists.

33. Create PDFs

If you’ve found something you’d like to save or share as a PDF, all you need to do is bring up the Share menu in Safari: it includes a Save PDF to iBooks option. It’s handy for online articles that might not stay available, such as things you’re reading as part of a subscription.

34. Control the camera

Is the camera focusing on the wrong thing or metering light from the wrong bit? No problem: just tap the correct object or area and the camera will refocus and re-meter.

You can also switch HDR mode on or off for high dynamic range shots: they’re good for dramatic shots such as foul weather on bright days.

35. Stick the shutter button

By default, the iPad re-orients the screen when you turn it from portrait to landscape, and that means the camera app shutter button moves if you tilt the iPad too far.

You can lock it in place by swiping up Control Center and turning on orientation lock, or you can just use the volume buttons as shutter controls instead.

36. Fix the FaceTime window

You don’t have to leave FaceTime’s picture-in-picture window in its default location. Just tap and drag with your finger to put it wherever you prefer.

37. Take a panorama

Panoramas aren’t just for iPhones. In the camera app tap on the Pano option and you can use your iPad to create a huge panoramic image.

38. Get photos from your camera

The iPad doesn’t have an SD card slot, but you can use a Lightning Camera Connection Kit to transfer images directly from your digital camera. A USB-equipped Lightning cable can be used to connect other things, such as USB musical instruments or physical keyboards.

39. Finish web addresses instantly

If you’re typing a web address in Safari, press and hold the space bar to see a selection of domain options including .com, .co.uk and so on. It’s a little touch, we know, but it saves valuable milliseconds you might need later.

40. Jump back to the top

Tap the title bar of Safari to return to the top of the current page. This method works in all kinds of list-based apps too, such as Twitter clients, eBay listings, ecommerce apps and so on.

41. Save articles to read later

In addition to browser Favorites, Safari also offers a Reading List where you can pin articles you’d like to read later. If you’ve enabled iCloud for Safari this is synced between your devices, so you might save an article from your work Mac to read on your iPad when you get home.

42. Get subscriptions in Safari

Many sites publish content via RSS, which provides plain versions of articles. You can subscribe to such feeds in Safari so you never miss an update.

To do it, visit a site that offers an RSS feed - blogs almost always do it, and many news sites do too - and then bring up Safari’s Bookmarks panel. Tap on the @ symbol to open Shared Links and then tap Subscriptions > Add Current Site. Articles from that feed will now appear in the Shared Links panel.

43. Clear your browsing history

You can cover your tracks with Safari in two ways: by bringing up a new private browsing window to surf privately, or by going into Settings > Safari and clearing your browser history.

It’s important to stress that both of these things only affect what’s recorded on your iPad: the sites you visit and their advertising trackers will still know you were there and what you were looking at. If you’re a spy you might need more serious privacy protection.

44. Use Split View in Safari

On older iPads if you want to open a new tab without closing the current one it’s a matter of pressing and holding a link and then selecting Open in New Tab.

But on the various iPad Pro models, new iPad, iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 4 you get another option (as long as you’re in landscape orientation): open in Split View. This gives half of the screen to each tab, and goes back to normal if you close one of them.

45. Search without Siri

On the home screen, slide down with two fingers to bring up the Siri suggestions screen and search box. The search will look at Wikipedia, iTunes, websites and online video, and you can simply tap on a search result to open it in the appropriate app.

46. Give Siri an accent

You don’t have to stick with Siri’s default voice if you don’t want to. Depending on where you live you can choose between multiple options, so for example in the UK we have a choice of male and female voices with US, Australian or British accents. You’ll find the options in Settings > Siri.

47. Make your iPad quieter

Some apps are awfully keen on playing sounds whenever you do anything, but you don’t have to put up with that if you don’t want to. Go into Settings > Sounds to turn off specific sounds such as posting a tweet or a Facebook post, and use Settings > Notifications to make app-specific changes.

48. Make the iPad more accessible

Some features are a problem for some users. For example, animation can make some people feel ill, while other users may have motion difficulties or vision issues.

There are stacks of options in Settings > General > Accessibility to make the iPad more usable, including changes to the way it displays text and its support for assistive devices.

49. Use punctuation in Siri and dictation

Apple’s voice recognition can understand punctuation, which can make your dictated texts and emails much easier to read. It’s just a matter of saying what mark you want, such as “Send David a message hi exclamation mark what’s up question mark”.

50. Get Siri to sing

Bring up Siri and tell him or her: “I see a little silhouetto of a man”, or ask what zero divided by zero is. There are stacks of Siri Easter eggs like these.