iPad User Guide

This user guide focuses on how to use different features on the iPad to help you get more from your digital workflows.

Taking screenshots

By far, the easiest way to take screenshots (which is universal for all iPads) is to swipe from the left corner of the iPad using your Apple Pencil. To turn on this gesture, go to your iPad Settings > Apple Pencil > Left Corner Swipe and choose Screenshot. You can also choose to swipe on the right side as well. You can also choose to take a screenshot with your finger by going to the Multitasking & Gestures part of your iPad Settings > turn on Swipe Finger from Corner, and choose Screenshot for the corner you want; left (Bottom Left Corner) or right (Bottom Right Corner).

For other iPads, go to Settings > General > Gestures and Allow Finger to Swipe From Corner. For Left Corner Swipe, you can then choose Screenshot, or you can set it for Right Corner Swipe. Note: turning on the gesture for your finger disables the multitasking ability to bring up all your open app windows with the App Switcher. The iPad automatically opens your screenshot in a window with several options.

When your iPad doesn’t have a home button, you can take a screenshot by simultaneously pressing the power button and any one volume button. If your iPad has a home button, press the home button and the power button at the same time. The screenshot appears at the bottom left corner of your iPad and you can interact with it in a few different ways:

  • tap on it to bring up the Markup options
  • long-press to share the screenshot
  • swipe left to save it to your Photos library.  You can also leave it and the iPad will automatically save it.

Markup for screenshots

To share quick thoughts on a picture or screenshot, you can use Markup. Once you’ve taken your screenshot > bring up your Markup tools by selecting the pen icon (top right corner) if it is not already selected. This brings up the toolbar, like the one in Apple Notes. Learn more about the toolbar here. You can then do with following on your screenshot:

  • add handwritten comments using the pen or pencil tools
  • highlight some information
  • erase any mistakes you make
  • move your annotations using the lasso tool
  • draw regular shapes, or irregular ones using the ruler tool. 
  • add the following under the plus icon: stickers (Add Sticker), description for accessibility (Description), text boxes (Add Text), signature (Add Signature) or shapes and arrows (Add Shape).

To share the screenshot, go to the export icon (top right corner) > send it to the person you are talking to, without saving the screenshot to your device. Tap the bin icon to delete if you don’t need the screenshot. But if you want it, tap Done to save it.

Markup for photos

To Markup, a photo in the Photos app, open it > go to Edit > and tap the pen icon to bring up the annotation tools. When you have finished marking up your photo, tap Done > then tap Done again to save your annotations. 

Before sending a photo in Messages, you can add annotations to it. Tap the image you want to send > go to Markup (bottom left corner) to bring up the annotation tools > Markup the photo > tap Save > then Done to save your comments, and then send your thoughts. 

Markup for PDF

When exporting PDFs from an app, you have a Markup option. For example, in LiquidText (PDF reader) I have to share these notes with Uncle Dan. I will ask him to check for grammar and spelling errors and then send it to him on Messages. If I don’t want a copy of this, I can Delete PDF. But if I wanted to keep a copy, Save File To saves it to Files.


In Books, Markup is available only for PDFs you have imported into the app. It won’t work for PDFs you download from the Book Store. You get more features in Markup for PDF reading and these are similar to those in Books, Apple Notes, and Files. Which app will work best for you, really depends on your workflow. There are a few advantages to using one over the other.

Apple Notes

Apple Notes uses Markup for PDF reading. The app saves the PDF in your notes (as attachments) and opens them in a separate window to read and annotate them. You don’t need to bring a PDF into Apple Notes or Books to annotate it on the iPad because you can do that in the Files app. Especially when you want to share feedback, it’s simpler and faster to do it in Files.

Files app

Files can annotate both PDFs and photos. The setup in the app allows you to quickly navigate through different documents, which is handy. Here are some Markup features you get for PDFs only:

  • Hyperlinks ease your navigation through long documents. You can skip pages, which saves time. The trick is knowing where the hyperlinks are in your PDF. It does not recognise outlines in documents, though, something we hope to get in the future.
  • Interact with the text in your PDF to:
    • Highlight with five colour options
    • Underline
    • Strikeout: there are no colour options for underline or strikeout.
    • Add comments
    • Copy, Select All, Look Up, Translate, Share.
  • Interact with pages to:
    • Delete the page
    • Scan Pages to add them to your PDF. The scanned pages take too long to load and their quality is terrible, sadly.
    • Insert from File to add photos to your PDF and Markup adds them as independent pages. You can’t import PDFs though. It would be better if we could.
    • Insert Blank Page to add a plain paper template between pages of your PDF. We hope in the future we’ll be able to change our paper templates.
    • Rotate Right/Left

We hope Apple can give us the ability to duplicate pages in Markup, or at least copy them for pasting.


In Safari, you can Markup web pages, which is great for research. For a better look, you want to make your article Show Reader View to remove ads and make the article look more like a PDF than a web page. Then you can Markup the PDF like you would any other PDF. When you’re done, you can save it to your iPad or share it.

If your PDF reading is simple, you might not need to buy a PDF reader. Before exploring third-party apps, we recommend trying native apps to see if they are not enough for your workflow. They might surprise you. Learn more about the apps mentioned in these articles:

  • LiquidText (PDF-reader)
  • Apple Notes (note-taking)
  • Files app (file manager)

Multitasking on the iPad

Split view

Split view lets you use two apps at once. When working in an app, there are several ways you can open another app to split your screen into two:

  • tap the three-dots icon (middle top of your screen), and go to Split View. Your opened app moves to the side, letting you pick an app from the homepage, App Library (keep scrolling after your last homepage screen), or you can search for the app with Spotlight. You can also pick an app from the dock.
  • drag your opened app from the top middle to any side of the screen (depending on where you want to open the other app).
  • bring up the dock (swipe up from the bottom of the iPad) and drag the second app to the side you want it on.

By default, the two apps open at a 50:50 split ratio, but you can adjust that to make one side smaller.  To replace an app in split view, drag down the app you no longer need and pick another one. If you want to use a different app for a short while, drag the new app from the dock to replace the opened app. When you finish using it, you can close it (three-dots icon > close) to reveal the app you were using before.

To close the split view, you can either go to the three-dots icon > Close or swipe it away from the middle of the screen until it closes.

With some apps, split view supports drag and drop of items between apps. To use this, an app should be able to drag and drop items out. Examples of apps that can do that, are Noteful, Apple Notes, Photos, etc. Some apps can’t drag items out, like CollaNote. The receiving app should also be able to accept items via drag and drop. Most apps can receive without a problem. With drag and drop, you can also quickly copy and paste images, handwritten notes, text, documents (PDF, audio files, videos), and web links across your apps. 

Not all apps support split view, though (Settings, Adobe Sign, etc.). Apps that don’t support split view will not have the three-dots icon at the middle top of your screen.

Slide over

Slide over opens apps in small floating windows on either side of your screen. There are several ways to open an app in slide over: 

  • go to the three-dots icon (top middle of your screen) > Slide Over.
  • bring up the doc > drag the app on top of the currently opened one. You can also access the app library > choose the app, and drag it to slide over. To quickly find an app, you can search for it.
  • from split view, you can drag an app into a slide-over window.

Your slide-over window can go on either side of your iPad screen. You can do this when first opening the window, or after it’s already opened. All your windows are stacked on top of each other, showing one window at a time. You can quickly navigate through the slide-over windows (swipe left or right) using the black bar at the bottom of the app.

To see all the apps you have opened in slide over, swipe up from the black bar. In this window, you can swipe up to close some slides. You can also close a slide by going to the three-dots icon > Close. To temporarily hide the slide-over window, without closing your apps, swipe the middle section of the window to the edge of the screen. Tap the arrow to bring them back.

When typing in a slide-over window, the keyboard tends to cover your screen. The pinching gesture can resize the keyboard to fit the size of the slide-over window. Like with split view, you can drag and drop items across the two apps. You can move apps from slide over to split view; simply drag them to the side of the screen to split them.

Multiple instances

Multiple instances combines split view and slide over. An app that supports multiple instances is able to split your iPad screen and let you open another instance of itself on the side. For example, you could open your note-taking app to start taking notes. But you may also want to refer to a text book in the same app. Simply go to the three-dots icon, select Split View > open the app again, and look for the text book you need.

When you go to the three-dots icon, the iPad displays all the windows in that instance at the bottom of the screen. This is called a shelf, according to Apple. You can then open as many new windows as you need in that instance by tapping the plus icon labelled New Window. This allows you to quickly switch windows as you work. Multiple instances can open the same notebook twice if you ever want to compare different parts of the same PDF. It’s easy to do with multiple instances.

You can also open the same app in a slide-over window by dragging one of the windows on the shelf into slide over. All the other ways of opening slide-over windows also apply. Take care not to move one of the instances into slide over, though it is easy to switch back. When in split view or multiple instances, you can’t use the apps when you have a slide-over window opened.

App switcher

You can quickly view all your opened apps and their instances to switch between them using the app switcher. The iPad supports several gestures for bringing it up:

  • slowly swipe up from the bottom to the top of your screen
  • swipe and hold for a second 
  • slowly swipe with your finger from the left corner of your iPad screen. If it takes a screenshot, you can change that option in your iPad’s Settings > Gestures > Left Corner Swipe and Right Corner Swipe.
  • pinch your screen with five fingers.

The App Switcher displays all the opened instances of all the apps that are opened on your iPad. That is, all the apps in full screen, split view, multiple instances, and slide over. In the App Switcher, you can change how different apps relate to each other. You can: 

  • create new split views by dragging one app onto another open one
  • remove apps from split view by simply dragging them out
  • replace the apps in split view by dragging other apps on top of them
  • move apps to slide over. This only works if there are some slide over windows already.
  • move slide-over apps to full screen or into split view by dragging them there
  • close apps by swiping up, and it doesn’t matter if they are in full screen, split view, or slide over.

To go to an app from the app switcher, simply tap to open it. You can quickly switch between different windows of your apps by swiping left or right on the bar at the bottom of your screen. For iPads without the bar, you can still swipe the bottom of the screen. This gesture is difficult to use, though the four-finger gesture is more convenient.

Centre window

The Centre Window is the worst multitasking feature in iPadOS 15. It’s not well thought out and just makes your workflow cumbersome. It only works if you’re already using the app and feel like you’re opening an already-opened app again. It works with Apple Notes, Mail, Messages, etc. It’s an unnecessary extra step that adds little to no value to your workflow.

Picture in Picture (PiP)

Picture in Picture is a mode for playing videos in a popup window while performing other tasks, provided you are using Apple TV or Documents by Readdle. You can:

  • Move the video to any corner of your iPad.
  • Temporarily hide the video and continue watching at any time.

Sadly, this feature is not supported by any popular video players: YouTube, VLC, and not even Photos support it.


To add widgets to your iPad screen, long-press any empty space > go to the Plus icon (top left corner of your screen). On the popup window, you have all the apps that support widgets on your iPad. Not every app has widgets, because some developers haven’t created them for their apps. On the right sidebar, from the top you have: 

  • Suggestions of widgets for the apps on your iPad that you use the most.
  • Smart Stack which is similar to Suggestions, but instead of having individual widgets, you can choose to group multiple widgets and the iPad will show you the most relevant information from the stack, depending on the time of the day.
  • list of apps on your iPad that have widgets. Tapping on an app shows the types of widgets that the app has. These can differ in size. Some apps have the one widget in three different sizes. For example, LiquidText has a scanner widget in two sizes. Other apps have different types of widgets. For example, Apple Notes has a widget for a folder (in three sizes), one for a specific note, and a quick notes widget. That makes three types of widgets, with different sizes.

You can search for apps to avoid scrolling through all these apps. Once you have chosen a widget, tap Add Widget. For demonstration purposes, we’re going to use widgets for the Reminders app because they are interactive. Each widget will have different options on what and how you display its information. For the list widget in Apple Reminders, you can tap it so that it flips to let you choose the list you want to display. Tap to flip it back again > tap Done or on the side to save the changes. The interaction for the widget allows you to mark tasks as complete without going to the Reminders app. The completed task disappears from the widget. Other apps with interactive widgets in iPadOS 17 include Podcast and Apple Music. 

To edit a widget, long-press it > go to Edit Widget to flip it for options. Not all widgets are editable, though. Tap anywhere on the screen when you have finished making changes to your widget. When you long-press a widget, you also have menu options to Remove Widget if you want to delete it. 

Stacking widgets can save you a lot of space on your home screen. Instead of having five widgets, you can stack all five in one spot. To stack widgets, they have to be the same size. You can’t stack widgets that are of different sizes. Simply drag one widget over another. Keep doing that until you have stacked all your widgets. To see each widget, simply scroll up or down. You can edit the stack by long-pressing it and going to Edit Stack. To add more widgets to the stack, go to the plus icon (top left corner) > choose a widget and Add Widget. All the widgets you will see are the same size, because remember, your stack can’t have widgets of different sizes.

Each stack can have a maximum of 10 widgets. The plus icon stops responding once you have reached the maximum number of widgets your stack can contain. To remove a widget from the stack, tap the minus icon on it > Remove. You can turn on some options for Smart Rotate so that the widget at the top of the stack automatically changes depending on an unclear criteria. Turning on Widget Suggestions adds widgets that your iPad recommends.  

Today View

If you don’t like seeing widgets on your home screen, you can add them to the Today View. On the home screen, swipe to the left to go to today view. This view houses the older widgets from iPadOS 13 (scroll down to Edit and scroll down again to Customise).

Optical Character Recognition

What is OCR?

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technology that helps computers recognise printed text characters and handwritten ones. It allows you to do the following:

  • recognise the text in photos and scanned documents
  • search through scanned documents
  • convert handwriting to text
  • search through handwritten notes.

Live Text

Live Text is a system-wide OCR technology for the iPad that can recognise text from images in your Photos Library. Tapping the text-recognition icon at the bottom of the page highlights the field of text your iPad recognises. Immediately, an option to Copy All appears on the left bottom side of the screen. You can then select the text to do any of the following:

  • Copy
  • Select All
  • Look up to get definitions of the word you’ve selected.
  • Translate the word
  • Search the web for it
  • Let your iPad read out loud or spell it for you
  • Share it as text

The accuracy of your iPad’s recognition depends on how well you take the picture, of course. The photo must be straight, with as little distortion as possible. This matters most when you’re scanning paper documents or photos.

Live Text also works with handwritten notes. You interact with the same actions as you do with text.

Scanning apps

With Live Text, scanning apps can feel obsolete. However, when your photos are distorted, Live Text can’t pick up much from them. Its accuracy also dramatically reduces, and that’s where scanning apps come in. Scanner Pro, by Readdle, can adjust your scan to minimise distortion. It makes it easier for different apps to pick up the text in your document.

Scanning apps (Microsoft Lens, Adobe Scan, etc) also let you crop and edit your scans to make them look better. It also improves OCR.


The use of OCR is now standard in most PDF readers. A scanned PDF can be annotated in the same way as any other PDF in apps like LiquidText and MarginNote. By and large, PDF readers cannot recognise handwriting. But there’s a workaround for that, though. 

Note-taking apps

Nebo remains (by far) the best app for converting your handwriting to text. If you prefer handwriting your notes and don’t want to type them afterwards, Nebo is the app you want to add to your workflow. Unlike most note-taking apps, Nebo offers ICR (Instant Character Recognition), which converts your handwriting to text in real-time.

Most note-taking apps can accurately convert your handwriting to text in just a few steps. OCR also means they can search through your handwritten notes as well as scanned documents. A few apps even offer Math conversion (check out MyScript Calculator).


Scribble is an iPadOS ICR technology that lets you handwrite directly into text fields. You never have to type anything on the iPad. The conversion is also in real-time, and it works in most apps that have text input. It is awesome, for those of us who love handwriting our thoughts.

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