If you just got yourself a new iPad Air, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into. From arranging your homescreen widgets to taming notifications, there are plenty of cool iPad Air tips and tricks to familiarize yourself with. The real question, however, is where should you begin? Thankfully, we’ve assembled 12 best tips and tricks for iPad Air owners that will prove handy advice for anyone trying one of Apple’s tablets for the first time—and maybe even teach experienced users may a gem they weren’t aware of.
Apple tablets offers a pretty good experience right out of the box, but here are twelve iPad Air tips and tricks you can try on your shiny new device and get the most out of it.
1. Arrange your home screen widgets
Once you navigate to your iPads home screen, you’ll notice the widget layout. By default, your iPad will include the clock, notes, calendar, weather and news. You can edit this layout to best fit your needs. Even if you’re happy with the default apps in place, long-press the app to see extra customization options, or hold and drag to rearrange the widgets.
If you want to edit the widgets, swipe right on the screen and tap Edit. From here you can remove or add widgets, giving you quicker access to the e-book you’re reading or your favorite games or streaming service.
2. Check out Apple’s free trials
If your iPad is new, you’ll be thrilled to know that Apple includes a free trial for Apple TV Plus and Apple Arcade. So, in addition to downloading your favorite TV streaming apps, games and linking accounts, you can try something new.
Apple Arcade is Apple’s $5-a-month mobile gaming service. It includes hundreds of games you can play offline and more are added every week. With a new iOS device, you can try out Apple Arcade with a three-month free trial, as well as a one-month free trial for new subscribers. Apple TV Plus is Apple’s subscription video service that includes original TV shows and movies like Ted Lasso, Schmigadoon and The Morning Show.
3. Join the dark side
Dark mode is a hidden iPad Air trick that’s often forgotten, so be sure to set it up.
- Go toSettings.
- Tap Display & Brightness
- Choose Dark.
You can also set custom schedules (like your screen dimming at sunset), and use True Tone, the feature that automatically adjusts your screen’s brightness based on current ambient lighting.
4. Split screen
Split screen is a cool iPad Air trick that can come in handy during those times when you want to keep a reference image nearby when you are working on a drawing in the Procreate digital illustration app. But you can use split screen with just about any combination of apps. A common use might be opening your calendar app while writing out a to-do list in the reminders app. To start a split view, follow the steps below:
- Open an app.
- Tap the small horizontal trio of dots at the top of your screen and choose the layout you want.
5. Scribble for Apple Pencil
If you use an Apple Pencil with your iPad Air, the Scribble feature, introduced in iOS 14, lets you do more without having to put your pencil down. The feature converts your handwriting, letting you write in text fields that you’d previously type in. This iPad Air trick allows you to quickly jot down notes or put a personalized touch on things. For example, if you’re sketching in Procreate and need a reference image, you can open Google, jot what you’re searching for (just as you’d type it) and get the result — all without putting down your Apple Pencil.
6. Save time with Touch ID
If your iPad Air offers a fingerprint sensor, it’s possible to enable Touch ID during your initial device setup. It’s not a requirement, but it can make signing in, as well as confirming purchases and downloads a bit quicker. If you want Touch ID on your iPad Air, follow the steps below:
- Open the Settings app.
- Select Touch ID & Passcode. The device passcode is one of the first things you’re prompted to set up after turning on your iPad, but you can change or turn off the passcode here as well.
- To set up Touch ID, tap Add a Fingerprint and follow the prompts. Afterward, you can customize what your Touch ID can be used for, like unlocking your device and password autofill.
7. Use Sign in with Apple
Sign in with Apple is an iPad Air trick to be aware of and use, rather than a setting to adjust on your device. The tool is another layer of defense for your security, like adjusting your device’s privacy settings or using privacy tools like a virtual private network or DuckDuckGo.
When you create a new account for an app or website, you can choose Sign in with Apple instead of signing in with Facebook, Google or email. The tool creates a random email address that can only be used for one specific app. The app or website will use the generated email, but Apple will forward any correspondence to your real email, protecting your identity. You can reply to whichever emails you like without exposing your personal email address.
There’s also the Hide My Email option. Apple creates a random email address for you to use when signing up for any service — you’ll recognize it by the unique alphanumeric string followed by @privaterelay.appleid.com.
8. Speech to text
If your ideas are flowing faster than you can use this iPad Air trick. The dictation feature on iPad Air works across email, text messages and notes. For example, you can open the Notes app and tap the microphone icon on the keyboard. Apple will ask if you want to enable dictation; tap yes. Now when you tap the microphone when it’s available on the keyboard, you can use speech to text. If you use speech to text in third-party apps, you may have to grant additional permissions.
To turn off speech to text, follow the steps below:
- Open the Settings app on your iPad.
- Tap Keyboards.
- Scroll down and toggle off Enable Dictation.
9. Learn more about your photos
The iPad photos app has a handy tool that works a bit like Google Lens.
- Open up the photos app.
- Select an image and tap the little “i” in the upper-right corner.
A panel will open and you can see details like camera spec information, as well as when the photo was taken. You can also add a caption and the location of the image.
You can also learn more about what’s in your photo. Tap the Look Up option in the info panel and your iPad will offer information from Siri, the web and maps (if applicable).
10. Minimize distractions
Your iPad Air should be at your service, not the other way around. To avoid being destructed often, customize your notifications by using this iPad Air trick. Follow the steps below:
- Go to Settings.
- Tap Notifications.
Return things back to the essentials. Use the most discreet alerts wherever possible, and it’s good to avoid sounds except for apps you genuinely need to respond to immediately. Think of your iPad like your MacBook—you’re going to want to keep working or playing as long as possible without getting interrupted.
11. Protect your privacy
The iPad is without a doubt an excellent device if you want to safeguard your data, habits, and personal details.
- Go to Settings.
- Select Privacy & Security.
Here you can fine-tune your setup.
The list of privacy settings here isn’t organized by app (a list of which would be overwhelming), but by what the apps are requesting access to. Select Camera, for example, and you’ll see a list of all the apps currently accessing it and you can tap the green toggle to deny this access from now on.
Pay particular attention to the Tracking entry near the top. This is for apps that have asked to track your activity across other apps and websites. We routinely deny this request (and recommend having the global toggle for “Allow Apps to Request to Track” turned off) but this menu makes it easy to withdraw permission retroactively.
12. Level up your keyboard
In landscape orientation especially, the iPad’s keyboard takes up a lot of screen space. Thankfully, you can use an iPad Air trick to shrink it down to a more manageable size.
- Pinch inwards with two fingers (the same gesture you’d use to zoom out of an image). The smaller floating keyboard can sit anywhere on the screen, just use the bar at the bottom to move it around.
- If you want to go back to the full-size keyboard, do a “pinch out” gesture using two fingers.
A third option is the split keyboard, although bear in mind that not all iPad Air models support this feature. To turn this on, go to Keyboard Settings (either via Settings > General > Keyboard or by tapping and holding the emoji key) and toggle Split Keyboard to On.
Finally and perhaps most useful of all, your iPad’s onscreen keyboard can also serve as a trackpad. Tap and hold the keyboard with two fingers and the keys will all gray out. and a cursor will appear in the text Then move your fingers to control the cursor and find the text you want to edit. Hold still for about a second and the cursor will change shape to indicate that you’re now in text selection mode.
It’s just like having a trackpad.