10 time-saving productivity gestures for iPad you must know

With iPadOS, the powerful Apple tablet gets a dedicated operating system that isn’t just an enlarged iPhone OS. And with it comes nearly a dozen new productivity and multitasking gestures that let you do more than ever before and save time.

Watch Harris’s hands-on video walkthrough or continue to the written steps below.

Here’s a quick overview of the gestures the video covers.

1. Show widgets

Swipe right on the Home Screen to have the widgets swoosh in. You can, of course, swipe up/down to scroll the widgets or get to the Edit option at the bottom if you’d like to rearrange or make individual widgets active or inactive.

Swipe right on Home Screen 0 to bring your widgets into view.

2. Slide Over app switching

Now when you drag an app and drop it onto the Slide Over overlay, it no longer replaces the previous Slide Over app. With iPadOS, you can have multiple apps in Slide Over. So, how do you cycle through them? Just swipe across the Home indicator (horizontal line) at the bottom of the Slide Over view.

3. See all apps in Slide Over

To see all of the apps in the Slide Over view, swipe up from the Home indicator.

Swipe up on the Slide Over view to see all the apps in this view.

4. New selection gestures

Tap and hold the cursor, then move the finger to a new position and let go — that’s how easy it finally is to move the cursor pointer in iPadOS. To make a quick selection, simply tap and hold a little bit, then move your finger, and iPadOS will drag and pick up whatever content you selected. There’s no need to wait for the bubble menu to appear and obstruct your view while making the selection. That’s because the bubble menu no longer exists in iPadOS, iOS 13, and later.

Selecting text without the bubble menu. – finally!

5. Copy text

And when you have something selected, like a block of text, you can copy it by doing a pinch-in gesture with three fingers simultaneously. Do this twice in a row, and you’ll perform a cut instead of a copy.

6. Paste text

And when you want to paste your selection, position the cursor to where you want the copied section to go, then spread three fingers apart to plop it right down.

Pinch in with three fingers once to copy and twice to cut.

7. Undo/redo

To undo an action, swipe left with three fingers. To redo, perform the gesture in the opposite direction. You can also tap with three fingers to bring up a menu with all the relevant editing actions, including Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy and Paste. As a bonus, you can still shake that iPad to undo if that’s still your thing.

Swiping left/right with three fingers to undo/redo.

8. Expand or shrink the keyboard

iPadOS has a miniature iPhone-style keyboard made for thumb typing. To go from the regular-sized keyboard to the smaller one, just pinch in with two fingers on the keyboard.

Pinch in with two fingers to bring up an iPhone-size keyboard with gestural typing.

9. Swipe typing on iPad

Now you have an iPhone-style keyboard that you can type on with just your thumb while holding that tablet in your hand. Even better, in this mode, you get to use the new gestural/swipe typing feature that only supports the small keyboard. Pinch out to expand the keyboard to full size. Shrinking and expanding the keyboard doesn’t work with third-party keyboards.

Pinching in/out with two fingers shrinks/enlarges the keyboard.

10. Exposé

Apple brought Exposé to the Mac in 2011 with the release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. This cool feature is also available on the Apple tablet with iPadOS. On iPad, Exposé lets you see all open windows or documents for the currently active app. To do so, tap and hold an app’s icon on the Home Screen, then choose Show All Windows from the popup menu.

You’ll now see all the different instances of that app.

Do this to bring up an Exposé view of all the instances of the app.

Alternatively, if you’re actually in the app, swipe up to pull up the Dock, and if the app is actually in the Dock, you can just tap it there to enter Exposé right there and then. This is especially useful if you’d like to see all of the web pages you have open in Safari.

Viewing open Safari tabs with Exposé.

iPadOS boosts your productivity

Some of these productivity gestures are available on iPhone even though they were clearly designed for iPad and are meant to be used on the tablet, not the smartphone. For instance, while you can use the new undo/redo gestures on iPhone, swiping with three fingers on that smallish smartphone screen doesn’t really make for a great user experience.

The iPad still isn’t a 100% notebook replacement, and probably never will be, but the fact remains that iPadOS turns your tablet into a viable notebook alternative for many tasks—without needing to resort to creative trickery in order to get things done in a timely manner.

What’s your favorite new iPad gesture, and why? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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