This is a cliche, but the concept of what a computer is is changing. Unless you’re a graphic designer, music producer, or video editor, you probably won’t need a high-powered laptop. And even if you are one of those things, you can probably do a lot of your work on a mobile device – like a tablet. I’ve made the switch myself, selling my laptop and embracing the iPad Pro as my D-it-all mobile workstation.
Of course, a big part of using a new tool to do the work is learning how to use it to the fullest. The iPad is very easy to use in day-to-day life, but dig a little deeper, and there are a ton of little tricks and gestures that are worth learning.
Interested in seeing if the iPad can replace your laptop? If you have a lie, try to use it for a day or two, and use the tricks I use most to use the iPad for productivity.
Get a decent keyboard with trackpad
If you get nothing else from this article, the most important thing I can tell you if you want to unlock better productivity on your iPad is to get a solid keyboard with a trackpad. Typing on the display is not just like a natural-feeling keyboard that is responsive with the trackpad and allows for multi-touch gestures.
It is expensive, but I recommend Apple’s Magic Keyboard. The key to this keyboard looks great, and as you’d expect from Apple, the trackpad works great. Say what you would say about the floating design, but make it easy to grab your iPad Air or iPad Pro for general use, and it allows you to type in your lap without the need for a tablet.
Magic keyboards are also very expensive, but thankfully there are some options. For example, you can go for a Bryd wireless keyboard, which makes your iPad like a MacBook, and it also has a trackpad built into it, even if that trackpad isn’t as great as the Magic Keyboard.
Use split-screen mode
On a Mac, split-screen mode, or even the ability to open two windows at a time, is how I get the job done. The iPad works a little differently, but you can still use two apps simultaneously with split view mode.
Enabling this makes a slight change depending on your setup. Without the keyboard, you’ll need apps you want to use in your dock in a split-screen. Then, open the first app, slide up to see the dock, and hold it for a second at the other side icon, on the side you want it to, before dragging it up. It is a little fixable at times, but you will get used to it.
Perhaps there is an easier way to use split-screen, and one that you don’t need to keep all your apps in the dock is to activate it with a keyboard and the new iPad search function. Open your first app, then tap CMD + Space on your keyboard to open the search. Find the other app you want to open, then tap on the app icon for a second and drag it to the side you want.
In split view mode, you do not have to give apps the same space. You can also give the left or right application one quarter of the screen and the other three quarters. Unfortunately, you cannot have more than two applications open on the screen at the same time.
Perhaps you need quick and easy access to more than two apps – in which case it is worth taking advantage of slideover. When I am working I personally use SlideOver for all my messaging – be it Microsoft Teams, Slack, Messages or even the Mail app. With SlideOver, you can bring these iPhone-size apps to your requirement and hide them when you don’t.
Enabling the application in slideover is actually similar to using one in split-screen. Swipe to see the dock or search the app in search, then hold it for a second and drag it to the left or side of the screen. It should preview in a rectangular shape. Then, release, and the app will open on top of your other apps. You can then swipe it away at the top of the window, or switch between slideover applications at the bottom of the window, like you do on an iPhone.
Enable widget on home screen
If you want quick, complimentary information, it’s worth taking advantage of widgets on your iPad’s home screen. Unfortunately, widgets in iPadOS do not yet work on iOS – so you can’t place widgets wherever you want. But, if you wish, you can keep your today’s view permanently on your home screen. This is perfect for looking at the weather, and for a similar app – without having to open the app to do so.
To see your Today view, swipe from the left edge of your iPad to the right. You can then swipe down under that view, and hit the Edit button to select which widgets you want to see, and toggle whether those widgets are always on the home screen. Unfortunately, even when that toggle is on, you will not see your widgets in portrait mode.
Use Files app with iCloud
IPad now has a complete file management app in file form. Files have done a lot better over the years, and now you can use it on all your files, even other cloud storage services and SD cards and drives. If you have a Mac and it uses an iCloud drive, it becomes even more powerful – because it means that you can see synced documents on your Mac without the need to manually transfer documents from your Mac. Can. This includes files on your desktop, in the Documents folder, and so on.
Ultimately, the iPad Pro and iPad Air can easily handle most productivity tasks, and is set to achieve even better. Right now, Microsoft Word, AirTable, and similar apps run very well – and pro-level apps like Final Cut and Logic can eventually make their way to the iPad as well. Who knows, maybe it can replace your laptop too.