Top 35 iPadOS 14 Tips and Tricks

BY Dilum Senevirathne

Published 16 Sep 2020

iPadOS 14 Best Tips and Tricks

With the introduction of last year’s iPadOS 13, Apple ramped up its efforts to market the iPad as a productivity device. It vastly improved how multitasking worked, introduced desktop-class web browsing, added external drive support, and more. The Cupertino-based tech giant even went so far as to implement complete trackpad and mouse support. This year iPadOS 14 comes with more additions and enhancements to native iPad apps and the OS in general. Don’t forget to check our complete 100+ iPadOS 14 features list here. If you just upgraded your iPad to iPadOS 14, let’s go through the best tips and tricks that you can pull off right away.

iPadOS 14 Tips and Tricks

1. Stack Widgets in Today View

iPadOS 14 comes with redesigned, resizable, and detail-rich widgets in Today View. There’s also a Smart Stack of widgets that rotate automatically based on usage patterns. You can manage widgets by jiggling Today View.

That said, you can also reduce the clutter in Today View by stacking widgets as opposed to removing them — just drag and drop similarly-sized widgets on top of one another to do that. They will then work similar to the standard Smart Stack in terms of functionality.Stack Widgets

2. Jiggle Apps From Anywhere

iPadOS 14 has made it a whole lot easier to start jiggling Home screen apps. Instead of holding down on any app icon, merely long-pressing a vacant area within the Home screen for a fraction of a second should suffice. This also applies to Today View.

3. Open Websites with Universal Search

iPadOS 14’s Search functionality received a visual overhaul that makes it look similar to Spotlight Search on the Mac. It also functions faster, throws out better suggestions, and helps you load relevant results quickly.

This new ‘Universal’ Search also doubles up as an address bar — just type in the URL of any website and tap Go to seamlessly load it in a new Safari tab.Search Websites

4. Write Instead of Type

iPadOS 14 comes with a brand new addition dubbed Scribble. If you have an Apple Pencil, simply start writing anywhere that has a text field and Scribble will automatically convert your handwriting into typed text!

For example, you can now write your queries in Universal Search or Safari without having to peck away at the onscreen keyboard. The possibilities that Scribble introduces are endless.Write Anywhere

You can also use Scribble in the Notes app — just pick the Scribble pencil from the tool palette (the one with the letter ‘A’ on it) and away you go.

5. Drag Out Apps for Multitasking

Don’t see the app you want to multitask with on the iPad’s dock? Not to worry. If you have a keyboard hooked up to your iPad, simply press Command+Space to bring up Universal Search. Then, search for the app and drag it out from the results pane to open it in Split-View or Slide Over.Multitasking

This was also possible on iPadOS 13, but it’s an incredibly useful (and lesser known) feature that’s worth mentioning again.

6. Draw Accurate Shapes

Drawing accurate shapes with an Apple Pencil in the Notes app is a breeze. Simply start drawing and keeping holding down your Apple Pencil at the end, and iPadOS 14 will detect and adjust the shape for you automatically. This works for lots of shapes such as lines, circles, rectangles, pentagons, etc.Draw Shapes

7. Identify Privacy-invasive Apps

iPadOS 14 introduced a slew of privacy and security-oriented features that make it a lot harder for apps to snoop around your iPad. One such feature notifies you whenever an app uses the camera or microphone as a green or orange-colored dot on the iPad’s status bar.

To determine the exact app that is using (or last used) your camera or microphone, simply bring up Control Center.Indicators

8. Select Handwritten Text

In iPadOS 14, handwriting detection is so superior that you can basically select them just like typed text. Simply double-tap and use the selection handles to highlight text as needed.Select Handwriting

To make matters even better, you can copy and paste handwriting into others apps, and they should show up automatically converted into typed text.

9. Use Scribble Gestures

iPadOS 14 makes Scribble super-convenient to use with a host of unique and fun Apple Pencil gestures. These are the best:

  • Scratch — delete words.
  • Circle — select words, phrases, or paragraphs.
  • Slice — create or remove spaces.

10. Translate Languages in Safari

Surprisingly, iPadOS 14 didn’t receive the new Translate app from iOS 14. However, it does let you translate foreign websites in Safari — open Safari’s aA menu, and then select Translate to English.Translate

11. Access Universal Search Without Keyboard

The revamped ‘Universal’ Search is so good at locating apps, files, and photos that it’s worth using everywhere. But without a keyboard, it’s restricted to the Home screen only, right? Thankfully, there’s a workaround — AssistiveTouch.

Head into Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch. Then, enable AssistiveTouch and bind Spotlight as a single-tap, double-tap, or long-press gesture.Universal Search

You can then perform the gesture on the floating AssistiveTouch circle to bring up Universal Search whenever or wherever or you want.

12. Drag and Drop Items to Sidebar

You must’ve noticed the new sidebars in native iPadOS 14 apps such as Photos, Shortcuts, and Voice memos. They don’t just facilitate navigation. Instead, you can also use them to move stuff around easily — for example, you can drag and drop images into albums within the Photos sidebar.Photos App

The Files app also lets you use the sidebar to move files, but that was something that you could also do in iPadOS 13.

13. Pin iMessage Conversations

Using iMessage on the iPad? Getting to your favorite conversations just got easier. Swipe a conversation thread to the right and tap the pin-shaped icon. That should pin it to the top of the list. You can have a total of nine pinned conversations at any one time.Pin Conversations

14. Use Apple Music Autoplay

iPadOS 14 comes with a redesigned Music app with better navigation and an immersive full-screen player. Additionally, it sports a new Autoplay feature that keeps the music playing even after the end of an album or playlist — open the Up Next list to enable or disable the feature.Autoplay

15. Take Mirrored Selfies

Prefer taking selfies on the iPad? Stop them from flipping the other way by heading over to Settings > Camera, and then turning on the Mirror Front Camera option.

16. Quickly Rotate Images in Files App

You can now rotate images in the Files app without opening them. Long-press any image and select Rotate Left or Rotate Right as desired.Rotate

17. Disable Share Sheet Suggestions

iPadOS 13 started inserting contact suggestions to the top of Share Sheets. If you don’t like the extra clutter, iPadOS 14 lets you remove them easily. To do that, head over to Settings > Siri & Search, and then turn off the switch next to Suggestions while Sharing.

18. Enhance Your Voice Memos

The new Voice Memos app lets you quickly enhance the quality of recorded voice memos by removing background noise and echoes. Head into the Edit Recording screen, and then tap the wand-shaped Enhance Recording icon to do that in a jiffy.Enhance

19. Bring Up Emoji Picker

If you use a Smart Keyboard or a Magic Keyboard, simply tap the Globe key to bring up a nifty emoji picture wherever the cursor currently is at. This works in any text area.Emoji Picker

20. Send Audio Messages with Siri

Thankfully, Siri no longer hijacks the iPad’s massive screen whenever you invoke her. To top off the compact new design, she’s also much smarter. For instance, you can ask her to record and send an audio message to a contact by saying Send an audio message to [Contact Name]. Once she’s done recording, say Send.

21. Set Key Photos in Albums

The Photos app in iPadOS 14 now offers the best possible photo-viewing experience with amazing zoom in/zoom out animations and faster navigation thanks to the new sidebar.

But did you know that you could also set any photo as the key photo within an album? Long-press your preferred photo and tap Make Key Photo.Key Photo

22. Limit Access to Photos Library

With iPadOS 14, you don’t have to provide third-party apps unrestricted access to the entire photos library. Instead, you can limit exposure to individual photos or albums as needed. Head into Settings > Privacy > Photos to manage photo permissions.

23. Dismiss Call Notifications Without Rejecting

iPadOS 14’s incoming FaceTime or iPhone call notifications don’t hijack the entire screen … finally! But did you know that you could also dismiss calls without rejecting them? Just swipe them upward, and your callers will be none the wiser!

24. Search Apps in iPad Storage

The iPad’s storage management screen (Settings > General > iPad Storage) now has a built-in Search icon. Tap it to filter apps by name.Storage

25. Adjust Screenshot Opacity

Do you annotate lots of screenshots on the iPad? Then here’s a nifty tip: you can use the new Opacity slider to the top right of the screen to adjust the opacity. Particularly useful when enhancing the visibility of annotations in noisy screenshots.Opacity

26. Add Photo Captions

Another exciting Photos app tip: swipe up while viewing a photo, and you can insert your own captions. They will also sync to other devices if you have iCloud Photos enabled.

27. Change Video Quality in Camera App

Head into Settings > Camera > Record Video, turn on the switch next to Video Format Control, and you won’t have to ever visit the Settings app to change the resolution while shooting videos. Instead, tap the resolution/fps indicator within the Camera app to cycle through available quality settings.Video Quality

28. Double-Tap to Drag

If you use a Magic Keyboard with a trackpad, you can drag items (such as the Home screen icons) with a simple double-tap as opposed to tapping and dragging.

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Double-Tap to Drag. Then, select either Without Drag Lock or With Drag Lock.

29. Watch YouTube in 4K

iPadOS 14 support’s Google’s VP9 codec. What that means is that you can finally watch YouTube videos in 4K on your iPad!YouTube

Bring up the Quality menu while watching a video in the YouTube app, and you should see the 2160p option listed within. This also works on the iPhone if you have iOS 14 installed.

30. Set Default Browser and Email Client

Safari is greatly improved in iPadOS 14 with better privacy controls, a built-in translation module, and a faster JavaScript engine. But that hasn’t stopped Apple from providing the ability to change default browsers.

So if you like Google Chrome, for example, you can choose to set it as the default browser on the iPad. Head over to Settings > Chrome > Default Browser App and select Chrome on the menu that follows.

This also extends to email clients, where you can switch to Gmail or Microsoft Outlook if you prefer them over the native Mail app.

31. Bring Up History Stack

Whenever you are buried deep within several pages in a native app, simply long-press the Back option to bring up a stack of previous pages. Pick one to get to it quickly.

32. Enable or Disable Precise Location

iPadOS 14 lets you determine whether an app should have access to your  precise location or not. Simply head into Settings > Privacy > Location Services. Pick an app, and then use the slider next to Precise Location to enable or disable it.

33. Switch to Dumb Stack

Find the auto-rotating functionality in the Smart Stack of widgets annoying? Long-press the stack, select Edit Stack, and then turn off the switch next to Smart Rotate to stop it from doing that.

34. Hide Mac Address

iPadOS 14 can help improve your privacy by masking your iPad’s MAC address. Head into the Wi-Fi screen within the Settings app, tap on a Wi-Fi network, and then turn on the switch next to Private Address.

35. Send ETA with Siri

Siri also lets you share your ETA with others. While using the Maps app, say Hey Siri, Share my ETA with [contact’s name] to quickly share your E.T.A. with a contact.

iPadOS 14: Another Step Closer

iPadOS 14 refines how you go about using the iPad, putting it another step closer to being a viable MacBook alternative. Here’s how to install iPadOS 14 on your iPad right now.

So, know of any other cool tips and tricks? Drop in a comment and let us know.