So you’ve bought yourself a brand new iPad Pro. You have dreams of ditching your laptop and joining the ranks of the freewheeling iPad Only Users working from their cafes. Except, every time you sit down to do any kind of ‘serious’ work you get frustrated and end up switching back to your laptop. Worst of all you’ve now just got an expensive Netflix viewer.
So, how do all these cool creative types get their work done on the iPad, are you missing something? Or is there some kind of conspiracy happening?
Well, I’ve owned an iPad Pro since the first generation and an iPad in general for a long time before that. Before IOS 13 it was OK, but mostly I used it to be creative or consume content. But since IOS 13, I have fallen in love with the iPad all over again and it’s gone from my mostly machine, to my daily driver.
There were definitely moments of frustration when I switched back to my laptop to get something done quickly, but the more I use it the more I get used to how it works and I can get most things done pretty fast now.
What I see, is people getting frustrated when they make the switch, because it doesn’t work like their laptop. No floating screens, limited app switching, there aren’t distracting notifications everywhere on the screen! I get it, I do. But why are we expecting the iPad to work like a MacBook? It’s clearly not a MacBook, so we must treat it like switching to a new operating system.
There is going to be a learning curve, but once you nail it - you’ll find it easier and easier to get your work done on an iPad. But that also comes down to your setup and knowing the tricks for getting things done efficiently.
I’ve had some experience with that, so I thought I’d put together a short guide on some of the main setup tricks you can apply, to make your ipad the most efficient machine you work on.
Remember, using the iPad Pro is like learning a new operating system, so it takes time to get used to a new way of working - Most likely when it gets challenging or you get frustrated you’ll be drawn back to using your laptop. I would challenge you to resist that. Commit to a time period where you will only use your iPad. Maybe a day or a week or for a certain task. That way you force yourself to have to learn and get comfortable on it.
Setup your most used apps in the dock.
The dock is that bar that sits across the bottom of the home screens. You can fill it with up to 15 apps. I suggest you fill it up! Put your most used apps in the dock so that you can have access to them from anywhere.
I fill my dock up with the apps I use the most
Some of the main apps that I have in my doc are things like:
- Messaging apps like email and Slack
- Apps I use for work: Notion, GoodNotes, Trello, ActiveCampaign (CRM)
- Files Apps (Dropbox, Google, Files)
- Utilities (Lastpass, Settings, etc.)
You may have a completely different list and that’s totally ok. Just think about the apps that you use the most and tend to always go to. And put them in the doc. Once you have them in there you can reach for them when you are in any of the home screens. But the real efficiency hack is when you are in any app. Instead of swiping up to get to the home screen and access the doc. You can just swipe up and reveal the doc and tap on any of those apps to switch to another app (or activate multi screen which I’ll talk about in a sec).
Learn to use split screen
Split screen is like multi tasking for Mac. Having two screens together in one screen - especially on the 12.9 is SO good and helps with a lot of those two screen tasks. I’m still amazed out how many people don’t use it.
There is a lot of talk about how the iPad needs multiple floating window. I hope they never do that. One of the appeals of working on an iPad is that because you have one (or two windows) only open on the whole screen it’s a really immersive experience. It helps get focus work done, because you’re not distracted by 100 floating screens.
But I digress. Split Screen. I use it when watching a webinar or lecture and taking notes at the same time. Browsing the internet and writing email. Or whatever two ways you can pair two windows together.
This is also the reason why you should have as many of your most used apps in the doc, because as well as swiping up on any of the apps to go to that app. You can swipe up from the doc, hold and drag the app to a split screen view.
Drag an app up from the Dock to get it into Split Screen Mode
Then from split screen you can resize either of the windows. I just love the simplicity of it. And when that window isn’t needed anymore, just resize it off the screen.
Slide Over Apps Are Your Friend
Ok this is probably my favourite feature when it comes to efficiency on my iPad Pro. Sometimes you don’t need to open a whole window in split screen view, but you also don’t want to lose your flow in the current app you’re working in. The secret? Just slide from the right side of the screen to access the windows in your slide over.
This only works if you have put an app into slide over. The way to do this is kind of like multi screen. You slide up your doc, tap and hold on the app you want and drag it to the right of the screen. Instead of snapping it into place with multi screen, just hover it over the top of the window and it will go into slide over. Basically a hovering window.
How to drag an app into Slide Over View
Then take another app you want to put into slide over and do the same. Basically you can build an expose of apps that you use all the time and can always slide over. Some of the apps I keep in my slide over are:
- Calendar, for when I quickly need to check my availability.
- Slack. For seeing messages and quickly replying without having to open Slack in a main window.
- Email. I very rarely check emails, but if I want to quickly check something.
- Photos. This is a great app to have in slide over. I use it to drag photos to another app I’m using in the main window.
- Drafts. I take quick notes in draft and it’s invaluable to have it in slide over, in case inspiration strikes. It’s kind of like sticky noes.
- Spotify. Because you always need music in your life.
All the apps you use frequently are now just a swipe away in Slide Over
Now you have a bunch of apps that you use frequently ready to go in slide over at any time.
Install A Password Manager.
I use Lastpass. Always have. You can set it up to be your main password manager on the iPad and the advantage is that it’s synced across all you devices. When I upgraded to the new 2018 iPad last year I didn’t realise how much face detection would be such a game changer. Not having to awkwardly place my finger on the home button in landscape mode - the iPad just detects my face and fills my passwords!
You can set it up to be your main password manager in settings. Just go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Autofill Passwords and choose Lastpass. This will replace the standard IOS autofill with Lastpass.
Choose Lastpass to auto fill your passwords
If you're a regular 'forgot password' person - Lastpass will save you so much time and hassle in having to reset passwords all the time. And having it across devices just means faster and more efficient accessing of things.
Swipe Down To Reveal Search Screen
I literally never navigate through my home screen windows to find apps. Don't get me wrong, I still have them all nicely organised. But instead of swiping through pages of apps, I just swipe down on the screen and type in the first few letters of the apps. This can only be done from the home screen though - you can't be in an app and do this.
Swipe down on any of the home screens and search for the app you’re looking for
I just always find it quicker to swipe down, type the first few letters and then click from the search. Rather than visually searching for it. In saying that, I am looking forward to IOS 14, so that I can hide ALL my apps and just keep them in an app drawer. But that will be for a later blog.
And that's it. That's my tips for an efficient workflow on the iPad Pro. You'll most likely, as you start to use your iPad more and more, come up with your own ways of doing things. The important thing to remember is, the more you use it, the more you'll get used to the quirks of the iPad. It's not your Macbook and you have to treat it like a different operating system - otherwise you'll just get frustrated with it and give up.
Stick with it. I'm confident you'll love using it once you get some of these tricks down.