14 Must-Know iPad Tips & Tricks
Whether you’re new to the iPad or a longtime user, here are some great tips to help you get the most out of the device. A few of these are intended for using on the new iPad, but most of them will be relevant to all iPad models of all ages.
Switch the Mute Button to Orientation Lock
Tap on Settings > General > Use Side Switch to: Lock Orientation. The side switch defaults to mute, but with volume buttons right underneath it this makes no sense, and there’s nothing more annoying than an iPad screen that’s constantly rotating if you’re reading in bed.
Double-Tap Home Button to Access Brightness
The iPad screen is extraordinarily bright, this is wonderful for daytime use but give your eyes some rest in dimmer environments and at night time by manually adjusting the brightness, just double-tap the Home button and swipe right until you see the brightness indicator, and adjust manually as the lighting fits.
Use the Split Keyboard
Typing while holding the iPad is made much easier by using the split keyboard. Just pull apart the keyboard by swiping with both thumbs from the center outward, or tap the little keyboard icon in the lower right corner and pull it up, the keyboard will split in two and be much easier to type on using your thumbs while holding the device.
Use Speech Dictation
Speaking of typing, why type when you don’t have to? The dictation feature works really well, just tap the little microphone icon and speak, tap it again when you’re finished for your words to be translated into text
Remember the Multitasking Gestures
You have three basic multitasking gestures which are enabled by default, remember these and use them. Arguably the most useful is the four-fingered app switcher, but learn them all.
Four finger swipe to return to Home screen
Four finger swipe up to reveal multitasking bar
Four finger swipe left or right to switch between open apps
Add 6 Items to the Dock
By default the dock contains four items, but it can hold up to six on the iPad. Just tap an hold on an icon until it jiggles, then drag a couple more apps, folders, or website that you use frequently into the dock.
Move Unused Apps into a Folder
Everyone has a handful of default apps they don’t use at all but that can’t be deleted, for me that’s Game Center, iTunes, YouTube, Contacts, and iBooks. Move them all into a folder and put it on another screen to get them out of the way. Unfortunately you can’t move Newsstand into another folder, so just throw that onto a second page if you don’t use it.
Bookmark Favorite Websites to Home Screen
While in Safari, load up your favorite websites (like this one) and tap on the box with an arrow in it, alongside the URL Bar. Select “Add to Home Screen” and give each site a short name so it doesn’t abbreviate itself. Better yet, make a whole folder full of your favorite websites bookmarks.
Don’t Use Black or Dark Wallpaper
The darker the wallpaper, the more you’ll see screen smudges and glare. Try to use a lighter wallpaper image and you won’t see all the oils and fingerprints nearly as much
Disable In-App Purchases
This is mostly for those who share an iPad with other people or with kids, but the last thing you want is someone accidentally charging up your iTunes account with nonsensical or accidental in-app purchases. Disable these easily by tapping on Settings > General > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions, then scroll down to “Allowed Content” and swipe In-App Purchases to OFF.
Take Screen Shots
Want to show off your iPad home screen or a cool app? Take a screen shot! Hold down the Home button and tap the Power button briefly, you’ll hear the familiar screenshot sound and the screen flashes white. Screen shots are stored within the Photos library, and can be messaged, emailed, or just preserved for posterity.
Set Up Mail and iMessage
The iPad makes a great communication device, be sure to set up iMessage and Mail so you can talk to people easily and for free.
iCloud syncs messages, mail, reminders, bookmarks, enables Find My iPad, and provides for the most painless backup solution there is. It’s easy to configure and free, here is how to set it up if you haven’t done so already
Enable Find My iPad
Find My iPad lets you locate your iPad (or iPhone, Mac, or iPod touch) on a map, allowing you to see exactly where it is, and even letting you send messages and remotely wipe your data. This goes along with setting up iCloud, but if you don’t have it enabled you can turn it on after configuring iCloud by tapping on Settings > iCloud > Find My iPad > ON. Hopefully you won’t need this, if you ever lose your iPad you’ll be happy to have it enabled.
03-20-2012 03:56 PM
6 Tips to Maximize iPad Battery Life
The iPad battery is advertised to last 10 hours and that number really isn’t exaggerated, the battery life is phenomenal. No adjustments are needed to get 8-10 hours of use out of the iPad, but if you want to squeeze the absolute longest amount of battery use possible, you can adjust a few settings to prolong the life even further.
Lower the Screen Brightness – We discussed this in a recent iPad tips post, but other than being easier on the eyes this will make the single biggest difference in battery life. With how bright the iPad 2 and Pad 3 displays are, you can usually get away with 60% brightness at all times. At night, going down to 30% or 40% brightness or less is easier on the eyes and will conserve even more battery. Access the setting by double-tapping the home button and swiping to the left.
Turn Off Notifications – Is it crucial to get a notification every time it’s your turn in Draw Something? Probably not. Disable Notifications for apps you don’t absolutely have to have notifications posted for and you can recoup some battery life. Find this in Settings > Notifications, and disable them.
Disable Bluetooth – If you aren’t using Bluetooth for an external wireless keyboard or otherwise, keep it disabled
Use Airplane Mode – When doing something that doesn’t require internet access, turning on AirPlane Mode can save some battery life. Perfect for reading books or doing things on the iPad, and it has the added bonus of preventing internet distractions. Find this in Settings > Airplane Mode
Disable Location Services – Most important for 3G/4G iPads, but you will save battery life even if you just have a Wi-Fi model. Turn these off in Settings > Location Services
Disable Diagnostic & Usage Reports – Sending out usage and diagnostic reports helps Apple to make a better iOS experience, but it also causes some minor activity in the background. Disable it for maximum battery conservation. Find this in Settings > General > About > Diagnostic & Usage > Don’t Send
You’ll find these tips have value beyond the iPad too, and carefully adjusting settings can help to conserve battery for other iOS devices and even Macs.
You can also check out some more general iOS 5 battery tips, though most of those were aimed at addressing a problem that was fixed with iOS 5.1, and thus wouldn’t be relevant to the new iPad because it ships with iOS 5.1 preinstalled.
Bonus Battery Tips
Here are a few more tips from ArsTechnica that could help too, give them a go if the above solutions aren’t enough for you.
Turn off iCloud when not in use
Download and watch movies from the iPad itself rather than streaming with YouTube or Netflix
Disable LTE (3rd gen 4G models only)
How to Quickly Fix iPad 3 Wi-Fi Reception Problems
If your new iPad 3 has poor wi-fi reception, you’re not alone. After getting a shiny new iPad 3rd gen, I immediately noticed it wasn’t registering any bars of wireless reception, and wi-fi was strangely slow regardless of the network I joined or the distance to the router. It must be defective and I should storm down to the Apple Store and get a refund, right? Wrong. It’s actually really easy to fix, so before you call AppleCare support, give this fix a try, it worked for me.
Open Settings and tap on “General”
Tap “Network” and tap “Wi-Fi”
Tap the blue arrow next to the wireless router you are connected to
At the next screen, tap “Forget this Network”
Go back to Wi-Fi and rejoin the network you just forgot
Like magic, you should now have full reception bars, as visible in the upper left wifi indicator.
If wi-fi is still not working, try this as well:
From Settings, tap “General” then “Reset”
Tap “Reset Network Settings”
Reboot the iPad
Connect to a wireless network again
Resetting network preferences loses router passwords, be sure to have those handy beforehand.
Transfer Pictures to iPad the Easy Way with iTunes
Transferring photos from a computer to the iPad is very easy with the help of iTunes. To get started, you’ll need either a Mac or PC with iTunes, a USB connector cable for the iPad, and a folder containing the pictures you want to transfer over to the iPad.
The process is exactly the same in both Mac OS X and Windows, which is why it’s the easiest universal method to transfer photos to an iPad from any computer.
Create a folder containing images you want to transfer to the iPad
Connect the iPad to the computer, launch iTunes, and select the iPad from the devices list
Click on the “Photos” tab
Check the box next to “Sync Photos from” and select “Choose folder…”
Locate and select the folder you created earlier containing the pictures you wish to transfer over, click on “Choose”
Click on “Apply” to begin syncing the photos from the computer to iPad
The images will sync over and create a new album within the iPad Photos app that contains all the pictures. If the selected folder contains subfolders with pictures, those will transfer as well, but you can uncheck subfolders if you want them excluded.
If you need to do the reverse and get pictures off of an iPad or iPhone, transferring photos from iOS to a computer is also simple and can be done entirely outside of iTunes.
Finally, setting up iCloud gives access to the Photo Stream feature, which will automate the entire process of syncing pictures between a Mac and an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. If you haven’t signed up for the free iCloud service yet, you should do so.
Save High Resolution Images from Safari on iPad 3 Despite Downsampling
Have you ever noticed that some very high resolution images are downsampled when viewed on the iPad 3 in Safari? With certain image file types, high resolution pictures that are larger than 1700×1400 or so will be shrunk down and not display at any greater resolution within Safari, not even sizing up to the native retina 2048×2048 resolution. So what are you supposed to do if you want to view the high resolution images? This is a great question that was asked in our comments regarding saving retina wallpapers to the iPad, and the good news is that the downsampling basically stops at Safari.
There are a handful of workarounds for saving images without being downsampled, use what works for you:
Tap and hold the image to save it to Photos app as high resolution, despite being downsampled in Safari
Save the image to iPhoto
When publishing images, use PNG or progressive JPG
Email images to the iPad
This is a well documented quirk in Safari on the retina iPad, it could be a bug or just a way to make the web browsing experience more fluid given current limitations of hardware. Who knows, but it’s easy to get around for now.
How To Get New TV Shows On Your iPad, Automatically [How-To]
This is what you're competing with when you comet with free
This is an article about using BitTorrent with other OS X apps to automate the downloading and converting of TV shows, adding metadata and then transferring them to your iPad to be watched. Some of you will rage that this is immoral, illegal (in your country) or both. Others will say that BitTorrent is, like, totally legit and is used every day for, like, downloading Linux builds, man.
I don’t care. What I do care about is watching TV Shows on my iPad, complete with subtitles, metadata, cover art and converted into a format that won’t kill the battery whilst playing back. I would buy these from the iTunes Store if I could, but as I live in Spain, I can’t. Here’s how to do it yourself.
First, the software. You’re going to need to get your credit card out here. Go grab TVShows (free), Transmission (free) SubsMarine ($7), iFlicks ($16) and (optionally) Hazel ($25).
TVShows will download new shows automatically
TVShows is a prefpane which periodically checks on hand-crafted RSS feeds containing new TV shows. New shows typically show up the day after airing, and are always of good quality (you can specify HD versions if you have fast internet). When a new show is available, the torrent file is automatically downloaded and opened in your BitTorrent client of choice. I use Transmission, but others will probably do just fine.
Transmission, clean, simple and yet pretty powerful
This part is the easiest. Once you have told TVShows which shows to watch for, you need do nothing at all. News shows will be downloaded whenever they show up. You could stop here and just manually copy them into the (excellent) CineXPlayer app on the iPad and be done. But there’s more:
SubsMarine will save you a lot of time
I add subtitles mostly for The Lady, who speaks perfect English but likes to have a little help when watching TV in bed at night. What is amazing is that top-quality (although not always perfect) subs are available a few hours after a show airs. And they are also free. I used to visit sites like Podnapisi.net and download them by hand, but then I found SubsMarine.
When Transmission finishes up a download, the resulting movie is opened up in SubsMarine. This is done by Hazel, Noodlesoft’s fantastic automation utility. Transmission can be told to append ".part" to unfinished downloads. When the download finishes, this suffix is removed, and Hazel is configured to take any movies from this folder without the “.part” suffix and open them in SubsMarine.
SubsMarine is designed to do one thing: find subtitles for your movies and TV shows. Upon opening a file, it searches any of three different sources, including the above-mentioned Podnapisi. You may need to sign up for these sources and add your login details in SubsMarine’s preferences, but this is easy and a one-time setup.
Once the app has found some subs, it lists them with the most likely candidate already checked. This is almost always correct. And here comes the first mouse click you’ll have to make when the system is up and running: click the download subs button in the toolbar. This will grab the file and — if your preferences are properly set — download it to the same folder as the movie. It will also rename the sub file to have the exact same name as the movie file.
This is important as many apps (like VLC and Perian) will automatically use subtitles if they are in the same folder as a movie, and if they have the same name. Another app that does this is iFlicks:
iFlicks is probably the best app for wrangling movie files
You can play the downloaded movie and the subtitles in many apps on your iPad, but on-the-fly conversion of AVI and other files can heat up the iPad 3 and suck its battery. Luckily, the movies inside these AVI wrappers are plain ol’ h.264-encoded movies. This means that they can be "remuxed," or have this movie file re-wrapped as an iOS-friendly MP4 (or M4V) file. Never mind the terminology though: what this means is that the conversion takes seconds, and there is no loss in quality.
IFlicks can convert movies in many ways, and it will also remux AVIs for iOS use. The setting to check here is "Make iTunes Compatible." IFlicks will also take any subtitles in the movie folder and add them to the converted movie as "soft" subtitles. These can be toggled on and off in the iPad Movies app using a button in the standard control bezel.
IFlicks will also grab artwork and episode info, and add the whole package to iTunes, with all the series and episode data present and correct. From here you just need to tell iTunes to sync unplayed episodes of the shows you want, and new shows will be added (and old ones removed) with the next sync.
The whole process can be done with just three clicks, but you’ll have to make a few extra tweaks. First, in the Finder, set iFlicks as the default app to open AVI files (and MP4s, as many torrent providers are switching formats). Do this by right clicking on an AVI in the Finder, choosing "Get Info" and then changing the app that opens the file in the drop down list. Then, choose "Change All" and confirm that you do indeed want to change all.
This step lets you click the little "play" arrow next to a movie in SubsMarine and have it pop open in iFlicks. Click each of the movie in you list and they will be added to iFlicks. After a moment to let it grab the metadata, you just hit the go button and the whole batch is processed at once and then added to iTunes. Thus, SubsMarine requires one click to download subs and one click per movie to send to iFlicks. Then, one click in iFlicks does the rest.
It’s possible that you could automate this further using Applescript, but I do fine with this setup.
Bonus tip: You can tell Transmission to monitor a folder for new torrents and then open them automatically. If you point it at a folder on your Dropbox, you can download a torrent file with your iPhone and save it to this folder. When you get home, the movie (or new Linux distro) will be waiting for you. Just make sure that you set Transmission’s destination folder to one outside of Dropbox, or you’ll be uploading the movie as you go.
Quickly Toggle “White on Black” Screen Mode on iPad
iOS for iPad includes a nice feature that lets you triple-click the Home button to toggle ‘White on Black’ screen mode. If you haven’t used White on Black before it essentially inverts the screen, which makes reading at night or in low light conditions less harsh on the eyes.
Triple-click the Home button to try it yourself, the default option summons the “Ask” menu shown in the screenshot up top, but you can change the settings to make a triple-click instantly toggle between black on white or normal:
Open “Settings” and tap on “General”
Scroll down to and tap on “Accessibility” and then “Triple-click Home”
Select “Toggle White on Black” to make the triple click automatically invert the display
If you haven’t seen it before, this is what it looks like. Images don’t look that great, but text is much easier to read at night:
iBooks has similar features that are built into the app settings.
Always Show the Bookmarks Bar in Safari on iPad
The bookmarks bar is hidden by default in Safari on iPad, undoubtedly to save screen space and to keep the experience simple, but if you access some websites frequently or use bookmarklets like View Source often you may want to have the bookmarks bar always visible.
From the home screen, open Settings and tap on “Safari”
Find “Always Show Bookmarks Bar” under General settings and flip to ON
Return to Safari to find the bookmarks bar
You can edit the contents of the bookmarks bar by tapping the book icon within Safaris toolbar and choosing “Edit”. The bar itself will show the top bookmarks so you can adjust the list accordingly, or create folders to make pulldown menus of categorized bookmarks.
This is not an option on the iPhone or iPod touch (currently at least) probably because their screen sizes are much smaller.
Send Current Webpage to Chrome from Safari in iOS with a Bookmarklet
The recently released Chrome browser for iOS is pretty good, and even if it’s not replacing Safari as your primary web browser on an iPhone or iPad quite yet, you may still find this bookmarklet handy which lets you instantly send the currently active web page from Safari into Chrome:
Bookmark this webpage (or any other) by tapping the Arrow and selecting “Add Bookmark”
Open Safari Bookmarks and tap “Edit” and then tap to edit the newly created bookmark
Test it out by opening the bookmarks bar and selecting “Send to Chrome”
Safari switches and Google Chrome launches with a new browser tab containing the URL you activated the bookmarklet from. If you have any issues with this not working, check how the quotations are handled when editing the bookmarklet in iOS Safari. You may need to replace each ” with %22 instead, which would look like this:
Both variations worked fine in our testing, so go with what works for you. This is a great tweak for web developers and designers who need to perform browser compatibility tests on as many different browsers as possible.
Bookmarklets are a fairly popular way to add functionality to Safari that otherwise is impossible, allowing you to do things like “View Source” from Safari in iOS, adjust font sizes of web pages, and even run Firebug lite in iOS.
Great stuff Scott will come back to these great tips.
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