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August 27, 2017

Learn to use your tablet like pro with these eight iPad Pro tips and tricks

by John_A

When the original iPad launched in 2010, it was in many ways a glorified iPhone with a significantly larger screen. That’s not to say it wasn’t an amazing product for the time — simply that you couldn’t do a whole lot on it that wasn’t already possible on Apple’s smaller hardware. The idea of a responsive, stylus-free tablet was innovative enough, so things like multitasking support and flashy gesture controls would come much later.

Well, it’s now 2017, and they have. Even if you’re an iPhone 7 Plus user or a MacBook Pro devotee, the iPad Pro is an entirely different beast. Sure, you could use it in much the same way you would an iPhone, but then you’d be missing out on a plethora of shortcuts and tricks designed to better your experience. Thankfully, we’ve assembled some of our favorite iPad Pro tips and tricks here, all of which will help you make the most of your device.

How to scan, sign, and send documents

There are few tasks more agonizing than trying to quickly scan, sign, and send documents. In this day and age, it should be easy — but without a tablet, it can be frustrating booting up your scanner, opening that inadequate trial version of Adobe Reader gathering dust on your desktop, and woefully using a mouse or trackpad to sign on the dotted line with all the grace and elegance of a toddler who’s yet to develop fine motor skills.

Thankfully, if you own an iPad Pro, firing off official documents is a snap, one that takes a fraction of the time you’d spend fighting with your PC. Simply open the Notes app, tap the addition sign in the bottom-right corner, select Scan Documents, and take a picture of the paper. Your iPad will then convert the document into a clear, crisp PDF that you can sign with your Apple Pencil.

How to use the new dock for multitasking

This one isn’t strictly for the iPad Pro — any iPad running iOS 11 will be able to manage multitasking in this way — but it’s a necessary skill nonetheless.

One of the major improvements in the upcoming release of Apple’s mobile operating system is the behavior of the dock. The iPad’s app launcher will now operate much the same way it does on a Mac. You can swipe up on any screen, even within apps, to reveal the dock. Pressing and dragging another app will open it in windowed form on top of your current screen. This allows you to not only view multiple apps at the same time, but reconfigure and even share content between them.

How do you do it? Simply swipe up from the bottom of the display and press and drag the desired app to open it — let’s say Messages in this case. If you’ve got an app such as Photos or Keynote open in the main window, you can send an image by dragging it from there to the text field in Messages. It’s seamless and easy, and it’ll be especially useful on the larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

How to access recent files with the new dock

With iOS 11, you can now skip the hassle of opening apps from the dock just to access one particular photo or document. Simply press and hold on an app icon to reveal recent files. Again, it’s another small change that makes iOS on the iPad a more capable platform for multitasking, one along the lines of a desktop operating system such as MacOS and Windows 10. You can also drag files onto app icons, if you want to open them in other apps.

How to quickly mark up docs and images with the Apple Pencil

Because Apple Pencil touches register differently than your fingers, tapping the lock screen with the Pencil will immediately take you to the Notes app. Doing the same on a recently-taken screenshot in the bottom-right corner of the display will allow you to immediately mark up that image and share it however you like. None of these actions are particularly complicated, but they’re useful reminders that interacting with an object with the Apple Pencil instead of your hands always has the potential to produce more convenient results.

How to easily check the Apple Pencil’s battery life

The Apple Pencil allows you to perform a variety of tricks and shortcuts on the iPad Pro, but it’s not very useful when the battery is dead. Thankfully, it’s easy to keep on top of, thanks to the built-in Batteries widget in iOS, which is located in the Notification Center.

Simply tap Edit at the bottom of the Notification Center, like you would to add any other widget, and select the one labeled Batteries. If you have an Apple Pencil paired with your iPad Pro, its charging level will display next to your tablet’s.

How to draw straighter lines in Notes with the ruler

When sketching in Notes, there’s a handy tool Apple doesn’t really mention anywhere to help you draw straight lines. Simply place two fingers on the screen, and a ruler will appear. You can rotate and move that ruler anywhere around the screen, and drawing over it with the Apple Pencil will produce a straight line.

How to trace with the Apple Pencil

It turns out, even if you slide a sheet of paper between the tablet’s display and the Apple Pencil, the Pencil’s pressure still comes through. This means you can trace anything onto the iPad Pro — though in kind of a backward fashion, where you’re drawing directly onto the item you’re copying, rather than the surface it’s being copied to, almost like carbon paper. It’s not a nifty software shortcut or a breakthrough app, but it’s definitely good to remember. Just keep in mind that your luck may differ depending on the thickness of the paper you’re using.

Navigating with gestures

You can use a variety of gestures to navigate around your iPad Pro more quickly, and some of them are new to iOS 11. For example, you can access the recent apps list and the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of your display — like you would to reveal the dock — and continuing to swipe all the way up toward the top.

You can also drag multiple items, like photos or documents, to another app while multitasking. Simply press and hold on one of the things you’d like to move, and at the same time, tap on the rest.

Finally, there’s another gesture that’s been around for a while, but is still easy to forget. To return to the home screen, you can avoid the home button by simply pinching with five fingers.

Those are all the iPad Pro tips we have for now, but we’ll update this guide going forward to include all the amazing new things you can do on an iPad Pro with iOS 11.

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