iPad Multitasking: The Complete Guide to Split Screen, Slide Over & Picture in Picture

Mastering iPad multitasking will take your iPad productivity levels and dial them up to 1,000 as you effortlessly use apps in tandem, switch from one task to another, and navigate your device like a pro. Multitasking on the iPad was introduced with iOS 9 and finally became useful when the iOS 11 update brought a lot of new multitasking features to the iPad. Recently, iPadOS has made iPad multitasking even simpler. In this article we'll teach you the three main multitasking functions on the iPad & iPad Pro: Split View, Slide Over, and Picture-in-Picture. Next we'll cover how to use how to use the iPad multitasking functions with Drag and Drop, iPad gestures, and the expanded Dock. We’ll also go over which iPads have the iPadOS multitasking functions. Here’s everything you need to know about iPad Multitasking.

Related: iOS 13: Top Tips from Apple's New Software Update

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How to Use Slide Over on Your iPad

Slide Over on the iPad allows you to open a second app on top of the app you're already using. The second app will cover about a third of your iPad’s screen. To open Slide Over:

  1. Open an app on your iPad.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to view the Dock.
  3. Touch and hold the app you want to open from the Dock, then drag it onto the middle of the screen and let go.


     
  4. You can also move the second app around your screen by placing your finger on the gray bar at the top and dragging it to the left or right.

How to Close Slide Over 

  1. When you have the Slide Over window on the right side of your screen, you can swipe it to the right to dismiss it and swipe left to bring it back. 

How to Use Split View (AKA iPad Split Screen) 

iPad and iPad Pro Split View allows you to work in two different apps simultaneously. You can split the screen and have one app on either side, or have one app that's taking up a third of the screen. You can even open two windows from the same app in Split View; this way you can work on two notes simultaneously, view two different maps, organize two different photo albums, and much more. I've tested this several times and have found it frustrating; sometimes Split View opens, but often the second app opens in Slide Over. Hopefully this bug will be fixed in the next version of iPadOS.

To Open Split View (Split Screen) on Your iPad While Using an App:

  1. Open an app.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to open the Dock.
  3. Touch and hold the second app you want to open and drag it from the Dock to the left or right side of the screen. If the app isn't in your Dock you can open, then close it again so that it appears as a recently used app on the right side of the Dock. 
  4. If the app opens in Slide Over instead of Split View, it's sometimes possible to correct this by dragging the app down by the gray bar. 
  5. Once you’re in Split View, you can resize your app windows by dragging the app divider to the center of your screen.

    slide over in ipad

How to Close Split View on the iPad

  1. Drag the app divider to the edge of the screen over the app you want to close.

    close split view
     

How to Open Three Apps at Once on the iPad (Use Slide Over in Split View) 

If you have an iPad that is compatible with Split View then you can open three apps at once; two in Split View and the third in Slide Over. Here's how:

  1. Open Split View and swipe up to open the Dock, then drag a third app onto the screen in Slide Over.
  2. When you do this, make sure to drag the third app to the center of your screen; otherwise, you’ll just replace one of the Split View apps.
  3. From here, you can easily swipe right to dismiss the Slide Over while you use other apps and swipe left to bring it back.

This is ideal for use with an app like Music, which you don’t need on the screen all the time but may want to quickly access to in order to skip a song or change a playlist now and again.

How to Use Picture in Picture on Your iPad

Picture in Picture allows you to watch videos and movies or chat on FaceTime while working in other apps. To use Picture in Picture:

  1. While watching a video in a compatible video player or during a FaceTime call, look for an icon that looks like two overlapping squares; this is the Picture in Picture icon.
  2. Tap this icon to scale the video down and place it in the corner of the app.

    picture in picture on ipad

Moving and Resizing the Video in Picture in Picture on Your iPad

  1. You can touch the video then drag and drop it to another corner.
  2. To return to full screen, tap the Picture in Picture icon.
  3. To hide the video, drag it to the right or left of the display.
  4. Tap the arrow icon to make the video reappear.

     

iPad Multitasking Tools

Expanded Dock

Depending on which iPad you have, your Dock can hold up to 13 apps at a time in addition to the apps on the very right of your Dock, which are the most recent apps you’ve used. With all the dragging apps out of the Dock in order to use Slide Over and iPad Split View, you will probably want to add all your frequently used apps to the Dock. Here's how to drag an app to and from the Dock:

  1. Hold your finger on the the app icon for a couple of seconds until it begins to jiggle.
  2. Drag the app where you want it to go in the Dock and drop it by lifting your finger off the screen.

Your Dock is accessible both on the Home Screen and in apps. When you open an app, the Dock will disappear. A quick, short swipe up from the bottom of your screen will bring the Dock back. This makes switching between apps and using iPad multitasking quick and seamless.

Drag & Drop from App to App on Your iPad

Another basic Multitasking iPad tool is Drag & Drop. This allows you to skip the process of sharing a piece of content to another app. Instead you can drag files, photos, apps, text selections, and reminders from one app and drop them into another. For example, instead of selecting an image in the Photos app and then sharing it to the Messages app, you can drag the picture from the Photos app directly into a text message.

To Use Drag & Drop

  1. It's easiest to use Drag & Drop in iPad Split View, but you can also use it in Slide Over.
  2. Place and hold your finger on a piece of content (such as an image or a text selection) until it pops out slightly. 
  3. Drag your selection into the other app and drop it where you want it to go.


     
  4. If you’re moving an item into an app that isn't open, hold the popped out file with one finger and use another finger to swipe up and open the Dock.
  5. Tap on the app you want to move the item to.
  6. Once it opens, drop the item where it needs to go.

How to Drag & Drop Multiple Items

Let’s say you want to move some images to a note.

  1. Tap and hold one image to pop it out and drag it slightly to the side. Keep holding the image.
  2. With your other hand, tap the other images you want to add to the first.
  3. A blue number will appear in the top corner of the bundle, letting you know how many pieces of content you’ve selected.
  4. If you’re using Split View or Split Screen, you can drag the content from one app to the other app that’s open.​

Using Multitasking Gestures to Open the App Switcher & Switch Between Apps on Your iPad

With the debut of iOS 12 and the 2018 iPad Pros with no Home button, Apple introduced iPhone X gestures to the iPad—including a new way to open the iPad App Switcher. (The old iPad gestures using four fingers to pinch apps closed and swipe between apps also still work).

Opening the App Switcher on Your iPad

  1. To open the App Switcher, simply swipe up from the bottom to the center of the screen and hold your finger there until the app switcher appears (iPads with a Home button can still also open the App Switcher by pressing the Home button twice). 


     
  2. The App Switcher shows you a grid with all of the apps that are open in the background on your iPad, whether active or inactive. Any apps that you’ve used together in Split View mode will show up together, which makes it easy to return to what you were working on previously. You can swipe left or right to find the app you're looking for. 


     

The Control Center is no longer available in the iPad App Switcher. Instead it can be opened by swiping down from the top right corner of the iPad screen.

How to Use Picture in Going to & from the Home Screen

  1. Return to the Home screen while using apps by swiping up from the bottom of any screen that is not the Home screen.
  2. You can also quickly pinch five fingers together on the screen to return to the Home screen.

Swiping Between Apps

  1. Use four or five fingers to swipe along the bottom of the screen from left to right or right to left to switch between apps.
  2. For the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation), the iPad Pro with Face ID, or the iPad Pro 11-inch, swipe along the bottom edge of the display to switch between previously used apps. 

How to Customize or Turn Off iPad Multitasking

You can turn off any of the iPad multitasking functions by opening the Settings app, tapping Home Screen & Dock, and selecting Multitasking.

  1. Toggle off Allow Multiple Apps to remove Slide Over and Split View on your iPad.
  2. Toggle off Picture in Picture to keep videos from playing even when you switch to another app.
  3. Toggle off Gestures to disable the gestures that allow you to quickly switch between apps.

    multitasking options in ipad settings

iPad Multitasking in Different iPad Models

Which iPad models Can Multitask?

Slide Over:

iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation and later), iPad Air and later, or iPad mini 2 and later.

Split View:

iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation and later), iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4 and later.

Picture-in-Picture:

iPad Pro, iPad (5th generation and later), iPad Air and later, or iPad mini 2 and later.

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Conner Carey's picture

Conner Carey's writing can be found at conpoet.com. She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.