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 generally 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. Most recently iOS 12 brought updated gestures to iPad and iPad Pro multitasking for an even better experience. 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 iOS multitasking functions. Here’s everything you need to know about iPad Multitasking.

Related: Ready to Learn iOS 11? Become an Expert with Our Complete Guide

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How to Use Slide Over 

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:

  • Open an app on your iPad.
  • Swipe up to view the Dock.
  • Drag the app you want to open from the Dock onto the middle of the screen and let go.

  • 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 

  • 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 screen allows you to work in two different apps simaltaneously. 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. 

To switch from Slide Over to Split View on iPad:

  • Swipe down on the gray bar at the top of Slide Over.
  • This will open iPad split screen. You can swipe down again on the gray bar to return to Slide Over.

To open Split View on your iPad while using an app:

  • Swipe up to open the Dock.
  • Drag the second app you want to open from the Dock to the left or right side of the screen.
  • Once you’re in Split View, you can resize your app windows by dragging the app divider to the center of your screen.

How to close split screen on the iPad: 

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

How to open three apps at once on the iPad 

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:

  • Open Split View and swipe up to open the Dock, then drag a third app onto the screen in Slide Over.
  • 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.
  • 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

Picture in Picture allows you to watch a video or chat on FaceTime while working in other apps. To use Picture in Picture:

  • 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
  • Tap this icon to scale the video down and place it in the corner of the app.

Moving and resizing the video

  • You can drag the video to another part of the screen and make it larger or smaller by pinching two fingers.
  • To return to the page where the video was playing, tap the Picture in Picture icon.

iPad Multitasking Tools

Expanded Dock

The iPad 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 screen, 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:

  • Hold your finger on the the app icon for a couple of seconds until it pops out a little.
  • Then it drag it 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 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

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 and 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:

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

  • 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.
  • Tap on the app you want to move the item to.
  • Once it opens, drop the item where it needs to go.

How to drag and drop multiple items

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

  • Tap and hold one image to pop it out and drag it slightly to the side. Keep holding the image.
  • With your other hand, tap the other images you want to add to the first.
  • A blue number will appear in the top corner of the bundle, letting you know how many pieces of content you’ve selected.
  • 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 Gestures to Open the App Switcher & Switch Between Apps

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

To open the App Switcher, simply swipe up from the bottom to the center of the screen and then lift your finger. (iPads with a Home button can still also open the App Switcher by pressing the Home button twice.) 

You can also move your hand to the side as you pinch an app closed to open the App Switcher.

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.

(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.)

Going to and from the Home screen

  • Return to the Home screen by swiping up from the bottom of any screen that is not the Home screen.
  • Return to your most recent app from the Home screen by swiping the Home screen with four or five fingers.

Swiping between apps

  • 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.
  • Or use a single finger to swipe up slightly on the app screen and then swipe between apps with a single finger instead of your entire hand.

How to Customize or Turn Off iPad Multitasking

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

  • Toggle off Allow Multiple Apps to remove split screen on your iPad.
  • Toggle off Picture in Picture to keep videos from playing even when you switch to another app.
  • Toggle off Gestures to disable the gestures that allow you to quickly switch between apps.
  • Toggle of Show Suggested and Recent Apps to stop your most recent apps from appearing in the Dock.

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.

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.