Finger Moves and Shortcuts on the iPad

It’s easy to figure out how to navigate and access information on an iPad: touch the screen. There are several different finger moves you can use to accomplish certain tasks and be productive, so let’s review them.

Tap. Drag. Slide. Swipe. Repeat.

With the tip of your finger, directly touch what you see on screen; it can be an icon, song title, or app control. You don’t need to push hard—a gentle press is all it takes. You tap when you want to select something.

Double-tap. In some apps it’s an easy way to zoom in quickly. In videos it can be used to toggle between full-screen and wide-screen view. Although it’s not a tap, if you double-click the Home button it brings up the App Switcher, which lets you easily move between open apps.

Drag. Keep your finger pressed on the screen and slide it around to scroll to different parts of the screen. This move helps you set volume sliders or pan around objects larger than the screen. You can also try out the two-finger drag to scroll in a window that’s within another window.

Slide. It’s almost like a drag, but you only use the slide in one case: to interact with the iPad’s Slide to Unlock/Slide to Power Off buttons, which is where you wake your iPad or confirm a shutdown of the device.

Swipe. By lightly whipping your finger up or down the screen, you can make a web page, song list, or other long page zip by in the direction of your flick. Here are some other swipe moves you can make with one or more fingers:

  • One finger: Swipe down from anywhere on your home screen to reveal the Spotlight Search box, which allows you to search everything stored on your iPad. Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal the Notification Center. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the Control Center (see Lesson 1).
  • Two fingers: To zoom in on part of a page or picture, take your thumb and index finger, put them on the screen where you want to zoom, and spread them out across the glass. To zoom out, do the same thing, but this time pinch your thumb and index finger together.
  • Four fingers: Swipe up to show the App Switcher, thumbnails of all open apps, so you can easily switch from one app to another. Swipe to the left or right to quickly move between apps that are currently open.

How to Cut, Copy, Paste on the iPad

All of these commands are in the same menu.

First, double-tap the word or sentence you want to cut or copy; in some apps you may need to use a long press instead of a double-tap. A box will pop up, and depending on the app, it will give some combination of options. For example, in email you’ve received it’s Copy | Select All | Define, but in an email you’re composing, you’ll see Cut | Copy | Paste | Replace | B/U | Define | Quote Level | Insert Photo or Video (whew!).

A blue highlight will appear around the word or sentence with dots on each end; to select more words, sentences, or a whole paragraph, drag the dots to expand the highlighting. Tap the command you want to use (depending on the box you see). If you want to paste, double-tap the spot where you want to paste. A Paste button will pop up. Tap the button to insert the text or photo into its new location.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Need an accent on that e or other letter? Press and hold the letter you are typing (a, c, e, i, l, n, o, s, u, y, or z), and you’ll see a number of different choices for that letter.

Tap the space bar twice to add a period to the end of a sentence.

You can also force keys to appear on the main keyboard that aren’t originally there. For example, to get to an apostrophe or quotation marks, you typically have to press the .?123  key. But if you just press down the comma (,) button and slide, you’ll see the apostrophe appear above. Try the same thing with the period (.) button, and quotation marks will appear. (In a web browser, pressing on the period button will bring up a list of domains when you are trying to type a website URL: .org, .net, etc.)

The iPad’s AutoCorrect feature is both a blessing and a curse. It will automatically correct your bad typing, which can be great. But if you’re not paying attention, it can also substitute a completely different word for what you originally intended. Here are two tips for dealing with AutoCorrect:

  1. As you are typing a word, AutoCorrect may pop up an alternate suggestion. If that’s the word you want, simply touch the space bar and keep going—the word will be accepted and inserted where you are typing. If you don’t like the suggested correction, just tap it to make it go away.
  2. If you don’t look at the text when you type, you might miss words that are inserted by AutoCorrect. To prevent this, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech > Speak Auto-Text. From now on, your iPad will speak when it makes an Auto-Correct suggestion.

Go to Settings > General > Keyboard to turn other shortcuts on or off:

  • Auto-Capitalization. This feature will automatically capitalize the first letter after a period.
  • Enable Caps Lock. When you double-tap the Shift key, it turns blue, and you can type in ALL CAPS until you tap Shift again to turn it off.
  • “.” Shortcut. If you turn this on, every time you double-tap the space bar, the iPad will insert a period followed by a space.

From the Keyboard menu you can also add non-English keyboards, create shortcuts that can help save time when typing, enable the Split Keyboard, or add new third-party keyboards, which bring great new functionality the iPad keyboard may not have.

Tip: You can create your own text shortcuts on the iPad, too. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Shortcuts, and press the + sign. Enter a text cue for a phrase you use often (for example, OMW for “on my way”), and then press Save. Now when you type the shortcut, the iPad will automatically insert the phrase for you.

If the iPad’s full-screen keyboard is too big, you can reduce its size by splitting it apart. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard and make sure Split Keyboard is set to On. Next, open an app where you want to type, and when the keyboard pops up, place your thumbs in the center of it and then move them apart, literally “splitting” the keyboard. You’ll now see half of your keyboard on each side of the screen, which is pretty easy to navigate using just your thumbs.

Use Your iPad in Your Practice 
This post was adapted from the Law Practice Division’s publication iPad in One Hour for Lawyers, Third Edition. In this bestselling  book, author Tom Mighell presents the essential features and apps for iPad that lawyers can use to become more efficient in their practices.

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