7 tips and tricks for the iPad Air/iPad mini with Retina Display

The iPad Air and the new iPad mini with Retina Display come with a fair few tricks and features that you won’t find on an iPhone. There are also some features that are better suited to the larger screen of the iPad. Here are seven of the most useful ones.

  • Krishan Sharma is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist for various tech-focussed publications including iTnews, CRN, PC & Tech AuthorityBusiness IT (BIT), Smarter Business Ideas and Business Spectator.

    Outside of his journalistic endeavours, he is an IT professional who has established a wide breadth of experience in the ICT industry. With tertiary qualifications in IT, Multimedia and Business Management, Krishan ran his own IT consulting business for over five years, initially servicing SMEs and then later expanding to government departments and tertiary institutions.

    Searching for something a bit different, he then tackled the world of digital marketing and worked for one of Australia’s largest ad agencies where he developed and managed the digital strategies for a number of recognisable brands.

    Krishan is a self-confessed tech junkie and can usually be found tweaking and testing out the latest gadgets, home theatre gear, games, software and mobile applications and then ranting about it on his tech-focused blog, ksallthingstech.

Type like you’re on a smartphone by splitting the keyboard

If you prefer to operate the on-screen keyboard with your thumbs then try splitting the keyboard which can speed up typing for those times when you don’t have the luxury of a flat surface to rest the iPad on.

Simply touch and hold on either side of the virtual keyboard and swipe out to split the keyboard.

Similarly, you can join the keyboard back together by holding each side and swiping back into the middle.You can also reposition the keyboard by pressing and holding the keyboard icon at the bottom right of the virtual keyboard and selecting “undock”.

SEE ALSO: Smarter's top tablets of 2013

Multitask with four-finger gestures

More screen real estate means a larger canvas to perform gestures.

Firstly, you will need to go to Settings > General and turn Multitasking Gestures on.

A quick and easy way to switch between apps is swiping up from the bottom of the screen with four fingers to open the multitasking tray. If you swipe left or right with your finger you’ll be able to switch from your current app to other recently used apps. You can also close multiple apps at once by placing your fingers on top of each app and swiping them up together.

Swiping down again with four fingers will close the multitasking tray.

Instead of having to press the home button to go to the home screen you can perform a four finger pinch which is more convenient. 

Lock the screen orientation with the side switch

By default, the physical side switch is set to mute the iPad sound but you can change this if you prefer that the switch be used for locking the rotation of the iPad.

Go to Settings > General > Use Side Switch to and select “Lock Rotation”.

You can still mute the iPad by holding the volume down button.

SEE ALSO: Smarter's top smartphones of 2013

Keyboard shortcuts

A bluetooth keyboard is a must have accessory for any iPad owner looking to get some real work done on their tablet. Apple has now made using a keyboard even more convenient by adding a whole heap of new keyboard shortcuts to their native apps.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t provide any documentation on all of the supported keyboard shortcuts but here is a list of all of the known ones.

Note that ⌘ symbol denotes the command button, ⇧ represents the shift key and the ↩ symbol is for the return/enter key.


 • ⌘L to Open Location to select the address bar so you can start typing URL or search
 • ⌘T to open a new tab
 • ⌘W to close the current tab
 • ⌘R to refresh the current tab
 • ⌘G and ⌘⇧G to move between Find In Page results 


 • ⌘N to create a new message
 • ⌘⇧D to send a message 
 • ⌦ (backspace) key to delete the currently selected message
 • ↑/↓ arrows to select suggested email address in To/CC/BCC popover fields


 • ⌘⇧K to comment
 • ⌘⌥K to show next comment
 • ⌘⌥⇧K to show previous comment
 • ⌘I/B/U to make text italic, bold, or underlined
 • ⌘D to duplicate the current object (such as an inline photo)
 • ⌘↩ to end editing and select parent (in table cells)
 • ↩ to insert a new line, ⌥↩ to select next cell (in table cells)
 • ⇥ to move to next cell, ⇧⇥ to move to previous cell
 • ⇧↩ to select cell above the current cell
 • ⌥↑/↓/→/← (arrow keys) to create a new row or column
 • ⌘↑/↓/→/← (arrow keys) to first/last cell in current row or column


 • ⌘⇧K to comment
 • ⌘⌥K to show next comment
 • ⌘⌥⇧K to show previous comment
 • ⌘I/B/U to make text italic, bold, or underlined
 • ⌘D to duplicate the current object
 • ⌘↩ to end editing and select parent
 • ↩ to select next cell
 • ⇥ to move to next cell, ⇧⇥ to move to previous cell
 • ⇧↩ to select cell above the current cell
 • ⌥↑/↓/→/← (arrow keys) to create a new row or column
 • ⌘↑/↓/→/← (arrow keys) to first/last cell in current row or column

Logitech also provides a useful list of other known keyboard shortcuts on their website.

SEE ALSO: The smartphones and tablets you need to know about

Use your iPad as a second monitor

The ability to wirelessly mirror or extend your desktop to your iPad display can be very handy. 

Whether it’s moving your iWork or Office tool palettes onto the iPad allowing your document or spreadsheet to fill your PC monitor or even just using your iPad to run your desktop Outlook email client while you run other programs on your PC, the possible use cases are virtually endless.

The nice thing is that the mirrored display on your iPad will remain responsive to touch input so you don’t need to solely rely on the mouse and keyboard.

You will need to download an app to enable this feature. Both Air Display and Splashtop XDisp worked great in our testing.

Set triple-clicking action for the Home button

Dive into Settings > General > Accessibility > and assign the “Triple-click the Home Button” to either VoiceOver, Invert Colours (for changing to white text and a black background), Zoom and Assistive Touch which brings up a handy shortcuts panel.

Learn more about the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display

  • Submit Comment

  • All comments submitted to Smarter are moderated prior to publishing.

  • All fields are mandatory