iPads and iPhones are incredible devices, and a combination of the two can replace your laptop or desktop computer to a fairly large degree. However, there are some areas where a computer is invaluable, and multi-tasking is one of those. However, iOS and iPadOS is catching up with new features that emulate desktop utility. The ability to open multiple apps at the same time and use them side-by-side is one of those new features, and it’s an essential trick to learn if you want to maximize your iOS productivity. Here’s how to use split screen mode on your iPhone or iPad.
Split that screen
The Dock is the heart of all split-screen features on your Apple device, as that is where all apps are located for launch. First, make sure you set up your iPhone or iPad via Settings > Home Screen & Dock > Multitasking. Then, toggle on the three controls to Allow Multiple Apps, Picture in Picture, and Gestures. This ensures maximum flexibility regardless of what you want to do.
- Move an app icon to the left side of the dock: First, line up all the apps you plan to use in the dock. You only have to do this once. Tap and hold an app you want to use and drag it to the dock if it’s not already there. Icons can be added only on the left-hand side of the divider. On the right are the icons of apps you recently used. Alternately, if you don’t want apps to live in the dock, you can quickly launch and close the apps you want to use in order to place their icons in the dock for easy access later.
- Launch an app: If you have a main app that you are splitting the screen with, and you want its window to be larger in size, open that app first. You can only split the screen 50-50 or 25-75, so your choices are limited to using two apps at one time, though you can have several more open and waiting in the wings.
- Swipe up from the bottom to access the dock: After your first app is launched, swipe up on the toolbar to reveal the other apps in the dock, and then choose your second app.
- Select and drag the app icon: Tap and hold on your second app, and drag up off the dock. As you hover it over the open app, a rectangular window appears that you can drag to the left or right side of the screen, then release to open the second app.
- Arrange the split screen: With one large window occupying most of the screen, and another smaller one off to the side, you can arrange the windows any way you want, left or right.
- Hide and show the app tab: If you want to hide one of the apps, tap the grey bar at the top of its window and drag it to the side of the screen, which will cause the app window to disappear temporarily, but not close the app. Swipe in from the side for it to reappear.
- Split the screen evenly: The second tab sits in front of the first by default, but you can divide the screen evenly between the two apps by tapping and holding the grey bar at the top of the second tab and dragging it down (or up). Both tabs will blur temporarily but will divide the screen equally when released.
- Turn off multitasking: Anytime you want to quit using these features, you can return to the Settings and switch them off.
The iPad’s multitasking gestures act as a manual shortcut to the app switcher or the Home screen, but it may take some practice to get fluid with these gestures. For the app switcher, swipe up with one finger from the bottom edge of the screen and hold in the middle until the app switcher appears, and then choose the app you want to use. To switch between apps, swipe left or right with four or five fingers to switch to a previous app. On an iPad Pro with Face ID, iPad Pro 11-inch, or iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation), this gesture involves swiping the bottom edge of the screen. To return to the Home screen, swipe up from the bottom edge or — this is the easiest move — pinch five fingers together on the screen.
You can use the Slide Over feature in Split View to have even more apps open at the same time — the process is much the same. Just swipe up from the bottom of the screen to view the Dock, drag the app on top of the app divider, and use the black bar at the bottom of each window to switch right or left between them. To close an app in Slide Over, swipe up on and hold in the middle of the screen to show all the apps you have open, then swipe up again to close the app.
Move content in split view apps
When you have two or more apps open, you can drag and drop content — text, photos, and files — between them, such as text or images from an email or web page on to the Notes app, or from a web page to an email or text message.
- Open two apps in either Split View or Slide Over.
- Touch and hold the item you want to move to detach it from its document, email, web page, or note.
- Drag and drop the asset into the other app.
- You can also select multiple items by slightly dragging the first one as you select the second one with a different finger, but some sleight of hand is needed for that operation.
Picture in Picture
With Picture in Picture, you can watch videos in a separate window while you complete other tasks like read email or check your Facebook feed. Even with that second app running, your video continues to play and you can move the video to any part of the screen you want so it’s not in the way. Just tap the arrow icon at the top left to shrink the video window, and then use any other app you want and continue to watch. To return the video to full screen, tap the arrow on the lower-left corner. You can also hide and show the video by dragging it back and forth from the side of the screen.
For the iPhone
To use split screen for the iPhone, you need to have the larger Pro, Max, and Plus models, and the feature only works when your phone is in horizontal position (landscape mode). The split screen, available by default, appears automatically when you change your orientation from upright (portrait) to horizontal (landscape), letting Mail, Clock, Calendar, Messages, Reminders, Contacts, Settings, and other built-in Apple apps display additional on-screen information within the same app. To toggle split screen viewing capabilities on and off, choose Settings > Display and Brightness > Display Zoom > Zoom > Set > Use Zoom.
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