How to split the screen on iPad into multitasking

When the first iPad Air brought laptop-like processing power to an ultra-thin tablet form, it was a big deal. The problem was that iOS at the time could only run one app at a time. Apple was quick to remedy this by adding split-screen multitasking, which eventually turned the iPad into a potential laptop replacement.

Today, the latest version of iPadOS (as it is now called) offers a much more refined and flexible form of multitasking. While it’s still not as flexible as macOS or Windows, you can get a lot of work done with your tablet if you know how to create split screen on your iPad.

Check if multitasking is enabled

Before you try anything described in this article, make sure that all multitasking options are enabled. Available options may vary based on the version of iOS or iPadOS you are running. Here, we are using iPadOS 14.4 on a 12.9” 2018 iPad Pro model.

Making sure these features are enabled is easy:

  1. Go Setting > Home Screen & Dock > Multitasking
Allows switching of multiple apps and gestures
  1. Turn on both Allows multiple applications and Gesture switches.

Just note that the Allow multiple apps option has nothing to do with background app refresh, which is a completely different setting.

Application support is required

While multitasking is built into iPadOS, not all modes work with every app. Applications must be written by the developer to support possible different screen modes and features.

For example, most games don’t support any split-screen style, but you can still have an app like Twitter in a floating Slide Over window. Other apps may support 50-50 Split View, but not 70-30 mode. The easiest way to check is to just try it with the app.

Dock and Gesture Slide is key

The recent addition of a macOS-like dock to iPadOS has made multitasking much easier. Applications that you want to launch in addition to already running applications can be accessed from the toolbar.

The apps on the right side of the dock are your most recent apps. On the left, you can give apps a permanent home and even organize them into folders like we did here.

iPad Dock

After launching the app in Slide over from the dock, you can use different gestures to access other multitasking modes. However, let’s see how to get your app into Slide Over mode in the first place.

Put the app into slideover mode

Slide Over mode lets your second app float in a small window on top of a full-screen app. In this mode, the app will switch to a smartphone-style app layout.

Here’s how to open an app in Slide Over mode:

  1. Open the app you want to run full screen.
Apps open full screen
  1. Swipe up to show Pier.
Dock revealed
  1. Find the app you want to multitask. You can open dock folders and also icons that are not in the dock folders.
Productivity Apps
  1. Press and hold app’s icon and drag it to the screen area of ​​the main application. It will form a Slide Over window.
Slide through the formed window
  1. Release the app and it will appear as a floating window like this.
The app appears as a sliding window

From here, you can do a few neat things that we’ll look at next.

Try these slide-in tricks

Now that your second app is in a floating window on top of the main app, there are a few tricks you can try.

If you look at the top and bottom of the window, you’ll see the following two tabs:

Tabs at the top and bottom

The top tab can be used to move windows between the left and right sides of the screen. You can also move it to the top center of the screen and make it the current full-screen app. If you want to switch to Split View mode, move it to the left or right side of the screen until you see the mode active, then release.

Split View

While in Split View, you can change between a 50-50 or 70-30 split by using the tab in the center of the divider and dragging it left or right.

Tab in the middle of the divider

To slide the Slide Over app out of view, just swipe it off the right edge of the screen. To bring it back, swipe in from the right edge of the screen.

The tab at the bottom of the floating window lets you switch between other apps you’ve opened recently, assuming they support split view. You can swipe left or right on it to bring up the recent apps carousel.

Recent apps carousel

Run three apps at the same time

While you may think you can only run two apps at a time, you can also run three. There are three different ways to do this, but we’ll start with the easiest.

Here, you can use both Slide Over and Split View at the same time. It works the same way as before, but this time you’ll first bring the two apps into split view and then drag the third app into the floating Slide Over mode by dragging the icon on the splitter. Split view.

Three apps running at the same time

The third app obscures the part of the app from which it emerges, but this can be useful in some cases. For example, if you want to quickly check your Tweet while writing a report.

The third app obscures part of the second app

The next way to run three apps in split-screen mode on iPad relies on one of these apps with picture-in-picture support. This is an iPadOS feature that allows video from an app like Netflix to continue playing even while you’re doing something else. PiP windows can be resized, moved around, and temporarily swiped off-screen without interrupting playback.

If you start PiP playback first, with the video playing on your Home screen, you can also start Split View in the usual way.

In this example, we have Chrome, Word, and Netflix all playing at the same time. The Netflix window looks blank because the app doesn’t allow screenshots of the currently playing video.

Chrome, Word and Netflix running at the same time

The third method to run three apps is very simple and you can even run four apps this way. The additional application in this example is any application that plays audio in the background, like Spotify.

Open Spotify (or your music player of choice) and start playback. Return to the Home screen and the sound will resume playing. From here, follow the normal procedure to use Split View, Slide Over, or both.

Interact between apps and open the same app twice

An important feature that has only recently arrived on iOS and iPadOS is the ability to open the same app two or even three times. For example, you often want two web pages to open side by side. Previously, you would have to use two different browsers, but now you can use the same browser.

There’s no special trick to it. Follow the same steps as above to open two or more apps, but repeat the steps for the same app.

In this example, we have two Chrome windows open in Split View and a third using Slide Over.

Two Chromes in Split View and a third using Slide Over

Finally, you can drag items and text between apps you have open in any multitasking mode, but which items will work depends on the apps themselves. Check out their respective help documents for more details and enjoy your new, more productive split-screen iPad experience.

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