How to do multiple tasks in iPadOS 15

Your iPad could show you two or three apps at the same time for years … if you could handle multiple tasks. Fortunately, iPadOS 15 makes iPad’s multitasking system much more intuitive

Here’s how you can now start reaping the benefits of this powerful ability.

iPadOS 15 multitasking: Some things stayed the same

Apple has given its tablets the ability to display multiple applications simultaneously. The system was functional, but not intuitive. Yet many people – including me – use it every day.

Let me reassure those already familiar with the multi-tasking iPad that iPadOS 15 doesn’t crash the old iPad’s motion system. There are new ways to configure on-screen apps, but you don’t have to use them for Split View or Slide Over. If you want, you can continue dragging and dropping icons from the Dock.

How to get started with a multi-tasking iPad

To make multitasking in parallel more intuitive, iPadOS 15 adds a new multi-task menu that appears at the top of apps in iPadOS 15. In most cases, just three small dots take up almost no room, but they are always there to help you open the app next to the one which you have already opened. Or let one app take over the screen.

The icon appears at the top of all apps on iPadOS 15. Tap it to open the multi-task menu.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy / Cult of Mac

Start by opening the app. Then tap the multi-task icon at the top of the screen. This opens a small window with three buttons.

The center button launches Split View by moving the current app to the left, leaving room to open another app. It does this by displaying the home screen. From there, you can open any application. When you do, it will appear to the right of the first one.

Tap and drag the multi-task menu icon to change the positions of the two apps. Or drag down to hide that app and open another one.

The new multi-task menu for iPadOS 15 gives you the tools you need
The new multi-task menu for iPadOS 15 gives you the tools you need.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy / Cult of Mac

Press the button on the right and the application you are using will go to Slide Over. This allows you to move the app from the right edge of the screen, but keep it accessible with a single swipe of your finger.

The left button in the multi-task menu makes the current application full screen. This allows you to complete work with multiple tasks whenever you want. For example, if you want Safari to take up the entire screen, click the three small dots at the top of the window, select the full-screen option, and the other Split View app will be removed.

Apple has its own tips for using split view and scrolling.

Put it on the shelf

iPadOS 15 also includes a new system for working with applications that open multiple windows. When you open the application, a collection of thumbnails appears at the bottom of the screen, one for each window that the application has opened. Apple calls this a shelf.

The shelf is one of the ways iPadOS 15 displays the various windows that apps have opened.
The shelf is one of the ways iPadOS 15 displays the various windows that apps have opened.
Photo: Apple

You can switch between them, add new ones, or close windows by dragging them up and off the screen. You cannot use the shelf to close windows that you currently open, only those that are off the screen.

The shelf disappears when you start using your apps, but you can restore it by tapping the multi-task icon at the top of the app. Or tap the app icon on the Dock and the shelf will reappear.

The Apple Mail app has a button dedicated to displaying the shelf, perhaps because you are expected to open multiple email windows.

To be clear, if you prefer the previous system for working with application windows, it is still available. The iPad Switcher remains unchanged. Swipe up, then to the right of the bottom of the iPad screen to activate it, and you’ll see all the apps open.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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