How do you use gesture navigation, slide over, split view, and picture-in-picture on your iPad? Here's everything you need to know!

What Apple calls "iPad Multitasking" really refers to several different things. The first is multitouch navigation that lets you use four finger gestures for fast app switching. The second is multi-window multitasking, which lets you use two apps side-by side in slide over or split view mode, and optionally watch a video as well in picture-in-picture mode.

Multitasking compatibility

Multitasking, especially multi-window, requires significant resources, namely memory and processor power. That means not every iPad can take advantage of every type of multitasking.

  • Gesture navigation: iPad 2 and later.
  • Slide over: iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and later.
  • Split view: iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, iPad Pro and later.
  • Picture-in-picture: iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and later.

How to use gesture navigation on your iPad

With gesture navigation on the iPad, you can use four fingers to pinch and swipe your way through apps and the Home screen.

How to switch back to the previous app

  1. Place four fingers on the screen of your iPad.
  2. Swipe from left to right. (If the screen bounces back, there's no previous app to go to.)

To switch forward to the next app

  1. Place four fingers on the screen of your iPad.
  2. Swipe from right to left. (If the screen bounces back, there's no next app to go to.)

How to bring up the fast app switcher

  1. Place four fingers on the screen of your iPad.
  2. Swipe up.

How to return to the Home page

  1. Place four fingers on the screen of your iPad.
  2. Pinch your fingers together.

How to disable gesture navigation on your iPad

If you dislike multitasking gestures, for example, if you find yourself playing Fruit Ninja only to end up in Mail, you can turn it off.

  1. Launch Settings from the Home screen.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Multitasking
  4. Switch Gestures to Off.

If you change your mind, simply repeat the steps and switch Gestures back to On.

How to use picture-in-picture video multitasking on your iPad

Picture-in-picture (PiP) isn't a new concept. It's existed for television and computer displays for years. Traditionally, the idea was that you could watch more than one thing at the same time. So, for example, having the channel showing the baseball game on your TV, full screen, and the channel playing the football game in a smaller window in one of the corners. With PiP on the iPad, the idea is that you can watch a video while doing something else at the same time.

How to enter picture-in-picture mode on the iPad

Developers need to enable PiP support in their apps or web services in order for it to work. If you don't see the PiP button on your favorite app or web site, let the developer know you want it.

  1. Launch your video app. (We're using Apple's built-in Videos app.)
  2. Go to the video you want to play.
  3. Tap Play to start playing the video.
  4. Tap the PiP button to enter picture-in-picture mode.

Picture-in-picture mode will also launch automatically if you leave a PiP-enabled app while the video is playing. (That's how to put FaceTime into PiP mode, for example.)

How to control the PiP video on the iPad

If you tap the picture-in-picture player, you're presented with a set of controls.

  1. The PiP button will send you back to the app that owns the video and restore the video to full screen.
  2. The pause/play video will, as the name suggests, pause or resume playback of the video.
  3. The close button will end playback, close the PiP, and leave you to get on with whatever else you're doing.

There's also an incredibly thin progress bar along the bottom that shows you how far along you are in the timeline. You can't use the progress bar to scrub forward or back through the video, but you can use it to quickly see how much is left.

How to change the size and position of the PiP video on the iPad

Picture-in-picture video defaults to roughly quarter-screen size (with amble transparent border) and the lower left-hand side of the display, but you can easily resize and reposition it.

To resize it, you use the trusty pinch-to-zoom gesture.

  1. Touch two fingers down on the PiP.
  2. Pinch your fingers together to shrink the PiP.
  3. Spread your fingers apart to expand the PiP.
  4. Let go

To reposition it, you simply drag.

  1. Touch one finger down on the PiP.
  2. Drag the PiP to any of the other corners.
  3. Let go.

How to hide the PiP video on the iPad

If you need to use your full iPad screen for something else but don't want to stop listening to the video's audio, instead of closing the picture-in-picture window, you can simply tuck it away for a time.

  1. Touch one finger down on the PiP.
  2. Drag the PiP sideways off the screen.

A small tab will remain visible so you can pull the PiP back out again when you want to continue watching.

  1. Touch one finger down on the PiP tab.
  2. Drag the PiP sideways back on screen.

How to disable PiP video on the iPad

Because the picture-in-picture video can start automatically when you leave an app during playback, and that might not be what you want, Apple gives you a way to disable it.

  1. Launch Settings from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Multitasking.
  4. Switch Persistent Video Overlay to Off.

To re-enable it, simply repeat the process and switch Persistent Video Overlay to On.

How to use slide over multitasking on your iPad

With slide over on your iPad you can briefly access a secondary app to jot down a few notes, reply to a few messages, or check a few references, all without having to switch away from what you're doing in your primary app.

How to enter slide over mode on iPad

Entering slide over mode is as easy as bringing up notification center or control center, you just need to know where to swipe.

  1. Touch one finger down on the bezel just past the right edge of your screen.
  2. Swipe your finger to the left to pull out the slide over sidebar.

If you've never used slide over before, or if its been long enough since someone else used slide over that it doesn't have a recent app already loaded, you'll need to choose which app you want to fill the sidebar.

  1. Swipe down to scroll through the list of available apps. They're presented as tiles with app icons in the center.
  2. Tap on the app you want to use in slide over.

The primary (full screen) app you were using will dim and the slide over sidebar will overlay on top of it. You won't be able to use both apps at the same time—that's what split view is for—or use the primary app again until you dismiss the slide over.

How to switch the slide over app on iPad

Not all apps work in slide over; developers have to add support for it. If, like the vast majority of Apple's apps, the app you want to use does work in slide over, it's easy to switch to.

  1. Touch one finger down on the gripper at the very top of the slide over sidebar.
  2. Swipe down to bring back the app switcher.
  3. Swipe down to scroll through the list of available apps.
  4. Tap on the app you want to use in slide over.

How to exit slide over mode on iPad

Getting out of slide over mode is even easier than getting in.

  1. Touch one finger down on the slide over sidebar and swipe it away to the right.
  2. Or, tap anywhere outside the slide over sidebar and it'll swipe itself away.

How to use split view multitasking on your iPad

Split view lets you keep two apps visible and active, side-by-side, at the same time. It's not full-on multi-window multitasking like the Mac, but it's twice what was possible previously with full-screen apps. It's a huge boost to productivity, and it's easy to use.

How to enter split view mode on your iPad

Before you can enter split view mode, you need to enter slide over mode. Once you're in slide over, you're only a tap away from split view.

  1. Touch one finger down on the bezel just past the right edge of your screen.
  2. Swipe your finger to the left to pull out the slide over sidebar.

  3. Tap the grabber on the left edge of the slide over sidebar to switch to split view.

The secondary app will pin down and the primary app will reactivate and resize to fit beside it.

How to resize the split view on iPad

In portrait orientation you only have one option for split view—60/40. In landscape orientation, however, you can switch from 70/30 to an even 50/50.

  1. Touch the grabber button at the left edge of the secondary app.
  2. Drag it the grabber to the left until it reaches the middle of the screen.
  3. Let go of the grabber.

You can't go to 30/70, but you can return to 70/30 by touch the grabber and dragging back.

How to switch the primary (left) app on iPad

To change the primary app—the app on the left—you use the typical iPad app-switching methods.

  1. Click the Home button to return to the Home screen and select another app
  2. Double-click the Home button to bring up the fast app switcher and select another app
  3. Use the four-finger gesture navigation to swipe back or forth between apps
  4. Tap on a link that opens another app.

Whatever the method, the newly launched app will replace the primary app—the left app—in the split screen setup.

How to switch the secondary (right) app on iPad

To change the secondary app—the app on the right—you use the same method as slide over mode.

  1. Touch one finger down on the gripper at the very top of the secondary app.
  2. Swipe down to bring down the app switcher.
  3. Swipe to scroll through the list of available apps.
  4. Tap on the app you want to use as the secondary app.

How to exit split view mode on iPad

You can exit split screen mode at any time by making either the primary or secondary app full-screen.

  1. Touch the grabber button at the left edge of the secondary app.
  2. Drag it the grabber all the way to the right to take the primary app full-screen.
  3. Or, drag the grabber all the way to the left to take the secondary app full-screen.

You can then pull a new app into slide over and tap it to return to split view whenever you want.

How to use Safari split screen multitasking

Multi-app multitasking in iOS means two separate apps running side by side, with one new exception — Safari. With Safari in iOS 10, you can now run two views from the same app, or more precisely, two tabs side by side.

Note: Safari Split View only works in landscape mode. They also only work in full screen. You can use Safari Split view in combination with Slide Over and Picture-in-Picture, but if you try to use multi-app Split View at the same time, the Safari Split View will automatically merge back down to one window, then return to split view when you close the second app.

How to create a Safari Split View

It's easy to put Safari into Split View at any time.

  1. Touch and hold the Tabs button at the top right.
  2. Tap on Open Split View.

If you're using a keyboard with your iPad, you can also use a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Type CMD+N.

How to open a link in Safari Split View

You can also open any link as a Safari Split View.

  1. Touch and hold on the link. (Long press.)
  2. Tap Open in Split View from the pop-up menu.

How to turn a tab into Safari Split View

If you have multiple tabs open already, you can make one of them into a Safari Split View.

  1. Touch and hold on the tab.
  2. Drag the tab all the way to the right or left until it splits off into a new window.

How to switch a tab between Safari Split Views

Each split view can contain multiple tabs, and you can switch tabs between split views at any time.

  1. Touch and hold on the tab.
  2. Drag the tab to the opposite split view.

How to open links in the opposite Safari Views

You can also open links on the opposite side of your split view.

  1. Touch and hold on the link. (Long press.)
  2. Tap Open On Other Side from the pop-up menu.

How to merge Safari Split View back down to tabs

If you no longer want Safari Split View open, but you want to keep all your tabs, you can collapse everything back down.

  1. Touch and hold on the tab button. (It's moved to the bottom right.)
  2. Tap Merge All Tabs.

If you don't want to keep all your tabs, you can simply tab the close icon (looks like an X) to close them. When you've closed all the tabs in a split view, that side of the view will also close.

Any multitasking questions?

If you have any trouble using iPad multitasking, or have any additional questions, drop them in the comments!