How to Rock Your iPad at Work

How to Be More Efficient and More Productive on Your iPad

Apple, Inc.

The iPad is all grown up and ready for business. But are you ready? It is easy to use the iPad to get some work done, but if you really want to be efficient with it, you will need to know about the right features and download the right apps for it. This includes letting the iPad become your personal assistant, using the newest apps to draft documents and leveraging "the cloud" to sync documents between devices and collaborate with teammates.


Take Advantage of Siri

Siri isn't just for ordering pizza or checking the weather. She's at her best when she's working as your personal assistant. Siri is quite capable of keeping up with reminders, setting meeting times and scheduling events. She can even take voice dictation, so if you aren't handy with an on-screen keyboard but don't use it enough to buy a real keyboard, she'll do the heavy lifting for you. In simple terms, Siri may be the single most effective productivity tool that is bundled with the iPad.

Siri works in combination with the iPad's Calendar, Reminders, and other apps. These apps also sync through iCloud, so you can set a reminder on your iPad and have it pop up on your iPhone.  And if multiple people use the same iCloud account, they will all have access to those calendar events.

Here are a few things Siri can do for you:

  • "Remind me to attend the 9 AM Miller meeting at 8:30 AM on Tuesday."  This statement will set an 8:30 AM reminder about a 9 AM meeting, which is handy if you need to prepare for it.
  • "Set up a meeting with Chris Miller tomorrow at 9 AM."  This will block off your calendar for 9 AM the next day.  The default event time is for one hour, but you can tell Siri how long it will last. 
  • "Take a note that the dimensions of my desk are 36 by 24". Don't want to load up the Notes app and type in some quick information?  Siri can do that too.   

    Read: 17 Ways Siri Can Help You Be More Productive

    Download an Office Suite

    One of the little-known secrets about the iPad is that it comes with an office suite. Apple's iWork, which includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, is a free download to anyone who has bought an iPad or iPhone within the last few years. This gives you access to an incredible range of apps that can help with word processing, spreadsheets or presentations.

    Do you prefer Microsoft Office? It is also available for the iPad. Microsoft finally decided to stop banging their head against the iPad train and get on board instead. Not only can you get Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, you can also download Outlook, OneNote, Lync and SharePoint Newsfeed.

    You can also download apps for Google Docs and Google Sheets that will make using Google's cloud-based tools much easier.  

    Integrate Cloud Storage

    Speaking of the cloud, Dropbox is one of the most productive apps on my iPad, or really, my entire computer ecosystem, which includes a Windows PC, a MacBook Pro, and iPhone and an iPad. Cloud storage is great for a variety of reasons. First, it provides a backup to all of the documents you store on it, so no worrying that a misplaced iPad is going to lead to misplaced work.

    It's also the easiest way to share documents between devices, which is great for both sharing your work between devices and sharing it between people.

    The iPad comes integrated with iCloud Drive, but there are many other options available. In addition to Dropbox, you can download Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive among many other cloud storage options. You can even mix-and-match, using iCloud Drive or OneDrive for your office suite documents and Dropbox for other documents.

    Read: How to Set Up Dropbox on the iPad

    Video Conferencing

    It should be no surprise that the iPad excels in communications.

    You can even use it as a phone, and between FaceTime and Skype, the iPad provides easy access to video conferencing. But what about full-blown video meetings? Between Cisco WebEx Meetings and GoToMeeting, you won't have any time collaborating, brainstorming or simply staying organized with a team of people.  

    Scan Documents With Your iPad

    As much was we try there seems to be no getting away from paper. Luckily, we don't need to increase the problem by having a device dedicated to scanning that paper. The iPad's camera is quite capable of acting as a scanner, and thanks to a number of really good apps, it is super easy to take a picture of a document and have that image clipped perfectly so that it looks like it actually went through a real scanner. The best part is most Scanner apps will let you copy the document to cloud storage, mark up the document, print it and send it as an email attachment.

    Scanner Pro is one of the leading apps for scanning documents.  And using it is perhaps easier than using your camera. To scan a document, you tap the big orange "+" button and the iPad's camera is activated. All you need to do to scan the document is align it within the camera's confines. Scanner Pro will wait until it has a steady shot and automatically snap the photo and crop it so that only the document appears. Yes, it's that easy.  

    Read: How to Turn Your iPad Into a Scanner

    Buy an AirPrint Printer

    Let's not forget printing! It's easy to miss that the iPad is compatible with many different printers straight out of the box.

    AirPrint allows the iPad and printer to communicate through a local Wi-Fi network, so there's no need to connect the iPad to the printer. Simply buy a printer that supports AirPrint, connect it to your Wi-Fi network and the iPad will recognize it.  

    You can print from within iPad apps by tapping the Share button, which looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it. If the app supports printing, the "Print" button will appear in the second row of buttons in the Share menu.  

    Read: The Best AirPrint Printers

    Download the Right Apps

    We've already covered the two most popular office suites for the iPad, and it would be impossible to list out all of the great iPad apps that are useful in a work environment, but there are a few that can fit in with almost any type of work.

    If your need to take notes goes beyond what the built-in Notes app is capable, and especially if you need to share those notes to other non-iOS devices, Evernote can be a real life-savor. Evernote is a multi-platform cloud-based version of Notes.

    Do you work with a lot of PDF files? GoodReader is not only a great way to read them, it will also let you edit them. GoodReader connects to all of the popular cloud storage solutions, so you can plug it right into your workflow.

    Does your need to manage tasks extend beyond what the iPad's reminders and calendar apps can provide? Things is one of the top productivity apps on the iPad simply because of its superiority as a task manager.

    Multitasking and Task Switching

    After you've loaded your iPad up with great apps, you will want to navigate between those apps efficiently.

    Task Switching provides the ability to quickly shift between different apps seamlessly. You can activate Task Switching by double-clicking the Home Button to bring up the task screen and simply tapping on the app you want to use. The iPad keeps the app in memory when it is in the background so that it can be quickly loaded when you activate it. You can also bring up the task screen by placing four fingers on the iPad's screen and moving them toward the top so long as you have multitasking gestures turned on in the iPad's settings.

    True multitasking will require an iPad Air or newer iPad, including the iPad Mini 2. The iPad Air is capable of slide-over multitasking, which allows you to bring up another app in one column on the right side of the iPad. The app must support slide-over for this to work.

    If you have an iPad Air 2 or newer, including one of the iPad Pro models, you can also do split-view multitasking. This allows you to split the screen in two and run two apps at the same time. These newer iPads also support picture-in-a-picture for multitasking with video.

    You can only start multitasking when you already have an app open.  

    To engage slide-over multitasking, place the tip of your finger in the middle of the far-right edge of the screen and move it toward the middle of the screen.  A column of app icons should appear.  You can scroll through these app icons to launch a second app.  If the column didn't appear, the app you are in may not support slide-over multitasking.  Remember, you need to start on the edge of the screen but also towards the middle of the iPad.  If you are too high or too low, a small arrow will appear guiding you to the right spot.

    Slide-over multitasking works with most apps, but in order to engage split-screen multitasking, both apps must support it.   After you engage slide-over multitasking, a small line will appear in the middle between the two apps.  This line lets you know that the apps support split-screen.  Simply grab the line and move it toward the middle by sliding the tip of your finger from the line to the middle of the screen.  You will need to be in landscape mode for split-screen multitasking.  

    Picture-in-a-picture is the easiest of all.  If the app supports it, picture-in-a-picture will be engaged when you click the Home button.  Instead of exiting the app, the video that is playing will move to a corner of the iPad.  

    You can multitask by swiping a finger from the far right edge of the iPad in towards the center of the screen.  This only works when you have an app open.  Remember, your finger 

    Read: How to Multitask on the iPad

    The 12.9-inch iPad Pro

    If you really want to boost your productivity, you should think about buying a 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The iPad Pro line of tablets rival most laptops in terms of pure processing power. It also has 4 GB of ram, which means more apps can be held in memory, so switching between apps is lightning fast.  

    But it's not just the speed that will make you more productive. The additional screen space is great when multitasking. And if you do a lot of content creation, the bigger on-screen keyboard is roughly the same size as a regular keyboard. It even has the row of number/symbol keys at the very top, saving time from switching between different layouts.

    Learn How the Pros Navigate the iPad

    And if you want to be more productive on the iPad, you will want to be more efficient while using it. There are a number of shortcuts in navigation that can help you get where you are going faster. For example, instead of hunting for an app, you can quickly launch it by swiping down on the Home Screen to bring up Spotlight Search and typing the app name into the search bar. You can also launch apps using Siri.

    Also, make use of the task screen. We've already talked about double-clicking the home button to bring up the task screen. Even if you aren't switching back and forth between apps, this is a great way to launch an app if you've used it recently.   

    Read: How to Use the iPad Like a Pro

    Add Websites to the Home Screen

    If you frequently use specific websites for work, for example, a content management system (CMS), you can save time by adding the website to your iPad's Home Screen. This will allow the website to act like any other app. And you won't believe how easy it is to save the website as an app icon. Simply navigate to the web page, tap the Share button at the top of the screen and choose "Add to Home Screen" from the second row of options.

    The icon will act like any other app, so you can put it in a folder or even move it to the iPad's dock, which will give you quick access to it at all times.

    Dedicated Email Alongside Your PC

    Your iPad use shouldn't stop just because you sat down at your desktop. The iPad can serve a number of great functions while you work. You can use it as a dedicated email client or instant message client, or it can simply be used as quick access to the web browser. This works even better if you have a dock for your iPad, which makes it almost like another monitor. And, yes, if you want it to really act like an additional monitor, you can do so by downloading an app like Duet Display.

    Buy a Keyboard

    You might have expected this one closer to the top of the list, but I actually recommend skipping the keyboard when buying an iPad. Many people are quite surprised at how quickly they can type using the on-screen keyboard, especially after they learn keyboard shortcuts like skipping the apostrophe and allowing Auto Correct to insert it. The iPad also allows you to dictate any time the keyboard is on the screen by tapping the microphone button embedded in the standard keyboard.

    But if you are going to do a lot of typing on the iPad, nothing beats a physical keyboard.

    The iPad Pro line of tablets supports Apple's Smart Keyboard, which may be the best overall keyboard for the iPad.  One nice part about Apple keyboards is that PC shortcuts like command-c for copy will also work on the iPad, saving you from tapping on the screen. And when used in combination with the virtual touchpad, it is almost like using a PC.

    Don't have an iPad Pro? You can also use Apple's Magic Keyboard with the iPad and get many of the same features. The only thing it won't do is charge through the iPad Pro's new connector.  

    Want to save money? Or go with something different? There are a wide variety of third-party keyboards like Anker's Ultra Compact keyboard, which costs less than $50, and Logitech's Type+, which is a case with an integrated keyboard.

    The key for buying a wireless keyboard is to make sure it supports Bluetooth and look for iOS or iPad support on the box.  If you would rather a keyboard case, you'll want to make sure it works with your particular iPad model.  Earlier iPad models pre-iPad Air have different dimensions, and with three different sizes for the iPad, you definitely want to make sure the case fits your particular model.  

    Did you know: You can also use a wired keyboard with your iPad.  You simply need to have the camera adapter.

    The Best Keyboards for Your iPad

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