Tips for users of every version of the iPad.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


iPad's hidden features, Part 1

March 18, 2012

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2012, The Post-Standard

Apple's iPad, whether versions 1, 2 or 3, has dozens of functions that are partly hidden. This week and next we'll look at some of the most important ones.

Let's start with a feature that's not hidden at all to some users but seems to be out of sight to many others, according to the reactions of iPad users who speak up during my classes. It's the way the iPad relates to iTunes, the Apple software that handles music, video and other "edutainment" functions on a Windows PC or Mac.

iTunes is a must. It backs up everything on your iPad automatically each time you connect your iPad to your computer using the thin white cable that came with your iPad. It also checks for updates. Just as importantly, it matches up the music and videos on your computer with what's on your iPad, a procedure called "syncing." Once you hook up, you'll see options in iTunes for what you want to sync and what you want to leave out. Do it once a week.

(Ignore anyone who tries to tell you Apple's new iCloud will do all this for you. iCloud isn't working right. Until it's been proven, use iTunes.)

Now to the iPad itself. There are two ways to turn it off -- the way you already know, by touching the black button near one of the corners, and the way most iPad users don't know, by holding that button in for 10 seconds or so. The first method turns the screen off while keeping the iPad running at a reduced level, allowing it to check mail and ring alarms, that sort of thing. The second method turns it into a doorstop; everything stops working. Use the second method only if you're going to pack your iPad away for a few weeks.

Turn your iPad back on when it's dead as a dodo by holding that button in until you see an Apple logo.

The on-screen keyboard drives some people crazy, maybe because they can't find an apostrophe without facing the West and genuflecting. No need to fuss. First, to get the apostrophe to appear, slide your finger over the comma key. Second, to get an extra keyboard for numbers and punctuation, tap the ".?123" key; while that keyboard is showing, tap the "#+=" key to get a keyboard for odd symbols.

Your iPad has a find-everything search function. From the Home screen, press the Home button once to go instantly to the search form. Press it again to go back to the Home screen.

Like to listen your iPad's music? It will keep playing even when you turn the iPad off. To stop the music, turn the iPad back on and use the play/pause button.

Next: Secrets that will dazzle your friends.

I'll have a review of the latest iPad in a few weeks.