Apple introduced complete trackpad and mouse support with iPadOS 13.4, taking the iPad a major stride closer to being an actual laptop replacement. The Cupertino-based tech giant also nailed how well the onscreen cursor functions within the iPad’s user interface, allowing for a surprisingly natural experience. But that’s not all — iPadOS 13.4 also introduced trackpad and mouse gestures that make it a breeze to both navigate and access essential features on the iPad. In this article, we bring you the best trackpad and mouse gestures that you can use on your iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro.
Best Trackpad Gestures on iPad
If you use a Magic Keyboard (with the floating cantilever design and built-in trackpad) or a Magic Trackpad 2, you can use a host of gestures on your iPad. Whether it’s switching between apps or getting to your Slide Over apps in a split-second, the following gestures should make using the iPad a whole lot easier. Most of them should also work on third-party trackpad devices.
1. Visit Home Screen
While using an app (or multiple apps in Split-View or Slide Over), quickly swipe up with three fingers to get to the Home screen.
2. Switch Between Apps
Have multiple apps open on your iPad? Switch between them quickly by swiping with three fingers to the left or to the right on your trackpad. This gesture works similar to the four-fingered swipe action on the iPad’s touchscreen.
If you are on the Home screen, you can also perform a three-finger swipe to the right to immediately open the most-recently-used app.
3. Bring Up App Switcher
The App Switcher provides an even faster way to get to re-open apps — swipe up with three fingers while on the Home screen or within an app, and then pause for a moment to bring it up. You can also forcibly quit any app within the App Switcher by flicking the relevant app card upward.
4. Open Control Center
Bringing up the Control Center by clicking the status icons to the upper-right corner of the iPad can be a chore. Instead, simply swipe up with one finger as soon as the cursor touches the status icons. Give it a try.
5. Access Notification Center
Want to check up on your notifications? Start moving the cursor to the top edge of the screen and keep pushing to bring out the Notification Center.
6. Zoom In and Out
Want to zoom in on a webpage, a photo, or a map? Pinch out with two fingers on the trackpad to do that. Conversely, pinch in with two fingers to zoom out. The gesture also works in any app that supports zooming.
7. Reveal Contextual Menus
iPadOS comes with lots of long-press contextual menus for Home screen icons, Files app documents, Photos app image, and so on, letting you perform various useful actions quickly. Simply click with two fingers on the trackpad to get the same menus to show up.
If you can’t get the two-fingered click to register, head over to iPad Settings > General > Trackpad, and then turn on the switch next to Two Finger Secondary Click.
8. Open the Dock
Want to get to your docked/recent apps or pull them out for multitasking? Simply move the cursor down to the bottom of the screen and keep pushing to open the iPad’s Dock.
9. Start Searching
While directly interacting with the iPad, you can bring up Search by swiping down with one finger on the Home screen. With a trackpad, simply swipe down with two fingers instead.
10. Show/Hide Slide Over Apps
Slide Over apps are extremely convenient to multitask with since you can hide them easily whenever you want. But how do you bring them back? Just push the cursor at the right edge of the screen to get the Slide Over deck to show up.
You can also hide the Slide Over deck by pushing the cursor against the right edge of the screen again.
11. Go Backward and Forward
Once you are dug deep within layers of pages in an app (as in the Settings app), simply swipe with two fingers to the right to quickly go back to the previous page. Repeat the gesture to continue going backward.
Additionally, you can use the same gesture to move backward and forward (swipe to the left) while navigating a website in Safari or another third-party web browser.
12. Tap to Click
Pushing down to click the Magic Trackpad 2 or the Magic Keyboard’s built-in trackpad all the time can be tiring. Great news — you can tap to click instead.
Go to iPad Settings > General > Trackpad, and then turn on the switch next to Tap to Click.
Best Mouse Gestures on iPad
If you use a Magic Mouse 2, don’t expect the iPad to take advantage of its multi-fingered touch capabilities. That said, you can still perform most of the gestures that you get to execute with a trackpad, although they work slightly differently on the Magic Mouse 2. Most of the gestures listed below also work on non-Apple mice.
1. Bring Up the Dock
It’s quite easy to open the iPad’s Dock with a mouse — simply drag the cursor to the bottom of the screen, push down slightly, and you should see the Dock pop up.
2. Get to Home Screen
Getting to the Home screen with a gesture can be slightly complicated since it’s quite similar to the one that you use to open the Dock. Move the cursor to the bottom of the screen to bring up the Dock, but keep pushing at the edge for a fraction of the second longer, and the Home screen should follow immediately.
3. Open App Switcher
On the Home screen, push the cursor at the bottom edge of the screen in one quick motion to bring up the App Switcher. You can then switch apps easily. If you use a Magic Mouse 2, you can also force-quit apps by swiping app cards upward with one finger.
While there’s no way to access the App Switcher directly while using an app, you can quick get to the Home screen and then bring up the App Switcher by rapidly pushing the cursor to the bottom of the screen twice.
4. Use Secondary Click
You can emulate the right-clicking actions on a Mac and bring up the various contextual menus throughout iPadOS.
Go to iPad Settings > General > Trackpad & Mouse, and then turn on the switch next to Secondary Click. On a Magic Mouse 2, you can map the secondary click to either the right or left side of the device.
5. Show Control Center
Quickly push the cursor to the top right corner of the screen to reveal the Control Center. Beats having to click the status icons each time you want to open it.
6. Open Notification Center
Push the cursor at the top edge of the screen to bring down the Notification Center. And when you want to hide it, push the cursor at the bottom edge of the screen.
7. Go Backward and Forward
On a Magic Mouse 2, perform a one-fingered swipe to the right to quickly go backward within nested app menus. You can also swipe to the right and to the left to go back and forward while navigating a website.
8. Open/Hide Slide Over Apps
Push the cursor at the right edge of the screen to bring up a hidden Slide Over deck. Perform the same gesture to hide it.
9. Open Universal Search
In iPadOS 14, simply click and drag down anywhere within the Home screen to bring up the revamped Universal Search functionality. You can experience this gesture — and many other feature improvements and additions — by installing the iPadOS 14 Public Beta on your iPad right now.
Navigate Your iPad Like a Pro
The gestures above not only help you save lots of time in the long run, but they also go perfectly with the iPad’s touch-oriented UI. Some of them may feel counter-productive at first (especially the mouse gestures), but they should flow naturally with practice. So, know of any other cool gestures for the trackpad or mouse? Drop in a comment and let us know.