Running Multiple Programs on Your iPad

By Alan Hammond

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One of the nice things about the iPad is the ability to run and use more than one program at a time. If you aren’t careful, that same cool feature can be responsible for slowing you down.

The iPad is less than a year old, but many people are old iPad pros by now. There are still a good number, which grows everyday, that are still learning to use it and discovering its capabilities. One of the first things to learn is how to make full use of the multitasking feature.

Before You Know It, Slowness

The all-important (for now) iPad home button.

Once you pick up your iPad and use it for a few minutes, you may not realize it, but you likely have several programs running. If that’s the case, you could notice things beginning to move slowly; Programs running slowly, opening slowly, etc. It isn’t a design flaw, it’s just that you have too many things going on. Safari could be open, your calendar, email, and a few apps, all of which continue to run. That’s a good thing, because you can access all of them quickly, without having to go to the home screen. It can, however, if several apps and programs are open, make your iPad run noticeably slower.

The Double-Tap

Here’s the good part, which far outweighs the not-so-good: you can use multiple programs without closing them. Simply double-tap your home button and all the open programs/apps will appear along the bottom of your screen, which is called the Fast App-Switcher dock. This simple tip makes it easy to move from, say, Safari, to your email, or game app, or whatever you choose. It is so much simpler to do than before, with an iPhone, when we had to tap the home button, which effectively closed the app we were in, open the new program, and close it before returning to the other.

After double-tapping the home button, you can use the same finger slid to scroll through the open apps, just like when you’re scrolling through your pages or any other iPad navigation. If you’d like to close out of some of those open apps in the Fast App-Switcher dock, just press and hold the app icon until a minus button appears. Tap it to close the app and free up any resources it may have been holding. It also is great if an app is acting funny and you’d to “refresh” it.

Other Double-Tap Features

Scrolling all the way to the left on the Fast App-Switcher, the bottom bar, after you double-tap the home button will bring you to the screen orientation lock. Previously, this had been a switch located on the right-hand side of the iPad, near the top, when in portrait orientation. Now, that switch controls the mute function, with the iOS 4.2. Also, the brightness control, volume, and audio controls are located there.

The double-tap may seem like a simple thing, but it can unlock lots of productivity. I must admit, I have Apple Store personnel to thank for this discovery when I purchased my iPad. Otherwise, it would have been weeks, months even, before I happened across it.

Image courtesy bfishadow.

About Alan Hammond
Alan is a freelancer writer and small business consultant. His writing has magically appeared in many places, but principally within the golfing realm. He's also a believer in the potential and future of the iPad. You can find him easily, but give twitter a try first, @AlanLHammond.

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