You don’t need to have used an iPad since the first one hit UK retail shelves in June 2010 to impress others with your tablet savvy. Master the skills outlined below, and you’ll have everyone convinced you’re an iPad savant, even if you didn’t try one until the iPad 2 arrived this spring.

1. Put those punctuation keys to work

iPad typing isn’t as convenient as using a real keyboard when you want to access frequently used punctuation that isn’t even available on the virtual keyboard’s main screen. This little-known trick can help. Swiping up quickly on the comma key (,) will instantly insert an apostrophe; swiping up on the full stop key (.) inserts a quotation mark.

That’s one quick swipe on the specific punctuation key (and not the more regular method of a tap on the .?123 punctuation key, followed by a second tap on the specific punctuation mark you’re after).

2. Tap and hold virtual keys

Other virtual keys hold special powers, too. Press and hold on a vowel, for example, and a pop-over window containing accented versions of the selected character appears. Consonants like C, S and N also offer alternatives when you tap and hold on their virtual keys.

Similarly, holding down punctuation marks can provide extra options. The hyphen offers an em dash and bullet. And the dollar sign hides symbols for numerous currencies.

3. Use common shortcuts

When you connect your iPad to a standard keyboard like the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock (, you can use some of the same keyboard shortcuts you’ve mastered on your Mac. Text-editing key combinations – like Cmd-C, Cmd-X, and Cmd-V for Copy, Cut, and Paste, respectively – all work, as does selecting text with Cmd-Shift plus the arrow keys. Other key combinations that work include Undo and Redo (Cmd-Z and Shift-Cmd-Z, respectively), and Emacs-style cursor shortcuts like Control-A, Control-E, and Control-K.

4. Trust auto-correction

The slower your iPad typing speed, the more likely it is that you make frequent use of the backspace key. The easiest way to become a virtual typing pro is simply to let the auto-correction algorithm do its thing. We’ve trusted the iOS to fix typos enough in the past, so that when we type ‘Dippieedl’ the iPad recognises we’re after ‘Supposedly’. Fix fewer typos and your iPad typing speed will improve.

5. Avoid application exits

Sometimes you notice something you’d like to check out more closely in an app – at the same instant you press the Home button. Instead of letting the app close, then finding its icon and waiting while the app relaunches, you can tell your iPad to abort your now-unwanted Home button press. If you hold down the Home button longer – by just a few seconds – your iPad will abandon its plans to close the current app and will carry on as before.

6. Close background apps

Ever since iOS 4’s introduction of multitasking, some of your apps can keep on running in the background, even after you’ve closed them. Generally that’s fine; the iPad does a great job of killing apps when memory limits require it.
Some apps, however – particularly GPS and VoIP apps – can eat up quite a bit of memory and battery life if they remain open when you no longer need them.

To make sure these power-hungry apps don’t tax your battery, you can force them to quit. To do this, double-tap the Home button to bring up the multitasking bar, then press and hold on any one app until all the apps start jiggling. In the multitasking bar, tap the red circle on each running app that you’d like to quit. The selected apps should now close, freeing up more memory.

7. Find music playback controls

With the introduction of that multitasking bar, Apple made finding music playback controls a little bit trickier. After you double-tap the Home button, swipe the whole multitasking bar toward the right. Doing so will reveal several useful controls, shown at the top of the page – these are playback buttons (Reverse, Play/Pause, and Skip), along with individual sliders for brightness and volume.

8. Search smarter

If you never use or never need to search for any content within the iPad’s calendar, audiobooks, or podcasts, you can permanently remove those from your Spotlight search results. You can also rearrange the order in which Spotlight presents search results. Launch the Settings app, tap on General, and then tap on Spotlight Search. Uncheck the categories you don’t want to search, and then tap and drag on the right-aligned handles to adjust the sort order.

9. Fill your dock

Brand-new iPads feature just four apps in the Dock. Because of that, many iPad owners keep just four apps in the Dock and don’t think to add any more. But you can, if you want to. It turns out that the Dock can actually hold six apps if you’d like it to. All you need to do to keep your more frequently accessed apps in the Dock is move them there. To do so, simply press and hold on any app icon until the apps start to jiggle, and then drag the app you’d like to move right into the Dock, where it will stay.

10. Launch apps quickly

If you’ve got a lot of apps on your iPad – so many that it’s hard to swipe from home screen to home screen – turn Spotlight into a virtual app launcher. Tap the Home button to get to your first home screen, and then either tap it again or swipe to reveal Spotlight. Start typing the first few letters of the app’s name, and then tap on the appropriate result to launch the app instantly. Spotlight automatically puts your most frequently used apps at the top of its matching results, which is often very useful.