10+ iOS 11 iPad Pro productivity tips

Apple’s iPad Pro has become an even more effective productivity tool, providing its own combination of portability and computational ability.

Apple, iPad, iPad Pro, iOS 11

With iOS 11, Apple’s iPad Pro has become an even more effective productivity tool, setting it apart from other tablets with its combination of portability and computational ability.

For the purposes of this short report, I’ve assumed you use the most productive iPad Pro configuration, which includes a Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

Take a Note

Apple Pencil gains a great new ability: When your iPad is locked, just tap the screen with your Apple Pencil to automatically open a Note. Now that you are in Notes, you can draw, write and more. Notes will also let you scan documents, as we’ll explain here. One more thing: Apple Pencil’s (already good) latency has been reduced to just 20 milliseconds.

Find the shortcuts

The Smart Keyboard provides a range of keyboard shortcuts to help you get things done. These can vary between apps, so the easiest way to discover those short cuts available to you is to press and hold the Command key. You will see an overlay that tells you which shortcuts exist. One of the most useful of these is Command + N in Safari, which opens a new window in Split View.

Two other handy shortcuts:

  • Command + Space lets you search for and launch an app.
  • Command + H takes you to the Home Page.

Word shortcuts

Every app has its own shortcuts, but pro users will want to take a look at those available to Word for iOS. Here are a few:

  • Command + B: Bold
  • Command +X: Cut
  • Command + Z: Undo last action

Essentially, it supports all the shortcuts you’re used on Mac or Windows.

Drag & drop

Touch has always been supported on iOS, but iPad users on iOS 11 see big improvements. You can use it to move items—text, pictures, links and so on—within documents and apps and between apps, too.

To drag multiple items:

  • Tap the first item, move it, and keep your finger on the screen. You can now use your other fingers/hand to enter other apps and select other items.
  • All these items will be gathered in a pile under your first finger, with a number to let you know how many items you hold.
  • Navigate to the place you want to pop all these items in and release your finger.
  • All these items will be dropped into the app, if supported.

This is how to gather multiple items from within multiple apps to use in a document, for example.

iOS 11: The Dock

iPad’s new Dock should seem familiar to any Mac user. It floats above whatever you have on screen and can be invoked by swiping up in any app. (Swipe all the way up to access the new App Switcher view, where you will also find your familiar Control Center tools.) The Dock holds up to 16 items (apps or folders containing apps). To the right side of the Dock, you’ll see three recent app suggestions. You can disable the recent app suggestions in Settings>General>Multitasking toggle Show Recents to Off.

To add an item to the dock: Just drag & drop it into or out of the Dock.

To create a folder of apps, just drag & drop an app on top of another app to create a folder, and then drag & drop the folder to the dock. You can add other items to the folder. Useful folders you might want to create could include Productivity and Communications.  

Using Files

Apple’s new Files app is a real file system for iOS users. On iPad, it’s very useful. Not only can you get into items you have saved on other Macs and devices, in your Dropbox, iCloud, or Box account, or on the device itself, but you can easily work with items from Files in apps on your device. Just press and hold the Files icon in your dock to see the files you were most recently working on. You can also open files from within the Files app and create new files collections using Drag & Drop.

What seems really important when using Files is to be sparing in your selection of Favorites (I suggest assigning this status to template and critical items) and to begin to make more use of tags. Not only can you name these tags, but you should see them replicated across all your AppleID-secured systems.

Split View refined

While in an app, swipe up to open the Dock, then tap and hold an app icon and move it to the middle of the screen. Release it, and it will show up in a narrow second window, as you may have seen in Slide Over on iOS 10.

However, if you release it at the side of your screen, the app will be placed there and you will be able to make it bigger by dragging the central dividing line. You can also swap apps by dragging and dropping the "handle" at the top of the page.

App Switcher

As noted above (The Dock), if you swipe all the way up the display, you’ll launch the new App Switcher. This lets you access your Control Center controls. It also gives you a view of all your open documents, spaces and applications. Tap an app to open it, or tap the X to close it down.


You’ll find markup all through iOS 11. Not only can you use this to quickly sign digital documents, but you can also use it to collaborate. New screenshots are gathered in the bottom left of your screen. Tap them to access the Share menu where you can send them to others, or tap the preview to open up markup view.

Want more iOS tips? Take a look at 50+ essential iOS 10 tips you’ll use every day.

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