The iPad offers some multitasking features that can show two apps on screen at once, Slide Over and Split View. Not every app is compatible with multitasking, but Apple’s native apps – Mail, Photos, Notes, Calendar and so on – are a sure bet, and many other third-party apps are also compatible with these functions.

Bear in mind that some older versions of the iPad aren’t compatible with these multitasking features, and the handy Multitasking menu is only in iPadOS 15.

Multitasking menu

This new menu makes it easy to set up multitasking spaces. In any compatible app you will see three dots () sat in the middle of the status bar at the top of the app. Tap this to open the Multitasking menu.

You’ll get three buttons, representing (from left to right) full screen, Split View, and Slide Over.

Tapping one of these layout choices will take you to the Home Screen to choose a second app. You’re free to swipe between your apps or choose something from the dock. Once you tap an app, it will be opened side-by-side with the first app you had open.

Split View gives each app half of the screen. Slide Over makes one app into an overlay that sits atop another full screen app.

With two apps open at once, both of them will have a Multitasking button (…) at the top. Tap this to change to another layout, or swipe down over it to quickly return to the Home Screen and replace one app with another.

App Switcher

Note that any combinations of apps you have open will be shown in the App Switcher. You can return to the layout combo any time by tapping it here.

You can even create new combinations right here. Simply press and drag one app preview into another to combine them into a single multitasking space.

Window shelf

You can have multiple instances of the same app open. This can be handy if you want to compare different locations in Maps, for example, or cross-reference your writing in Notes.

Each of these instances is called a new window, similar to how a desktop computer works. To switch between windows of the same app, press the Multitasking button (…) and look at the bottom of the app.

You’ll see some thumbnails representing each window alongside a New Window button you can use to add even more.

Don’t have iPadOS 15?

If you don’t have iPadOS 15, or you prefer to do things the old way, the previous multitasking techniques still apply. Here they are for reference.

Slide Over

From any compatible app, swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open the dock. Find the second app you want to use and tap and hold its icon to pick it up. You can then drag the icon anywhere over the first app to drop it into place, launching an overlay called Slide Over that runs a small version of the second app on top of the first.

You can drag the Slide Over view by the gray handle on top of the window to reposition it. Sliding it all the way off-screen will remove the view completely. Then, just swipe in from the same side to make it reappear.

Open multiple apps in Slide Over, and you can switch between them by swiping along the bottom of the current one, or swipe up to show all of them at once.

Split View

This is a true multitasking feature that lets you use two apps simultaneously, side-by-side. To activate it, drag an app up from the dock and pause at the side of your iPad’s screen for a second, until the two windows position themselves alongside one another. In this mode you will see a black bar separating the two apps – you can drag this left or right to adjust the relative sizes of the apps. They can either occupy half the display each, or you can give one app twice as much room as the other.

In Split View mode, you can use both apps at once, with functions such as copy and paste working between the two. It’s even possible to launch multiple instances of a single app simultaneously. You can then use Split View to quickly shift items between different sections of the same app. For example, you could open two different documents in Notes to refer and work with both at once.

Swiping the black bar all the way to the left or right of the screen will close one app and leave you working with one full-screen app, as usual.