When Apple showed off iPadOS 16 in June at WWDC, the company’s annual developer conference, there were high hopes that the iPad would soon get a powerful new multitasking feature in the form of Stage Manager, which allows use four different applications, with different sized windows, on the same screen at the same time.
During the beta program, it was clear that Stage Manager was far from finished. In fact, Apple had to remove support for external monitors from iPadOS 16 in order to bring Stage Manager to a point where it could be launched.
Well, with the release of iPadOS 16.1, Stage Manager is here. And while it’s not perfect, it changes the way you can work on iPad.
Instead of telling where and how Apple should change Stage Manager, I’m going to focus this article on how to use the basics of Stage Manager. Who knows, you might end up loving certain aspects of this optional feature and want to incorporate them into your daily workflow.
But, before you even start using Stage Manager, there’s something you need to know: it’s not available on all iPads. In fact, it is only available on the ipad air (5th generation), all 11-inch iPad Pro models, and the 2018 or newer 12.9-inch iPad Pro models.
If you have one of these iPads and have updated to iPadOS 16.1, here’s what you need to know about using Stage Manager.
Stage Manager is an optional feature. Here’s how to activate it
You never need to use Stage Manager. In fact, you can act like it doesn’t even exist. But if you want to activate Stage Manager, you can do so by swiping down from the top right corner of your screen to access the Control Center. There you will find a new Stage Manager icon to tap.
You can also enable or disable Stage Manager by opening the Settings app and go to Home screen and multitasking > Manager and slide the switch next to Using Stage Manager on iPad to the On position.
The Settings app gives you the option to disable the sidebar or dock when using Stage Manager. It just means that you can auto-hide either of these elements when using Stage Manager, regardless of the size of a window or application. You can always swipe up from the left edge of the screen to show the sidebar, or swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see your dock.
You can also control whether either element is visible in the Control Center panel by long-pressing the Stage Manager icon.
How to move and adjust windows
With Stage Manager enabled, any app you open will now be displayed as a window. A resizable window, like you would see on a Mac or PC.
There are several ways to adjust the window size, depending on whether you are using the tablet with or without a trackpad or mouse.
Exam: iPad Pro (2022): I’m cautiously optimistic. or stupid
If you use touch to interact with the iPad screen, the easiest way to change the size of an app is to look in either of the lower corners of the window for a small icon of handle. Touch and hold the icon, then drag the corner of the window to adjust its size.
You’ll notice that when you drag the corner of the window, you can’t resize it freely, but instead there are certain sizes the window snaps to, ranging from a single iPhone app-like column to a capturing the entire screen, just like a typical iPad app. If you want an app to quickly fill the full screen, drag the handle to the bottom corner of iPad.
If you use a mouse or trackpad to control the iPad, you can use the mouse pointer over any edge of the window to resize it.
If you want to move a window around your screen, you’ll need to touch and hold the top of the window or click and drag using a trackpad. If you can’t figure it out right away, pretend it’s a very small bar at the top of the window that you have to hold to drag it. It’s an invisible bar, but it’s there.
How to add multiple apps to the same “step”
Stage Manager is made up of different stages, for lack of a better term, where you can have up to four apps active at the same time.
The easiest way to add apps to the same step is to drag and drop app icons from the App Library, Spotlight search, or app dock into an active step.
When you drop an app onto the Stage, the windows move and realign to ensure that at least part of each open app is visible. The goal here is not to hide a window, as you can on macOS.
On the left side of the screen, you can see the recent apps you’ve used. Tap or click an app to quickly access it. You can drag an app from the sidebar to the stage you’re currently using to add it, or if you hold down Shift on your keyboard and click the app’s thumbnail, it’ll automatically be added to your current step. Note: You cannot use Shift + Click elsewhere in Stage Manager to add applications. It must be made from the side strip.
Use the multitasking menu for more window controls
At the top of each window or application is a button with three dots. It’s called the multitasking button and it’s where you’ll find the actions you can perform in a given app.
The main options are:
- Full screen places the current window in full-screen mode while leaving Stage Manager active. You can’t revert the app to its previous size by selecting Fullscreen again – you’ll need to adjust the window size (as we saw earlier) in order to exit fullscreen mode.
- Add another window displays the traditional iPad multitasking view where you can select apps to add to your current step.
- Minimize will minimize but not close this app.
- close will completely close the application.
Support for external monitors is coming
If you have an iPad model that uses Apple’s M1 processor or newer, your iPad will get the added feature of external monitor support with Stage Manager with the release of iPadOS 16.2, currently in beta. The update will allow you to connect your iPad to an external display and have up to eight apps active at the same time, with four on each display.
But, for now, you’ll need to sign up for the public beta program if it’s a feature you want to test out.
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