Using multiple windows on iPad

Conor Muirhead
Conor Muirhead
Last updated 
This is a quick guide to multi-tasking and managing windows on iPad. The whole system is a bit funky, but once you've gotten a handle on the various options, it can be pretty powerful.

There are 3 main ways of using multiple windows on iPad:
  1. Slide-overs — a phone-width window that hovers above your other windows and sticks to either the right or left edge of the screen.
  2. Side-by-side —a variable-width window that sits beside a second window and can be adjusted to be wider or narrower.
  3. Full-screen — a full-width window that is viewed alone (or with a slide-over) and is totally independent from your other windows.
We'll go through each of these starting and cover any variations as we go.

Slide-over windows

To addd a slide-over window, you'll need to swipe up slowly from the bottom of the screen to reveal the dock, from the dock, you'll drag the HEY app icon up until you see it morph into a tall blurred window-looking thing. After it morphs, just let it go and you'll have a slide-over window hovering above your main window.

Variation: stack of slide-overs
From one slide-over screen, you can create a stack of slide-overs by repeating the same process, and dropping the morphed app icon onto your existing slide-over. 

Once you have a stack, you can swipe left/right on the drag handle at the bottom of the stack to switch between the items in the stack. You can also pull the drag handle at the bottom up to show an app-switcher-style view of everything in the slide-over stack.

Side-by-side windows

Side-by-side windows can be created by using the same app icon dragging technique as slide-overs, but instead of letting go when it morphs, you can drag it to the right side of the screen until the screen parts and shows a space for you to drop it.
Once you've got side-by-side windows, you can pull the drag handle in the middle of the two windows to change the split from 50/50 to 66/33, etc.

Variation: side-by-side with slide-over
You can also repeat the slide-over trick to add a slide-over into the side-by-side combo if you just can't get enough windows. In this case you need to be sure to drag the morphed app icon to the divider between the side-by-side windows.

Full-screen windows

If you just want to have multiple full-screen HEY windows that you can't see at the same time, you can do that too. There are two ways:

1. Swipe up slowly to reveal the dock, long-press on the HEY app icon in the dock to get a context menu, tap "Show All Windows" in the context menu, that'll open an app-switcher-style view that's scoped to HEY only, from this screen you can tap the "+" button in the top-right corner to create a new standalone window.

2. Create two side-by-side windows, and then pull the drag handle in the middle all the way to the left or right edge of the screen. Once the 2nd window goes off the screen, you can release the drag and you'll have two separate windows that you can switch between either via "Show All Windows" or the standard app switcher that'll include all app windows.

Bonus: escaping multi-window purgatory

As you use multi-window, especially when new to it, it can be easy to get caught in weird states where you feel stuck. There are 3 mechanisms you'll want to remember for escaping this hell!
  1. Use "Show All Windows" to see your open windows and swipe them up to dismiss them
  2. Use the drag handles between side-by-side windows to drag all the way to the left/right to make them separate windows
  3. Use the drag handle at the top of a slide-over stack to move it to the left/right side of the screen, or to swipe it off the left/right edge of the screen
  4. Use left/right gestures on the drag handle at the bottom of a slide-over stack to switch between items in the stack, or an up gesture to see all the items in the stack where you can swipe them up to dismiss them