How to Multitask with the iPad iOS4.2

One of the biggest requests iPad users have had since the device was first announced earlier this year is the ability to multitask. Today, the wait is over. The latest version of iOS brings many new features to the iPad, including multitasking. If you are not familiar with  multitasking make sure to check out the guide below. If have been using multitasking on iPhones with iOS4 there are still a couple of new features that were introduced in iOS4.2 that merit review. For those of you who like the use of videos to learn you will find a video at the end of the post showing you how to use multitasking on the iPad. If you have any comments or questions please use the comments form at the end of the article.

If you own an iPad you may want to consider protecting your iPad’s screen with Zagg Invisible Shield Screen Protectors.

We will cover the following:

  • iPad Multitasking Basics
  • How to Multitask
  • Control Volume, Brightness, Playback, and Screen Rotation Lock
  • Close Applications Running in the Background
  • Multitasking on the iPad Video

iPad Multitasking Basics

Before we start multitasking lets go over some iPad basics.


The Home Screen is where all of the installed Apps will appear. The 6 icons at the bottom of the Home Screen are in the application Dock which is always displayed when swiping through the Home Screen. The button located on the front of the iPad is the Home button. This button is used to exit applications that are running and in iOS4.2 it is used to switch between running applications. Multitasking on the iPad is accomplished by pressing the Home button twice. This will shift the Home Screen to the top so that the bar with applications running in the background will appear.

Now that we know where the Home button is lets learn how to multitask!

How to Multitask on the iPad


1. To really get a taste of multitasking open and close several applications. Once you’ve opened and closed several applications, press the Home button twice.


You will notice that when you press the Home button twice several things occur:

A. The open application will shift up. If you are viewing the Home Screen, the Home Screen will become translucent and shift up.

B. A list of applications running in the background will appear.

C. To open an application running in the background simply tap on the application icon and the app will open.

Repeat pushing the Home button twice and switch to another recently used app.


Notice how the application you chose switches with the application that was running. Repeat to move among several recently used applications.

Control Volume, Brightness, Playback, and Screen Rotation Lock

One of the biggest improvements in iOS4.2 for the iPad is the ability to control the brightness, volume, and rotation lock from the OS itself. This saves you a trip to the settings section when adjusting screen brightness and allows iOS to use the physical screen-lock switch as a mute button. You can also use this to control the iPod app, Pandora, AirPlay, and other apps that use this feature without having to switch between applications.


To access these options simply press the Home button twice to reveal recently used apps. Scroll left or right to view other recently used apps or scroll all the way to the left to access the volume, brightness, and playback controls.


Lets review each of the controls:

A. Screen Rotation Lock: Press once to Lock the screen from automatically rotating, press again to unlock.

B. Brightness Adjustment: Forget heading over to settings, you can now control the screen’s brightness by adjusting the slider.

C. Playback Control: The application

D. Volume Control: This is where things get a little redundant because the iPad already has physical buttons for this function. Move the slider to adjust the iPad’s volume.

E. App that can be controlled via Playback Controls. Tap on the App to open the application.

Close Applications Running in the Background

If you experience your iPad running a bit slow you probably have a ton of applications running on the background. The iPad’s memory is limited, so in order to avoid performance issues you can close background applications by following the steps below.


1. To close background applications press the Home button twice and when the recently used apps bar appears, tap and hold down the app you wish to close.


You will notice that after a second or two of holding down the icon, all the icons in the recently used apps bar will begin to move from side to side. You will also notice that a small red circle with a minus sign will appear on the top-left corner of the icon. Tap the red circle to close the background applications. Once you’ve closed several applications tap on the Home button again and you will return to the Home Screen or App you were using. Your iPad should feel a little snappier.

If you’re still experiencing sluggishness, close more apps or just restart the iPad.

Multitasking on the iPad Video

How do you like multitasking on the iPad? Is it what you expected? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Pwaite

    would be nice to set it to always stay in the multitasking mode.
    when you open another app, the screen to its original state and you have to double tap the home button to re-set it

  • Anonymous

    Your info on iPad multi-tasking is very comprehensive.

    Thank you very much.

    • You are welcome, thanks for the kind words.

      Sent from my iPad

    • Guest

      I’m confused. Closing background apps shows you ALL your apps with red dots and minus signs. 90% of those apps doesn’t even support multitasking. It will be much more useful to have an icon indicating the app is ‘open’.
      That’s why I like Backgrounder. It allows any app be in the background, now that is what I call multitasking. This feature is app switching.

    • It is app switching for unsupported apps, but for apps that support
      multitasking it does work great.

  • Gabmarconi

    thanks for your info very useful!!
    did not know to have so many appliactions open!!
    With this new feature Once i open my Ipad in a Wifi area all the applications opened (ie newspaper applications) will automatically download the latest content that i can see it offline later on or do i need to set any other command?
    thanks gabriel

    • Some of the apps that support multitasking should sync in the background.
      You may want to check with the developer of the app you are using.

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  • Icrashin2000

    Thanks for this information. I’ve used it on both iPhone and iPad and just can’t believe how much memory I’ve regained simply by now knowing how to close all the background apps. Great!!!

  • Simondavies147

    Ive had my ipad now for 6 months and just found out about multitasking. And when the new iOS 4.2 came out and the screen kept flipping to and fro from landscape when I didn’t want it to, I thought apple had got a few things wrong… How silly of me. Just as well your site has put me right on a few matters! Nice work dudes! Cheers Simon Liverpool uk.

  • Lamyuyam4

    Thank you so much for sharing that!!! I thought that the screen rotation lock was gone for good after I updated my iPad and tried to lock the screen using the hardward button. Now thanks to you, I can rest easy again… well maybe not since I use the iPad to read in bed!