Tablet Power: Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your iPad

Volume 38 Number 2


About the Author

 Tom Mighell is a senior consultant at Contoural, Inc., and the chair of the Law Practice Management Section

Of all the new technologies to come along in the past few years, perhaps none has been as popular or well adopted as the iPad.

At every legal conference I attend these days, a good percentage of lawyers are using iPads, and not just as toys. Lawyers have found there are a number of ways they can be productive and get legal work done on a tablet device. In this article, I hope to provide some useful tips to those of you who are already using an iPad in your practice, to make it an even more valuable part of your legal technology toolkit.

If you’re a brand-new owner of an iPad, then put this article down and purchase “iPad in One Hour for Lawyers” (available in the ABA bookstore, Amazon or in the iBooks Store) for a basic tutorial on getting started with your new device. Once you have been using it for a while, come back and read these tips to gain an even greater understanding about how to use this amazing tablet. 

Enable Automatic Updating and Syncing

One of the iPad’s biggest limitations has been that to get anything onto it—music, new apps, operating system updates—you had to connect it to your computer and update the device through iTunes. With the new iOS 5 operating system, the iPad has finally caught up to Android devices, allowing you to update anything via a Wi-Fi connection. Here’s how to set it up:

To update the operating system, just go to Settings>General>Software Update. If an update is available, it will download and install it automatically, assuming you are connected to a wireless network. Your iPad may also notify you with a pop-up window when an update becomes available. 

To enable aWi-Fi sync: Connect the iPad to your computer (one last time!), and open up iTunes. 

Click on your device in the Source list, and make sure you are on the Summary pane.

Under Options, make sure the first two boxes are checked: Open iTunes when this iPad is connected and Sync with this Device over Wi-Fi. Press the Apply button to save your changes.

Now, your iPad will automatically sync with iTunes whenever 1) the iPad is plugged into the charger; and 2) both your computer and iPad are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

To force a sync, go to Settings on your iPad and tap through General>iTunes Wi-Fi Sync, and then Sync Now.

Bonus Tip: Sometimes you might find yourself downloading an app that’s really big, and you don’t have time to download and install it at that moment. If you press down on the icon of the app that’s downloading, it will pause. After it’s paused, you can tap it again to restart the download. 

Checking Available Storage

Want to figure out what programs are the space hogs of your iPad? Just go to Settings>General>Usage. You’ll get a listing of the top 10 apps and how much space they occupy. Press Show all Apps to see a complete list, along with the space used. If you press on a specific app, you’ll be shown a screen that tells you how much of that app’s usage consists of documents and data; you can also delete the app directly from that page.

Locking Your Screen Rotation

There are times when you want to make sure the screen of your iPad doesn’t rotate, so everything stays in one place even if your iPad is turned upside down or any other way. The iPad gives you two ways to lock the screen rotation.

The Side Switch, which is right next to the volume rocker switch, can be used for one of two functions: to lock the screen rotation, or to instantly mute your device. To permanently assign a function to that button, go to Settings, then General, and look for the area labeled Use Side Switch To, then select Lock Rotation or Mute, whichever you prefer. If you use the Side Switch as your Mute function, there’s another way to lock the rotation of your screen:

First, double press the Home button to bring up the Fast App Switcher along the bottom of your screen.

Then, swipe from left to right to reveal the Control Panel for your iPad. At the far left you’ll see a button with a rotating arrow. Press it once to enable the rotation lock; press it again to disable it. (Note: If you use the Side Switch to Lock Rotation, this button will turn into a Mute button for your device) 

Bonus Tip: It’s easy to mute your device without using the Side Switch. Simply hold down the Volume Down side of the rocker switch for one second, and the iPad is instantly muted. 

Browser Tips

Whether you use the built-in Safari browser on your iPad or one of the many alternatives (my favorite is the Atomic Web Browser,, 99 cents), there are a number of great tips that can make your browsing experience better as well as safer.

Just as you would clear your browsing history on your desktop or laptop browser, you should do the same with your tablet browser. Here’s how to do it in Safari and Atomic:

Safari: Go to Settings>Safari, and press Clear History. For a good scrubbing, press Clear Cookies and Data, as well.

Atomic: Press the gear button near the address bar, then select Settings. Press Privacy Options, and then select the history you want to clear. You have many more choices here. You can clear your History, Cookies, the cache itself, saved form fields, a Facebook or Twitter session, or even logins to sites like Instapaper or Read it Later. For the nuclear option, press Clear All and get rid of everything at once.

If your search results turn up a particularly long page, it can be frustrating to read through the whole page to find your keywords. Fortunately, both Safari and Atomic browsers make it easy to find words on a single Web page.

In Safari, just start typing the words you want to find into the search box in the upper left corner of the browser, then scroll down the pop-up window past the search engine suggestions until you see On This Page. Select “Find [your search terms]” and the Web page will be highlighted with all instances of that word or phrase. You can navigate from hit to hit with the toolbar at the bottom of your browser.

In Atomic, press the search box, select Search Current Webpage, enter your search terms, then press “Search” on the virtual keyboard. Navigate from hit to hit using the toolbar located at the top of the screen.

One feature I love on my desktop browser is the ability to re-open tabs I previously closed. Unfortunately, Atomic doesn’t offer this feature, but Safari does. To see a list of the most recently closed tabs, just press and hold the “+” sign for creating another tab. (Note: You must be using iOS 5 to take advantage of this feature). Select the tab you want to see again, and it will be restored.

New Multi-Touch Gestures

If you have used your iPad for any period of time, you’ll no doubt have discovered the different ways to navigate the device just using your fingers. The debut of iOS 5 brought several new gestures that are really helpful. Now you can use either four or five fingers to:

Pinch to the Home Screen. Simply pinch all of your fingers together, and you’ll be whisked to the Home Screen.

Reveal the Multitasking Bar. If you’re a big user of the multitasking bar like me, you’ll love this tip: Just swipe up, and the bar is revealed. No more pressing the “Home” button!

Move from App to App. Swipe your fingers from left to right, or right to left, to move back and forth between the apps that are currently open.

Go to the Top—Fast!

Let’s say you’re reading a particularly long Web page or document, and you want to go back to the top. It can take a while to swipe your finger, time and time again, just to get to the top of the page. Now all you have to do is tap the status bar—it’s the place at the top of the screen that shows the time, Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi connection, battery percentage, etc.—and zip! You’re at the top of the page.

Hidden Quotes and Apostrophes

One feature of the iPad that I find a little frustrating is the location of the quotation and apostrophe symbols—they aren’t visible on the first screen of your virtual keyboard. It’s a pain to keep switching from different keyboard layouts, especially if you use a lot of quotes or apostrophes when you’re typing. However, these punctuation marks are hidden on the first screen of your keyboard, if you know where to look. To insert an apostrophe, press and hold the key with the exclamation point and comma. Likewise, to insert quotation marks press and hold the key with the question mark and period. That’s all there is to it. 

Reminder Tip: You probably have already located the other alternate keys on your virtual keyboard, right? If not, press the A, E, I, O, U, C, L, N, Y or Z keys for alternate ways of typing those letters.

Customizing Your Spotlight Search

I really love Spotlight Search on the iPad. If you haven’t used it before, it’s very simple to find and use; just press the Home button until you get to your first screen of apps, then press it one more time, or just swipe left to right from your first screen.

By default, Spotlight searches all content on your device—contacts, music, podcasts, videos, notes, mail, events, reminders, messages, everything. And it’s fast! It may be, however, that you don’t need to search your music or videos, but want to avoid getting results from those areas mixed up in your overall search hits. To limit or customize the areas that are searched by Spotlight, go to Settings>General>Spotlight Search, and tap those areas you do not want searched. You can also reorder these items, so results for those areas most relevant to you will come up first. 

Encrypting your email

By default, your iPad should encrypt the email you receive and send from the device. To make sure it’s enabled, go to Mail>Contacts>Calendars and tap on one of your email accounts. Then press the Account button. If you’re using an Exchange account, the Use SSL option should be on the Account screen; make sure it’s turned on. If you’re using a service like Gmail, after you press the Account button you’ll want to also press Advanced, which is where the Use SSL option is located.

For more tips on using your iPad or iPhone, be sure to visit iPad 4 Lawyers at  


  • LP on the Web

  • 2016-2017 Editorial Board