In this chapter, you’ll learn about some of the many ways the iPad can help you do your schoolwork.This chapter is from the book
In this chapter:
- Writing and printing on the iPad
- Using Notes
- Using Pages
- Using your iPad in class
- How to use the Internet for homework
Your iPad isn’t just an awesome gadget for games, music, movies, and the Internet. It’s also a powerful tool for doing your schoolwork. That may seem like less fun than some of the other stuff in this book, but if your parents bought your iPad, they’ll be glad they did if you use it for school, too. From writing papers to keeping track of your schedule to doing research online, you can use your iPad in almost every part of your academic life.
Writing and Printing on the iPad
Writing on the iPad involves a lot more than just tapping on the screen when the keyboard appears. It can include wireless keyboards, hidden special symbols, and, of course, lots of useful apps.
To start writing, though, you’ll need to decide what kind of keyboard you want to use. Two kinds of keyboards can be used with the iPad: the onscreen keyboard that pops up in lots of apps or an external keyboard. Some external keyboards connect using the Dock Connector, while wireless keyboards use Bluetooth to link to the iPad.
Which Keyboards You Can Use
Even though it would be nice—and a lot easier—you can’t just use any keyboard with your iPad. Most computer keyboards connect to the computer with a type of cable/connector called USB. Your iPad doesn’t have a USB port. Therefore, instead of plugging your computer keyboard into the iPad, you have to get a separate one.
Remember the Dock Connector, the port on the bottom of the iPad that you plug the cable into to sync? A few keyboards plug into that and then prop the iPad up for easy typing.
Apple makes the most popular one of these keyboards. It’s pretty nice, but because it’s a regular keyboard—and one with a very awkward shape—it doesn’t fold or bend and isn’t as portable as some other options.
The other option is a Bluetooth keyboard.
Bluetooth is a kind of wireless technology that lets your iPad connect to accessories such as speakers, headphones, and keyboards. Bluetooth keyboards are cool because they’re wireless, so the iPad doesn’t have to be right next to the keyboard. Some of them fold up, making them easier to carry, and others come with carrying cases and mount the iPad like a laptop.
Which kind of keyboard is best for you depends on what you like, what you can afford, and where you’re using the keyboard (the Dock Connector version might be better on a table, while the Bluetooth one could be better in bed or in your lap).
>>>step-by-step: Connecting a Bluetooth Keyboard to Your iPad
If you choose a Bluetooth keyboard, a few steps need to be followed to connect it. Before you begin, make sure your keyboard is near the iPad; Bluetooth can only connect devices that are within a few feet of each other. Also, make sure the keyboard has charged batteries in it. Now you can follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app on your iPad and tap General.
- Tap Bluetooth from the options available and then, on the Bluetooth screen, move the slider to On.
- Your keyboard (make sure it’s powered on) will appear in the devices menu. Tap it.
- A window will appear on the iPad with four numbers in it. Type them on your keyboard and then press Enter on the keyboard.
- If everything worked, the Devices menu should now show your keyboard and read “Connected.” If not, check the instructions that came with your keyboard and try again (or ask a parent for a little help).
Using the Onscreen Keyboard
External keyboards aren’t your only option, though. The iPad has an onscreen keyboard that can be a great option for writing. The iPad’s onscreen keyboard appears in any app where you can enter text, such as Mail, Notes, or Safari. There are a few tricks about using the onscreen keyboard you should know.
>>>step-by-step: Entering Numbers or Symbols
To enter a number or symbol using the onscreen keyboard, follow these steps:
- Tap the number button. The keyboard changes to show numbers and some basic punctuation marks.
- Here you can enter numbers along with a variety of symbols, such as parentheses, question mark, and so on. To access more uncommon symbols, tap the symbols button on the number keyboard.
- To go back to the regular keyboard, tap the letters button. To go back to the numbers and punctuation marks, tap the numbers button (which button you see depends on which keyboard screen you’re on).
>>>step-by-step: Entering Accent Marks and Alternate Symbols
To write words in other languages, or use some really unusual and fun symbols, you have to tap and hold certain letters and punctuation marks. When you do this, you’ll see lots of alternate versions. The letters that have these alternate versions are a, e, i, o, u, c, and n. The punctuation marks that have alternative versions are -, $, &, “, ., ?, !, ‘, and %.
To use an alternate version of a letter or punctuation mark, follow these steps:
- Tap and hold one of the keys that has alternate versions. Options will pop up above it.
- To select an alternate version, don’t take your finger off the screen (if you do, the options will disappear). Instead, slide your finger to the option you want, and when it turns blue, take your finger off the screen. The alternate version will appear where you were typing.
Enabling the Caps Lock
If you want to type something all in uppercase letters, the fastest and easiest way is to use Caps Lock.
- To do this, double tap the Shift (up-arrow) button on the keyboard. It will turn blue. This means Caps Lock is on.
- When you want to turn Caps Lock off and start using lowercase letters again, single-tap the up-arrow button.
Copying and Pasting Text
Copying and pasting text on a desktop computer is pretty easy: Select the text you want, click the necessary menus or keyboard shortcuts, and paste the text where you want it to go. But the iPad doesn’t have menus or the same keyboard keys as your desktop, so how do you do it?
Not every iPad app handles copying and pasting exactly the same way, so there’s no single way to show you how to do it. These steps show you one way. If the app you’re trying to use copy and paste in handles it differently, use what you learn here and try to apply it to that different process.
Begin by finding the text you want to copy (nearly every app on your iPad that lets you write, read articles, or browse the Web offers copy-and-paste functionality). Once you’ve done that, follow these steps:
- Tap and hold on the text you want to copy until the magnifying glass pops up. Then let go.
- To select just one section of the text, tap Select.
- When you tap Select, the text you tapped will be highlighted in blue. The blue tells you what text is selected to be cut or copied. You can change the selection by dragging the blue dot on either side of the selected text.
- Most apps let you choose to cut or copy the text. Cut means you’ll delete the text and then paste it somewhere else. Copy means you’ll make a copy to paste elsewhere, but not delete the original text. As mentioned earlier, different apps have slightly different options, but they should all at least offer copy.
- Find the place where you want to paste the text—this could be in the same app or another app; it doesn’t matter. Tap and hold until the magnifying glass appears. Then let go.
- Tap Paste in the menu that appears.
>>>step-by-step: Syncing Documents to Your iPad with iTunes
It’s easy to move documents such as school papers and e-books from your computer onto your iPad. To do that, you first have to sync your iPad and computer. Once you’ve done that, follow these steps:
- In iTunes, click the Apps tab to access the document-sharing options.
- Scroll to the bottom of that screen and find File Sharing.
- You’ll see a list of all the apps on your iPad that can sync documents with your computer. Click the app you want to sync the document to.
- Click Add.
- Browse through the window until you find the document you want to sync. Click once on the document.
- Click Open. Repeat this for as many documents as you want to sync to that app. You can also choose other apps and repeat these steps to sync documents to them.
- When you’ve added all the documents you want to sync, click the Sync (or Apply) button in iTunes. When the sync is complete, the documents will be on your iPad. Just tap the apps you synced them to and you’ll be able to start reading them.
AirPrint and Compatible Printers
Just like with keyboards, printing from the iPad is a little tricky because there’s no connector for printers to plug into. You can always sync or send files from your iPad to your computer to print there, but if you don’t have a computer or want to print right from your iPad, you need something else: AirPrint.
AirPrint is an Apple technology that lets you print wirelessly from your iPad to certain printers. For this to work, you can’t use just any old printer; you need one that’s AirPrint compatible.
Because not all printers support AirPrint—not even all printers that have Wi-Fi—you and your parents will need to do some research if you’re thinking of getting one. The list of printers that support AirPrint is always changing, but big companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Epson, Canon, and Lexmark all make AirPrint-compatible printers.
How to Print
Just like different apps handle copy and paste differently, there’s no single way to print using iPad apps. That’s because apps are so different in what they do and how they look. There are a few common ways to print—like tapping the Action box (the square with the arrow curving out of it)—but you won’t find that in every app, not even every app that can print. This chapter includes tips on how to print in two writing apps, Notes and Pages. Many other apps that can print will work in similar ways.
Sometimes carrying your 1-pound iPad is just more convenient than toting around a 4-5-pound notebook. For many folks, your iPad can fulfill most of your laptop's duties. If you're the type that primarily uses your computer to browse the Web, work in word-processing programs or lightly edit photos, you may be able to ditch your laptop entirely. Here are a few tips and tricks to show you that your iPad could be the only PC you need.
Get a Keyboard Case
There are many tasks that are simply not well suited to touch – namely, typing for extensive periods of time. Although the typing experience on an iPad may never be exactly the same as using your laptop, accessory makers are trying to match the look and feel of your laptop's keyboard as closely as possible.
Some of our favorite iPad keyboard cases include the $74 M-Edge Universal Stealth Pro Keyboard Folio, which works with any tablet and lets you position the device at various viewing angles. We typed at 64 words per minute with 98 percent accuracy using M-Edge's case, which is nearly the same as our personal average on desktop computers. The $79 Belkin QODE Slim Style Keyboard Case offers a similar experience but features a wider kickstand that makes it easier to use on your lap. Those using an iPad Mini may want to take a look at the Belkin Portable Keyboard Case ($79.16) or the ZaggKeys Folio Keyboard Case, which offers an attractive multicolor backlight and a dedicated row of iPad command keys.
MORE:Best iPad Air Keyboard Cases
Once you've got a keyboard case, using your iPad for writing papers, doing research or completing homework assignments is easy. Apple bundles its iWork suite for free on devices running iOS 7, which includes Pages, iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, Numbers, Keynote and iCloud.
Free services such as Pages or Google Drive are enough for creating, editing and sharing documents on the go. The newest version of Pages features improved compatibility with Word 2013 documents and lets you share password-protected files via iCloud. You can also export protected documents to DOCX format through Pages. Google Drive acts as a central hub for uploading, viewing and editing files. This means frequent Google users will be able to access their library of personal and shared files through the free Drive app for iOS. You can create new documents, spreadsheets, folders or upload photos or videos directly from Google Drive.
Textilus is another free helpful option for iPad owners seeking a strong word processing app. Textilus comes with a variety of formatting options, supports 32 languages and offers 60 different types of font. The word processor allows you to create documents that are compatible with Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, Scrivener and Nisus Writer. There's no need to leave the app if you have to research an answer in a hurry -- you can perform searches via Google, Wikipedia or the dictionary straight from Textilus. The $5.99 full version of the app provides even more functionality, such as the ability to insert footnotes, comments, photos and charts in documents. You can also sign documents with your finger.
We already use mobile devices for snapping photos on the go, but there are a bunch of apps that turn our tablets into photo editors as well. Snapseed, for example, offers one-touch enhancement and selective tools for touching up images for free. Auto Correct lets you clean up photos by applying a quick boost to color and contrast or using a slider to fine-tune the results. You can also tweak brightness, shadows, warmth and other universal effects.
Adobe Photoshop Express serves as an entry-level photo-editing app that's optimized for the iPad. The free app comes with one-touch filters and makes it easy to eliminate red-eye, cop and more. You can purchase more advanced filters and features from within the app, but the basic package comes with enough functionality for basic editing. Apple's iPhoto app that's now free for iOS 7 devices comes with powerful touch-based tools and features that help you organize your images after you've edited them.
MORE:Top 8 Photo Editing Apps
Video editing doesn't have to be an expensive or frustrating endeavor. While altering footage requires the precision you could only get from a mouse in some cases, there are numerous video-editing apps that make quick cut jobs easy. Apple's iMovie software (free with iOS 7) is sufficient for basic editing on an iPad, such as inserting music and transitions or adding a themed template to your footage. The free Magisto app lets you experiment with filters, trims and transitions as well, similar to iMovie.
Most heavy-duty photo-editing software such as Final Cut Pro X ($299.99) requires a full desktop operating system, but if you're looking to simply cut footage and add transitions here and there, your iPad will do just fine.
The iPad doesn't come loaded with ports like the Surface and other Windows 8.1 tablets, but there are certain workarounds that can leverage the iPad's Lightning dock connector. Take the PhotoFast i-Flash Drive HD ($82.98-$254.07 via Amazon), for instance. It features a Lightning dock connector on one side and a USB connector on the other side. This makes it easy to quickly transfer and store data even if you don't have a data connection.
Apple also offers a slew of iPad adapters in its store, which include Lightning to USB cables and 30-pin to USB cables depending on the model you own. You'll also find Digital AV, VGA and SD card reader adapters in the Apple store ($19-$49).
One of the main advantages you'll find on other mobile OS is the ability to run multiple apps in different windows on the home screen. For example, both Samsung and LG's Android skins allow you to open multiple windows at once. In Windows 8.1, you can snap two apps alongside one another. This means you can open your image gallery and email apps side-by-side and easily drop photos directly into a message. Apple doesn't offer any similar features with its mobile OS, but a third party app seeks to bring a similar experience to the iPad.
The free Side by Side app offers as close to a multi-window experience as you'll find on Apple's tablet. With the app, you can split your screen into four quadrants, or straight down the middle vertically or horizontally into two separate windows. Although you can't open apps in these windows, you have the option to launch a Web browser or a blank page for taking notes in each window. It doesn't come close to matching the experience you'll get by using multiple windows on your PC or Samsung tablet, but it comes in handy when working in Web-based apps. For example, if you want to take notes in Google Drive without having to leave the app to research information in your browser, Side by Side could be useful.
You don't need an $800 128GB iPad Air to get all the storage space you need. Rather than deleting songs or erasing apps and games to clear space, try using a wireless card reader such as the Iogear MediaShair Hub ($53) or the RAVPower FileHub 5-in-1 ($44.99). These devices can house SD cards with extra storage space and connect to your iPad wirelessly. If you decide to take this route, you'll want to shop for a wireless card reader with a pass-through option, which allows your iPad to stay connected to the Wi-Fi network and card reader at the same time.
MORE: iPad Buying Guide
Let's face it-- one screen simply doesn't do it anymore. In a world where most office workstations consist of dual monitor setups and many TV shows are accompanied by their own smartphone/tablet companion app, today's tech culture is all about the second screen.
If you've already got a VGA-enabled external monitor such as the $157 23.6-inch Asus VS247H-P and an iPad VGA adapter, you'll need to perform a quick and simple jailbreak to mirror your iPad on a second screen. After backing up your iPad, download the free Spirit jailbreak utility to any computer with iTunes installed. Spirit is available for Windows, Mac and Linux systems. Just keep in mind that any warranty on your iPad will become void after it is jailbroken.
With your iPad connected to the same PC used to download Spirit, begin running the utility. This will prompt your iPad to undergo a restore complete and reboot. Once your iPad has turned on again simply tap the Cydia icon, choose the Graphical Interface option, and tap the "Make my life easier" option to save a snapshot of your settings in case you need to refer to them later. Then, browse the Cydia store and find the $2 DisplayOut utility, which allows your iPad to display any app on your external monitor. Once you've purchased the extension, navigate to your iPad's Settings menu and enable DisplayOut under Extensions.
Connect your iPad to your monitor via its VGA adapter, and you're ready to go. It's also worth noting that you'll need to pay for the app through PayPal or Amazon since it's not part of Apple's Appstore and therefore won't use your Apple ID.
If you're in a situation where electronic documents won't suffice, you can connect your iPad to an AirPrint printer. This means that the printer is capable of connecting to your iPhone or iPad wirelessly to print documents and photos. The HP PhotoSmart 5520 e-All-in-One Printer is available through Apple's website for as cheap as $99.95.
Printing through an AirPrint printer is simple. First, ensure that your AirPrint printer and iPad are both up to date with the latest firmware. After connecting both devices to the same Wi-Fi network, you'll be able to print content from Mail, Safari, Photos, Camera, Maps, Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Filemaker Go. When viewing the document you'd like to print, tap the iOS 7 share button at the bottom of the screen. A print option should be listed in the bottom row of icons. After tapping the print button, you can select the correct AirPrint printer and choose how many copies you'd like to print.
- Lisa Eadicicco, LAPTOP Staff Writer
- Lisa has been reporting on all things mobile for Laptopmag.com since early 2013. When she’s not reviewing gadgets, she’s usually browsing patent databases or interviewing experts to track down the hottest tech trends before they even happen. Lisa holds a B.A. in Journalism from SUNY Purchase and has contributed to The International Business Times, The New York Daily News and Guitar World Magazine.
- Lisa Eadicicco, LAPTOP Staff Writer on