The home screen showing widgets on an iPad.
Apple

Apple’s iPadOS 14 update for the iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPad Pro brings the iPad closer to the Mac without losing what makes the iPad unique. Here are the features you should try out on iPadOS 14.

New Widgets

Widgets in iPadOS 14

The widget layout on the Home screen is the same on iOS 14, but there are new widgets to check out. To access them, swipe right on the Home screen. You can also pin them to the sidebar.

The process of adding widgets and the different types available are also different. You can now add small, medium, or large versions of the same widgets. To get started, just tap and hold an empty part of the Home screen, and then tap the plus sign (+).

To add a widget to Today View, tap and drag it into place on iPadOS 14.

The widgets you use on your iPhone Home screen can be accessed on your iPad, as well. You can get started with these 10 great widgets.

RELATED: 10 Great iPhone Home Screen Widgets to Get You Started

Universal Search

Universal Search in iPad

With iPadOS 14, the operating system’s design is maturing. With the Spotlight-style universal search, the iPad is behaving more like a Mac and, in this particular case, that’s a good thing!

Now, whenever you press Command+Space or swipe down on the Home screen, you’ll see the new Universal Search bar.

Here, you can type a search for anything, and it will scour the web too! App results are highlighted instantly—just press Enter to open one. You can do the same for any website you’ve visited previously.

RELATED: How to Open Apps, Websites, and Shortcuts from Search on iPhone and iPad

Write in Any Text Box

Write in Text Box

iPadOS 14 also brings the Apple Pencil more to the forefront. If you’re a fan of it, and you prefer writing over typing, you’ll love the new Scribble feature.

With this feature, you can write in any text box. Just tap a text box with the Apple Pencil (not your finger) and a little pencil icon will appear. Write whatever you want, and it will then convert to typed text.

You can select text by circling over it. Deleting something you’ve written is as simple as scribbling it away. For more on how to customize and use the Scribble feature, check out our guide.

RELATED: How to Write in Text Boxes Using Your Apple Pencil on iPad

Copy Handwritten Text

After you handwrite text, you can also copy and paste it as typed text via the Apple Notes app.

To give it a try, navigate to a handwritten note, and then double-tap a word to select it. Drag the selection to include all the handwritten text.

Drag the selection

In the pop-up, tap “Copy as Text.” Now, you can paste it as typed text in any app.

Tap Copy as Text

RELATED: How to Copy and Paste Handwritten Text as Typed Text on iPad

Draw Perfect Shapes in the Notes App

If you ever handwrite notes in the Notes app, you sometimes need to draw shapes. Whether it’s a flowchart or a series of squares, iPadOS 14 lets you convert your drawings into perfect shapes.

To try it out, open the Notes app, and then use the Apple Pencil or your finger to select the Pen, Pencil, or Highlighter tool. Draw a shape, and then hold the Apple Pencil or your finger on the end of the shape for a few seconds.

Draw a shape and hold the Pencil or Finger at the end

The figure you drew will automatically transform into a perfect shape.

Drawing converted to perfect shape

RELATED: How to Draw Perfect Shapes on iPhone and iPad

Learn to Use the New Sidebar in Apps

iPadOS 14 also brings a collapsible sidebar and three-pane user interface to the majority of Apple’s apps. Many third-party apps are starting to use it, as well.

The new sidebar drastically changes how certain apps behave; a prime example is the Photos app. You’ll now have to use the sidebar to navigate between tabs, browse albums, or see different types of media.

Sidebar in Photos App

You can tap the Sidebar button to collapse or expand the sidebar. You can also edit the sidebar, and add or remove features.

The best example of a customizable sidebar is in the Files app. Tap the Menu button, and then tap “Edit Sidebar.”

Edit Sidebar in Files App

Here, you can remove and rearrange your “Favorites” and “Tags” all in one simple interface.

Sidebar Editing in Files App

Set Default Mail and Browser Apps

Another way in which the iPad is becoming more like a Mac is that you can now set default apps for mail and browser clients. You can set Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, and more as your default browser. You can also change your default email client to a third-party option, like Spark, Gmail, Outlook, and more.

After you change your default browser, any links you tap in any app will open directly in that browser instead of Safari.

To change your default browser or mail client, open the Settings app, and head to the respective app you want to change

Tap either “Default Browser App” or “Default Mail App,” depending on which app you want to change.

Tap Default Browser App

Select the app you want to use from the list.

Select New Default Browser App

That’s it! You’ve now set a third-party app as your default mail or browser app.

RELATED: How to Change Your Default Browser on iPhone and iPad

Open Universal Search From Anywhere with AssistiveTouch

What if you want to access Universal Search from within an app, but you don’t have a keyboard attached? You can solve this by using the AssistiveTouch feature.

AssistiveTouch adds a floating software Home button to the iPad screen. You can then assign single-, double-, or triple-tap shortcuts to the AssistiveTouch button. We recommend adding Spotlight as a double-tap gesture. Then, you can simply double-tap the AssistiveTouch button any time to open Universal Search.

To set this up, open the Settings app on your iPad, and head to Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch. Toggle-On “AssistiveTouch” at the top of the menu, and then select “Double-Tap.”

Double Tap Gesture in AssistiveTouch

Here, tap “Spotlight.”

Select Spotlight

Now, whenever you double-tap the AssistiveTouch button, a floating Universal Search menu will appear over any app you’re using.

Universal Search Floating on Settings App

Quickly Open Apps in Split View with Universal Search

In addition to convenience, the floating Universal Search feature offers yet another benefit. Because it opens on top of any app you’re using, you can also use Universal Search to search for and add an app to Split View.

You don’t have to use the Dock or go to the Home screen to add apps to Split View. This works best if you use your iPad with a keyboard. However, as we covered above, you can also use AssistiveTouch to open Universal Search with a touch gesture.

To get started, open the first app you want to add to Split View. Press Command+Space or use AssistiveTouch to open Universal Search, and then type the name of the second app you want to add to Split View.

Search for Another App

When the app appears in the search results, tap and hold its icon to pick it up.

Drag The App Icon from Search

Then, simply drag it to the right edge of the iPad screen and let go to add the app to Split View.

Drop App To Right Edge of iPad

Just like that, you now have two apps open in Split View. When you’re done, just exit Split View as you normally would.

Two Apps in Split View

Disable Private Address for Wi-Fi Networks

iPadOS 14 has a new security feature called Private Access for Wi-Fi networks. It creates a random MAC address every time you connect to a Wi-Fi network. Usually, a MAC address is bound to a device. Companies and websites also use it to track you on the internet.

A randomized MAC address boosts your privacy whenever you connect to public Wi-Fi networks, but it might be a problem for some folks. For example, if your home or work network uses MAC address filtering, you might be asked to disable this feature. This can be done on a per-network basis.

To enable or disable this option, open Settings on your iPad and head to the Wi-Fi section. Tap the Info button (i) next to the Wi-Fi network to which you’re currently connected.

Tap Info Button from Wi-Fi Network

Toggle the “Private Address” option On or Off. Tap “Rejoin” in the pop-up to complete the process.

Disable Private Address Feature

RELATED: How to Disable Private Wi-Fi MAC Addresses on iPhone and iPad


While it’s not a new feature on iPadOS 14, the mouse and trackpad support now available on all iPads offers a powerful way to get more done on your iPad. Check out what all you can do with it here.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About the New iPad Mouse and Trackpad Cursor

Khamosh Pathak Khamosh Pathak
Khamosh Pathak is a freelance technology writer who specializes in tutorials. His work has also been published on iPhoneHacks, Zapier's blog, MakeUseOf, and Guiding Tech. Khamosh has seven years of experience writing how-tos, features and technology guides on the internet.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.