Basics of the iPad mini’s Multitouch Interface

With few exceptions, until the iPhone and iPad mini came along, most every computer known to mankind has had a physical mouse and a typewriter-style QWERTY keyboard to help you accomplish most of the things you can do on a computer. (The term QWERTY comes from the first six letters on any standard typewriter — you remember those? — or computer keyboard.)

The iPad mini, like the bigger iPad and the iPhone, dispenses with a physical mouse and keyboard, which seemed like such a revolutionary step just a few years ago. By now, a virtual keyboard doesn’t seem novel.

Neither does the fact that the iPads (and iPhone and iPod touch) remove the standard physical buttons in favor of a multitouch display. This beautiful and responsive finger-controlled screen is at the heart of the many things you do on the iPad mini.

Rice Krispies have Snap! Crackle! Pop! Apple’s response for the iPad is Tap! Flick! Pinch! (Yikes — another ad comparison!) And don’t forget Drag!

Fortunately, tapping, flicking, pinching, and dragging aren’t challenging gestures, so you can master many of the iPad’s features in no time:

  • Tap: Tapping serves multiple purposes. Tap an icon to open an application from the Home screen. Tap to start playing a song or to choose the photo album you want to see. Sometimes, you double-tap (tapping twice in rapid succession), which has the effect of zooming in (or out) of web pages, maps, and e-mails.

  • Flick: Flicking is just what it sounds like — a flick of the finger on the screen lets you quickly scroll lists of songs, e-mails, and picture thumbnails. Tap the screen to stop scrolling, or merely wait for the scrolling list to stop.

  • Pinch/spread: Place two fingers on the edges of a web page, map, or picture and then spread your fingers apart to enlarge the images. Or, pinch your fingers together to make the map or picture smaller. Pinching and spreading are cool gestures that are easy to master and sure to wow an audience.

  • Drag: Here’s where you slowly press your finger against the touchscreen without lifting it. You might drag to move around a web page or map that’s too large for the iPad’s display area.

  • Drag downward from the top of the screen: This special gesture displays the Notification Center. Press your finger at the top of the screen and drag downward.

  • Drag upward from the bottom of the screen: This time you’re calling up Control Center, a handy place for music controls, Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, Mute/Volume, Timer (Clock app), Camera, AirPlay, AirDrop, and Rotation Lock and Brightness controls.

  • Four- or five-finger swipes and pinches: To quickly multitask or switch among or view running apps, use four or five fingers to swipe upward. Swipe left or right with four or five fingers to switch between recently used apps. Pinch using four or five fingers to jump to your Home screen.

    The four- or five-finger swipes and pinches require you to enable Multitasking Gestures in the Settings app’s General pane.

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