There’s a lot to love about working on an iPad: it’s lighter than a laptop, the touchscreen offers another way to interact with your work, and it can easily switch to a navigation/reading tablet when the day comes. work is over. It’s not without its caveats, however. For example, multitasking isn’t as comprehensive on iPadOS as it is on Windows or macOS, file management isn’t as easy, and the tablet itself can be expensive.
But if none of that scares you, you’ll need some hardware to start working on your iPad. From keyboard cases and Bluetooth headphones to to-do list apps and password managers, we’ve rounded up all the tools and apps that can help you get things done on an iPad.
A good keyboard case
While it’s nice to scroll through a web page with nothing but your finger, some things are better with an old-fashioned keyboard and mouse. You can pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to your device, but it’s not the most elegant option, and you still won’t have a way to prop up your iPad while you type.
A keyboard case can tie a trackpad and keyboard into one device that simultaneously protects your device from damage even when not in use. We like Logitech’s Combo Touch, which acts as a case with a separate keyboard and trackpad that you can detach when you just want to use the iPad as a tablet.
Even in tablet mode, there’s still a case around the iPad, and it has an adjustable kickstand that can prop up the screen at any angle, though it’s not as easy to use on your lap. than Apple’s more expensive Magic Keyboard.
A stylus for doodling and taking notes
Few tablets can come close to the iPad when it comes to pen input; There’s almost no noticeable latency when drawing on the screen, and the iPad’s built-in pen holder (via magnets on the right side of the tablet) charges the pencil when not used.
If you want to illustrate on your iPad, check out Procreate, a powerful drawing app with the ability to install third-party brushes for even more versatility in your art. Students who prefer to handwrite their notes should love Goodnotes, a powerful note-taking app that acts like a notebook. It lets you search your handwritten notes like you would with Google Doc, annotate other PDFs, and sync your notes through a variety of cloud services. You can choose from a bunch of paper templates and even find creative templates from other users on sites like Etsy.
Bluetooth headphones to help you focus
One of the biggest advantages of the iPad is its portability, but working in places like an office, coffee shop, or outside in a park can leave you vulnerable to loud distractions. Sony’s WH-1000XM5 noise-canceling headphones, for example, sound great and consistently block out even loud noises, but there are plenty of other great choices too.
Lots of cloud storage
There’s no way to upgrade your iPad’s physical storage after the fact, so you should get as much storage as you can afford. That said, you may still want to offload some files to the cloud, especially those you don’t open frequently.
iCloud Drive is the easiest option. Since it ties directly to your iPad, other apps can easily sync with it, and it will also work with your backups and the Photos app. It’s expensive, though; $1 a month gets you 50GB, and you can go up to 2TB for $10 a month.
A good note-taking app
You never know when you’ll need to jot something down for later access. Whether it’s class notes, meeting agendas, or just general note-taking from things you’ve read, listened to, or watched, the right note-taking app will make sure your ideas and all the practical information you come across, all at hand for when you need it.
I’ve already mentioned Goodnotes, but Notion is another great note-taking app that’s packed with features like database integration, collapsible lists, and cross-platform support (plus a web app). It’s also cross-platform and free, so you won’t have to shell out a monthly fee to use one of the best note-taking apps.
If you prefer to tinker with your apps or are an information junkie, check out Obsidian. Like Notion, it’s free and cross-platform (unless you use their sync or publish services) and plugs into your local drive or a cloud drive for storage. Its best feature, however, is its ability to link notes together and create a visual map of your ideas and information. Each time a note is linked to another note, a line on the map is drawn between the points representing each note. Take and link enough notes, and you’ll eventually get a nice map of how all of your notes are linked.
Boost your iPad with Shortcuts
While the laptop-class M1 chip in the iPad Pro and iPad Air make them incredibly powerful tablets, iPadOS still has its limitations as a fully realized operating system. Apple’s Shortcuts app, which lets you automate chains of actions and make your apps talk to each other, can help you get around some of these limitations. It lets you manage calendar events, change the case of text in a document, create a side-by-side image using two separate photos, and much more.
However, creating your own shortcuts can be tricky. Fortunately, many smart people share their own shortcuts so you can download theirs and get back to your to-do list. Matthew Cassinelli, Rosemary Orchard, and MacStories all have great tips and examples for getting started – and enough shortcuts to try that you may never have to create your own (although their enthusiasm for automation might make you want to to try).
A stand that looks great on your desk
Even if you don’t plan on using your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac, a good stand can come in handy when you’re working from your desk: staring at your iPad screen all day isn’t not good for your neck.
CharJenPro’s MagFlott Stand features an array of magnets that attach to the back of your iPad, much like Apple’s Magic Keyboard, to hold your tablet in place while you work, and you can simply remove it when you’re ready to walk away. It’s a bit pricey, though – $110 for the 11-inch model and $120 for the 12.9-inch option, and it’s not height adjustable. There are cheaper options that have adjustable heights, like this one from Lisen, but it’s not as sleek as CharJenPro’s stand, and removing it isn’t as easy.
A reliable password manager
Although iPadOS flaws can sometimes waste your time, it’s not all bad. iPadOS can work seamlessly with your password manager of choice to generate, store, and sync all your passwords so you don’t have to store them all in your head.
I prefer 1Password because it can check HaveIBeenPwned.com to see if any of your accounts have been compromised, and it’s available on just about every platform you can get your hands on. It’s not the cheapest option available, but it offers the best protection for your accounts and it’s reliable.
Review’s product experts have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Avis on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, TikTok or Flipboard for the latest deals, product reviews and more.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.