Use a (Friendly) Gesture to Swipe Between iPad Apps

| TMO Quick Tip

What if you could just swipe sideways to switch between apps on your iPad? Well, you can! Here's how to perform this most innocent of finger gestures.

If you have Multitasking Gestures turned on with your iPad or iPad mini, you can use a four finger swipe to switch sideways between apps. Like a sideways slide show. The apps will slide into view in the same order that they appear in the multitasking bar you get when you double-click the Home button. Here's how to enable it.

  1. Go to your iPad Settings.
  2. Select General.
  3. Scroll down to Multitasking Gestures and turn them on.

Now you can use four fingers to swipe left or right between apps. You can swipe as slow or as fast as you want, but four fingers must be touching the display. You'll see this as the apps slide right and left.

Remember, it's always wise to keep your finger gestures confined to your iPad.

There's More

Enabling Multitasking Gestures also allows you to:

  • Do an upwards swipe with four fingers to reveal the multitasking bar. Swipe downwards to hide it.
  • Do a five finger pinch to return to the home screen. Start with all your fingers a little bit apart and slide them to together at the same time as if you were grasping a tennis ball. Poof. You're there.

There are some other gestures available under General -> Accessibility, but that's beyond the scope of this article. Personally, I have found some of those gestures tricker to use and easy to conflict with the four finger gestures if one isn't very careful and exact.

The iPhone

You won't find this capability on the iPhone. Perhaps Apple feels that there isn't enough room on the iPhone's display to have a good experience with four fingers. However, there are apps that provide that functionality for those who have jailbroken their iPhone. That's also a subject beyond the scope of this simple Quick Tip.

One really has to salute Apple for thinking of all this.

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Wow!  Thanks!

Did anyone else find that this never works if one of your four fingers is your thumb? (!!!???)

John Martellaro

If I include my thumb and keep, say, my pinkie off the display, it works fine.


This problem only happens when I use my left hand (!??!)

If I include my left thumb and keep my left pinkie at least an inch off the display in a 4-finger left or right swipe, it only moves the text & HTML objects contained within that HTML frame I’m touching in that App’s window to the left or right within that frame’s allotted margins, but that frame itself and the window containing it remain fixed and immobile, but only if I’m using my thumb.



The 5-finger pinch works equally well with either hand.


I can also successfully swipe the window left or right to the next App’s window if I use 2 fingers of both hands!

Lee Dronick

BurmaYank, I have found that those of us who are cool customers sometimes have trouble making connectivity with touchscreens. It is like how I can keep a lie detector flatlined. Try working up your emotions and see if that helps. smile

Seriously though I wonder how much dry skin, or a callus fan affect the connection. Try using a knuckle to move the cursur, sometimes it works and sometimes not.



If I pinch my left thumb and first 3 fingers together, guess what?  This always performs a perfect “5-finger pinch” (but only with those 4 fingers touching, and with the pinky always held more than an inch off the screen.)


This makes me wonder whether my left pinky (and ONLY my left pinky???) might be astrally projecting itself onto the surface of the display somehow.

Lee Dronick

Do you practice tai chi?


Even when I grab my left pinky and hold it completely within my right fist, while I then do a left-handed 3-finger&thumb; left or right swipe or a 3-finger&thumb; pinch, the exact same things have always happened.


No, but maybe I should take Tai Chi up, eh?

Lee Dronick

We could conceivably hold our fingers well off of the touch screen and control it with rays of chi energy.

Doug Schwartz

Too bad Apple didn’t steal the gesture from bezel approach that the BB Playbook uses - incredibly more intuitive than any iPad approach.  Everything on the screen, no button needed… 

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