Just ordered an iPad Air - have never owned a tablet in my life. Hype me up!

After a ton of hemming and hawing, I decided to treat myself to an iPad Air 256 gig, smart folio case, and new Apple Pencil after surviving teaching this very weird school year. It will complement my M1 Air MacBook.

I’m excited, but a little nervous about how exactly it will fit into my life. I want to make sure I take full advantage of it and don’t let it turn into just a reddit using machine.

I’m really interested in playing around with the Apple Pencil and dabbling in digital note taking and planning. It definitely will be a Todoist device for weekly reviews in weird places. I’m sure I’ll also dabble in reading comics and continuing my journey of watching every episode of Ultraman ever made. I’m also VERY interested in sidecar as a second monitor.

But… beyond the obvious, what cool workflows or power user type things do you recommend I check out? What do you love about your iPad? How has it changed how you do computer stuff? Sometimes I feel like Apple hides advanced features or stuff a power user might like to get into to avoid “scaring” normal people. What should I do to take full advantage of this thing?

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I use mine instead of a whiteboard in class (I connect to the classroom projector via an Apple TV). I currently use Notability, but GoodNotes also works well. I share a notes folder with my students in Google Drive, so after class I just use the share sheet to get the notes into that folder. It’s just a few taps, and the notes are usually in the folder before the students are out of the classroom.

I also have my students submit their essays as PDFs via a Google Form, so I can use PDFExpert plus the Apple Pencil for marking. (I’m an odd mix of high tech and old school — I prefer to mark essays by hand, but I hate paper!)


I’ve always determined my needs before I make a purchase, but OK. One reason I bought my first iPad is because I couldn’t use a laptop at work when I was constantly moving. That was around 10 years ago.

Today I’m retired but I have the same requirements. Email, calendar, notes, tasks, file management, spreadsheets, photo and video editing, etc. And I work almost exclusive on an iPP. This forum and YouTube can be a great help. Take your time, learn, and enjoy your new iPad Air.


LOL. Don’t you ever just want to blow some money on retail therapy?

I kept seeing forum threads in which people were saying things like, “You won’t know how much you needed/wanted an iPad until you get one.”

I guess a better way for me to word that would be that I’m nervous I won’t take full advantage of it. I have an idea of how it will fit into my life, but want to make sure I engage with it meaningfully beyond just utilizing it at face value.

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In my case that question should be “Didn’t you every want to blow some money . . . “
And my answer would have been “Of course”. Then I reached an age where I found being out of debt was exciting. That was probably before you were born :grinning:

Taking full advantage of my iPad meant selecting apps and services from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other 3rd parties. And many of my solutions are in the cloud which means I may never need a faster processor.

My advice is to start with some entertainment. Like Netflix, Kindle, Music. Whatever you enjoy. Then add the basics, email, contacts, and calendar. Get those working to your satisfaction then pick something else to master. IMO you may be surprised how much an iPad can do.

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I think adding an iPad to your computing life is a bit of a leap because it is so different and because there’s a wide range of places where it can fit.

If you enjoy handwriting and sketching, then I think you’re really going to have no problem using the iPad a lot. Are you going to take “full advantage”? Probably not. I don’t know anyone who does. For example, while Federico Vitticci is well-known for his heavy-duty use of iPad (in the recent past, anyway!), I don’t think I’ve ever heard him promote handwriting or Apple Pencil.

For me, digital journaling, note-taking, and brainstorming mean that my iPad is a really important part of my work and my hobbies. Would it be cool to be able to do some of the amazing automations to make it more functional in a laptop-like way? Sure. But I have no time and only minor interest in learning and maintaining programming. Does that mean I’m not taking “full advantage” of it because I’m not capable of doing all of my work on it efficiently? No. I use it efficiently, daily, for some things — just like my Mac.

So, get excited, and start exploring. You don’t know where you’ll end up. You may need to push yourself to try things, and to learn a new interface (I’m still trying to get myself to use multitasking when appropriate), but after a few months I think you’ll begin to see where the iPad can fall in your life.

And if it doesn’t, they hold good resale value, so don’t hesitate to get rid of it. Sometimes a different form factor can change your interaction. For example, I love my 12.9 inch iPad Pro because I do a lot of handwriting, but it’s not a terribly portable device and not great for lots of reading.


What app do you like most for digital journaling? I saw some recent controversy about Notability and changes in payment processes, but people seem to really like Good Notes… I’m wondering if one might even get by on Apple Notes!

I am favorably impressed by the Apple Pencil, and I’m using Generation 1. The thing is, I’m dyslexic, and my handwriting can be err, wonky. But my iPad 7 and Aple Pencil mostly just deals with it! I wanted the Apple Pencil to use in annotating .PDFs, but use it much more than I thought I would, for Day One, for image editing, and for notes to myself. Haven’t yet tried using Drafts, but plan to before I get much older.

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If you enjoy drawing/painting, check out Procreate. It’s a fantastic app that has a strong eco system of education, communities and add-ons. For other graphic work, Affinity Designer on iPad is basically as capable as its Mac cousin - great for layouts, vector graphics, typography etc. For photo editing, you should look to Affinity Photo which is much more capable than Photoshop on iPad. Adobe Lightroom is also very nice on the iPad and handles DSLR RAW files if needed.


If you are into art at all, I’d highly recommend Procreate. You’d have a blast with the Ipad pencil. I love it. It is very reasonably priced and is intuitive yet professional artists use it.

Also, GoodNotes is a nice app if you’d like to use your pencil.

I have a MacBook Air and an iPad Air. It is a great set-up. I use both devices a great deal! And I’m all set for a while!

GMTA, Airwhale!


Thanks all - Procreate and Good Notes both sound awesome and definite first downloads.


Using an iPad to present to a class or group and using the Apple Pencil to annotate on slides is life-changing. As suggested by @acavender, marking is much more pleasant with the Pencil on the iPad. Additionally, because of the Pencil, I use Craft as my personal knowledge management system. It seems to handle having hand-written notes and stuff written in Markdown in the same place better than anything else.

Pre-pandemic, I quit lugging a laptop with me to conferences. The iPad with a keyboard is a lot lighter.

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Do you have any idea how I might get old slides onto my computer or iPad?

Do you mean slides as in Keynote or PowerPoint or slides as in 35 mm film? I get asked about both pretty often.

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I should have been more clear with my language; I meant slides in a slide deck as in PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.

Answering your question, you’ll want a lightbox, something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Photomyne-Hands-Free-Ultra-Thin-Brightness-Supporting/dp/B08X6W9PYV/. I haven’t used this one; I can’t speak to the quality of it. I’m just putting it here as an example.

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Same here with pro-create!

I’ve always loved drawing in 3D, specifically houses and architectural type drawings (interiors).

I was in the same boat when I bought my iPad… I just WANTED IT… but now I couldn’t live without it.

For me I tend to use it for only planning / creative exercises - especially with the Apple Pencil. From an environmental design viewpoint, my iPad is a place I enjoy ‘going’. It’s normally the thing I use when I have my morning coffee first up planning and then at the end of the day drawing.

Plus it’s a solid second screen; although, I’m not loving the speed when using universal control; it seems a bit ‘glitchy’ (connected to an M1 MBP 14 base spec).

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Well, you did know!!

I wasn’t sure what kind of slides so I asked and I am so glad I did! Thank you!

35 mm slide film is what I was referring to.

Easiest way is to get an Office 365 subscription. PowerPoint on iPad, slide decks in OneDrive. The subscription allows you to use the apps across all platforms, and includes 1TB of storage on OneDrive.

Keynote, Numbers and Pages are included with the purchase.

Oh, sorry - got my slides confused there @Katie :upside_down_face:

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