Some thoughts on Stage Manager on iPadOS

I have turned on Stage Manager on my iPad Pro 12.9 for a few days without interruptions. My initial thoughts when it’s just released was not very positive. It felt like too much trouble for too little gain. But I decided I should give it a fair chance before dismissing it entirely. I just used Stage Manager to write my thesis for an entire day. Here are some thoughts as of iPadOS 16 beta 6.


Stage Manager does bring some compelling advantages over the Split View multi-tasking paradigm.

  • It makes every app device and orientation independent. All apps are launched into windows of sizes the app can support. Those iPhone only apps don’t feel like second class citizens anymore. Portrait or landscape only apps are no longer bounded to the actual device orientation. In addition, those old apps that are not optimised for the Home Bar can now be forced into fullscreen without black borders.
  • It makes background tasks possible, albeit limited to three apps confined on a single Stage. For example, I can now download a video with yt-dlp in a-Shell in the background by shoving its window behind. It’s also possible to run a web server in a similar fashion without it being terminated quickly.
  • It is now possible to vertically split the screen into two fairly usable areas for two different apps in portrait orientation. This requires the Dock to be turned off. For example, I could read a PDF documen in GoodReader on the top half and take notes with Apple Pencil in GoodNotes. I prefer this layout to the horizontal split in Split View. Previously this is only possible with apps like LiquidText where I have to use a single app to read and write. But it is almost impossible to find the perfect app for both writing and reading.
  • Almost all apps work in Stage Manager without the developers specifically optimising for it. It took a significant amount of time for developers to adopt Split View. But it will not be a problem for Stage Manager.
  • It has full external display support. Although it makes sense, the fact that this requires both a mouse and a keyboard attached makes the experience very inconsistent.


It brings some difficulties as well.

  • There is no access to Slide Over. I always put a few highly frequently used utility apps in Slide Over, e.g., DEVONthink, KeePassium, and Surge. Without Slide Over it becomes significantly more cumbersome to have quick access to a few apps. I think it is technically possible to retain Slide Over access in Stage Manager.
  • There is no access to the Side Bar in portrait orientation. Although I turn it off anyway, it would be great if there is a way to summon it temporarily.
  • It is difficult to move windows between Stages. Currently I need to drag the app icon into a new Stage. But I always feel confused to if this would move over an existing window, or make a new window when the app supports multi-window. It would be much better if windows could be dragged over Stages in App Switcher.
  • The frequent flickering during window resizing is really disturbing. I cannot be sure if this is a design choice or a bug. But I hope Apple would cover windows up with a blur to hide the flickering in later builds.


Currently Stage Manager is still quite buggy.

  • It is almost impossible to predict which corner the app window drag target would be.
  • The scrolling performance is terrible in App Switcher.
  • When the Dock is turned off, the Status Bar is often fully hidden when an app is zoomed in fullscreen.
  • Apps that only support fullscreen are often squashed together with its content, and often doesn’t rotate properly with device orientation.
  • A lot of animation quirks and inconsistencies.

When I first saw Stage Manager I felt some regret that it would not be available on my 2020 iPP.

That’s a problem, I use SO all the time. Usually with a full screen app but occasionally with two in split screen. The more I learn about Stage Manager the more I think it will be of little use on an 11” model, unless you frequently use an external monitor.

Good review, thanks.


Hi, glad to hear that stage manager can do vertical spliting. Can i ask is it possible to have an app open twice, in the split windows? Meaning open a PDF in goodreader in top half, open another pdf in same app in bottom half

Welcome to the forum.

I do not have the Goodreader app but I was successful in opening 2 pdfs in Goodnotes while using Stage Manager on the iPadOS. I could get the 2 pdfs to appear side-by-side but not one above the other in either orientation (portrait vs landscape). There is a minimum size widow and the vertical size is too tall for both pdfs to fit one above the other in Goodnotes. I have the 11" iPadPro, so maybe they would fit on a 12.9" iPP.

With stage manager active, I can’t start a quick note swiping from lower right corner except with the Apple Pencil (which works). Using my finger only adjusts the windows in stage manager. Seems like a bug. Turning off stage manager and it works fine.

Yes, I noticed the same problem.

I have to use the control centre to invoke quick notes when stage manager is on.

I turned on Stage Manager right away on my iPad after installing the new OS. I was surprised by how much I like it, at least the promise of it. I find myself switching back to “traditional” iPad multitasking (Full Screen, Split View, and Slide Over) to do certain things, but generally I have felt comfortable with Stage Manager. I think it’s very promising in a number of ways. I recently reported feedback to Apple through the Feedback Assistant wrote essentially the same thing:

I think Stage Manager is wonderful and transformative. It has the promise to be a really powerful means to interact with iPad, to meld the interaction models between iPad and macOS, and to greatly improve how we manage our activities on a computer. So, kudos to you for experimenting with this idea and bringing it to fruition.

There are things about it that seem in desperate need of improvement, though. It’s weird in that Stage Manager seems very intuitive in a number aways, and altogether non-intuitive in other ways. [Edit: I added some bolding to various sections of this longish post to make it easier to digest and navigate.]

Here are my take aways. Note that I have my Stage Manager running with Recent Apps and the Dock hidden.

Since I did not play the beta game this season, I seem to have missed out on all the major bugs. Stage Manager seems to operate “flawlessly,” in terms of mechanics for me: I can open; shuffle around windows; add new windows; close windows; resize windows; move windows on and off the stage; add multiple instances of windows; etc. I’ve seen some things I’d describe as strange behavior, but none of them have repeated such that I can describe them, and I have no idea whether they are attributable to Stage Manager or not. So, take my description of “flawlessness,” with a grain or two of salt.

I have observed the issue of not having complete freedom to resize windows any which way, but so far that limitation has not been a hindrance and I’ve been able to size and position windows pretty much how I want them. What I have noticed, though, is that some third-party apps don’t seem to repaint the screen quite right after a resize. I have windows with text boxes where I have paragraphs of text, but only a line or two of text shows, even though the window size appears to be large enough to show more of the text. Maybe there is some optimizations the app developers must address to make sure their apps work optimally under Stage Manager.

The default window size when you open a new app on a stage, seems generally good but sometimes feels cramped. In those cases, I just expand the window or use the full-screen option. That seems like a “duh” comment, but after using iPads for years not having to think about adjusting the size of an app, it’s a bit of a mental switch to be thinking about it.

Moving information between apps seems so much better. No matter how good Split View and Slide Over have been, swiping the iPad to a new space takes some switch-over time. That switch over time is avoided when you have the apps you need on the same active stage or in Recent Apps. That’s a nice touch.

I’m so comfortable working in Split View and Slide Over, that it’s been a bit of a paradigm shift in working this way and I’m not adjusted yet. I miss not having Slide Over in Stage Manager - as others have also struggled with. Stage Manager (even w/o Slide Over) may be a better model in the long run, but I do not have enough experience to weigh in on that yet. What I think would be ideal (at the moment) is having Stage Manager and Traditional iPad Multitasking coexisting side-by-side allowing the user to seamlessly move between both. See my comments below on shortcuts as to why I’m thinking this way.

Moving apps between app sets seems to be where the most work needs to be done in my view. I’m still not totally clear on how to get an app from Recent Apps into my current stage if that app is part of an app set itself (and I don’t want all the apps from the set coming on the stage). Here is what I asked Apple to do:

When you have an app set that is accessible in recent apps, it would be ideal if you could “open up the pile” and drag over any app in the pile onto the active stage.

I do really like, though, how you can bring in an entire app set onto the current stage by selecting add new window and selecting an app set from the App Switcher screen. If you have one app open on the stage, you can bring in a set that already has up to three apps in it onto the current stage. (If the app set in the window switcher already has four apps in the set, the iPad will just open that set and bring it on the current stage, pushing the formerly staged app into Recent Apps. That seems like a pretty good way to handle the situation to me.)

Lastly, I think if Apple could open up functionality for Stage Manager in the Shortcuts app, that would be really powerful for creating workflows. Here was my suggestion.

Shortcuts support should be prioritized for Stage Manager because it is such a fantastic productivity tool. Being able to use Shortcuts to seamlessly work between iPad traditional multitasking (Full Screen, Split View, and Slide Over) and Stage Manager to create app sets, put them on the stage, “clean” the stage by closing the set and transitioning to some other app set, etc. could be a powerful means of controlling one’s work flow. Apple could even pre-populate the gallery with starter shortcuts.

The kinds of functionality I’d want from Shortcuts would be the following:

  1. Detect whether Stage Manager is on or off.

  2. Switch Stage Manager on/off.

  3. With Stage Manager on:

    a. Open a single app in a new stage [either a new window or activate the most recently used instance, at the user’s option; this way the user does not have to break-apart an existing app set she or he wants to keep together] on either the iPad display or the connected external display;

    b. open the app to a specified size: default, narrow, or full screen;

    c. Create app sets on either the iPad display or the connected external display;

    d. If the app set is
    (i) two windows, open them wth the default orientation or 1/2 and 1/2 (similar to Split View).
    (ii) three windows, open them with the default orientation, or across the screen divided 1/3 each; or
    (iii) four windows, open them with the default orientation.

    e. Close app sets (i.e., close out apps on the stage in favor of a different app or app set); and

    f. move apps between displays from either the another display’s stage or recent apps.

  4. With Stage Manager off: Open an app in full screen or split view [existing functionality] but allow a toggle to activate (i) the most recently used instance [current functionality]; (ii) a new instance of the app [this way the user does not have to break-apart an existing app set she or he wants to keep together]; or (iii) an already open instance of the app that the user selects from a menu [this way the user can continue to work in an already open window of an app].


Like @iPersuade, I immediately turned on Stage Manager after installing the new OS - in fact, I installed the new OS specifically for Stage Manager, and I was not disappointed. Having multiple resizable, overlapping windows has made working on my iPad so much smoother.

Aside from a few quirks, the only ‘issue’ I’ve encountered so far is Stage Manager refreshing some backgrounded windows every so often - I’m not on one of the M1 iPads though, so it is to be expected and not that big of an annoyance overall.


Yours might be the best review of Stage Manager that I have read. Thoughtful and balanced with praise and critique where deserved. Some great suggestions in there as well. My overall experience continues to be better than I expected. A sharp contrast when compared to the negative, click-bait hot takes that seem to dominate Twitter.


There’s no deny of echo chamber effects on Twitter. But I don’t think it’s fair to say the negative reports are click-bait. Stage Manager is easily the most buggy and inconsistent piece of software Apple puts out in the recent years.

It might look impressive at first. The more I use it for serious stuff, it just tends to blow up. Maybe it’s fine for casual use where the iPad has already shone for years. But Stage Manager is NOT ready as a reliable system for power users.


As for the click-bait, I think there I should point more to YouTube because that all feels like click-bait to me. With Twitter it’s the echo chamber. And often on Twitter there will be one prominent post by someone like Federico or another and then there’s just a lot of people cheering it on and it’s not clear at all how many of those people have actually used it so much as they’re just there to be negative about something.

But in any case, my own experience is based on daily use, 8+ hours a day since the first beta. And while the first few betas were buggy they were still usable for me. The last few betas and the final release have been very solid. So, for me, it has been very reliable in extended, day to day use with 2-3 windows all in use for my workflows.

All that said, is the design/implementation perfect? Certainly not. As I’ve followed Federico’s commentary over the summer it’s clear to me that he’s a great reviewer in that he performs such in depth examination in search of all the details, including any possible problems. I think of myself as a “power” user but I don’t do all the things Federico does nor am I in search of potential problems in the design. I don’t keep a running list or tally of design problems but rather I tend to learn to use a new feature as it is. If it works for me then it does. In the case of Stage Manager I expected I would likely prefer the original and default split-view/slide over method as it’s always worked pretty well for me.

The various design flaws mentioned in this thread and others elsewhere are often based on user opinion rather than some true or correct design. Some will be happy with choices made, others won’t.

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Warning, this is a bit long winded… :nerd_face:
I suppose I’m looking at a few different aspects of the tone of the different mediums of expression. Most of the YouTubers I’ve watched for a few years I no longer watch. They constantly contradict themselves. They go for the hot takes then often come back later with something else. It just feels like they’re producing content for money.

Following Twitter over the summer also seems like hot take after hot take with similar reactions, hence the sense of an echo chamber. And I’ll admit, I have a bias in that I feel like when a topic gets negative momentum it often becomes exaggerated and irrational. Whatever the topic may be. The past 3 months it’s been Stage Manager. Previous to that, in regards to the iPad was a list of other failings. Not to say that some of it isn’t accurate, but just that it becomes exaggerated. And it feels like, especially in the beta period and Stage Manager, there was just a Stage Manager pile-on that was far beyond reality. With each beta it seemed like people waited for Federico to download and test for a few hours or a day then he would tweet then they would all jump in with what a dumpster fire it was and a general the iPad is completely broke and Apple should start over, etc. And by the end of the beta period other prominent podcasters, bloggers, etc were all just echoing the exact same hodgepodge of “it’s buggy, it’s poorly designed, etc”.

With Federico’s written review, he’s honest and has certain expectations and standards. But he’s also very opinionated about what works or doesn’t, what’s correct or not, but it’s based on how he wants or expects it to work.

I think there are two different topics to be discussed. There is Stage Manager itself and then there is the reaction to it. My suggestion here is that the reaction to it seems to be based on a very, very tiny group of people. So, “overwhelming consensus across the internet” to me is suspect in terms of the actual product and is more reflective of internet dynamics, specifically the dynamics of Twitter and YouTube.

As to your conclusion, I think that there are two groups of iPad users. In my extended family I am there are 2 including myself that care about the advanced features of the iPad. The other 8 or so users just use the basics. Most of them have probably not even used split screen. They use their iPads a few hours a day as casual tablet devices.

As for the “power” users, I suspect it’s a tiny proportion of the overall and in that pool of users that regularly attach a keyboard and trackpad or mouse. This group I think will be a mix of adopters. I didn’t think I’d like Stage Manager and yet I’ve left it on full time since the last beta and final release. Amongst this group, I think that by 16.2 and 16.3 and generally, going forward, adoption will be in-line with any new feature. But because it is for the pro users, many of whom have been clamoring for more advanced windowing, gradually adoption will grow. This assumes Apple will continue to improve upon it which seems likely.

A last thing I would add that speaks more to iPadOS in general is that past complaints get steadily remedied but those advances tend to be ignored. Example, the Files app which has been loudly criticized in the past. It’s improved greatly with iPadOS16 but hardly mentioned. I guess the point is that the internet, especially Twitter, is good at stirring up strong negativity but often understates positives.

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I think this is a more general phenomena.

One place I worked, the users were reporting issues which had been fixed over a year prior. Repeatedly. I don’t know how much time I wasted confirming that the issue had in fact been fixed. But in the next review meeting there it was again …

“Out of sight, out of mind” seems to be at work here.

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