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Using Your iPad for School

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This chapter shows some of the many ways the iPad can help your kids (or you) do your schoolwork.
This chapter is from the book

Your iPad isn’t just an awesome gadget for games, music, movies, and the Internet. It’s also a powerful tool for doing your schoolwork. That might seem like less fun than some of the other stuff in this book, but if your parents bought your iPad, they’ll be glad they did if you use it for school, too. From writing papers to keeping track of your schedule to doing research online, you can use your iPad in almost every part of your academic life.

Writing and Printing on the iPad

Writing on the iPad involves a lot more than just tapping on the screen when the keyboard appears. It can include wireless keyboards, hidden special symbols, and, of course, lots of useful apps.

To start writing, though, you need to decide what kind of keyboard you want to use. Two kinds of keyboards can be used with the iPad: the onscreen keyboard that pops up in lots of apps or an external keyboard. Some external keyboards connect using the Dock Connector; wireless keyboards use Bluetooth to link to the iPad.

Which Keyboards You Can Use

Even though it would be nice—and a lot easier—you can’t just use any keyboard with your iPad. Most computer keyboards connect to the computer with a type of cable/connector called USB. Your iPad doesn’t have a USB port. Therefore, instead of plugging your computer keyboard into the iPad, you have to get a separate one.

Remember the Dock Connector, the port on the bottom of the iPad that you plug the cable into to sync? A few keyboards plug into that and then prop the iPad up for easy typing.

Apple makes the most popular one of these keyboards. It’s pretty nice, but because it’s a regular keyboard—and one with a very awkward shape—it doesn’t fold or bend and isn’t as portable as some other options.

The other option is a Bluetooth keyboard.

Bluetooth is a kind of wireless technology that lets your iPad connect to accessories such as speakers, headphones, and keyboards. Bluetooth keyboards are cool because they’re wireless, so the iPad doesn’t have to be right next to the keyboard. Some of them fold up, making them easier to carry, and others come with carrying cases and mount the iPad like a laptop.

Which kind of keyboard is best for you depends on what you like, what you can afford, and where you’re using the keyboard (the Dock Connector version might be better on a table, while the Bluetooth version could be better in bed or in your lap).

Connecting a Bluetooth Keyboard to Your iPad

If you choose a Bluetooth keyboard, you need to follow a few steps to connect it. Before you begin, make sure your keyboard is near the iPad; Bluetooth can only connect devices that are within a few feet of each other. Also, make sure the keyboard has charged batteries in it. Now you can follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPad.
  2. Tap Bluetooth from the options available and then, on the Bluetooth screen, move the slider to On.
  3. Your keyboard (make sure it’s powered on) will appear in the devices menu. Tap it.
  4. A window appears on the iPad with four numbers in it. Type them on your keyboard and then press Enter on the keyboard.
  5. If everything worked, the Devices menu should now show your keyboard and read “Connected.” If not, check the instructions that came with your keyboard and try again (or ask a parent for a little help).

Using the Onscreen Keyboard

External keyboards aren’t your only option, though. The iPad has an onscreen keyboard that can be a great option for writing. The iPad’s onscreen keyboard appears in any app where you can enter text, such as Mail, Notes, or Safari. There are a few tricks about using the onscreen keyboard you should know.

Entering Numbers or Symbols

To enter a number or symbol using the onscreen keyboard, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the number button. The keyboard changes to show numbers and some basic punctuation marks.
  2. Here you can enter numbers along with a variety of symbols, such as parentheses, question mark, and so on. To access more uncommon symbols, tap the symbols button on the number keyboard.
  3. To go back to the regular keyboard, tap the letters button. To go back to the numbers and punctuation marks, tap the numbers button (which button you see depends on which keyboard screen you’re on).

Entering Accent Marks and Alternate Symbols

To write words in other languages, or use some really unusual and fun symbols, you have to tap and hold certain letters and punctuation marks. When you do this, you see lots of alternate versions. The letters that have these alternate versions are a, e, i, o, u, c, and n. The punctuation marks that have alternative versions are -, $, &, “, ., ?, !, ‘, and %.

To use an alternate version of a letter or punctuation mark, follow these steps:

  1. Tap and hold one of the keys that has alternate versions. Options pop up above it.
  2. To select an alternate version, don’t take your finger off the screen (if you do, the options disappear). Instead, slide your finger to the option you want, and when the option turns blue, take your finger off the screen. The alternate version appears where you were typing.

Enabling the Caps Lock

If you want to type something all in uppercase letters, the fastest and easiest way is to use Caps Lock.

  • To do this, double tap the Shift (up-arrow) button on the keyboard. It turns blue. This means Caps Lock is on.
  • When you want to turn Caps Lock off and start using lowercase letters again, single-tap the up-arrow button.

Copying and Pasting Text

Copying and pasting text on a desktop computer is pretty easy: Select the text you want, click the necessary menus or keyboard shortcuts, and paste the text where you want it to go. But the iPad doesn’t have menus or the same keyboard keys as your desktop, so how do you do it?

Not every iPad app handles copying and pasting exactly the same way, so there’s no single way to show you how to do it. These steps show you one way. If the app you’re trying to copy and paste in handles it differently, use what you learn here and try to apply it to that different process.

Begin by finding the text you want to copy (nearly every app on your iPad that lets you write, read articles, or browse the Web offers copy-and-paste functionality). After you’ve done that, follow these steps:

  1. Tap and hold on the text you want to copy until the magnifying glass pops up. Then let go.
  2. To select just one section of the text, tap Select.
  3. When you tap Select, the text you tapped gets highlighted in blue. The blue highlight tells you what text is selected to be cut or copied. You can change the selection by dragging the blue dot on either side of the selected text.
  4. Most apps let you choose to cut or copy the text. Cut means you’ll delete the text and then paste it somewhere else. Copy means you’ll make a copy to paste elsewhere, but not delete the original text. As mentioned earlier, different apps have slightly different options, but they should all at least offer copy.
  5. Find the place where you want to paste the text—this could be in the same app or another app; it doesn’t matter. Tap and hold until the magnifying glass appears. Then let go.
  6. Tap Paste in the menu that appears.

Syncing Documents to Your iPad with iTunes

It’s easy to move documents such as school papers and e-books from your computer onto your iPad. To do that, you first have to sync your iPad and computer. After you’ve done that, follow these steps:

  1. In iTunes, click the Apps tab to access the document-sharing options.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of that screen and find File Sharing.
  3. You see a list of all the apps on your iPad that can sync documents with your computer. Click the app you want to sync the document to.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Browse through the window until you find the document you want to sync. Click once on the document.
  6. Click Open. Repeat this for as many documents as you want to sync to that app. You can also choose other apps and repeat these steps to sync documents to them.
  7. When you’ve added all the documents you want to sync, click the Sync (or Apply) button in iTunes. When the sync is complete, the documents will be on your iPad. Just tap the apps you synced them to and you can start reading them.

AirPrint and Compatible Printers

Just like with keyboards, printing from the iPad is a little tricky because there’s no connector for printers to plug into. You can always sync or send files from your iPad to your computer to print there, but if you don’t have a computer or want to print right from your iPad, you need something else: AirPrint.

AirPrint is an Apple technology that lets you print wirelessly from your iPad to certain printers. For this to work, you can’t use just any old printer; you need one that’s AirPrint compatible.

Because not all printers support AirPrint—not even all printers that have Wi-Fi—you and your parents need to do some research if you’re thinking of getting one. The list of printers that support AirPrint is always changing, but big companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Epson, Canon, and Lexmark all make AirPrint-compatible printers.

How to Print

Just like different apps handle copy and paste differently, there’s no single way to print using iPad apps. That’s because apps are so different in what they do and how they look. There are a few common ways to print—such as by tapping the Action box (the square with the arrow curving out of it)—but you won’t find that in every app. (Not even every app that can print works this way.) This chapter includes tips on how to print in two writing apps, Notes and Pages. Many other apps that can print work in similar ways.

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