How to use drag and drop in iOS 11: Three tips for improving your workflow

Drag and drop is one of the best new features of iOS 11, and it can be used system-wide in numerous ways. Here are three tricks to using drag and drop to improve your workflow in iOS 11.

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Apple offers lots of new features in iOS 11, and one of the biggest changes is the addition of drag and drop--a feature that is typically reserved for desktop OSes.

There are various ways that iPad users can use drag and drop. iPhone users gain the ability to drag and drop inside of apps, but iOS 11 does not allow for dragging and dropping between apps; any drag and drop action started in an app on iPhone is canceled when the user taps the home button. This is not the case on an iPad, as you'll see in this how-to article. We'll cover three iOS 11 tips:

  • How to drag apps onto an iPad screen;
  • How to drag files to apps using an iPad; and
  • How to easily rearrange the home screen on an iPhone or an iPad.

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How to drag apps onto an iPad screen

Previously, Apple introduced a method to run two apps side-by-side in a process called Split Screening. This process has been somewhat removed in place of new functionality in iOS 11.

With iOS 11 you can drag and drop apps to create a split screen mode with two apps, or throw a third app into the mix for a total of three apps simultaneously displayed on the screen and running at the same time.

To use split screen mode with two apps in iOS 11, perform these steps.

  1. Open an app.
  2. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to bring up the Dock.
  3. Drag and drop an app from the Dock onto the left or right-most side of the screen (Figure A).

Figure A


The Dock serves as the main hub for multitasking in iOS 11, allowing multiple tasks to be performed with it.

When you do this, the second app you dragged and dropped will display alongside the first app that was running.

To run a third app alongside the split screen mode, you will need to drag and drop another app from the Dock in the same manner. It will appear to float above the split screen and can be dragged to either side of the screen, or flicked off the side of the screen to dismiss it.

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How to drag files to apps using an iPad

One big change in iOS 11 is the ability to drag and drop files onto the app icons in the Dock to launch the file in that app, just as you would on a desktop operating system.

For example, this is great for opening files in apps that would normally not open those files. Let's say you have PowerPoint and Keynote installed on your iPad, but you want to open a PowerPoint document from the Files app in Keynote--just drag and drop the file onto the Keynote icon in the Dock, and voila!

This functionality is available in the Files app on iOS 11 and requires following these steps.

  1. Open the Files app and navigate to the file you want to open.
  2. Drag the file and flick up from the bottom of the iPad screen with your other hand to show the Dock.
  3. Drag the file onto the icon in the Dock for the app that you'd like to open the file (Figure B) and continue to hold until the app is launched, and then drop the file.

Figure B


Some third-party apps are gaining the functionality to perform this action; many Apple apps have had the functionality since iOS 11 was released.

How to easily rearrange the home screen on an iPhone or an iPad

With iOS 11, Apple has made the chore of rearranging apps into folders and screens easier by allowing multiple apps to be dragged and dropped on the home screen.

To drag and drop multiple apps into a folder on the home screen, perform these steps.

  1. Press and hold on the icons until they start to jiggle (it's the same as with previous iOS releases).
  2. Drag one app, then with another hand, tap other apps. Each app tapped will be placed in the drag stack.
  3. Complete the drag and drop into a folder, and all of the apps that were tapped will be moved.

This process makes rearranging apps into folders much easier than previously in which users had to drag and drop each app individually instead of bulk dragging and dropping multiple apps.

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By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...