tab bar on ipad

How to use and customize the tab bar in iPad apps on iPadOS 18

How to use and customize the tab bar in iPad apps on iPadOS 18

Learn what a tab bar is, what apps support it, and how to use it in your favorite apps on iPad running iPadOS 18.

Tab Bar in an iPad app on iPadOS 18Tab Bar in an iPad app on iPadOS 18

The tab bar is a thin menu strip at the top of several apps on an iPad running iPadOS 18. Floating above the content, this new, redesigned bar provides more screen real estate. Instead of taking up a lot of space, it takes up a small area and houses some of the most important menu options for that app.

If you need to access more menu items, the tab bar transforms into the usual left sidebar you’re already familiar with.

In addition to all this, the tab bar is user-customizable and lets you add your frequently-used menus to it.

Apps that support the redesigned tab bar

iPadOS 18 is in the early stage, and not all apps support the tab bar yet. I checked all Apple apps on my iPad Pro and found that these ones support the tab bar in iPadOS 18 developer beta 2:

  • Files
  • Home
  • News
  • GarageBand
  • Keynote
  • Numbers
  • Pages

Some apps, such as the App Store, Books, Clock, and iTunes Store, have a top tab bar, but it is fixed there. You cannot morph it into a sidebar.

As time progresses, it’s evident that many Apple apps like TV, Music, Podcasts, and third-party ones will adopt the redesigned tab bar.

You can be sure an app supports the redesigned tab bar by seeing the new tab bar icon when the left sidebar is open in an app. Additionally, the sidebar icon in the tab bar also confirms this fact.

Tab bar icon in sidebar in an iPad app on iPadOS 18Tab bar icon in sidebar in an iPad app on iPadOS 18

View or hide the tab bar in an iPad app

In the majority of the cases, the tab bar is already visible when you enter an iPad app. Use the menu buttons there to go to that spot in the app.

When you want to access additional options for that app, tap the sidebar icon from the top tab bar to hide it and convert it into a sidebar. This sidebar contains a lot more menus and features than the tab bar.

Sidebar icon on tab bar in an iPad appSidebar icon on tab bar in an iPad app

You can go back to seeing the tab bar by tapping its icon in the sidebar.

Tab bar icon in sidebar in an iPad app on iPadOS 18Tab bar icon in sidebar in an iPad app on iPadOS 18

Use the tab bar to move files

In addition to tapping the obvious menus seen in the tab bar, you can also use it for drag-and-drop purposes. For instance, I can tap Browse in the Files app tab bar and open a folder there. Next, I can touch and hold a file in some other section of the Files app and drop it over the Browse section to add it to that folder.

I can also drag a file and continue to hold it. Next, with my other finger, I can use the tab bar to go inside a desired folder and drop that file there.

Customize an app’s tab bar

You can customize the tab bar to add your most-used menu items to it and place them there for quick access. As of now, just the News app supports customizing the tab bar, but soon, other apps may also add this handy option.

1) Open the app on your iPad and touch and hold anywhere on the tab bar. If this app supports customization, it will open the left sidebar in editing mode. Plus, the top tab bar will stay visible on the screen.

Touch and hold tab bar in iPad app in iPadOS 18Touch and hold tab bar in iPad app in iPadOS 18

2) Now, drag one of the options from the left sidebar and place it over the top tab bar.

3) Tap Done to save your changes.

Add items to tab bar on iPadAdd items to tab bar on iPad

Note: You can also open the left sidebar and tap Edit to drag items to the tab bar.

If you have added too many options to the tab bar, use the arrow button (>) to see the rest.

See more options in tab bar in an app on iPadSee more options in tab bar in an app on iPad

To remove an added option, touch and hold the tab bar to enter editing mode. Now, hold the menu you want to remove and drag it down.

Remove added items from an app tab bar on iPadRemove added items from an app tab bar on iPad

New in iOS 18 and iPadOS 18:

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