Multiple Windows on iPad

In iOS 13 and later, iPad apps can support multiple windows. For example, in an iPad app that enables document creation, people could have multiple document windows open at the same time.

NOTE To support multiple windows in the Mac version of your iPad app, you must support multiple windows on iPad. For guidance, see iPad Apps for Mac.

There are several ways people can open a new window. For example:

  • Drag an app's Dock icon to the side of the screen to choose one of its current windows or create a new one
  • Drag an object to the side of the screen and drop it onto the system-provided drop target
  • Touch and hold an app icon on the Home screen or the Dock, tap Show All Windows in the context menu that appears, and tap the Add (+) button
  • Touch and hold an object until it reveals a context menu that includes the option to view the object in a new window

In general, iPad apps use two types of windows. A primary window contains multiple app objects and the actions associated with them; typically, people tend to keep interacting with a primary window over time. An auxiliary window contains a single object and the actions associated with it; people tend to interact with an auxiliary window only once before closing it. In Mail, for example, the primary window contains the mailboxes, whereas a single message is displayed in an auxiliary window.

Support the multiple-window experience for both primary and auxiliary windows. Because primary windows often contain high-level objects, people can benefit from opening multiple windows that show different areas of the content. For example, people might want one primary Mail window to show their Inbox and another to show their Drafts mailbox. As you might expect, multiple auxiliary windows make it easy for people to view or work on multiple items, such as multiple Mail messages.

Make sure an auxiliary window is useful on its own. Auxiliary windows should give people additional views into your app's content and functionality. Avoid using an auxiliary window merely to provide options or tools that work on content in the primary window.

Use a Done or Close button in an auxiliary window. Because an auxiliary window contains content and actions for a single task or object, people expect to be able to close it when they're finished working in it. Don't use "Back" in a button that closes the window; instead, you can use "Back" in a button that helps people return to a previous view within the window.

For developer guidance, see App and Scenes.