What are the Three Dots at the Top of iPad Screen?

You may wonder about the three dots (…) located at the top-center of your iPad’s screen, especially if you are a new iPad user. If you are also an iPhone user, you may notice that these dots are not present on the iPhone. You may further wonder if something is wrong with your iPad, or if an app you installed caused this. Some wonder if the three dots can be removed. Some users even wonder if the iPad has a virus or was hijacked. These are all good questions. In this article, I explain what this icon/image does, and if you can remove it.

Three dot icon on iPad

The top three-dot button

The three-dot icon is a part of a core iPadOS feature. This may appear when an app is open. This three-dot image is actually a button to turn on and off various multitasking features. When you tap this button, you will see three options:

the three dots button - expanded

The first option: Center Window

Center window

This is the first option. This will make the app full screen, which is the default mode. Tap this to turn off the other multitasking modes, seen below. In some apps, when you tap this nothing happens. But in supported apps, you can use it to focus on an item.

The second option: Split View

Split View

This is the middle option. This will let you use two apps at the same time. Your screen will be divided equally into two. For example, this will let you open your Mail app on one side of the screen, while you are reading macReports in Safari on the other side. After you tap the Split View option, select another app to open. You can make the app on one side of your screen full screen again by pressing and dragging the middle handle to the right or left to close the other open app view.

Split View handle

The third option: Slide Over

Slide Over

This lets you view two apps on the screen with one app in a smaller pane floating on top of the other. You can drag the small screen to the right or left by pressing on the three dots and sliding the floating pane to the right or left. It took me some time to figure out how to get rid of this floating window. To do that, press and hold the control bar at the bottom of the Slide Over window and slightly swipe up. This will bring up all of your open Slide Over windows. Swipe up on them to get rid of them.

Slide Over turn off

While you are using apps, you may or may not see this button. This depends on if the app supports the iPadOS multitasking features. If an app does not support this feature, you may see a note saying something like “Split View Not Supported.” For example, the Settings app does not support this feature, and thus in Settings, no three-dot icon will appear at the top of the screen.

Can you remove or turn this off? The answer is no. As of now, Apple does not allow that. There is no iPad setting to turn this off or hide this feature. But if you really don’t like those three dots, you can send feedback to Apple and explain your reasoning. We know that Apple reads all of the feedback it receives. If there are a lot of users that think like you, they may make adjustments.

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Dr. Stacey Butler is a tech writer at macReports covering news, how-tos, and user guides. She is a longtime Mac and iPhone user and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. Here is her LinkedIn profile.

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