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How to get started with your new iPad

Chris Torney / 23 December 2015

Get started with your new iPad with our beginners guide to using your tablet.

iPad on its home screen displaying the apps
iPads are incredibly well designed: the way they work is very intuitive so chances are you’ll be up and running in no time

If you’re lucky enough to find your first iPad in your Christmas stocking, you’ll be itching to use it.

But if you haven’t owned a tablet computer before or any kind of Apple-made device such as an iPhone, you might be nervous about taking your first steps.

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The good news is that iPads are incredibly well designed: the way they work is very intuitive so chances are you’ll be up and running in no time.

To make things even simpler, we’ve put together a straightforward guide that explains exactly how to get started.

1. After you open the box

Your iPad should be charged and ready to use so you don’t need to plug it in just yet. Turn on your device by pressing the Home button: this is the slightly recessed button below the screen with a white square on it.

Your iPad says “Hello” and asks you to “Slide to set up”: to do this, put your finger on the screen and swipe from left to right.

Next you can select which country you’re based in.

Already know the basics? Read our 10 handy iPad tips.

2. Connect to the internet

It is possible to set up and use an iPad without an internet connection but the device is far more useful and productive if it’s online at least some of the time.

To connect, you’ll either need an iPad which is designed to go online via a mobile phone network (Apple calls this “cellular” connection) or through your home’s Wi-Fi. The latter is the most common option.

Select your Wi-Fi network and type in your password – if you’re having trouble connecting to Wi-Fi, Apple has a troubleshooting guide. If you’re going mobile, now is the time to put your Sim card into the side of your iPad.

At this stage of the set-up, you can choose whether or not to enable location services: this allows certain programs to find out where you are in order, for example, to tailor maps to your location or record where photos are taken.

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3. Add some security

Next, you can choose to add a passcode – a four-digit Pin that has to be entered to turn the iPad on – and, on some models, Touch ID. This uses your fingerprint to gain access and to confirm certain payments.

You don’t have to turn on these security features, but they are especially useful if you plan to take your iPad out of the house a lot or if you want to stop younger relatives using your tablet.

The following step asks whether you want to restore your new iPad from an old model: assuming this is your first one, choose “Set Up as New iPad”.

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4. Create an Apple ID

To make the most of your iPad, you’ll need to download apps – that’s the name of the software programs that your tablet uses – from Apple’s App Store. To do this, you need set up an account called Apple ID with your personal details. This ID consists of a username (usually your email address) and password. It is also needed to pay for the likes of films, music and ebooks on the iTunes Store.

You may now be asked to set up services called iCloud Drive, Apple Pay and iCloud KeyChain, but you might not need them and you don’t have to worry about them right now. Click on each link to find out more about these options.

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5. Turn Siri on or off

Siri is your iPad’s in-built voice-recognition system, and at this stage you can decide whether to have it switched on or not (you can of course change your mind later).

To use Siri, you hold down the Home button and then state your request – this could be anything from “What time is it in Sydney, Australia?” to “Check my email”. When Siri is on, to ask another question you need to tap the microphone icon towards the bottom of the screen.

In the UK, the default Siri is male but for some reason the US version is female. You can change the gender and even the accent if you want though.

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6. Final stages

You will then have a final question about whether you are happy for your iPad to regularly send off data about how various apps are performing – this is optional but in theory it should help ensure that programs run smoothly.

Now you are ready to use your iPad.

One thing you should think about is how you are going to back up the personal data on your device, if at all. Backups are copies of things like photos, documents and other files that are stored either on your home computer or on the internet. Keeping backups up to date means you don’t lose important files if there is a technical problem with your iPad or if it is stolen.

If you want to back up to your computer, you’ll need to download on to it some free software from Apple called iTunes. To back up on to the internet, you use Apple’s iCloud service.

For more details about these options, visit the Apple website here.

What is cloud storage and how does it work?

For more handy tips, browse our technology articles.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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