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How to Set Up an iPad For First Time Use

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How to Initialize Your iPad
ipad-hello.png

Image © Apple, Inc.

You've just bought an iPad and taken it out of the box. Now what? The process to set up an iPad to use for the first time is amazingly simple now that Apple has severed the cord from the computer to the iOS device by allowing the set up to be done without connecting your device to your PC.

You will need to know your Wi-Fi network's password, if you have a secured network. And with that bit of information, you can have your new iPad up and running within five minutes.

Here are the steps for initializing an iPad:

  1. Start the Process.  The first step to setting up the iPad is to swipe from left to right across the bottom of the screen.  This tells the iPad you are ready to use it and is the same action required any time you want to use the iPad.
  2. Choose Language. You need to tell the iPad how to communicate with you. English is the default setting, but most common languages are supported.
  3. Choose Country or Region. The iPad needs to know the Country you are located in to connect to the correct version of the Apple App Store. Not all apps are available in all countries.
  4. Choose a Wi-Fi Network. This is where you will need that Wi-Fi password if your network is secured.
  5. Enable Location Services. The location services allow the iPad to determine where it is located. Even an iPad without 4G and GPS can use location services by utilizing nearby Wi-Fi networks to determine the location. Most people will want to turn this setting on. You can turn off location services later, and even choose which apps you allow to use them and which apps can't use them.
  6. Set up as New or Restore From Backup (iTunes or iCloud). If you just purchased the iPad, you will be setting it up as new. Later, if you run into problems that require you to fully restore the iPad, you will have the choice of using iTunes to restore your backup or using Apple's iCloud service.  If you are restoring from a backup, you will be asked to input your iCloud username and password and then asked for which backup to restore, but if this is your first time activating the iPad, simply choose "Set  Up as New iPad".
  7. Enter Apple ID or create new Apple ID.  If you use another Apple device like an iPod or iPhone, or if you download music using iTunes, you already have an Apple ID.  You can use the same Apple ID to sign onto your iPad, which is great because you can redownload your music to it without purchasing it again.   

    If this is your first time with any Apple device, you will need to create an Apple ID. You will probably want to install iTunes on your PC as well. Even though the iPad no longer requires it, having iTunes can make your life more simple and actually enhance what you can do with the iPad.

    If you already have an Apple ID, simply enter the username (usually your email address) and password.
  8. Agree to Terms and Conditions. You will need to agree to the Terms and Conditions, and once you agree, the iPad will give you a dialog box confirming that you agree. You can also have the Terms and Conditions emailed to you by touching the button at the top of the screen.
  9. Set Up iCloud. Most people will want to set up iCloud and enable the iPad to be backed up to iPad on a daily basis. This means even if you run into major problems with your iPad, you lose it or it is stolen, your data will be backed up to the Internet and waiting for you when your restore your iPad. However, if you aren't comfortable saving your information to the Internet, or if you are using the iPad for business purposes and your place of work doesn't allow you to use cloud storage, you can decline to use iCloud.
  10. Use Find My iPad. This is a very handy feature that can both help you find a lost iPad or recover a stolen iPad. Turning on this feature will let you track the general location of the iPad. The 3G version of the iPad, which has a GPS chip, will be more accurate, but even the Wi-Fi version can provide amazing accuracy.
  11. iMessage and Facetime.  You can choose to have people contact you via the email address used with your Apple ID.  This allows you to take FaceTime calls, which is video conferencing software similar to Skype, or receive iMessage texts, which is a platform that lets you send and receive messages to friends and family that use either an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Mac  If you already have an iPhone, you may see your phone number listed here, along with any other phone numbers and email addresses associated with your Apple ID.. How to Use FaceTime on Your iPad.
  12. Create a Passcode. You don't have to create a passcode to use an iPad.  There's a "Don't Add Passcode" link just above the on-screen keyboard, but a passcode can make your iPad more secure by requiring it to be entered each time someone wants to use the iPad. This can protect you both against thieves and any pranksters you may know.
  13. Siri.  If you have an iPad that supports Siri, you will be prompted whether or not you want to use it.  There's really no reason not to use Siri.  As Apple's voice recognition system, Siri can perform a lot of great tasks, such as setting up reminders or searching for the nearest pizza place.  Find out How to Use Siri on the iPad.
  14. Diagnostics. The last choice is whether or not to send a daily diagnostic report to Apple. This is purely your own decision. Apple uses the information to better serve its customers, and you shouldn't be worried that your information is being used for any other purpose. But, if you have any qualms at all, choose not to share the information. The basic rule of thumb here is if you have to think about it for more than a couple of seconds, choose not to participate.
  15. Get Started.  The last step is to click on the "Get Started" link on the "Welcome to iPad" page.  This finalizes setting up the iPad to use.

Ready to learn how to use the iPad?  Check out my iPad lessons, which include a guided tour of the iPad and helpful tips on how to use the device.  

Do you prefer to load it up with apps?  Check out my must-have (and free!) iPad apps. There's a little something for everyone in this list.

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