How to Customize Your iPad

Personalize Your iPad Experience

Did you know you can customize your iPad, including creating photos and putting on a personalized background image? There are a lot of cool things you can do with the iPad to make it more your own rather than just keeping with the generic interface that comes with it. So, let's explore some of the ways you can customize your experience.

1
Organize Your iPad With Folders

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Getty Images / Tara Moore

The first thing you'll want to do with your iPad is learning some of the basics, including how to create folders for your icons. You can even dock folders at the bottom of the iPad, which means you will always have quick access to those applications. And when you don't have quick access, you can use spotlight search to search for any app, music or movies on your iPad. You can even search the web with spotlight search.

You can create a folder by dragging one app and dropping it on top of another app.  When you have an app held just above another app's icon, you can tell a folder will be created because the target app becomes highlighted.

Confused?  Read more about creating folders including detailed instructions on how to pick up and drag an app. 

2
Personalize Your iPad With Pictures

Of course, the easiest way to customize your iPad is to change out the background wallpaper and the image used on the lock screen. You can use photos of your spouse, family, friends or just about any image you come across on the web, and best of all, it really makes your iPad stand out compared to everyone who just uses the default background wallpaper.

The easiest way to set your background picture is to go into the Photos app, navigate to the picture you want to use and tap the Share button at the top of the screen.  A share/activity window will appear with options like sending the photo in a text message or through mail.  scroll through the second row of icons to locate "Use as Wallpaper."  When you tap this option, you will have the choice of setting it as your lock screen background, home screen background or both.  Browse some cool iPad background images.

3
Give Yourself or Someone Else a Nickname

This is a really cool trick that can actually turn out to be quite funny.  You can tell Siri to call you by a nickname.  This can be an actual nickname like calling you "Bob" instead of "Robert" or it can be a fun nickname like "Flip" or "Sketch."  

Here's how you do it: "Siri, call me Sketch."  

The fun part is that you can give anyone a nickname by filling in the nickname field in the contacts list.   So you could "text Mom" to send a text message to your mother or "Facetime Goofball" to call a friend.  

Find out more fun things to do with Siri.

4
Add a Custom Keyboard

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The latest iteration of the iPad operating system allows us to install "widgets" on our iPad.  A widget is just a small slice of an app that can run in the notification center or take over other parts of our iPad. In this case, it will take over the on-screen keyboard.  

You will first need to download a custom keyboard like Swype or Google's GBoard from the App Store.  Next, you "enable" the keyboard by launching the iPad settings app, going to General Settings, choosing Keyboard, tapping "Keyboards" and then tapping "Add New Keyboard..."  You should find your newly-downloaded keyboard listed. Simply tap the slider to turn it on. 

How do you get your new keyboard to actually pop up when the on-screen keyboard appears?  There will be a globe or a smiley-face key on the keyboard next to the voice dictation key by the space bar.  You can tap it to cycle through keyboards or tap-and-hold to select a keyboard.

Confused?  Apple didn't exactly make it easy.  You can read more detailed instructions on installing a third-party keyboard

5
Customize Your iPad With Sounds

Another neat way to make your iPad stand out is to customize the different sounds it makes. You can use custom sound clips for new mail, sending mail, reminder alerts, text tones and even set a custom ringtone, which is handy if you use FaceTime. Among the different custom sounds are a telegraph (great for the new mail sound), a bell, a horn, a train, a suspenseful horn section and even the sound of a magic spell being cast.

You can customize sounds in the iPad's settings by tapping "Sounds" from the left-side menu.  You can also turn off the keyboard clicking sound from these settings.

6
Lock and Secure Your iPad

Let's not forget about security! Not only can your lock your iPad with a passcode or an alphanumeric password, you can turn on restrictions to disable certain apps or functions on your iPad. You can even restrict the app store to only allow apps fit for kids to be downloaded and turn off YouTube completely.

You can set a passcode by going into the iPad's settings and tapping either "Touch ID & Passcode" from the left-side menu or simply "Passcode," depending on if you have an iPad with Touch ID or not.  Tap "Turn Passcode On" to get started.  The latest update defaults to a 6-digit passcode, but you can use a 4-digit code by tapping the Passcode Options.  

And if you have an iPad with Touch ID, you can even bypass your passcode by resting your finger on the Touch ID (Home Button) while on the lock screen.  It's one of many cool things you can do with Touch ID beyond just buying stuff.  It also means there's no reason not to have your iPad secured with a passcode since you won't need to type in the code yourself.  

7
More Great Settings and Tips

There is a lot more you can do to tweak your iPad, including a few settings that can make your battery last longer. You can also turn on multitasking gestures, which can make switching between apps easier, and even set up home sharing to share music and movies from your PC to your iPad, which is a great way to save storage space on your iPad.