How to Download Apps to iPad

Woman using iPad at sunset
image credit: Tim Robberts/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The apps that come built into the iPad are good for basic tasks, but it's the apps that you can install on it that make it a truly must-use device. From apps to watch movies to games to productivity tools, if you've got an iPad, you've gotta have apps.

There are three ways to get apps onto your iPad: using iTunes, the App Store app on your iPad, or via iCloud. Read on for step-by-step tutorials on each one.

How to Use iTunes to Install Apps on iPad

Syncing apps (and movies, music, and books) from your computer to the iPad is a snap: just plug the cable into the port on the bottom of the iPad and into your computer's USB port. This will launch iTunes and let you sync content to your iPad.

To choose what apps are synced to your iPad, you need to use the options for syncing apps. Follow these steps:

  1. Plug your iPad into your computer

  2. If iTunes doesn't automatically open, open it

  3. Click the iPad icon just beneath the playback controls in the top left corner of iTunes

  4. On the iPad management screen, click Apps in the left-hand column

  5. All of the iPad apps on your computer are shown in the Apps column on the left. To install one of them, click Install

  6. Repeat for every app you want to install

  7. When you're done, install all of the apps by clicking the Apply button in the bottom right corner of iTunes.

There are a few other things you can do from this screen, including:

  • Re-arrange the apps on your homescreen or in folders by double-clicking the home screen or folders in the right-hand column and then dragging and dropping the apps
  • Add extra pages of apps to your iPad, or extra pages within folders, by going to either Home Screens or app folders on the right and clicking the + icon
  • To remove an app from your iPad (but without deleting it from your hard drive), click the Remove button next to the app on the left
  • To permanently delete an app from your computer, you don't use the iPad management screen. Instead, click the back arrow to leave the iPad management screen and go back to iTunes. Select Apps from the drop-down beneath the playback controls. Click Library. Then single click the app you want to delete and press the Delete key on your keyboard. Click Delete App in the pop-up.

How to Use the App Store to Get Apps for iPad

Getting apps from the App Store is a bit easier since you're downloading and installing the apps directly on your iPad and leaving iTunes out of it. Here's how:

  1. Tap the App Store app on your iPad to open it

  2. Find the app you want to install. You can do this by searching for it, browsing the featured apps, or by browsing categories and charts

  3. Tap the app 

  4. In the pop up, tap Get (for free apps) or the price (for paid apps)

  5. Tap Install (for free apps) or Buy (for paid apps)

  6. You may be asked to enter your Apple ID. If so, do that

  7. The download will start and in a few minutes the app will be installed on your iPad and ready to use.

How to Use iCloud to Download Apps to iPad

Even after you've deleted an app from your iPad, you can re-download and install it using your iCloud account. All of your past purchases from the iTunes and App Stores are kept in iCloud (except for items no longer available in the stores) and be grabbed at any time. To do that:

  1. Tap the App Store app on your iPad to open it

  2. Tap the Purchased menu at the bottom of the screen

  3. Tap Not on This iPad to see apps that are not currently installed

  4. This screen lists all the apps available for your to re-download. When you find one that you want, tap the download button (the cloud with the down arrow in it) to reinstall it. In some cases, you may be asked for your Apple ID, but generally the download should start right away.