Where to Download Manuals for Every iPad Model

Master your iPad's operating system with an Apple manual

Digital tablet computer

Jasmin Merdan / Getty Images 

Because Apple updates its iOS regularly, the manual for your iPad is actually the manual for the iOS you run on it. With the internet being central to everyone's tech experience these days, it's increasingly rare to get CDs with software on them or printed manuals. Downloads have replaced most of those items.

When you buy an iPad and open the box that the iPad comes in, one thing you won't find is a manual, but that doesn't mean you don't want one. Apple provides links to locations where you can download the iPad User Guide for your iPad's operating system, either in Apple Books or as a downloadable PDF. Searchable web access is also provided, although it is not downloadable.

If you are unsure which operating system your iPad is currently running, look in Settings > General > About.

iPad User Guide for iPadOS 13

iPadOS 13.3 user guide
What We Like
  • Web access version is interactive.

  • Clear table of contents.

  • Contents for new and experienced users.

What We Don't Like
  • Downloadable only from Apple Books.

  • Some content difficult to locate.

IPadOS is the first operating system for the iPad that differs from the iOS used by the iPhone—hence its name change. The most obvious change may be the introduction of dark mode to the iPad, but there are many other enhancements to improve the iPad experience for users. iPad OS 13 supports SD cards and external disk drives natively, courtesy of the Files app. Markup is introduced systemwide so users can annotate images and documents. Improved multitasking with Slide Over, a new Home screen redesign, and lower latency for the Apple Pencil add icing to the cake.

iPad User Guide for iOS 12

iPad User Guide iOS 12.3
 Apple Inc.
What We Like
  • Web version is interactive.

  • In-depth guides.

  • Includes images.

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to locate specific information.

  • Download only available at Apple Books.

The performance improvements of iOS 12 made the iPad faster. New gestures included accessing the app switcher, jumping between apps, going to the Home screen, and invoking Control Center. Even the photo import process, which hadn't changed in years, has been improved. A few apps were redesigned, including News, Books, Voice Memos, and Stocks.

iPad User Guide for iOS 11

iPad User Guide for iOS 11
What We Like
  • Web version is interactive.

  • In-depth guides for many new features.

  • Includes helpful images.

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to locate specific information.

  • Only downloadable at Apple Books.

While iOS 11 itself was a less significant upgrade for the iPhone, it was a huge step forward for iPad users. In addition to features such as Augmented Reality, iOS 11 added to the iPad a dock for apps, improvements to split-screen apps, new drag-and-drop options, systemwide document drawing and annotations, and more.

iPad User Guide for iOS 10

iPad User Guide for iOS 10
Apple Inc. 
What We Like
  • Web-based guide is well organized.

  • Useful screenshots.

  • Steps for all basic features.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't cover advanced features.

When Apple released iOS 10, it wasn't so much a revolutionary upgrade over iOS 9 as it extended the features and shored up the foundations of an already-very-good operating system. Major changes delivered with this version include apps in iMessage, improvements to Siri, and a revised lock screen experience.

iPad User Guide for iOS 9

iPad User Guide for iOS 9
Apple Inc. 
What We Like
  • Clear screenshots.

  • Covers all basic features.

  • Easy to follow instructions.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't include advanced features.

All kinds of impressive and useful features were added with iOS 9. Besides things like low-power mode, better security, and a refined user interface, iOS 9 brought cool iPad-specific features such as picture-in-picture viewing for video, split-screen multitasking, and an iPad-specific keyboard.

iPad User Guide for iOS 8

iOS 8.4 iPad User Guide
What We Like
  • Helpful photos and illustrations.

  • Download free PDF user guide directly.

  • Two download options.

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to find specific topics.

It's a good thing the manual for iOS 8 exists. When Apple released iOS 8, it made major changes to the platform. Things like Handoff, which connects your devices and computer, HealthKit, third-party keyboards, and Family Sharing all debuted in iOS 8.

iPad User Guide for iOS 7

iOS 7

IOS 7 was notable both for the features it introduced and for the major visual changes it ushered in. It was this version of the OS that changed from the look and feel that had been present since the iPad was released to a new, more modern, more colorful look. The manual covers those changes and new features like Control Center, Touch ID, and AirDrop.

iPad User Guide for iOS 6

iOS 6
What We Like
  • Covers many advanced features.

  • Very detailed guide.

  • Easy to follow instructions.

What We Don't Like
  • Only available as a PDF.

  • Small screenshots.

  • Difficult to find specific topics.

The changes introduced in iOS 6 feel standard now that we've used them for a few years, but they were cool at the time. This manual covers new features like Do Not Disturb, Facebook Integration, FaceTime over cellular networks, and an improved version of Siri.

iPad User Guide for iOS 5

iOS 5
What We Like
  • Detailed guide.

  • Easy to follow instructions.

  • Useful menus and charts.

What We Don't Like
  • Only available as a PDF.

  • Small screenshots.

  • Lacks many advanced features.

There can't be many people—if any—still running iOS 5 on their iPad, but if you happen to be one of the few out there, this PDF can help you master features new in iOS 5 such as syncing over Wi-Fi, iMessage, iTunes Match, and new multitouch gestures for the iPad.

iPad User Guide for iOS 4

iPad User guide for iOS 4
What We Like
  • Direct PDF download.

  • Covers advanced features.

  • Detailed user guide.

What We Don't Like
  • Small screenshots.

  • Hard to find specific topics.

In the early days of the iPad, Apple released manuals that combined details on both the latest version of the iPad and the iOS. When it released the iPad 2 running iOS 4.3, it released a combined user guide.

Original iPad User Guide for iOS 3.2

Original iPad with iOS 3.2
What We Like
  • Download PDF directly.

  • Useful specifications.

  • Helpful instructions.

What We Don't Like
  • Small screenshots.

  • Hard to find specific topics.

IOS 3.2 appeared on the first-generation iPad, which debuted in 2010 (earlier iOS versions were iPhone-only). There's probably not much here for day-to-day use at this stage, but the document is interesting from a historical perspective.