The First 10 Things You Should Do With Your iPad

How to Get Started With Your iPad

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by your iPad after you purchased it, don't worry. It's a common feeling. There's a lot to do and a lot to learn about your new device. But there's no need to feel too intimidated. It won't take long before you'll be using the device like a pro before too long.   These pointers will help you start getting the most out of the device.

Brand new to the iPad and the iPhone?  Check out our iPad lessons to learn the basics.

1
Download Latest Software Update

Woman downloading software on iPad
Shuji Kobayashi/The Image Bank/Getty Images

This is true for any gadget that can receive updates to its system software. Not only can software updates help keep your device running smoothly, squashing annoying bugs you might otherwise come across, they can also help your device run more efficiently by saving on battery life. There are no known viruses for the iPad, and because all apps are screened by Apple, malware is rare, but no device is completely invulnerable. Software updates can make your iPad experience safer, which is a good enough reason to always keep on top of them.

More Instructions on Updating iOS

2
Move Apps into Folders

You might want to rush into the App Store and start downloading, but you'd be surprised by how quickly you'll have three or more pages full of apps. This can make it difficult to find a specific app, and while spotlight search provides a great way to search for apps, it's easy enough to keep your iPad organized by putting apps into folders.

To move an app, simply tap and hold your finger on it until all apps are jiggling. Once this happens, you can drag an app across the screen. To create a folder, simply drop it on another app. You can also give the folder a custom name.

While setting up your initial folders, try dragging the Settings app to the dock at the bottom of the screen. This dock comes with a few apps in it, but it can fit up to six. And because the dock is always ​present on your home screen, it makes a quick way to launch your favorite apps. Pro tip: You can also move a folder to the dock.

Want to learn more? Check out our New User's Guide to the iPad

3
Download iWork, iLife, iBooks

OK. Enough playing around with the apps that came with the iPad. Let's start filling it up with new apps. Apple is now giving away the iWork and iLife software suites to anyone who purchases a new iPad or iPhone. If you qualify for this, it's a good idea to download this software. iWork includes a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software. iLife has Garage Band, a virtual music studio, iPhoto, which is great for photo editing, and iMovie, a movie editor. While you are there, you can also download iBooks, Apple's eBook reader.

The first time you launch the App Store, you will be presented with the opportunity to download these apps. This is the easiest way to download them all at once. If you've already opened the App Store and declined the download, you can search for them individually. iWork includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. iLife contains Garage Band, iPhoto, and iMovie.

A List of All of Apple's iPad Apps

4
Disable In-App Purchases

If you are a parent with a small child, it is a good idea to disable in-app purchases on the iPad.  While there are a lot of free apps in the App Store, many aren't completely free.  Instead, they use in-app purchases to make money.

This includes a lot of games.  In-app purchases have become very popular because the 'freemium' model of offering the app for free and then selling items or services within the app actually generates more revenue than just asking for the money upfront.   

You can disable these in-app purchases by opening the iPad's settings, choosing General from the left-side menu, tapping Restrictions from the General settings and then tapping "Enable Restrictions."  You will be asked to enter a passcode.  This passcode is used to get back into the restrictions area to alter any settings.

Once Restrictions are enabled, you can tap the on/off slider next to "In-App Purchases" toward the bottom of the screen.  Many apps won't even offer in-app purchases once this slider is set to off, and those that do will be stopped before any transaction can go through.

How to Childproof Your iPad

5
Connect to Your iPad to Facebook

While we are in the iPad's settings, we might as well set up Facebook. If you use the social network, you will probably want to connect your iPad to your Facebook account. This allows you to quickly share photos and web pages to Facebook by simply tapping the Share button when you are viewing a photo or on a web page.  

It also allows apps to interact with Facebook. Don't worry, if an app wants to access your Facebook connection, it will ask permission first.

You can connect your iPad to Facebook by scrolling down the left-side menu in Settings and choosing Facebook.  You will be asked to log into your Facebook account to connect it.  

You can also have Facebook interact with your calendar and contacts.  For example, if the slider next to calendars is switched to the on position, the birthdays of your Facebook friends may show up on your iPad's calendar.  

6
Expand Your Storage With a Cloud Drive

Unless you splurged on that 64 GB model, you may find yourself with some storage space constraints on your new iPad. Hopefully, you won't need to worry about this for a while, but one way to give yourself a little more elbow room is to set up third-party cloud storage.

The best cloud storage options for the iPad include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft's OneDrive and Box.net.   They all have their various good points and bad points.  Best of all, they include a little bit of free storage space so you can find out if you like the extra elbow room.

Beyond just expanding your storage, these cloud services offer a great way to protect documents and photos by virtue of simply storing them on the cloud.  No matter what happens to your iPad, you can still get at these files from any other device including your laptop or desktop PC.

The Best Cloud Storage Options for the iPad

7
Download Pandora and Set Up You Own Custom Radio Station

Pandora Radio allows you to create a custom radio station by inputting a song or artist you like.  Pandora uses that information to find and stream similar music.  You can even add multiple songs or artists to a single station, allowing you to create variety.   

How to Use Pandora Radio

Pandora is free to use, but it is supported with advertisements that sometimes play between songs.  If you want to get rid of the advertisements, you can subscribe to Pandora One.

The Best Streaming Music Apps for the iPad

8
Set a Custom Background

If you set up Photo Stream on your iOS devices, you may already have your most recent photos on your iPad. This would be a good time to set up a custom background. After all, who wants that bland background that comes with the iPad? You can set a custom background for your home screen and for your lock screen. You can set custom backgrounds in the "Wallpapers & Brightness" section of your iPad settings. It is just under the General settings in the left-side menu. And even if you haven't loaded any photos on your iPad, you can choose from some of the default wallpaper provided by Apple.

How to Customize Your iPad

9
Back Up Your iPad to iCloud

Now that we've customized the iPad and downloaded some basic apps, it's a good time to backup the iPad. Normally, your iPad should back itself up to the cloud anytime you leave it charging. But sometimes, you may want to back it up manually. All you need to do to backup the iPad is to launch Settings, choose iCloud from the left-side menu and choose the Storage and Backup option at the bottom of the iCloud settings. The last option in this new screen is "Back Up Now".

Don't worry, the process doesn't take too long even if you have loaded the iPad up with a bunch of bulky apps. Since apps can be re-downloaded from the App Store, they don't need to be backed up to iCloud. The iPad simply remembers which apps you had installed on your device.

More on Backing Up Your iPad

10
Download More Apps!

If there is one common reason why people buy the iPad, it's the apps. The App Store passed the million apps mark, and a sizable chunk of those apps are designed specifically for the iPad's larger screen. You'll no doubt want to load your iPad up with a bunch of great apps, so to help you get started, here are a few lists of free apps you can check out:

The Must-Have (and Free!) Apps on the iPad
The Best Free Games
The Top Movie and TV Apps
The Best Apps for Productivity