Setting up an iPad For First-Time Use

Get started with your new Apple Tablet

The process to set up an iPad to use for the first time is simple now that Apple has cut 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. With that bit of information, you can have your new iPad up and running within five minutes.

These instructions apply to devices running iOS 12 and later.

How to Set Up Your New iPad

Your new iPad will come out of the box with a full battery, so you won't need to use the included cable to charge it before you set it up for the first time.

A young man setting up his new iPad
Public Domain / Tinh Te Photos

Here's how to set up your iPad for the first time.

  1. Press and hold the power button to turn on the iPad. It's on top of the device, opposite the Home button.

    iPad with screen facing, highlighting the Sleep/Wake button in the upper right corner fo the device and the Home button in the lower center
  2. The first screen you see will say, "Hello." Either press the Home button or swipe up on the screen to continue.

  3. Your first setting will be Language. The language you select will be the one the iPad uses for all of its text and directions. English is the default, but tap you're preferred one if that isn't it.

  4. Next, the iPad needs to know the country you're in to connect to the correct version of the Apple App Store. Not all apps are available in all countries.

    Tap your country or region to continue.

  5. If you have another device, like an iPhone, that's running iOS 11 or later, you can use Quick Start on the next screen to easily import your settings and log in to your Apple ID automatically.

    Place the other device next to the iPad you're setting up to use Quick Start, or tap Set Up Manually to continue.

  6. Your next step is to select which language you want to use for the keyboard on your iPad. It will generate a default based on your language and country settings from earlier, but you can choose another one if you want.

    Make your selection, and then tap Next.

  7. The next screen shows a list of all of the available Wi-Fi networks. Tap the name of yours, and then enter your password.

    If Wi-Fi isn't available, tap Connect to iTunes and finish the setup on your computer.

  8. Read the Data & Privacy statement on the next screen, and then tap Continue to proceed.

  9. On the next screen, you can choose to set up Touch ID, which secures your iPad with your fingerprint. Tap Continue to do it now, or select Set Up Touch ID Later to skip this step.

    If you choose to set up Touch ID now, the iPad will walk you through the process of logging your fingerprint.

  10. You don't have to create a passcode to use an iPad, but you'll be able to do so next. A passcode provides an extra layer of security and will let approved people use your iPad without needing your fingerprint to unlock it.

    Enter a six-digit passcode, and then confirm it to continue.

    Tap Passcode Options to create a longer or shorter code or to skip this step.

  11. On the next screen, you can choose to set up your iPad as a new one or to restore a backup from another device.

    If this is your first iPad, select Set Up as New iPad. Otherwise, you can import all of the apps and settings from another device, either one you're storing on your computer or one in Apple's iCloud service.

    If you're restoring from a backup, the iPad will ask for your iCloud username and password and which backup you want to use.

    You can also import contacts and other info from your Android phone or tablet by tapping Move Data from Android.

  12. 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 means you can download your music and apps to the iPad without purchasing them again.

    If this is your first time with any Apple device, you will need to create an Apple ID. You may 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, enter the username (usually your email address) and password.

  13. Next, you'll need to agree to the Terms and Conditions, and once you do so, 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.

  14. The next screen gives you the option to accept Express Settings for some other options, like Siri, Location Services, and Analytic Data.

    Tapping Continue will turn all of these settings on. Tap Customize Settings to set them up individually.

  15. Now, you can decide whether or not you want your iPad to update itself automatically when a new version of iOS comes out. If you do, tap Continue. If not, tap Install Updates Manually. With the second option, you'll receive a notification when an update is available, but your iPad won't download and install it unless you tell it to.

  16. Decide if you want to turn on Location Settings on the next screen. This setting lets apps on your iPad know where you are to do things like give you driving directions or show you nearby restaurants. Even an iPad without 4G and GPS can use location services by utilizing nearby Wi-Fi networks to determine the location.

    Tap Enable Location Settings to turn them on or Disable Location Settings to leave them off.

    You can turn off location services later and choose which apps you allow to use them and which apps can't use them.

  17. If your iPad includes Apple's digital assistant, Siri, you will be prompted whether or not you want to use it. There's really no reason not to use Siri. Like Apple's voice recognition system, Siri can perform a lot of great tasks, such as setting up reminders or telling you the name of the song on the radio.

    Tap Continue to leave Siri on, or select Set Up Later in Settings to turn it on later.

  18. Your next decision is whether or not to turn on Screen Time, a utility that gives you information about how much you or your family use the iPad.

    Tap Continue to use Screen Time or Set Up Later in Settings to turn it off.

  19. The next screen lets you decide to send a daily diagnostic report to Apple. Doing so is purely your 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.

  20. If your iPad supports True Tone Display, which adjusts the colors on the screen based on the devices surroundings, you'll be able to see how it works on the next screen.

    Tap and hold the See Without True Tone Display button in the center of the screen for a preview of what you'll see if you turn off the feature. You can't turn it off during setup, however, so tap Continue to move on.

    True Tone Display is available on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and later, as well as the 2019 or later iPad Air and iPad Mini.

  21. The next few screens are informational only and just tell you how to perform some features on the iPad. Tap Continue when you're done reading each of them.

  22. Finally, tap Get Started. The iPad will take you to its home screen and is ready for you to use.

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