iTips: Apple iPad Quick Tips, Tricks and Tutorials

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Quick and Easy Pointers to Get the Most Out of Your iPad

The Apple iPad. Photo by Jason Hidalgo

— Looking for some tips for Apple's newer operating systems? Check out our tutorial for batch highlighting and mass deleting images on iOS 9 as well as a quick list of new features for iOS 8

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to use the iPad. But it's still nice to have a helping hand once in a while.

The Apple iPad Quick Tips, Tricks & Tutorials section compiles several simple pointers for using your iPad. Don't like tutorials that read like War and Peace? Then these quick and easy tips are perfect for you. From a speedy iPad setup to organizing your apps, this section will be updated regularly with tips and tricks for iPad users.

Here's our list of quick tutorials so far:

Set-Up, System and Peripherals

  • How to Set Up an iPad
  • How to Set or Change Your iPad Password
  • How to Back Up Your iPad and Restore from Back Up
  • How to Connect USB Devices to the iPad
  • How to Do a Hard Reset on an iPad
  • How to Redeem a Promo Code or iTunes Gift Card/Certificate With an iPad

Operation and Interface

  • How to Change iPad Wallpaper and Grab Images from the Web
  • How to Take Screenshots With an iPad
  • How to Quickly Search for Apps, Music, and Files in Your Apple iPad
  • How to Accurately Move the Text Cursor on an iPad
  • How to Copy, Cut and Paste Text and Images on an iPad
  • How to Do Undo or Redo With an iPad
  • How to Make Your iPad Read Text for You via VoiceOver

App App Hooray

Working With Media

  • How to Convert Videos for iPad
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The Setup: How to Set Up Your iPad Quickly

Setting up an iPad is quick and easy. Image by Jason Hidalgo

For tips on how to set up an iPad without connecting to a computer, check out our tutorial on how to set up an iPad wirelessly.

If you're just aching to give your freshly unboxed iPad a spin pronto like a certain, um, portable electronics writer did, here's the quickest way to do it.

First, download iTunes to your computer. If you already have iTunes, you need to make sure you update it to at least version 9.1 or it won't recognize your iPad (trust me, I tried it).

Once you've got iTunes all set up and launched, connect your iPad to your computer using the connector cable that comes with the device. Your iPad will be detected automatically and set up will begin.

Pick "Register Later" on the Welcome screen and make Apple's lawyers happy by agreeing to the user agreement. Log on to your iTunes account or create one if you don't have one. Just skip the MobileMe trial for now and you'll get to the sync screen and be faced with two choices.

At this time, it was more convenient for me to just restore a backup from an 8GB iPod Touch than picking "Set Up as a New iPad." If you don't want to restore a backup or simply don't have one, just pick "Set Up as a New iPad" and choose your sync settings.

Once syncing is done, you'll get a message saying "iPad sync is complete. OK to disconnect." That means you're ready to go.

*Just in case you're wondering, one way to register if you skipped the process is to go to You can find your iPad's serial number at the back of your device, towards the bottom part of the rear casing.

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How to Download Apps with the iPad

Tapping on the gray button in an app box allows you to download the application from the Apple App Store. Photo by Jason Hidalgo

Click on the App Store app from your iPad home screen or desktop. Look below and you'll see options for:

  • Featured: A list of "New and Noteworthy" apps.
  • Top Charts: A list of the most popular apps, which is divided into Top Paid Apps, Top Free Apps (broke teens and college students rejoice!), and Top Grossing Apps. Tap on "Show More" to see more options.
  • Categories: A list of Apps divided into categories such as News, Entertainment, and Games.
  • Updates: Checks if any app you've downloaded has an update.Since everyone loves free stuff, I'll pick a free app, NPR for iPad, as an example. To immediately download it, just touch the button that says "FREE" and it'll turn into a green button that says "INSTALL APP" (for apps that aren't free, the same button will have a price instead). To see more details about the app, just click on the box for the app to go to a different screen. If there are any reader reviews, you can view them by scrolling down once you get to the details page. You can also download from here by tapping on the "FREE" (or price) button on the upper left.
    For paid apps, you can use the same account you pay within iTunes. Otherwise, you can scroll down to the bottom of the main App Store page and click on the Account button and enter your credit card info.
    Once you start downloading, you will be taken back to the iPad desktop and you'll see an icon of your chosen app with a progress bar below. Wait for it to finish and that's it!
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How to Move or Delete iPad Apps

To move or delete an app on the iPad, press and hold an app icon until an "X" appears on all apps and they start to jiggle. Simply swipe and hold to move an app or tap "X" to delete it.

This is so easy, even a caveman can do it — no offense to cavemen and cavewomen everywhere of course.

Just pick any app on your desktop or home screen, then channel your inner obsessed lover by touching it without letting go. You'll eventually see your app icons jiggle with a new "X" mark.

To move an app, just drag it (don't hit the "X" though) to the spot you want it to be. For folks with more than one page or screen of apps, dragging the app icon past the screen will take you to the next page. Surrounding apps will automatically move around if you drag an app in between them.

To erase or delete an app, tap on the "X" button to exile it from your iPad. You'll get a message asking you if you really want to delete the app.

Once you're done, simply press the Home button on the lower part of your iPad's screen.

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How to Change iPad Wallpaper and Grab or Save Images from the Web

Changing the wallpaper or background of the iPad is quick and easy. Image by Jason Hidalgo

Wearing the same clothes gets boring after a while. Same thing goes for your iPad wallpaper.

Fortunately, changing the background of your iPad is pretty darn easy. You can even grab images from the Web to use as wallpapers with a simple push of the touchscreen.

First, let's go over changing your wallpaper. From your iPad Home screen or desktop, look for the "Settings" icon and touch it. You'll see a list of options on the left side. Obviously, the one you want is the third one down, "Brightness & Wallpaper." Touch that and you'll bring up a "Wallpaper" box showing your "Home Screen" on the left and your "Lock Screen" on the right. Click on that box and you'll bring up a list of images to choose from. "Wallpaper" has pre-installed images. If you synced any image folders from iTunes, they will show up as their own categories here as well.

If you download any images via an app like Backgrounds HD, you will find those in a category called "Saved Photos." Incidentally, this is also where photos you grab from the Internet will show up as well.

How do you grab photos from the Web? Well, once you find a photo you like while browsing via Safari on your iPad, just touch and hold it until a menu for "Save Image" and "Copy" comes out. Pick "Save Image" and the photo will be saved in your "Saved Photos" location. It's seriously that easy. (Just make sure to choose a photo that's big enough to look good on the iPad's larger screen.)

Once you've decided on an image you like, tap on it and you'll bring up a preview of the photo and three options. "Set Lock Screen" is the image that will show up when your system "locks" after a certain amount of inactivity. "Set Home Screen" is your main wallpaper. "Set Both" uses the image as both your Lock Screen and Home Screen wallpaper.

Just to be certain we're clear, make sure you pick photos via the "Brightness & Wallpaper" menu under "Settings" and not the "Photos" app on the Home Screen.

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How to Search for Apps, Music and Files in Your Apple iPad

Searching on iPad
Wikimedia Commons

Many consider the simplicity of the iPad's interface as a key selling point. But once you've downloaded a ton of apps and files, wading through all the clutter to find what you want can be a pain.

Fortunately, there's a quick and easy way to look for files — well, almost all of them — from the main home screen. Know how the iPad automatically downloads extra apps to a new screen to the right of your main screen? Well, have you ever thought of what lies to the left of the home screen?

Do a rightward swipe from the main screen (to access the next screen to the left) and you'll bring up a search screen. Type the name of the song, artist, file or app that you're looking for in the search box and whoop there it is.

Now, what do I mean when I said "almost all?" Well, finding pictures for one is, um, a bit of an issue. Still, the search is pretty useful for folks with a ton of downloaded songs and apps.

Back to the iTips Tutorial Menu

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How to Redeem a Promo Code, Gift Certificate or Gift Card Using an iPad

One quick way to redeem promo codes or gift cards/certificates with your iPad is to go to the App Store, scroll down to the bottom and tap the "Redeem" button. Image by Jason Hidalgo

So you've got a gift card or promo code for your iPad and you would like to redeem it. Now what?

Well, it's actually quite easy. In fact, you don't even need to sync with iTunes on your computer if you're in a hurry.

Basically, just open the App Store from your iPad home screen and scroll down to the bottom of the App Store main screen. You'll see a "Redeem" button. Just tap on the button and you can enter the code you have.

If your code is for a particular app (I recently got a review code for Toy Story 2, for example), the app will download automatically after you enter the code.

Back to the iTips Tutorial Menu

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How to Connect USB Devices to the iPad

ipad tutorials
Apple's iPad camera connection kit can actually double as a USB connector. Photo © Apple

A new, more detailed version of this article is now available: How to Connect Portable USB Devices, Transfer Files and Media to iPad and iPhone

A common complaint levied against the iPad when it launched was its lack of a USB connection. But just because the device does not have a dedicated USB slot doesn't mean you can't connect USB devices to it.

The USB workaround for the iPad comes in the form of Apple's $29 official iPad camera connection kit. Designed primarily to get photos transferred to the iPad from any camera, the accessory actually allows certain USB devices to connect to the iPad as well. Some USB devices that appear to work through this connection so far include microphones, speakers, and keyboards.

Just keep in mind that this isn't an "official" capability for the accessory — or even the OS — for that matter, so your mileage may vary as far as device compatibility.

Back to the iTips Tutorial Menu

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Accurately Moving Cursor Between Text on Your iPad

Accurately moving the text cursor on an iPad is just a touch away. Photo by Jason Hidalgo

Touchscreen interfaces have gone a long way. But even with a large screen such as the iPad, accurately moving or placing a text cursor at a specific spot can be tricky. Or is it?

If you're struggling with putting your text cursor at a specific spot, all you need to do is treat your iPad like the apple of your eyes (cough, cough) and touch and hold — your cursor, that is.

Doing so will bring up a mini magnifying glass that will allow you to easily move your cursor between text. It's an especially helpful tip for folks with large fingers.

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How to Copy, Cut and Paste Text and Images on an iPad

The iPad features handle bars for highlighting more than one word. Photo by Jason Hidalgo

Remember when Apple used to get grief for the lack of copy and paste? These days, copying and pasting is a regular feature on Apple's touch interfaces, which includes the iPad.

The key is pretty much the same as the cursor placement tutorial, which relies on the mini-magnifying glass. Just touch a word and hold it until the magnifying glass comes out. Let go and the word will be highlighted plus also have two pull bars on both ends. You can then simply tap the "Copy" bubble that comes out or drag the handles to highlight more words.

Once you've made your selection, double tap on a search box to make the "paste" command appear. For something like the Notes app, tap once on the location you want to paste onto and the keyboard will come out. Now touch and hold on the cursor and the "Paste" icon comes out (doing this without the keyboard out just brings up the "Select" and "Select All" command.

As mentioned in the Wallpaper tutorial, the tap and hold gesture also lets you copy (or save) photos.

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How to Take Screenshots With an iPad

To take a screenshot with your iPad, just press the Power and Home buttons.

Like the "Print Screen" function on a PC? Well, you can do that on the iPad, too.

In fact, all it takes is two button presses. First, hold the power button on the upper right-hand side of the iPad and then press the "Home" button (that would be the main button on the middle lower part of the iPad screen). You'll see a flash effect, which is your sign that the screenshot has been taken.

To see your screenshot, just go to the Photos app like with any other image. Voila, that ill-advised photo your co-worker posted while drunk is now preserved for posterity.

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How to Undo/Redo with the iPad

Just because you don't have a keyboard doesn't mean you can't have access to the iPad's "undo" or "redo" functions. (Normally Command+Z and Command+Shift+Z on an iPad-compatible keyboard)

For starters, you can still do the old iPhone trick and shake your iPad for a quick undo. But if you're worried about sending your precious iPhone flying straight at an innocent bystander's noggin, then the touchscreen keyboard works, too.

First, bring up the touchscreen keyboard and hit the ".?123" button. This brings up another set of virtual keyboard buttons, including an "undo" button that you can click to your undoing heart's content.

For a redo, press "#+=" and you'll bring up the "redo" button.

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How to Do a Hard Reset on Your iPad

Doing a hard reset on an iPad only takes two button presses. Photo by Jason Hidalgo

As with many electronic devices that sport an operating system, there might come a time when your apps start working out or your iPad simply freezes. In most cases, a "hard reset" fixes most issues.

To do a hard reset, just hold the "Sleep/Wake" button on the upper right of your iPad along with the circular "Home" button on the lower middle part of the device's bezel. After 10 seconds, you should see the Apple logo. That's the sign that you've successfully pulled off a hard reset with your iPad.

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How to Convert Videos for iPad

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to learn how to convert videos for iPad.

The iPad's large screen makes it an ideal device for watching your own videos and movies. But as with any device, you need to make sure your video is in the proper format before you put it on your iPad via iTunes. Check my Video Conversion Tutorial to learn how to turn any video you have into an iPad-compatible MP4 file.

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How to Set or Change Your iPad Password

Setting an iPad passcode is as easy as 1-2-3-4. Literally.

Whether it be from snoopy relatives or some pilferer who snatches your iPad, protecting your data is always a good idea. One way you can do that is by setting a password for your iPad. Check out our quick iPad password tutorial with step-by-step instructions and photos.