A New User's Guide to the iPad

iPad 101

You've bought your iPad and gone through the steps to set it up so that it is ready to use. Now what?

For new iPad users who have never owned an iPhone or iPod Touch, simple things like finding good apps, installing them, organizing them, or even deleting them might take some time to figure out. Even for users that know the basics of navigation, there are tips and tricks that can help you be more productive using the iPad.

Learning the iPad Basics

Most navigation on the iPad is done with simple touch gestures, such as touching an icon to launch the application or swiping your finger left or right across the screen to move from one screen of app icons to the next. These same gestures can do different things based on the application you are in, and usually, they have their roots in common sense.

iPad Air 2
 Justin Sullivan / Getty Images 

Swiping: You will often hear reference to swiping left or right or up or down. This gesture involves placing the tip of your finger on one side of the iPad, and without lifting your finger from the display, moving it to the other side of the iPad. So if you start on the right side of the display and move your finger to the left, you are "swiping left". On the home screen, which is the screen with all of your apps on it, swiping left or right will move between pages of apps. The same gesture will move you from one page of a book to the next while in the Books application.

Dragging: You'll occasionally need to touch the screen and hold your finger down. For example, when you touch your finger against an application icon and keep your finger held down, you will enter a mode that allows you to move the icon to a different part of the screen.

Don't forget the about the iPad Home Button

Apple's design is to have as few buttons on the exterior of the iPad as possible, and one of the few buttons on the outside is the Home Button. It's the circular button at the bottom of the iPad with the square in the middle.

You use the Home Button to wake the iPad when it's sleeping and to exit out of applications, and if you have put the iPad into a special mode (such as the one that lets you move application icons), the home button exits it. 

You can think of the Home Button as the "Go Home" button. Whether your iPad is sleeping or you are inside of an application, it will take you to the home screen.

But the Home Button has one other very important feature: It activates Siri, the iPad's voice recognition personal assistant. You can hold the Home Button down to get Siri's attention. Once Siri pops up on your iPad, you can ask it basic questions like, "What movies are playing nearby?"

How to Move iPad Apps

How to Move an iPad App

After a while, you will start filling your iPad up with a lot of great apps. Once the first screen is full, apps will begin appearing on a second page.

You can move an iPad app by placing your finger on the app's icon and holding it down until all of the icons on the screen start jiggling. (Some icons will also show a black circle with an x in the middle.)  While your iPad is in this state, you can move icons by holding your finger down on top of them and moving it without lifting it from the screen. You can then drop it into another spot by lifting your finger.

Moving an iPad app to another screen is a little trickier, but uses the same basic concept. Hold your finger down on the app you want to move, like normal. Then, drag the icon to the right edge of the iPad's screen to move it over one page. When you get to the edge of the display, hold the app in the same position for one second and the screen will move from one page of apps to the next. The app icon will still move with your finger, and you can move it into position and "drop" it by lifting your finger.

When you are finished moving iPad apps, click the Home Button.

How to Delete an iPad App

To delete an app, hold your finger on it like you're going to move the icon. When the apps start to wiggle, tap on the gray button in the upper-left corner (with an X on it) to delete the app. You can still flip from one page to the next by swiping left or swiping right.

After you tap the gray circular button, the iPad will prompt you to confirm your choice. The confirmation window will include the app's name, so you can be certain you are deleting the right one before you tap the Delete button.

An Introduction to Siri

Siri for iPad

Siri is not a gimmick. In fact, it can be an invaluable assistant once you learn how to get the most out of it, especially if you aren't already an extremely organized person.  

Hold the Home Button down to activate Siri. The iPad beeps twice and changes to a screen that reads, "What can I help you with?" or "Go ahead, I'm listening." When you get to this screen, say, "Hi Siri. Who am I?"

If Siri is already set up on the iPad, it will respond with your contact information. If you haven't set up Siri yet, it will ask you to go into the Siri settings. On this screen, you can tell Siri who you are by tapping the "My Info" button and choosing yourself from your Contacts list. Close out of Settings by clicking the Home Button, and then re-activate Siri by holding the Home Button down.

This time, let's try something that is actually useful. Tell Siri, "Remind me to go outside in one minute." Siri will let you know it understood by saying "Okay, I will remind you." The screen will also show the reminder with a button to remove it.  

The Reminders command may be one of the most useful. You can tell Siri to remind you to take the trash out, to bring something with you to work, or stop by the grocery store to pick something up on the way home.  

You can also use Siri to schedule events by saying, "Schedule [an event] for tomorrow at 7 PM." Instead of saying "an event", you can give your event a name. You can also give it a specific date and time. Similar to the reminder, Siri will prompt you to confirm. 

Siri can also perform tasks like checking the weather outside ("Weather"), checking the score of the game ("What was the final score of the Cowboys game?") or find a nearby restaurant ("I want to eat Italian food").  

Launch Apps Quickly

iPad apps

Now that we've met Siri, we'll go over a few ways to launch apps without hunting through page after page of icons to find a specific app. 

Perhaps the easiest way is to simply ask Siri to do it for you. "Launch Music" will open the Music app, and "Open Safari" will launch the Safari web browser. You can use "launch" or "open" to run any app, although an app with a long, hard-to-pronounce name might cause some difficulty. 

But what if you want to launch an app without talking to your iPad? For example, you want to look up a familiar face from a movie you are watching in IMDB, but you don't want to disturb your family by using voice commands. 

Spotlight Search may be one of the most underused features of the iPad, mainly because people either don't know about it or forget to use it. It will search your entire iPad. It will even search outside of your iPad, such as popular websites. If you type in the name of an app you have installed on your iPad, it will appear as an icon in the search results. In fact, you will probably only need to type in the first few letters for it to pop up under "Top Hits." And if you type in the name of an app you don't have installed on your iPad, you will receive a result that allows you to view that app in the App Store.  

But what about an app you use all the time like Safari or Mail or Pandora Radio? You can also move apps off the dock at the bottom of the screen and move new apps to the dock in a similar manner. In fact, the dock will hold six icons, so you can drop one without removing any that come standard on the dock. 

Having frequently used apps on the dock will keep you from hunting them down because the apps on the dock are present no matter which Home Screen page your iPad is on at the moment. So it's a good idea to put your most popular apps on the dock.

You can also open a special version of Spotlight Search by swiping from left to right when you are on the first page of the Home Screen to open a version of Spotlight Search that includes your most recent contacts, recent apps, quick links to nearby stores and restaurants and a quick glance at the news.

How to Create Folders and Organize iPad Apps

Apple iPad 4

You can also create a folder of icons on the iPad screen. To do this, touch an iPad app and hold your finger down on it until the app icons are jiggling.

If you recall from the tutorial on moving apps, you can move an app around the screen by keeping your finger pressed down to the icon and moving the finger on the display.

Create a folder by "dropping" an app on top of another app. Notice that when you move an application's icon on top of another app, that app is highlighted by a square. This indicates that you can create a folder by lifting your finger, thereby dropping the icon on it. And you can put other icons in the folder by dragging them to the folder and dropping them on it. 

When you create a folder, you'll see a title bar with the name of the folder on it and all of the contents below it. To rename the folder, touch the title area and type in a new name using the on-screen keyboard.

The iPad will try to give the folder a smart name based on the functionality of the apps you have combined.

In the future, you can tap the folder icon to get access to those apps. When you are in the folder and want to exit out of it, press the iPad home button. The home is used to exit out of whatever task you are currently doing on the iPad.

You can also place a folder on the Home Screen dock similar to placing an app on it. This is another great way at getting to your most popular apps without resorting to asking Siri to open them or using Spotlight Search.

How to Find iPad Apps

With over a million apps designed for the iPad and many more compatible iPhone apps, you can imagine that finding a good app can sometimes be like finding a needle in a haystack. Luckily, there are several ways to help you find the best apps.

One great way to find quality apps is to use Google rather than searching the App Store directly. For example, if you want to find the best puzzle games, doing a search on Google for "best iPad puzzle games" will yield better results than going through page after page of apps in the App Store. Go to Google and put "best iPad" followed by the type of app you are interested in finding. Once you've targeted a particular app, you can search for it in the App Store. (And many lists will contain a link directly to the app in the App Store.)

But Google won't always yield the best results, so here are a few other tips for finding great apps:

  1. Featured Apps. The first tab on the toolbar at the bottom of the App Store is for featured apps. Apple has chosen these apps as the best of their kind, so you know they are of higher quality. In addition to the featured apps, you'll be able to see the new and noteworthy list and the Apple staff favorites.
  2. Top Charts. While popularity doesn't always mean quality, it's a great place to look. The Top Charts are divided into multiple categories that you can choose from the top-right side of the App Store. Once you've chosen the category, you can show more than the top apps by swiping your finger from the bottom of the list towards the top. This gesture is commonly used on the iPad to scroll down lists or down the page on a website.
  3. Sort By Customer Rating. No matter where you are in the App Store, you can always search for an app by typing into the search box in the top-right corner. By default, your results will sort by 'most relevant', which might help you to find a specific app, but doesn't take into account quality. A good way to find the better apps is to choose to sort by the ratings given by customers. You can do this by tapping "By Relevance" at the top of the screen and choosing "By Rating". Remember to look at both the rating and how many times it has been rated. A 4-star app that has been rated 100 times is far more reliable than a 5-star app that has only been rated six times.

How to Install iPad Apps

Once you've found your app, you'll need to install it on your iPad. This requires a few steps and consists of the iPad both downloading and installing the app on the device. When it is finished, the app's icon will appear towards the end of your other apps on the iPad's home screen. While the app is still downloading or installing, the icon will be disabled. 

To download an app, first touch the price tag button, which is located near the top of the screen just to the right of the app's icon. After you've touched the button, the outline will turn green and read "Install" or "Buy." Touch the button again to start the install process.

Free apps will read "Get" or "Free" instead of displaying a price.

You may be prompted for your Apple ID password. This can occur even if the app you are downloading is free. By default, the iPad will prompt you to enter a password if you haven't downloaded an app within the last 15 minutes. So, you can download several apps at one time and only need to enter your password once, but if you wait too long, you will need to enter it again. This process is designed to protect you in case someone picks up your iPad and attempts to download a bunch of apps without your permission.

Ready to Learn More?

Now that you have the basics out of the way, you can dive right into the best part of the iPad: using it! And if you need ideas on how you can get the most out of it, read about all the great uses for the iPad.

Still confused by some of the basics? Take a guided tour of the iPad. Ready to take it a step further? Find out how you can personalize your iPad by choosing a unique background image for it.

Want to connect your iPad to your TV? You'll know find out how in this guide. Want to know what to watch once you have it connected? There are a number of great apps to stream movies and TV shows available for the iPad. You can even stream movies from iTunes on your PC to your iPad.

How about games? Not only are there a number of great free games for the iPad, but we also have a guide to the best iPad games.

Games not your thing? You can check out 25 must-have (and free!) apps to download or just look through our guide to the best apps.

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