Setting Up an iPad Without a Computer

Woman sits on couch with tablet
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Since its launch in 2010, the iPad setup process has seen some changes. With the introduction of new operating systems as well as new features such as the fingerprint sensor, Today’s iPad is a lot different from models in the market just a few years ago.

The good news is that setting up is actually a lot simpler now. After turning on your new tablet for the first time, you will be prompted to pick your language and country. You will then need to connect either via Wi-Fi or even a cellular connection if you have an iPad 3G or 4G model. This will be followed by a prompt to either activate or deactivate Location Services.

Next up is setting up a password with at least six digits for your device. If your iPad comes with a fingerprint sensor, you can set that up now, too. Otherwise, you can just go ahead with the setup and take care of it later.

If you want to bring over your data and apps from your previous device, you will have three options. If you used an Apple device previously, you can restore from either an iCloud or iTunes backup, but note that the latter requires connecting to a computer. Otherwise, you can restore from an Android phone as well.

At this point, you can choose to sign on with your Apple ID and set up Siri as well if you wish. For the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, you can customize your Home button, too. You will also be asked if you want to share your data. Phones from the iPhone 6 and up will let you customize your display settings as well.

To be honest, the setup process itself is quite simple, but for folks who just want a bit of guidance or are simply curious about how the process works, here is a step-by-step accounting of the iPad’s computer-free setup process.

The entire process pretty much involves the tablet asking you all sorts of stuff. One is whether or not you want to enable location services -- useful when using apps that require access to the tablet’s GPS function, for example. Regardless of whether you decide to turn it on or not, you can always change your location preference later via the Settings app so there’s no need to stress about it now.

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Dial Down Your New iPad Settings

You will also be asked about what language and country you want to associate with your device. Once again, this is something you can change via the Settings app later if you want (under the General, and then the International tab) so no need to freak out if you pick English instead of, uh, British English, for example.

The next step is where you indicate whether you want to do the set up with or without a computer. Obviously, this tutorial is about setting up your iPad without connecting it to a computer to pick the option to connect to a network. Yes, you need an Internet connection to continue with your setup if you decide to do it without a computer that runs iTunes. Your iPad will then scan for any available networks nearby. If you’re at home, for example, you will want to find your wireless router and connect to that (e.g. 2WIRE, Linksys, etc.). In most cases, the router will require a password, which is usually the WEP key printed at the bottom of the router’s base or its back.

Once you’re connected, you’ll be given the choice to either set up a new iPad, restore your apps and settings from an iCloud backup if you’ve set one up for a previous iOS device, or restore via an iTunes backup. Let’s assume you’re starting out fresh and decided to set up the device as a new iPad. You’ll need to sign in with an existing Apple ID or create a new ID if you don’t have one yet.

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Bringing it All Home

You’ll then be asked if you want to use iCloud, which comes with 5GB worth of cloud storage for free. This allows you to backup your iPad to iCloud so it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and use the service if you haven’t before.

Next, you’ll be asked if you want to use the (free) Find My iPad feature, which allows you to track the iPad’s whereabouts via computer or another iOS device in case you lose it.

You’ll then be asked if you want to enable the dictation feature and whether you want your iPad to automatically send diagnostics and usage data to Apple. It’s OK to pick no if you’re not comfortable with that.

Finally, you can just turn the slider to the “ON” position to register with Apple and you’ll get some shameless self-promotion from Apple that you are now ready to enjoy the most advanced iOS ever. Voila -- your iPad is now ready for use.