What to Do First With a New iPad

Tips for setting up your new tablet

You've just taken your new iPad out of the box. Now what? If you are a little intimidated about the prospect of getting started with your iPad, don't worry. We take you through setting up the iPad for the first time, to learning about the app that comes with it, to the best apps to download, and how to find new apps.

Businesswoman using digital tablet
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Securing Your iPad

The most important thing you can do for your iPad is to secure it against unauthorized access. Set a passcode to protect your iPad data from prying eyes—even if you leave the device next to your living room couch. 

Although you're free to avoid setting a passcode if you wish, this basic level of security protects your device against data loss if it's stolen and prevents children from making changes to it.

You should have been asked to enter a passcode during the setup process. If you skipped that step, add a passcode by opening the Settings app and scrolling down the left menu until you see Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode or Face ID & Passcode. When you're inside the Passcode settings screen, tap Turn Passcode On to set it up.

If your iPad supports Touch ID and you didn't add your fingerprint during the setup process for the iPad, it is a good idea to add it now. Touch ID has many cool uses beyond just Apple Pay, perhaps the best of which is allowing you to bypass the passcode.

If you think entering a passcode will be more of a nuisance than useful, the ability to unlock your iPad with your finger eliminates the nuisance from the equation. With Touch ID, simply tap the Home button to wake your iPad up and keep your thumb resting on the sensor to bypass the passcode.

After you set up a passcode, consider restricting Siri or access to your notifications and calendar ("Today" view), depending on how secure you want your iPad. It is handy to have access to Siri from the lock screen. However, if you want your iPad locked down completely, you may have to live without it.

Activating Find My iPad

The Find My iPad feature helps you locate a lost iPad, and it lets you lock the iPad or reset it remotely.

Sync iCloud and iCloud Photos

Configure iCloud Drive and iCloud Photos. iCloud Drive should be turned on by default. It is also a good idea to flip the switch for Show on Home Screen to put an iCloud Drive app on your Home Screen that allows you to manage your documents.

Turn on iCloud Photos in the Photos section of the iCloud settings. iCloud Photos uploads the photos you take to iCloud Drive and allows you to access them from other devices. You can even access the photos from your Mac or Windows-based PC.

You can also choose to Upload to My Photo Stream. This setting automatically downloads your photos to all your devices with My Photo Stream turned on. While it sounds like the same thing as iCloud Photos, the key difference is that 30 days of full-sized photos are downloaded to all devices on Photo Stream and no photos are stored in the cloud, so you wouldn't have access to the photos from a PC. For most people, iCloud Photos is the better choice.

Also, turn on Shared Albums to create a special photo album that you can share with your friends. 

Add Apps to Your iPad

The apps that ship by default with your new iPad cover some of the basics, such as web browsing and playing music, but there's a rich ecosystem of both free and paid apps you're welcome to explore:

An image of the Apple App Store app icon on an iOS device screen.
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  • 21 must-have iPad apps. This list covers the basics, such as Facebook and Pandora. Best of all, this list contains only free apps, so you don't have to worry about racking up a bill when you download them.
  • The best iPad games. The previous list included the best free apps, but if you want the best games, you'll need to spend a little money. One of the best parts about the iPad is how cheap some of the best games are compared to game consoles. You'll find great games for as low as $0.99 and premium games running in the $4.99 to $8.99 range.
  • The best movie and TV apps and the best streaming music apps are both loaded with great apps that will keep you entertained.

Get the Most Out of Your New iPad

Did you know you can connect your iPad to your HDTV? And when your iPad's screen goes dark, it is not actually powered down. It is suspended. You can power down and reboot your iPad to solve some basic problems, such as if the iPad is starting to seem slow. The following guides will help you learn a few tips on how to use the iPad more efficiently and how to troubleshoot problems that may occur.

  • Get freebies for your iPad. Let's start out with some free stuff. Download free books, get free movies, and enjoy a range of free productivity apps. 
  • The best uses for the iPad. Sometimes, even the simplest use of the iPad can be a mystery if no one tells you about it. This list can give you some ideas for how to put the iPad to better use in your home.
  • iPad tips. Did you know you can skip the apostrophe while typing on the iPad? The auto-correct will put it in for you. This keyboard tip is just one of many cool tips that can help you use the iPad more efficiently.
  • Basic troubleshooting. Life with an iPad isn't always perfume-and-roses. If you do run into problems, these troubleshooting tips can help you solve them yourself without support from Apple.
  • Pro tips. After you've learned the basics of the iPad, learn how to maximize the navigational techniques to become a real "iPad pro."
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