iPad Basics for Beginners: How to Use an iPad for the First Time

by Tammy

So you finally broke down and bought your first iPad, huh? It is probably a little different than what you’re used to, especially for those who have Windows computers, but it’s very easy to get comfortable and start enjoying your new device.

You have no doubt already figured out that the top right button on your iPad is your power / sleep button. Hold it down to turn it on or off, or tap it once when the iPad is on to put it to sleep (tap it again or tap the round Home button at the bottom center of the front to wake it back up).

But learning how to turn the tablet on and off is only the start. What should you do now?

The Very Beginning

If you are just opening the box and turning on your iPad for the first time, you will need to set everything up. A computer is no longer needed since the latest iOS updates. For the initial setup, use your finger to slide the Configure button to the right, then follow the directions from there. Tap Next to go from screen to screen.

How to Configure your iPad

When you are asked if you would like to use Location Services, it is a good idea to use it since some apps like Find My iPad (a great tool if your iPad is ever stolen or misplaced) will need it. When you’re asked if you would like to use iCloud, you should use this, too, since it will automatically back up your iPad once a day when it is charging. Backups are essential when upgrading to a newer version of iPad or in case something happens to the one you have and you need to restore it for some reason.

While you are setting up your new iPad, you will need to connect to the Internet, so have your network key or password on hand. You will also have to create an account with Apple, which can be done from the setup screen. Your email can be set up during this process as well, or you can do it later in the Settings area of your device.

iPad Settings Area

When you are done with the initial setup, you can click on the Settings icon at any time to change things more to your preference.

View the Settings Area in iPad

Tap any of the titles or icons in the list to the left to change individual settings. Most are self-explanatory, so just go through them and change to your liking.

On the right outside of your iPad, above the volume button, there is a small switch to flip up or down. By default, it is used to Mute or un-Mute your iPad, but if you would prefer, you can have it to control the rotating of your screen instead. Rather than your screen automatically flipping from portrait to landscape every time you turn the iPad, you can have the option to lock it in place by scrolling down on the Settings-General screen (above) and tapping Lock Rotation beneath “Use Side Switch.”

Still in Settings, tap the Store or iTunes & App Store tab on the left. Here, you can change personal information and payment info by tapping on “Apple ID: your@email.com” at the bottom of the screen. Type in your password when prompted, then tap View Apple ID in the box that pops up. Beneath Edit, click Apple ID or Payment Information to edit whatever you need to add or change.

Hint: For Windows users, there is no “Okay” button. It will automatically save whatever selections you choose in Settings.

What Do I Do Now?

When all of the settings are complete, there’s nothing left to do except to have fun! Tap on App Store and explore this new world of iPad. There are many free and paid apps available, so browse around by using the menu on the bottom of the screen.

Explore iPad App Store

As in this image, you will see Featured, Genius, Top Charts, Categories, Purchased, and Updates. (In the later iOS versions, the bottom of the screen now shows Featured, Top Charts, Near Me, Purchased, and Updates.)

If you turn on Genius (no longer available in iOS 7 and higher), it will suggest new apps you might be interested in by considering others you’ve downloaded. Featured and Top Charts are good for new ideas as well. Always read the reviews by other people before buying an app. It might save you a hard earned $0.99 sometime.

When you see a number inside a red circle by Updates as above, it means one or more of your current apps has an update available. Tap on Updates, then click Update All or tap them individually.

As a side note, the dots at the bottom of any screen (notice on top of the bottom menu in the image above) mean there are more pages to browse through. Slide your finger across the icons above the dots to scroll to the next page.

The more you use your iPad, the more you will discover. Finding new apps can be a lot of fun, but it can also be productive. Whether you’re using it for work or entertainment, you will constantly be learning something new, so don’t stop here. Go learn something else.