Set Up Your iPad: Detailed Look at General Settings

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After a little prompting, any 5 year-old can navigate Apple’s newest piece of hardware, the iPad. The touch screen technology literally makes it easy to tap on an application and start viewing media, typing text, or navigating the web.

There are settings under the hood of iPad which may not be so obvious to new users. If you’re an experienced user of an iPod touch or an iPhone, this article on how to set up an Apple iPad may not be of much use to you.

But if you’re new to Apple’s mobile devices – perhaps a recent owner of the iPad – then you will need to be familiar with the various preferences settings for the iPad. This is part one of a two-part series about the system preferences (note: the settings described here are based on the Wi-Fi version of the iPad, not the iPad 3G version.)

General Settings

Let’s start off with general settings. Click on the Settings icon on the homepage of iPad. The default settings for your iPad are typically okay, but there some settings you may want or may need to change based on how you use the device. Some of this information is based on the official iPad User Guide (PDF), as well as my own recommendations as an experienced user of the iPhone and iPad. The PDF guide is great, but does not always include useful screenshots.

how do you set up an apple ipad

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1. About

Clicking on About will give you a general overview of the content on your iPad, including how many songs, videos, photos and applications you have installed. It reminds you of the memory capacity of your iPad and how much you have available.

The list, as you can see, also includes the model and serial number, which you should copy and keep a part of your records just in case the device is ever lost or stolen.

how do you set up an apple ipad

2. Sounds

These preferences refer to sounds you hear when, for instance, new mail arrives or is sent. If hearing these sounds for various features bugs you, simply click them off. I generally like hearing the keyboard click when I’m typing, but I don’t need to hear a beep for new mail and calendar alerts.  Your preferences and needs may be different.

how do you set up an apple ipad

3. Network

When you first turn on your iPad, if there’s a free Wi-Fi network available, the device will automatically try to link to the network. This is where you would go if you need to manually connect to a Wi-Fi network. The VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, which is used within businesses and organizations “to communicate information securely over a non-private network.” You may need to ask a network administrator for the settings you need to configure for a VPN (see the iPad Manual for information).

4. Bluetooth

If you have a Bluetooth device like a set of headphones, speakers, or a Bluetooth keyboard, you can turn on Bluetooth so it can locate those devices.

setting up an ipod

5. Location Services

Location Services is used for the Maps and location aware applications of your iPad to determine your approximate location when your iPad is turned on and your Wi-Fi is enabled. The iPad Wi-Fi + 3G uses cellular networks and GPS to determine your location. Doesn’t hurt much to keep it enabled.

6. Auto-Lock

This setting automatically closes and locks your iPad after a designated period of time. Increasing the time will often reduce the battery charge, so you should probably leave it at default.

7. Passcode Lock

Use this setting if you use a designated passcode for unlocking your iPad. If you travel a lot, you might want to use this setting just in case your iPad is ever lost or stolen. Additional settings will erase data on your iPad after a specified period of time.

setting up an ipod

8. Restrictions

If you have kids and you want to restrict them from using Safari, installing applications, viewing explicit videos and TV shows, etc. then you will want to check out the settings for this area.

setting up an ipod

9. Home

This a handy preference for quickly navigating to the Home, Search or iPod page of your iPad. When you double-click the Home button, it will take you to your selected preference. A single-click of the Home button takes you to the Home page, so I don’t see why there’s any reason to use this setting for Home.

how to set up an ipod

10. Date & Time

The default settings for the date and time information in the status bar at the top of the screen will probably be okay, but this is where you’d change those settings if you travel to different time zones or countries.

11. Keyboard

Theses settings refer to what happens when you type on the built-in keyboard software or an external keyboard. I recommend enabling all these features for they assist you in typing faster on the iPad. Auto-Correction corrects common misspellings; Auto-Capitalization capitalizes the first word of each new sentence you write (as long as there is a period before the new sentence.) Doubling-clicking on the Shift key of the keyboard will lock the caps key and all the  letters you type will be in uppercase. The “,” shortcut lets you double-tap the space bar to enter a period followed by a space when you’re typing. There’s no reason to turn this off.

how to set up an ipod

how to set up an ipod

12. International

The default for these settings are based on the country where you purchased the iPad, so they typically don’t need to be changed. But this is where you can change the settings for different languages and logistical information.

how to set up an ipod

13. Accessibility

These settings are mainly for visually impaired users, or people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a physical or learning disability.


14. Battery Percentage

This setting displays the percentage of battery charge next to the battery icon in the upper-right-corner. I see no reason to turn it off.

15. Reset

Lastly, if you for some reason need or want to get back to the first default settings for the iPad, this is the place to do it. If for example you decide to sell your iPad, you will want to reset all the settings and erase content for the new owner.


Well, that’s it for general settings. If you’re an experienced iPhone/iPod touch user or iPad owner, let us know what settings you use in this area.

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