Activate your iPad
If you purchased your iPad in the Apple Store, you may have already activated it with a Specialist by your side. But if you’ve received it under the tree this holiday or in the mail, or you opted not to activate immediately, here’s a guide on how to do so.
Don’t worry about making a mistake—if you find yourself tapping the wrong thing, you can press your device’s Home button at any time to launch the iPad Not Set Up menu and reset the process.
After a fresh install, your device greets you with a screen displaying ‘Hello’ and ‘slide to set up’ in a variety of different languages.
Drag your finger to the right, along the ‘slide to set up’ text, to access the next screen. Your device asks you to pick your language and country, along with your Wi-Fi network. The device checks for any Wi-Fi networks to which it can connect; to move forward, select a Wi-Fi network and tap the Next button. (You can also choose to set up your iPad over a cellular connection by tapping the Next button without selecting a network, or set up using iTunes by tapping the Connect to iTunes button at the bottom of the screen.)
You’re also asked whether you’d like to enable Location Services. This allows Apple apps (and third-party apps) to access your location via Wi-Fi networks and your Global Positioning System (GPS) location.
You can always enable or disable these on an app-by-app basis, and you can configure this option in more detail from the Settings app.
From here, you have three choices: You can set up your iPad from scratch, or restore from an iCloud or iTunes backup (if you had a previous iPad you want to restore data from).
START FROM SCRATCH If you want to start fresh, the first thing you need to decide is whether to supply an Apple ID (or create one, if you don’t have one). You use your Apple ID to buy music, apps, and books from the iBookstore, and you can associate it with iCloud if you want to.
If you already have an Apple ID, tap the Sign In with Your Apple ID button and enter your username (usually your email address) and password. Apple then spends a few moments linking your device to your Apple ID. If you don’t have an Apple ID, it’s easy enough to create one by tapping the Create a Free Apple ID button. You then enter your birthday, name, and email address (or you can create a new iCloud email address), as well as a password, a security question (in case you forget your password), and whether you’d like to receive email updates from Apple.
And if you’d rather not set up an Apple ID, you can tap the Skip This Step link below the two options. You can always add or create an ID from the Settings app later, but note that you won’t be able to buy anything on the iTunes Store or set up iCloud until you do.
RESTORE FROM iTUNES If you have an iTunes backup of an older iPad, select this option and connect to your computer. You’ll see a screen asking if you want to set your phone up as a new device or restore it from a local backup.
Choose Restore from this backup, and then use the pop-up menu to choose the desired backup. Click Continue, and iTunes restores that data and syncs with your device. You’re then asked to give your device a name and choose whether to automatically sync songs and videos, photos, and/or apps to your device. Make your selections and click Done, and then iTunes performs its first sync. Once it’s complete, the setup process continues.
RESTORE FROM iCLOUD If you have an iCloud account and you’ve previously backed up an older device to iCloud, ‘Restore from iCloud Backup’ lets you restore that data directly to your new iPad without having to connect to a computer. Choose Restore from iCloud Backup, and then enter your iCloud Apple ID and password. Agree to the iCloud terms and conditions by tapping Agree (twice), and your device displays all compatible iCloud-hosted backups. Be sure to pick the correct backup here, as the list may include backups for other devices you own.
Choose the desired backup, and then wait—the process can take anywhere from a few minutes to many hours, depending on how many apps you had installed and how much data you had stored in those apps. (Restoring from an iTunes backup is much faster than restoring from iCloud, which is why many people back up to iTunes periodically even if they normally back up to iCloud.)
When the restore is finished, your device restarts, and you see a screen explaining that you have a few more steps to follow.
After you’ve set up a network connection, entered your Apple ID, and agreed to your terms and conditions, it’s time to decide if you want to use iCloud. The service is an umbrella term for Apple’s collection of sync offerings, which allow you to sync your photos, apps, contacts, calendars, and mail across multiple devices.
You can even set up different Apple IDs for iCloud and iTunes, if you have one shared Apple ID you use for family purchases and another you want to use for your iCloud data.
Choose to set up iCloud, and you’ll also be asked whether you’d like to enable iCloud backups for your device. If you do so, you can have your device back up all essential settings to your iCloud account; if you ever need to restore, you can do so over Wi-Fi without needing a computer. (Of course, if you’d rather back up to your computer, you can always elect to have iTunes back up your device.)
Additionally, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to opt in to iCloud’s Find My iPhone, iMessage, and FaceTime services.
Find My iPhone enables location monitoring for your device, allowing you to find it using your Apple ID and the Find My iPhone app should it go missing; iMessage lets you send text, photo, and video messages to your friends and family over a data connection; and FaceTime lets you chat via video and audio with friends over Wi-Fi and cellular connections (select carriers only).
Your device also prompts you to enter a passcode to protect it from potential thieves or snoops. If you’d rather not set one, just tap Don’t Add Passcode to skip this step.
Your iPad will also ask if you want to enable Siri, Apple’s personal voice assistant.
You can toggle Siri on or off from this initial setup screen, but you can always change your preferences from the Settings app at a later date.
Once you finish the setup process, you see a screen asking if your device can automatically send diagnostic and usage information to Apple to “help Apple improve its products and services.”
Choose Automatically Send or Don’t Send, and then tap Next.
Congratulations! You’ve answered all the setup questions and you’re ready to begin using your iPad. At this point you may also be prompted to download your free copies of Apple’s mobile iLife and iWork suite.