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Top iPad Settings to Optimize Your New iPad for a Better Experience

The gods have bestowed upon you the product of a new Apple iPad Air or Retina display iPad mini. Gee golly yay! Now what?

Whether you’re a seasoned iOS veteran, a technically inclined relative, or a tablet n00b, here’s a simple guide on what to do a few setting things for a better experience once you power on that new iPad.

Set Gestures

Under Settings > General, turn Multitasking Gestures on. This gives you a couple extra ways to navigate around using four or five fingers, including pinching out of an app and into the home screen, or swiping left or right to toggle between apps.

Stop Asking Me to Join Wi-Fi Networks

Use an iPad long enough and it will ask to join nearby Wi-Fi networks. This gets annoying in an area with a bunch of networks.To turn this off, select Wi-Fi along the left side of Settings. Find Ask to Join Networks and tap the slider button. Tap it. Don’t try to slide it. The iPad will stop asking after this change.
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Adjust Text Size and Accessibility

Apple’s iOS 7 offers a number of useful features for the visually impaired and for anyone will less than optimal eyesight. Under Settings > General > Text Size, you can adjust the display type for the system, and for third-party apps that support Dynamic Type.

Under Accessibility, there’s a host of other settings too. You can switch on VoiceOver and tap onscreen text to have it read out loud to you. Switch on Zoom so you can double tap with three fingers to zoom in on the entire iPad screen. You can also adjust the contrast on the screen.

For the hearing impaired, Hearing Aid Mode (located under Settings > General > Accessibility > Hearing Aids) is designed to improve audio for those wearing hearing aids.

Change How Notifications Work

The iPad’s Notification Center includes useful information at a glance. It shows up by sliding down from the top of the iPad screen edge. However, some users won’t want everything Apple includes by default. Get to the settings and options for the Notification Center, open up the Settings app and navigate to Notification Center. From there, you have a bevy of toggle switches that you can take advantage of in order to make the Notification Center customized to your liking. Starting from the top, you can disable access to the Notification Center from the lock screen, either disabling the Notifications View, the Today View or both.  Remember to turn off settings for apps that don’t need to show up in the Notification area.

Make Passcode Complex for More Security

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The Passcode keeps an iPad secure if someone gets hold of it. In iOS 7 this gets turned on by default and the operating system asks the user to create one the first time the phone turns on after an update or purchase. That’s a good thing. However, it doesn’t go far enough.

A four digit passcode isn’t as secure as a longer string of characters and numbers. To change this tap on Passcode (in iOS 7.1) or General and then Passcode Lock (in iOS 7.0). To get a more secure passcode change the Simple Passcode option to off.

Restrict Access

If your new iPad is going to frequently get used by the kiddos, you can use Guided Access (Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access) to lock them into a certain app and even restrict what parts of the screen they can tap on. Similarly, you can use Settings > General > Restrictions to choose what apps and services are available for your younger iPad users to access.

Back Up to iCloud or a Computer Wirelessly

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Many people think they need to connect their iPad to a computer to back it up or sync it. That’s not true after the first time. Turn on iCloud backup and the iPad will send all of a user’s important data to the cloud when convenient. It will also back up to the computer that the person first connected to for the first sync.

First, turn on iCloud backup by opening Settings and tap on iCloud towards the bottom on the left. Make sure that iCloud Backup is turned on with green showing, not the slider switch. Hit Backup Now while connected to Wi-Fi to make the first backup.

Now connect to a computer one last time in order to sync with iTunes. Then click on the name of the device in the Sidebar if it’s shown, or click on the drop down menu as we explained in the very beginning of this post. From the Summary tab of the iPad’s screen, put a check mark in the item labelled Sync with this iPad over Wi-Fi.

Save Battery

If you want to get the most out of your iPad’s already substantial battery life, you can do a couple things. In Control Center (accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen) or the Settings menu, turn down the brightness. You can go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh and turn that feature off for all apps, or just data-hungry ones, to reduce the amount of silent updating going on in the background. If you’re not using apps that require your location you can also go to Settings > General > Privacy and turn off Location Services to stop your GPS from constantly pinging Wi-Fi and cell towers to pinpoint your location.