How to Properly Set Up Your iPad

By Chris Mills on at

So you or your overly-generous uncle has picked up an iPad, and you want to set it up like a seasoned pro. Understandable. Here's how to get your 9.7 inches of iOS goodness up and running to its max potential.

 

Step 1: Break Free of that Jail

iOS, wonderful though it is, doesn't quite release the full potential of your devices. In order to do that, you need to jailbreak so you can install third-party apps. Don't worry -- although it involves third-party software, it's really rather easy nowadays. Note: at the moment, this only works for devices running iOS 6.1.2 or earlier. Sorry. 

- Back up your device using iTunes -- y'know, like you've probably already done if you're smart. (Clue: the option is in the device homepage in iTunes.)

- Download the Evasi0n jailbreak tool, plug in your iPad, and run the tool. You'll get a dialog box. Click 'jailbreak', and then step faaaar away while it works its magic. Don't be worried if it reboots a few times -- that's normal.

- When your iPad's finished doing its thing, you'll notice you've got a new app on the homescreen, called Cydia. Congrats, you're jailbroken.

 

Installing Jailbreak Tweaks

So, now that you're jailbroken, you can reap the fruits. To install any of these tweaks, just head into Cydia, search for the relevant package, and hit install in the top-right.

- Activator: This tweak serves two purposes. If you're a habitual fiddler, Activator allows you to customise certain gestures and buttons to do exactly what you want. For the rest of us, it's simply the backbone for a lot of other great apps.

- CyDelete: before we install too many Cydia apps, we need a simple way to get rid of them. Normally, you have to uninstall packages in Cydia; the free CyDelete gets rid of them like any other app.

- Nitrous (£0.99): If you're a heavy user of the Chrome, or the Facebook app (and let's be honest, who's not), then Nitrous will speed up both apps. It allows third-party apps (like Chrome and Facebook) to use Apple's Nitro Javascript Engine, speeding up browsing. Happy stalking.

- TetherMe (£0.99): For unknown reasons, certain carriers charge extra if you want to tether your iDevice to something else. For the princely sum of 0.99p, you can sneak your tethering usage past your carrier. It’s a saving in the long run.

- FullForce: Running scaled-up iPhone apps is all well and good, but they look horrible and distorted, and that’s not why you sold your firstborn to for that Retina iPad. FullForce scales up (compatible) iPhone apps to full-screen goodness. And yes, it does work for Google Maps (which is probably the only app worth using it on, to be honest). Once it's installed, head to Settings, FullForce, and select the apps you want to make full-screen (warning: it doesn't work on every app).

- MapsOpener: Apple Maps is, hopefully, nothing more than a lonely and unused icon, sitting in a folder somewhere you’ll never stumble across it. But, if you ever click-through to directions — say, hitting up a postcode in an email — the beast will rear its ugly head, because you can’t get rid of it as the default mapping app. This tweak fixes that, banishing Apple Maps to an even more long-lost corner of your device, and instating Google Maps in its rightful place.

- iFile (£2.00): A file manager is boring but fairly necessary. iFile is probably the best of the bunch, but more importantly, it integrates pretty well with other tweaks, and native apps like DropBox.

- SBSettings: This cunning tweak lets you move a bunch of important toggles (Wi-Fi on/off, Bluetooth on/off, etc) into Springboard, so that they’re available ridiculously quickly whenever you need them. Slide your finger across the status bar at the top (that’s the default gesture, at least) and you get a little window with all the wonderful toggles. As with all good things jailbroken, it’s infinitely customisable and skinnable.

- Password Pilot: The fact that Apple requires your password every time you download an app is incredibly annoying. Password Pilot enters it for you automatically.

- Plugication: Plugication is simple: when you connect your headphones to your iOS device, it automatically resumes your music. It’s simple, but incredibly useful.

If that's not enough apps for you, check out our full list of the 50 best iPad apps right here.

 

Install the Necessary Standard Apps

Yep, one of the beautiful things about iOS is its wealth of apps -- of the non-jailbroken variety, as well. If you don't have a bunch of apps to install from a backup, this list should get you started:

 

Tune Your Settings Like a Boss

Notification Centre: Actually take five minutes, next time you're on a train and reaching for Angry Birds, to instead delve into Notification Centre. Think long and hard about what apps you actually want to let interrupt your workflow; set those as 'alerts'. Other things you might need to know, but don't want to have to stop to look at, get 'banners'. Everything else gets none. Oh, and chances are you don't want many apps to play sounds either.

WiFi Sync: If you haven't already (and assuming you have a Wi-Fi connection at home, because you're not a Neaderthal), set up Wi-Fi sync.

Brightness & Wallpaper: Turn on auto-brightness if you haven't already. It'll save you a tonne of battery, and if you need to manually adjust the brightness, you can do so really quickly in the app-switch menu (double-tap the home button and swipe left).

iCloud: Set up Find My iPad if you haven't already. This will save you valuable hunt-the-iPad time at home in the future.

Mail: If you've got multiple email accounts, think about saving battery by turning the lesser-used ones to only fetch mail every few hours. To do that, go Mail-->Fetch New Data-->Advanced and then choose which accounts are important to you.

Messages: Turn read receipts off. No one needs to know when you've read a message. Just knowing you've received it is stalker-power enough.

That's it! If you've managed to get through all the steps above, congratulations, you're a ninja master of the iPad. Sorry, you don't get a black belt or anything; slicing stuff in Fruit Ninja will have to do.


Tweakmodo is Gizmodo’s new guide to getting the very best out of your electronics. Every week, we’ll be doing the magic to a different device. Got a bit of kit you want to see pimped up, or think we’ve missed a vital hack? Let us know in the comments! 

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