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Take Control of iPad Basics
Jul 28, 2011

Take Control of iPad Basics

Learn to use your iPad or iPad 2 with this friendly how-to guide!

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to fill in the blank spots in your basic iPad know-how with Take Control editor-in-chief Tonya Engst. For those of you who haven’t yet made the leap, she gives a practical guide for deciding which iPad and accessories to buy, after which she helps you understand the iPad’s buttons and ports, learn multi-touch gestures, organize your Home screen, get online, download apps, sync data and media, find and back up your stuff, and stay secure.

You’ll also learn how to impress your friends with a great iPad demo (you know they want it!).

Shopping on your iPad? Read Device Advice to get help with reading your ebook on your iPad.

More Info

Questions that you’ll find answers to include:

  • How much stuff can I put on my iPad?
  • Why do I need to connect my iPad to a computer?
  • How do I keep my iPad battery in top shape?
  • How do I connect a keyboard to my iPad?
  • What’s the best way to keep track of and organize my iPad apps?
  • How can I move files between my iPad and my computer?
  • How can I sync data (like contacts and calendars) to my iPad with an Internet connection?
  • How can I secure my iPad in case it’s lost or stolen?
  • How can I quickly move to an app that I had open recently?
  • What is iOS, and why should I care?
  • What changed in iOS 4.2 and 4.3?
What's New

What’s New in Version 1.3

My goals for this new version were threefold:



  • Make the book fully up-to-date for iOS 4.3: Information about iOS 4.3 is sprinkled liberally all over the book, but you can find a list of the most important changes in iOS 4.3 in What’s New in iOS 4. That topic also lists changes that were new in an earlier version of iOS 4, just in case you are still getting your head around all the new options in your iPad.
  • Bring the iPad 2 into the book: Although the iPad 2 looks different from the original iPad, nearly all its features are identical. Changes in the book relating to the iPad 2 occur mostly in these topics:
    • iPad or iPad 2 describes the differences between the two models while helping you figure out which iPad or iPad accessories to buy.
    • Where Are the Cameras? explains where the camera lenses are physically located on the iPad 2.
    • Figure Out FaceTime and Camera help you use these apps on the iPad 2.

  • Provide a few look-ahead tips about iOS 5: iOS 5 will run on both the original iPad and the iPad 2; Apple has announced that they plan to release iOS 5 in fall 2011 (for readers in the southern hemisphere, that’s spring 2011).

  • Update Plans

    December 2, 2011—I don’t plan to update this ebook, “Take Control of iPad Basics” again with its present title. It has been replaced with an “update” in the form of a new edition, “Take Control of Your iPad.” This new edition is more advanced (hence the new title), longer, and squarely focused on iOS 5.

    Posted by Tonya Engst

    1. New iPads, Oh My!

      Until last week, the iPad line-up consisted of three basic models: the original iPad, the iPad 2, and the 3rd-generation iPad.

      Last week, Apple announced two new iPad models: the 4th-generation iPad and the iPad mini. Now, the line-up looks like this:

      • Original iPad: Still a nice iPad, but it was discontinued even before last week.
      • iPad 2: The oldest iPad still on the market.
      • 3rd-generation iPad: This rather nice iPad was discontinued last week.
      • 4th-generation iPad: Like the 3rd-generation iPad, this new iPad has an exceptionally crisp Retina display. It also has a faster processing chip for overall speedier operations, a slightly different Wi-Fi radio for potentially faster network connections, and a few other hardware improvements.
      • iPad mini: This entirely new iPad comes in a slightly smaller size, and with a lower price tag.

      For more about the new iPads, you can read my TidBITS article, Apple Introduces the iPad mini and Fourth-Generation iPad. I also recommend Jeff Carlson’s Seattle Times article, iPad mini looks like a good fit. Jeff was at the Apple announcement, so his article is informed by having actually held a mini.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    2. Running a Mail Spam Filter on an iPad or iPhone

      Take Control reader Genevieve S. wrote in with an interesting question a few days ago:

      Genevieve: Do you know any third-party app that can filter mail on iPad and iPhone—i.e., apply rules?
      Tonya’s reply: I don’t know of any apps that can filter mail locally on the iPad, but I’ve cc’d Adam and Joe here to see if either of them has a suggestion. Personally, I use my gmail account on the iPad, and Google handles the filtering on the server.
      Joe’s reply: There is an app called ibisMail, which comes in both iPad and iPhone versions, that does filtering on the device. However, I do what Tonya does—let a server-based filter do all the work before messages appear on any of my devices.
      Genevieve: Thank you for responding. I use the Gmail filter too, but the AT&T/Yahoo filter is lousy. This is not a problem when receiving mail on the Mac—the rules in Mail handle the leakage—but if I read the mail on the iPhone, a local filter would help.
      Adam jumps in: You could forward the other account to Gmail to get the benefit of its filter. Lots of people do that. smile
      Genevieve: Great idea!!

      In the third edition of Take Control of Mail on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, Joe touches on email forwarding in “Decide Which Account(s) to Use,” and he references a Macworld article that he wrote—Streamline e-mail with Gmail. The Macworld article discusses how to forward a non-Gmail email account through Gmail.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    3. What Was New in iOS 4 for the iPad

      Once again, I’m updating my Take Control ebook about the iPad. The first thing to be cut is the roundup of what was new in iOS 4. However, I feel unhappy about consigning it to the digital dustbin. Instead, I’m posting it here (with a few edits for this context) so that any iPad historians out there can have access to the detailed information.

      New Features in iOS 4.2

      To be specific, the first version of iOS 4.2 that was generally available to iPad users was iOS 4.2.1. For the sake of smoothness, I’ve rounded the version number in the list below.

      Home Screen Folders

      You can now group apps into “folders,” though they don’t look like folders at all.


      With iOS 3 loaded, the iPad usually could do only one thing at a time, though it could receive data via push (such as new calendar events) even if you weren’t running the appropriate app for that data. You can think of iOS 4 as adding 20 points to the iPad’s IQ, making it possible for the iPad to keep track of more things at once. Thanks to multi-tasking, once you launch an app, it (usually) stays launched even if you switch to another app. Then, if you come back to the first app, it resumes immediately. For the most part, you’ll no longer experience long waits on splash screens for the same app to launch for the seventh time in one work session! (Apple calls this “fast app switching.”)

      Most of the time, when an app stays launched, it goes into suspended animation–it’s loaded, but it’s not doing anything except waiting for you to come back. In a few specific cases the app keeps a single task active:

      • Third-party audio apps can continue playing (Apple’s iPod app could do this even in iOS 3).

      • Location-related apps can continue telling a server where they are.

      • Voice-over-IP apps–used for Internet-based “phone” calls–can continue to receive incoming calls. Skype is a well-known example of this sort of app.

      Multi-tasking also enables functions like an alarm clock and background printing. I had expected that Apple would release an iPad version of the Clock app that comes with the iPhone and iPod touch when it released iOS 4.2.1, but this did not happen. If you’d like to add a timer function to your iPad, you’ll be pleased to know that a few clock-related apps have now appeared that have a timer function.

      Note: Apps must be recompiled for iOS 4 before they can take advantage of multi-tasking.

      Fast App Switching

      You can switch back to a recently used app by tapping its icon on the Home screen but you may prefer to use a new iOS 4 technique: double-click the Home button to reveal a strip, which I call the task switcher bar, that shows tappable icons of your recently used apps. For more information, flip to the sidebar How to Quickly Find and Launch Apps. (Previously, the Settings app gave you a few choices for what double-clicking the Home button would do, but now it’s assigned to bringing up the task switcher bar.)

      Note: The icon at the right of the task switcher bar depends on which audio app you’ve been using most recently. For example, the popular Pandora Internet music-streaming app will appear (a fact that my 12-year-old son is well aware of) and my editor, Michael, reported that the icon for the Major League Baseball app appears when it’s playing an audio stream.

      AirPlay Streaming

      AirPlay is a new name for Apple’s older “AirTunes” technology. When you use AirPlay, you “play” media over the “air.” Here are two examples of the iPad using AirPlay:

      • The iPad can stream audio over a Wi-Fi network to an AirPort Express base station; the base station then receives the audio and sends it via a cable connection to a stereo. I use this often to listen to music playing in the next room while working in my office. I can conveniently control the music from the iPad at my desk.

      • The iPad can stream audio, photos, and video over a Wi-Fi network to the second-generation Apple TV (released in September 2010), but not to the older model. The Apple TV converts the media stream for playback on a connected television set.

      For more details, read the Apple article at

      Built-in Printing (Sort Of)

      When Steve Jobs announced iOS 4.2, he presented system-wide printing as an important new feature. With printing added to iOS, developers could update their apps to use the new iOS printing capability. Alas, Apple has encountered difficulties getting printer makers to adopt the technology. As I review this text in June 2011, iOS 4.3 can print to a variety of HP printers. You can see the full list of supported printers at:

      Better Babysitting

      New “parental controls” let you password-protect account-related settings for email, contacts, or calendars. To find this option, open the Settings app and tap General > Restrictions.

      A New Way to Quickly Search the Web

      The Spotlight search screen now offers tappable options for moving your search to the Web generally or to Wikipedia. Read Search with Spotlight for more about searching.

      More Virtual Keyboards for More Languages

      With iOS 4.2, the iPad catches up to its smaller siblings, the iPhone and iPod touch. All of these devices can now show keyboards for Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Korean, and more. For a full list, look in the Languages entry at and for a few more details read

      More Slideshow Choices

      iOS 4 brings some more options for how you can configure the slideshow that plays in Picture Frame mode. You can now change how long each image appears, and it now works with iPhoto’s Faces feature. (Read Set Up Picture Frame Mode to learn more about setting up the Picture Frame slideshow.)

      Safari Improvements

      An exciting change in Safari is that you can now search within the currently displayed Web page: To do so, first load the page. Next, type your search terms in the normal Search field. Look for your results at the bottom of the search popover, under “On This Page.”

      A Safari change that’s near-and-dear to me, as co-publisher of this Take Control series, is that if you download a PDF in the Safari app on your iPad, you can now easily send the PDF to an app that was designed for ebook reading, such as iBooks or GoodReader. To do so, first load the PDF into Safari. Then tap in the body of the PDF. This will reveal a bar with two buttons. If you want to use the PDF-reading app suggested in the leftmost button, tap the button. Otherwise, tap “Open in” and then tap your desired app.

      Note: You can also download an EPUB using this basic technique. It won’t display in the Safari app, but once it’s downloaded, the “Open In” controls will appear. (If you use this technique to add the EPUB to iBooks, note that it will not sync back to iTunes on your computer.)

      Game Center App

      Although many iOS games have a multi-player option for playing with people across the room or across the globe, the new Game Center app gives you a centralized home for accessing many multi-player games, all with one login account, one handle, one friends list, and one ueber scoreboard. It also gives game developers a single method of programming user-interaction options.

      If a game app works with Game Center, you’ll see a Game Center logo beside its icon in the iTunes Store.

      More than One Exchange Account

      If you use Exchange-style accounts for email or for syncing data like calendar events, you’ll be happy to know that you can set up more than one of them on your iPad. This includes Microsoft Exchange, Google, and Hotmail accounts, among others. If you think this might be important to you, read Microsoft ActiveSync Exchange, much later.

      A Better Mail App

      Apple beefed up the Mail app in several ways, including the addition of these handy features:

      • When you have more than one email account, you can see all your incoming messages from all accounts in a single Inbox.

      • The Mail app now has a threading feature, allowing you to see email-based conversations all together in one screen.

      Notes Sync Wirelessly

      With iOS 3, if you wanted to sync notes from Apple Mail or Microsoft Outlook on your computer with the Notes app on the iPad, you had to sync them through iTunes. With iOS 4.2, you now can choose whether to sync them using iTunes or using a wireless connection. And, if you use MobileMe for notes syncing, you can locate your notes in the Apple Mail Inbox of any IMAP-style email account.

      Note: If the above paragraph doesn’t make much sense to you, please don’t worry. Just read on.

      You can also now change the font that Notes uses to display text: in the Settings app, in the left pane, tap Notes. Then, at the right, tap the font that you’d prefer to use. The text of your old notes and any new notes that you create will now use the font you chose. You can change the font as often as you like.

      Tip: If you want to do note-taking on your iPad, note that there are many lovely third-party note-taking apps, most of which are more versatile and functional than the built-in Notes app.

      CardDAV Syncing

      CardDAV is a method of transferring contact information between different devices. If you store contacts on a server that supports CardDAV, you’re in luck, because you can now sync them with your iPad. (If you use Yahoo’s online Contacts application, CardDAV is what you need to put your Yahoo contacts on your iPad and vice-versa.) For directions on setting up CardDAV syncing, read CardDAV, later.

      Make Playlists in iPod

      Before iOS 4, if you wanted to put audio files in a playlist, you had to create the list in iTunes and set up the Music pane in iTunes so that the playlist would sync to your iPad. (A playlist is like a mix tape–you get to decide what songs go in the playlist, so you can make a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to while cleaning the house, or a list called “awesome songs from the 80s,” or a list that you’ll play during a party.)

      Now, you can make playlists right on your iPad, in the iPod app. To get started, tap the plus button at the lower left of the iPod screen.

      New Features in iOS 4.3

      With iOS 4.3, Apple added a few things for all iPad owners, but the changes are only incremental when compared to the long list of new features introduced with iOS 4.2:

      • The physical side switch can be a Mute button or an Orientation Lock button. You can learn more about this in Rotate and Tilt (Change Orientation).

      • AirPlay Streaming, which was new in iOS 4.2, can now work from more than just a handful of Apple apps, so you can stream music and video from your iPad to a stereo system or Apple TV from a wider variety of apps. Third-party apps must add AirPlay support.

      • Home Sharing, an option in iTunes, now makes it possible to stream media from iTunes on a computer to your iPad’s screen.

      • iOS 4.3 added a personal hotspot feature to the iPhone, but that option has not transferred to the iPad. Perhaps it will in the future.

      Of course, iOS 4.3 on the iPad 2 brings new features to the iPad 2 that aren’t available on the original iPad. These new features include the Camera, FaceTime, and PhotoBooth apps, support for the two built-in cameras, and mirroring (displaying the entire iPad screen, no matter what Home screen or app is active, on an external display).

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    4. Watch the iTunes Music Festival Streaming Live on Your iPad

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    5. MobileMe Will Be Replaced by iCloud

      On June 6, 2011, Apple announced a new service called iCloud that will appear at some point later in 2011 (“fall” in the northern hemisphere), and will replace MobileMe from Apple’s perspective. Until then, MobileMe continues unchanged, except that Apple is no longer selling subscriptions or charging for renewals; all current members automatically have their accounts extended through the end of June 2012.

      When iCloud becomes available, existing MobileMe members will be able to migrate to the new service, which will be free (albeit with optional paid features, such as iTunes Match and additional storage). So far, Apple hasn’t released details about the fate of iDisk (including file sharing and iWeb publishing); MobileMe Gallery; Back to My Mac; the Backup application; Web-based access to Mail, Contacts, and Calendars; or Mac-to-Mac syncing of things like preferences and keychains.

      In the meantime, you can learn more about iCloud and what it might mean for MobileMe users in the following places:

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    6. iOS 4.3.3 and iOS 4.2.8 Address Location Tracking Bugs

      On April 20, 2011, researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden announced that they had discovered a file within iOS, consolidated.db, that seemingly tracked every single location that an iOS device has ever visited. Furthermore, this file was not encrypted and was backed up each time the iOS device synced with iTunes to a user’s computer, making the file available on the syncing computer as well as on the device. Although the file was actually known about for quite some time, a media firestorm erupted following the announcement, with many articles speculating that Apple was tracking users’ every move for unknown, but probably nefarious reasons, and which led to several requests by Congressional representatives for Apple to explain the purpose behind collecting the information.

      Apple responded within a week with a press release explaining what the consolidated.db file was, and why it was storing as much information as it seemed to be storing (see this TidBITS article, “Apple Addresses Location Controversy Questions,” 27 April 2011, for details on that press release). In a nutshell, Apple claimed that a bug was the reason that the file contained so much information, that the file was designed merely to help the iOS device’s Location Services feature establish location more easily, that it actually contained information about nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers rather than the device’s actual location, that no user-identifiable information was being sent back to Apple, and that a forthcoming release of iOS would address the bug and keep the file from being backed up to users’ computers.

      On May 4, Apple released two updates to iOS that address the problem. One, iOS 4.3.3, updates all GSM iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 models, iPad and iPad 2 devices, and third and fourth generation iPod touch devices. The other, iOS 4.2.8, updates all CDMA iPhone 4s (see the TidBITS article, “iOS 4.3.3 and 4.2.8,” 4 May 2011). Updated devices now will store only a week’s worth of location information, and that information will not be backed up when the device syncs with iTunes. Furthermore, the location information cached by devices is erased whenever users disable Location Services.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    7. Tip for Syncing Photos from Windows to iOS

      Reader F.D.M. wrote in to share this tip:

      I’ve had numerous questions from Window users (the ones that do not own Photoshop (Elements)) that are confused about the way iTunes syncs (root) folders and (sub) folders, filled with photos. For instance, if you have a rootfolder called c:\photos with subfolders c:\photos\holiday and c:\photos\work and you sync, selecting “Choose folder” and then “All folders”, which is a logical choice, all your photos are dumped into one big ‘album’ on the iPad, causing great confusion. Instead, in order to create different albums on the iPad, you must select “Selected folders” and then choose the folders that you want to sync.

      I’ve posted this tip in relation to all of the ebooks about iOS, since I assume it works the same regardless of the device.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    8. YouTube Debuts New Mobile Site as an Alternative to the iPad App

      YouTube has introduced a mobile version of its site at According to YouTube, the mobile version’s features are more in alignment with the full Web site’s features and the mobile site does not use Flash, so all the videos should play on the iPad. If you decide to try the site, note that once a video is playing, you can access the playback controls by tapping the playing video. Once you’ve done this, the video plays in an iPad-like interface, complete with playback controls. Rotate the iPad to the landscape (horizontal) position to view the largest image.

      The mobile version may have more to do clashing titans of the tech industry (YouTube’s parent company is Google) than with user’s needs, but it certainly offers iPad users another option for viewing YouTube videos.

      If you like the mobile site and want to view it quickly from your Home screen, you can make a “Web clip” of the site: Go to the site in Safari, tap the plus (+) button on the toolbar, and then Tap Add to Home Screen. Then, name the clip and tap the Add button. The iPad will respond by switching to the Home screen and showing an icon for the clip you created. Tap the icon to quickly return to the mobile YouTube site.

      If you’d like to read more about the mobile YouTube site, here are two good resources:

      The site is currently in English only, but localized versions are expected.

      Posted by Tonya Engst (Permalink)

    The Author

    Tonya Engst co-founded the TidBITS online publication in 1990 with Adam Engst. She also co-founded the Take Control Books series with Adam in 2003 and saw the series through its early years, working with many talented authors and editors to add hundreds of titles and to create a process that could easily produce PDF and EPUB/Mobipocket formatted ebooks from the same WYSIWYG manuscript. Tonya was editor-in-chief of the Take Control series from 2003–2017.