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How to Set Up Your iPad mini



If you got a new iPad mini for Christmas, congratulations. Someone likes you enough to get you one of the hottest tablets available today. Look forward to hours of great fun reading books, magazines, checking email and reading your favorite websites.

Let us guide you through the iPad mini setup process. We’ll share tips for securing the iPad mini, setting up parental controls and we’ll also share app recommendations to make the iPad more useful. This process will take about 15-30 minutes from unboxing to installing fun apps to use for the holidays.

iPad mini with 4G LTE

We also recommend getting an iPad mini case to protect it from dings and scratches that will happen during regular usage. Just avoid iPad mini Smart Cover, which we found overpriced and less useful than the larger iPad Smart Cover.

Initial iPad mini Setup

Watch the iPad mini unboxing we made shortly after the Wi-Fi version shipped.

Even though Apple ships the iPad mini with plenty of battery life to get started, we recommend topping off the battery early in the process.

Here’s the list of steps one takes on first boot:

  1. Choose a language
  2. Select a country
  3. Connect to Wi-fi
  4. Turn on location services for things like Maps or apps that find nearby places
  5. Set up as a new device, unless you will replace an old iPad then use a backup from a computer if possible or iCloud
  6. Sign into an existing Apple ID or create a new one
  7. Choose to use iCloud
  8. Back up the iPad to iCloud or a computer
  9. Use Find my iPad if it gets lost or stolen
  10. Set up FaceTime contact email address or phone numbers
  11. Choose to use Siri, a voice recognition function

iPad mini Security

LIke most things on the iPad mini, users find security features in the Settings app. It looks like a black set of gears.

iPad mini settings

First, set an Auto-Lock time. This turns of the screen to save battery life and secures the iPad from people who a user doesn’t want accessing the iPad. We recommend either 2 or 5 minutes.

Go back and choose Passcode Lock. Before turning it on choose between a simple passcode or a longer one.

ipad mini passcode

Simple passcodes use four numbers like the screenshot above shows. Longer ones might look like the following: dxlldd994ls. Go into the Settings app and Passcode Lock screen

Once a user protects the iPad mini with a passcode, the user can choose how long the iPad must remain locked before entering the passcode. Set the setting Require Passcode to Immediately for strongest security. Set it to a minute so you don’t need to enter the code if the screen was just locked.

The last two options on the Passcode Lock screen let the user decide whether to allow access to the iPad mini by using Siri or when using the Picture Frame function, which shows a slide show of pictures on the iPad. For greatest security set these both to Off.

Finally, choose to Erase Data if an incorrect passcode gets entered ten times. This keeps people from guessing the code.

Parental Controls

Parents can limit what a child purchases, kinds of web sites the child can visit, playable games by rating, and more.

ipad mini restrictions

In Settings find the Restrictions options. First hit the Enable Restrictions button. This turns them on for all options. The parent can then turn them off for specific apps. A few examples include turning off access to explicit music and podcasts, limiting what movies, shows or games the iPad will play by ratings or turning off In-App Purchases from this list.

Read: How to Lock the iPad to a Single App for Kid Mode

Set Up Accounts on the iPad mini

A user will now want to set up accounts for email, calendars and contacts.

ipad mini icloud

From Settings, first choose iCloud and turn on which items that need syncing with iCloud. We recommend turning them all on, but some might not use iCloud for Notes, Calendars or other items. Save some space in an iCloud account, which Apple limits to 5GB in a free account, by turning off unused items.

ipad mini add accounts

Now tap on Mail. Contacts, Calendars to add these kinds of accounts. Here’s where the user will add their Gmail, Yahoo or work email accounts.

Setting Up Important Apps

The above will only set up an iPad for the bare minimum functions like surfing the web, reading email and personal information management. The genius of the iPad comes from the apps a user can add. Open the App Store on the iPad. We recommend getting a few apps as follows:

  • Facebook and Twitter – install these and set up an account from the Settings app so the user can post things from Safari or the App Store
  • Apple Apps – this list in the App store includes things like Find my iPhone or the iWork productivity apps
  • New to the App Store – this list has popular apps that make the iPad mini very useful
  • Editor’s Choice –  Apple selected what their app store editor’s consider the best apps available
  • Hall of Fame – Apple listed the best apps of all time because they’re well designed or extremely popular
ipad mini x2 app

Tap the 2X button in the lower right to enlarge iPhone apps on iPad

While looking for apps, understand that Apple designed iOS so that apps made for the iPhone. Apple designed the iPad’s operating system to enlarge the app so it fills the screen, but it won’t look as good.



  1. r t heist

    03/03/2013 at 5:37 pm

    Your unboxing showed nothing to a first time user taking it out of the box and trying to do initial setup.

  2. debbie sharein

    04/01/2013 at 6:19 pm

    How do you unlock the passcode when you have forgotten the four digit pass code

  3. Iula

    04/19/2013 at 4:53 am

    just opened the box and found NO instructions. How is a first time user meant to get the thing working. Soon this is going to be one very expensive frizby!!!!!!!!!

    • Patrick

      05/02/2013 at 7:44 pm

      I don’t mean to sound rude but….. How is using it not a matter of pressing buttons until shit happens? That’s how I figure things out. Sure, it didn’t work quite as well when I helped developed the atomic bomb, but that’s irrelevant.

  4. William Butler

    05/07/2013 at 3:46 am

    I gotta agree with Patrick. Would it really be that much of a stretch to include not only instructions but also tips and ideas as to how to use the device. I can’t help but believe the whole “nerds revenge” indulgence has gone far enough already. Maybe the grownups if there are any, should explain to the “geniuses” where the paychecks come from.

  5. Hertha

    09/03/2013 at 4:12 am

    Useless! Can’t find my home wi fi thus I am completely stuck. Reference to “setup” is annoying when you can’t even make it past the wi fi connection. My first and last apple product since I am not born a nerd!

  6. Sandra Tucker

    02/19/2014 at 2:17 pm

    Turn on facebook and nothing comes up says it’s updating, but it’s been like that for two hours..

  7. Linda Christian

    04/15/2014 at 12:00 pm

    How do you connect Facebook game’s to Facebook?

  8. Rebecca Hamilton

    05/16/2014 at 11:59 am

    how do I post on the mini ? Cant seem to find this out.

  9. Rental gallano

    07/17/2014 at 8:33 pm

    I can get verifacation for my Apple ID.

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