Want to know how to set up a new iPad? In the video above we unbox and set up a new iPad Air 1 - but the process is pretty much same for any iPad Air or iPad mini model. Read on for more details of the whole iPad setup process, including:

  • How to insert the Nano-SIM and start your new iPad Air or iPad mini
  • Step-by-step walkthrough to set up an iPad
  • Discover how to set up your iPad correctly and which optional features you should pick

If you've just bought or been given a new iPad (whether it's an iPad Air 1 or iPad Air 2, or an iPad mini 1, iPad mini 2 or iPad mini 3) and want to know how to set up the iPad and get started, you've come to the right place. Apple makes it as easy as possible to set up and start using its iOS products, which should fill newcomers with confidence; but a little straight-talking guidance never goes amiss. That's what we'll try to provide in this article.

This guide will take you exactly through the process of setting up and getting your iPad started. Here's how to get your iPad up and running.

iPad buying guide | iPad reviews

1. Unbox and switch on the iPad Air

The first thing to do is to take the iPad Air out of its box. This is always our favourite part of getting a new Apple product.

Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button (it's located at the top right of the iPad as its screen faces you) and it should wake up. Most iPads ship with around 90 percent charge still in them, so it shouldn't need charging at this point...

Set up the iPad Air

2. Power up (if necessary)

...but there will always be exceptions.

If the iPad is low on power and doesn't wake up when you hold the Sleep/Wake button, you may need to charge it. Take the Apple Power Adapter out of the box and attach the cable to the adaptor (using the USB connection end) and to the iPad (using the Lightning end). Plug it into the wall and give it 10 minutes.

Power up the iPad Air

3. Insert the SIM card (if you've got a cellular iPad model)

If you've bought a Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad model you may need to install the Nano-SIM card.

To do this you'll need to open up the iPad's SIM tray, which is located on the righthand edge - you're looking for a half-inch-long thin rounded rectangle with a hole at one end. You can use the SIM card ejector tool provided by Apple, or a paperclip; either way you gently insert the tool into the hole until the tray lifts outwards a little, and then pull it out with your fingers. Insert the SIM and put the SIM tray back into the iPad.

How to put a SIM card in a new iPad

For more detail and pictures, see How to put a SIM card into a new iPad.

If you asked Apple to help you set up the iPad when you bought it they may have already installed the SIM card.

4. Say hello and slide to start

Slide your finger across the screen to get started. The first thing you need to do is to join a wireless network so the iPad can connect to Apple's servers to request and send setup information.

Choose your Wi-Fi network from the list and then enter the password. Click Join.

If you haven't got access to a Wi-Fi network and have a Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad you can continue using the 3G/4G connection, which will work. But we suggest waiting until you're on a good Wi-Fi network first. This is likely to be faster and more reliable, and if you choose to download some apps after setting up they may use up a lot of your data allowance.

iPad Air Hello

5. Location, Location, Location Services

Tap Enable Location Services to use Location Services. This is the part of the iPad that uses the GPS and Wi-Fi/Cellular triangulation to detect your location.

You don't have to do this, but lots of Apps, including Maps, won't function correctly without Location Services enabled.

6. New or Restore?

You can either set up the iPad as a New iPad, or Restore it from an older iPad backup (which in effect copies everything from an old iPad to a new one).

You have three options:

  • Set Up as New iPad
  • Restore from iCloud Backup
  • Restore from iTunes Backup

The iCloud backup works fine, and these days more people are using iCloud to bak up their devices. But we still find the iTunes Backup is a little faster.

Either way make sure you have your old iPad backed up recently to either iCloud or iTunes.

Backup in iCloud

If you're going the iCloud route, then tap on the old iPad and choose Settings > iCloud > Storage and Backup and look at the bottom where it says 'Last Backup' and tap Back Up Now.

Backup in iTunes

If you're going to go the iTunes route, connect your old iPad to your Mac/PC and open iTunes. Click on the iPad icon in the top-right, and look for Latest Backup. If it's a while ago, click Back Up Now.

See: Backup, Wipe and Restore your iPad

Restore from iCloud/iTunes

If you tap Restore from iCloud/iTunes you'll need to enter your Apple ID and Password. When it is finished you should see a screen saying Update Complete.

If you tap Set up as New...

If you tap Set up as New you'll be taken to the Apple ID screen. Tap Sign In With your Apple ID and enter your Apple ID and Password.

If you haven't got an Apple ID yet (seriously?) or want to start with a new Apple ID tap on Create a Free Apple ID and go through the setup process. You’ll need to enter your birthday, name, address and various other details.

7. Terms and conditions

Tap Agree next to the Terms and Conditions. You can read them if you want, but you have to agree to them to use your iPad. Tap agree again on the pop-up window.

See: Apple updates terms and conditions

iPad Air Terms and Conditions

8. Use iCloud

Tap Use iCloud if you want to link your Apple ID to an iCloud account and start storing things on Apple's servers. iCloud is a pretty useful thing to have around, so tap Use iCloud unless you really don't want Apple to have access to any of your data.

See: How to set up iCloud

9. Find My iPad

Tap Find My iPad to start using Apple's Find My iPad service. This is great if you ever lose an iPad: you can locate it on Apple Maps, send a message to the person who has it, lock it and erase it. It's pretty useful, so we'd recommend that you tap Find My iPad - but as ever it's your decision.

See: How to use Find My iPhone

10. iMessage and Facetime

You will now see a list of email address that people can use to contact you using iMessage and FaceTime. Tap the email addreses you don't want to use (this removes the blue ticks) and then tap Next.

11. Create a passcode

As security becomes more and more of an issue, Apple has grown far more insistent on getting customers to add passcodes to their devices. You'll be asked to Create a Passcode. Tap in four digits and repeat it just to make sure. You can tap Don't Add Passcode but Apple warns you that you won't be able to use iCloud Keychain if you do.

See: How to use Touch ID and How to use iCloud Keychain

12. Siri?

Tap Use Siri. No really! Siri is great. The reason Apple asks is that your voice has to be sent to its servers for Siri to work. If you feel a bit paranoid about that then you can tap Don't Use Siri, but we think you're missing out.

(If you're not sold on Siri, you could take a look at our Siri troubleshooting guide and our Complete guide to Siri.)

13. Welcome to your iPad!

Apple encourages iPad users to send it diagnostic information whenever their devices go wrong, but whether you choose to do so is up to you. Tap Automatically Send or Don't Send to give Apple your diagnostics. We usually tap Automatically Send just to help Apple out, but it's up to you.

And that's it. You're now good to go. Tap the Get Started screen to start using your iPad.

Welcome to your iPad

14. The next steps

Where next? You probably want to start downloading apps. And we have some advice on that front.

Best free iPad apps

Best iPad games

Best free iPad games