Did you just open up an iPad Air, iPad mini retina or iPhone 5s/5c this Christmas morning. Congratulations on owning an awesome device and on having a loved one that cares so much to get you the very best. Assuming you’ve cracked the plastic, looked it lovingly for a bit, now comes the process of getting it up and running. Here’s how to setup your new iPad Air, iPad mini, iPad 2, iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c, brought to you with a complete photo guide that details the process step-by-step on how to setup your iOS device without a computer. We’ve also got you covered if you want to setup your iPhone or iPad using iTunes.

Setup new iPhone or iPad

How To Setup Without A Computer

If you are looking for the absolute easiest setup process, along with not having to leave your couch, you can set-up your iPad without the need for a computer. You’ll need access to a WiFi network. This does not have to be your own network. If you’re visiting relatives, you’ll just need to ask them for the name of their WiFi network and the password.

Press the power button at the top right of your iPad. The iPad will boot up in a matter of seconds and you’ll be greeted by a friendly ‘Hello’ welcome.


Slide right on the screen to begin the setup process. Select your default language, which for most will be English.

Select language

Tap on your country or region.

Select country


Select the name of the WiFi network you’d like to join. You’ll be prompted to enter the password. Enter the password and tap on ‘Join’. If all goes well, you’ll see a message about the iPad being activated. This shouldn’t take longer than a few seconds or so.

Choose WiFi

Location Services

Next up in the setup process is Location Services. You have a choice here to either enable or disable. I’m going to make a case for enabling Location Services. This allows applications on your iPad to gather and use data regarding your location. This opens up the door for using fantastic apps like Maps, Weather and third-party apps like Yelp (for finding nearby restaurants, reviews). It’s also necessary for the free Find My iPad service, which I’ll touch on later. I get that with the NSA scandal, people are skeptical of tracking, but trust me, this is one instance where you want to be tracked.

Enable location services

Select either Enable or Disable Location services.

The next option is a critical one, especially if you are upgrading from an older iPad. The Set Up iPad section allows for three choices:

  1. Set Up As New iPad: If this is your first iPad, this is the best option. You’ll need to add apps, sync photos and music if you select this option.
  2. Restore From iCloud Backup: Are you upgrading from an older iPad and was that backed up to iCloud. By selecting this option, Apple will restore your personal data, including third-party apps, music, photos, messages and more to your new iPad. This is the best option for those who previously owned an iPad. Note that if you restore from iPad, your old iPad will function no differently. Apps can be freely transferred to iOS devices that you own.
  3. Restore From iTunes Backup: If you are upgrading your iPad, but do not use iCloud, here’s where you’ll need to connect your iPad to your Mac or PC. If you are not close to your computer, I’d recommend setting up as new and syncing your personal data when you have access to your computer.

Setup iPad or iPhone

Select the option that suits you best. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be setting up as new iPad.

Apple ID

Your Apple ID is central to pretty much everything you do on an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Apple TV. Not only is it used from purchasing of apps, music and movies, your Apple ID typically doubles as your iCloud account login. That’s used for iMessage, Facetime, GameCenter and more.

Apple ID

Enter your Apple ID and password and tap on Next. You’ll see a rather lengthy terms and conditions. Tap on Agree at the bottom right.


Apple will now activate your iPad under your Apple ID.

Setting up Apple ID


Whether this is your first iOS device or one of many, I’d highly recommend you use iCloud, which keeps things in sync across all of your devices. What’s more, you can utilize iCloud to automatically back up your iPad. So if the idea of accessing your music, contacts, photos and calendars from all of your devices has appeal, go forth with the ‘Use iCloud’ option.

Use iCloud

Find My iPad/iPhone

One of the perks of iCloud is the free Find My iPad service. If your iPad is lost, stolen or misplaced, this free service can help you do the following:

Find my iPad/iPhone

  • Locate your iPad using Maps from any PC, Mac or iOS device.
  • Lock your iPad remotely, so your data is protected
  • Erase your iPad remotely, bringing it back to its factory state.

iOS 7 Tip: Starting with iOS 7, Apple required ‘Find My iPad’ to be disabled in order to restore it to factory defaults. Without your Apple ID and password, there is no way for a lost or stolen iPad to be restored, rendering useless to those who are in possession, but are not the owners. Using Find My iPad, you can also send a custom message, handy if you’d like to offer a reward.

Best of all, it’s completely free, so be sure to enable Find My iPhone/iPad.

Tip: If you use different Apple iD accounts for iTunes and iCloud, tap on the link below where it says ‘Use different Apple IDs for iCloud and iTunes.’

iMessage and FaceTime

Two excellent services available on the iPad are iMessage and FaceTime. iMessage lets you send free text and picture messages to any iOS user. Think of it as a free text messaging plan for your iPad. The only requirement is that the user has iMessage enabled (Settings > Messages > iMessage ‘On’.

iMessage Facetime

FaceTime enables you to make or receive video calls using your iPad.

At this part of the setup, you’ll see a list of phone numbers and/or email addresses associated with your Apple ID. You can choose which addresses you’d like to enable or disable for iMessage/Facetime by unchecking any contact number or address for which you don’t want to be used for these services.

Create a Passcode

If you would like to secure your iPad with a password, here you can enter a four digit passcode. Apple requires that you enter it twice, to be on the safe side that you’ve entered it correctly. If your iPad is going to remain in your home, it’s not uncommon to not add a passcode. At the bottom is an option to ‘Don’t Add Passcode’.

Create passcode

Tip: If you would like to use iCloud Keychain, a passcode is required. iCloud keychain allows Safari to save website passwords and even your credit cards for future purchases.


Siri is Apple’s voice activated assistant. Siri can send messages, dictate a note, search the web, find restaurants, movies and map locations. It’s all done with relative ease, by pressing and holding the home button and asking your question. There is no charge for Siri. Even if you are unsure, your best bet is to enable Siri. It won’t have an adverse affect on battery life and you’ll likely find a willing assistant that can help you get things done.

Use Siri


Apple would like to collect anonymous data regarding usage and diagnostics. There is no personal information shared with Apple. They use this information to improve their products and services. I typically select ‘Automatically Send’.

Welcome to iPad/iPhone

Congratulations! You have successfully setup your new iPad! If you have questions or need help, our forums are filled with experts. You’ll find fast, free advice from our friendly, knowledgable staff and members.