A beginner’s guide to iOS: How to get started with your new iPhone or iPad

guide to ios iphone 7 plus photos camera
Carlos Vega/Digital Trends

If you’re getting started with a new iPhone or iPad, then congratulations! You’ve decided to invest in a healthy ecosystem of apps and an operating system that’s easy and intuitive to use. Although iOS isn’t as customizable as Android, it features a myriad of settings and gestures that will allow you to make the most of your new device. Once you learn the basics, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an iOS expert.

Our comprehensive guide to iOS will help you get started, and provide you with advice on how to set it up your device, navigate around, and come to grips with some of operating system’s most useful functions.

Setting up your new iPhone or iPad

The first thing you will do when you get your new iOS device is, of course, turn it on.

Step 1: You will be greeted with a screen that says, “Hello,” and a message at the bottom asking you to “Press home to open.”

guide to ios set up iphone hello

Step 2:  Select your language, and then your country or region.

guide to ios set up iphone country

Step 3: At this point, you’ll need to activate your device. You can select a Wi-Fi network and log in as you normally would, or you can tap Use Cellular Connection to utilize your data.

guide to ios set up iphone activate

Step 4: You will then be asked to enable or disable Location Services. You can disable this later if you wish. If you enable it now, however, then your device will be able to automatically set the correct time.

guide to ios set up iphone location

Step 5: If you purchased an iPhone 5s or later — or an iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, or iPad mini 3 or later — then your device comes equipped with Touch ID. You will be asked to set it up at this point, which can be done by following the on-screen instructions. You will be able to set up more fingerprints later. Once done, you will be asked to set up a six-digit passcode. We recommend that you do so. You can tap Set Up Touch ID Later or Passcode Options, but, either way, you will eventually need to set up a passcode. Take a minute to get this out of the way.

Step 6: If you’re reading this guide, then you probably don’t have anything to restore from a backup. If you do, however, then you can select it here. If not, tap Set Up as New iPhone or iPad.

If you’re moving from an Android device, then choose Move Data From Android. You will be asked to tap Continue. On your Android device, you will then have to download an app called Move to iOS. Launch the app on your Android device and tap Continue when prompted, then follow the on-screen instructions.

guide to ios set up iphone as new

Step 7: If you already have an Apple ID, log in and tap Next in the top-right corner. If not, select Don’t have an Apple ID.

guide to ios set up iphone apple id

Step 8: You can set up Siri on the following screen. If you want to set it up now, tap Set Up Siri and follow the on-screen instructions.

guide to ios set up iphone siri

Step 9: If you have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, you will also see a screen titled, “Choose Your Click.” Press 1, 2, or 3 to adjust the feel of the taptic engine, which activates when you press the home button. Whereas the first option will feel like a gentle tap on your hand, the second and third will feel a bit firmer. Select your desired feedback and press the Home button to test the feature, and once chosen, tap Next in the top-right corner to continue.

guide to ios set up iphone home button

Step 10: The last screen will ask you to choose your desired view. You can select either Standard or Zoomed, the latter of which uses larger text and controls. Once chosen, tap Next in the top-right corner.

guide to ios set up iphone standard zoom

At this point, you can tap Get Started to begin using your iOS device.

Navigating the interface

The first thing to wrap your head around is that the iPhone has a single Home button, which covers all your basic features. Not only does it serve as your fingerprint scanner, but tapping this button allows you to navigate your iOS device.

Single Press: Any time you need to close the screen you’re on — whether you’re in an app or merely navigating your settings — simply press the Home button. This will bring you back to your home screen.

Double Press: Pressing the Home button twice in quick succession will bring up any apps you’ve recently used, and that are currently opened. This is also ] referred to as multitasking. You can swipe left or right to navigate to previous app. This will allow you to quickly open an app that you were using without having to locate the app on your home screen or in a folder.

Double Tap: This is also known as Reachability. If you double tap — not press — the Home button, your entire screen will move down, so that you can more easily reach the top of the screen with your thumb. If you don’t like the feature, go to Settings > General > Accessibility, and turn off Reachability.

Managing your home screens

If you’re new to iOS, this is where things get tricky. If you were an Android user, you’re used to moving icons from the app drawer to the home screen in order to create shortcuts. I doesn’t work this way in iOS, however. All of your icons will appear on the home screen, and every time you download a new app, it will appear on the last home screen. You will then have to move the app and create folders if you want to group them into categories, so that they’re easier to find later.

Moving icons to another home screen

To move an app, press and hold its icon until everything starts wiggling. Then, while still holding the icon, move it to the edge of the screen.

Moving icons to create a folder

Just like with moving an app, start by pressing and holding the icon until it starts wiggling. Afterward, move the app icon on top of the app you want to group it with. Keep dragging icons on top of the folder you created to drop them inside. You can also rename the folder while the icons are wiggling.

Using 3D Touch

If you have an iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, or a later model, then you have 3D Touch. This can be confusing, namely because you can still tap and hold — which will make the icon wiggle if you hold the icon for a second — but you also have a press. If you press an icon harder, you will bring up a contextual menu loaded with shortcuts, which will allow you to quickly perform a variety of tasks.

If you press down on the Mail icon, for instance, you’ll be able to quickly access your contacts and compose a new message. If you press down on the camera, on the other hand, you’ll be able to quickly snap a selfie or record a video. If you press down on an email, you can preview it. You can even press down on a link to preview the webpage without having to visit the website.

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