(This post — originally posted on May 2012 — has been updated.)
I write this post for my father — beloved 86-year-old owner of a brand new iPad 2 — who unfortunately lives half a world away. If you — like Dad — are struggling with how and where to begin using a new iDevice, then you’ll appreciate the Apple and third-party resources that I’ve listed for him here. They’ll provide you with great “training wheel” iPad and iPhone instructions and make an iWhiz out of you in no time.
But even as you prepare to master your iDevice, remember that your iPad or iPhone is extraordinarily intuitive. That means you can enjoy it right away using just your natural impulses, curiosity and common sense. As you become more knowledgeable and skilled in its use, your iDevice will grow with you organically.
So before anything else, play with your iPad or iPhone. Then you’ll begin your journey from “iNovice” to “iMeister” with amazement and amusement. You’ll enjoy getting to know your iPad or iPhone so much more when it’s an adventure.
For a panoramic view of what you can do with your iPad or iPhone, check out Apple’s iPad overview or iPhone overview Web pages. Designed to whet your appetite or update you on the latest, greatest iPad or iPhone model, these sites are more marketing oriented than instructional. However, they paint the big picture of your iDevice’s capabilities and possibilities excellently.
Use the second-tier tabs above a Web page to learn more about your iPad or iPhone’s features, apps, iCloud sync and backup capabilities, operating system (or iOS) and technical specifications.
Built-in User Guide
The user manual that Apple left out of your iPad or iPhone packaging resides in your iDevice itself. To get to it, tap the “Safari” app on your Home screen. Next, tap the “Bookmarks” icon that looks like an open book on the upper left of an iPad display, or bottom right of an iPhone screen. Scroll down to to the very bottom of the pop-up list to find your User Guide. Tap on it to summon a well-organized and nicely illustrated user manual. Choose any subject that you wish to learn more about with another tap to get a thorough but succinct explanation.
User Guide Book
If you prefer to read and search the official User Guide in book format, then take these three steps:
- First, download the free iBooks app. Tap the “App Store” app on your Home screen. Next, locate the search box on the upper right on an iPad. On an iPhone, tap the Search icon on the bottom right to summon the search box. Type “iBooks” within the search box.. Tap the “iBooks” app that appears in the search results, followed by its “Free” and then “Install App” buttons to download to download it. Enter your Apple ID password if prompted, and then wait for the iBooks app to load on your Home screen.
- Next, download the iPad or iPhone User Guide book. Tap the “iBooks” app you just installed on the Home screen. Then tap “Store” on the upper left of an iPad or upper right of an iPhone display. On the iPad, type “iPad” inside the search box on the upper right. On the iPhone, tap the “Search” icon on the bottom right to get the search box and type “iPhone” within it. Among the many book choices you are then shown, look for the iPad or iPhone User Guide that’s authored by “Apple, Inc.” Tap the “Free” button, followed by the “Get Book” button that appears beside it. Enter your Apple ID password if prompted, and then wait for the book to load onto your iBooks bookshelf.
- Finally, tap open the User Guide that appears on your bookshelf. You can read its contents sequentially, like you would any other book, turning its pages as you go. Or, you can tap the three-bar “Index” icon on the upper left to get to the book’s table of contents. Tap an interesting subject within the table go to the chapter that explains it further. Or, tap the magnifying-glass “Search” icon on the upper right to search for a specific topic or word within the User Guide.
Note that you will find more than one version of the iPad or iPhone User Guide in the iBookstore; for example, “iPad User Guide for iOS 5″ and “iPad User Guide for iOS 4.3.” Choose the book that corresponds with the iOS version that’s currently running on your iDevice. To know what version of iOS you are using, tap “Settings” on your Home screen, followed by “General” and then “About.” Scroll down to “Version” to learn your current iOS system and choose the User Guide that corresponds with it.
Tap into other Apple online resources to further learn how to use, sync and troubleshoot your iPad or iPhone. The links that follow take you directly to Apple’s various support sites:
- iPad Support, for help with all models of iPad running different iOS versions.
- iPhone Support, for help with all models of iPhone running different iOS versions.
- iTunes Support, for help with downloading, playing and sharing music, movies and other iDevice media, as well as synchronizing, storing and managing them on your PC or Mac computer.
- iCloud Support, for guidance on how to wirelessly download and back-up iPad and iPhone content and push it all to your other devices over the air.
- iOS Apps Support, for assistance with the apps that came installed on your iDevice, as well as other apps developed by Apple that you might download later, such as Garageband, iBooks, iMovies and so on.
You’ll find each of these sites packed with Apple support articles addressing just about every question ever posed by an iPad or iPhone user. You’ll also find other types of support, from video tutorials to forum discussions.
To get the information you need quickly, use the search box that appears on the upper-right corner of any of these sites. Type a query, such as “ringtone,” “battery” or “AppleCare,” and then use the filters provided to restrict your search to a specific product (for example, iPad or iPhone) and solution type (support articles, manuals, specifications, videos or discussions).
Though produced primarily for business, Apple also offers a series of iPhone and iPad video tutorials that you may find helpful for everyday use. Many of these videos demonstrate how to masterfully use the native apps that came factory-installed on your iDevice; for instance, how to use the Mail app to email multiple recipients. Other videos showcase how to use various third-party apps to to accomplish typical tasks at work, such as track expenses, conference call and edit documents.
Apple has compiled these video tutorials into podcasts, which are sort of like audio and video playlists. To access these free podcasts, download the Podcasts app from the iTunes Store, if you don’t already have it loaded. On an iPad, type “iPad How-to” in the search box on the upper right and then tap “Search” on the keyboard. On an iPhone, tap “Store”on the upper left, followed by “Search” at the bottom of the screen. Then, type “iPhone tips” within the search box, followed by “Search” on your keyboard. Tap the “iPad How To’s” or “iPhone Quick Tips” icon and then “Subscribe.” Finally, tap the podcast’s icon again, followed by “Add Old Episodes” to pick and choose what you want to specifically learn.
Tap on an episode’s name to immediately view a video tutorial over the air. By default, an iPhone will present the video full screen. On the other hand, an iPad will display the video in a decently smaller size than your screen; to expand it, tap the rectangle icon on the upper-right corner. To watch another video, tap the arrow on the upper-left to return to the list of episodes in the podcast.
You can also download a video to your iDevice before watching it, but take this option only if you are suffering an on-again-off-again Internet connection (download over Wi-Fi when connection is strong), or if you’d like to view episodes later or on the road without using up data on your 3G plan. To download a video, tap the “Arrow Down” button beside an episode’s name. You will have to wait some time for each episode to download and also give up precious storage space to accommodate the video tutorials on your iDevice.
You can find basic iPhone and iPad 101 advice and how-to tutorials everywhere — on websites, the App Store, the iTunes Store and various bookstores. Knowledgeable folks, many with wonderful knack for teaching, offer this material to augment the straightforward guidance contained in the Apple resources above. If you find Apple’s resources too minimalistic, hard to navigate through or otherwise inadequate, then here are a few inexpensive third-party resources that will help you. In my opinion, they rise to the top:
The following apps offer wonderful ways to quickly learn how to use an iPad or iPhone. They simplify concepts, overviews and instructions for quick and easy comprehension. They also allow you to interact with the app developer and share tips with your friends. The nominal amount that you would pay for each app is really worth it in these cases. You only pay for an app once and receive unlimited free updates as the iPad and iPhone software technology changes or new content is added to the app’s database of tips, tricks and shortcuts.
To download an app, click on my affiliate link for it below to view it in the App Store. Next, tap on its “Price” button, followed by its “Buy App” button. Enter your Apple ID password if prompted, and then wait for the app to load on your Home screen.
- Basic Tips for iPad: Easy Video Lessons on How to Use the iPad ($9.99) and Basic Tips for iPhone: Easy Video Lessons on How to Use the iPhone ($4.99) — by Worth Godwin Productions. These apps provide more than 75 two- to four-minute videos on how to use the iPad, and more than 150 one- to three-minute videos on how to use the iPhone, respectively. As a teacher of iPad and iPhone fundamentals, Worth Godwin rocks! With plain English and simple screenshots, he’ll take you promptly but unhurriedly through basic and advanced iPad and iPhone skills.
- SCOtutor for iPad ($1.99) — by ScreenCastsOnline. This app uses video to enlighten you about every aspect of basic iPad use. It covers 20 major subjects and more than 70 topics to familiarize you with your iPad hardware controls, settings and the various apps that came with it. Its special video player enables you to learn at your own pace and navigate through topics quickly. It’s a clean, comprehensive way to become an all-knowing iPad expert in a short time.
- Tips and Tricks – iPhone Secrets ($0.99), Tips and Tricks 2 – More iPhone Secrets ($0.99), and Tips and Tricks – iPad Secrets ($0.99) — by Intelligenti Ltd. These apps present basic iPad and iPhone information in well-organized and handsomely illustrated books. They combine a dash of overview to clearly articulated step-by-step instructions, and provide an easy way to jump from chapter to chapter to suit your immediate need-to-know moments. They’re really great to learn by. Free, lite versions are also available for you to sample in the App Store before buying the full, paid versions.
- Tips for iPhone – Tricks & Secrets ($0.99) — by 3ight, LLC. This well-designed app allows you to master our iDevice one quick tip at a time. More than 130 tips are included, along with an easy way to navigate and choose among them.
Believe me when I say that I have read A LOT of books about the iPad and iPhone. Thanks to Dad, I’m a genetically wired bookworm.
In the “Recommended Reading” section of this website, I list books that I reference often when either learning or explaining how to use an iPad or iPhone. Any of the listed books would serve as an excellent iPad or iPhone resource for you. With an active Amazon account, you can order a hard-copy version of any book directly from the list itself .
Now, if you want to get a digital or e-book version of a listed book, then type or paste its name in the “iBookstore Search Box” at the end of this post. Then tap the “iTunes” button below the book’s name to view and purchase it in the iTunes Store. Once downloaded, you can read the book on your iDevice using the iBooks app we previously discussed.
To arm yourself with only the best regarded and popular e-books on the list, then check out the following titles available on the iTunes iBookstore:
iPad 2 Best Selling Books
- iPad For Dummies. By Edward C. Baig and Bob LeVitus. (Oct. 2012)
- iPad 2 For Dummies. By Edward C. Baig and Bob LeVitus. (Nov. 2011)
- iPad Mini For Dummies. By Edward C. Baig and Bob LeVitus. (Dec. 2012)
- iPad For Seniors For Dummies. By Nancy C. Muir. (Oct. 2012)
- iPad 2 For Seniors For Dummies. By Nancy C. Muir. (Dec. 2011)
- My iPad (covers iOS 6) (5th Edition). By Gary Rosenzweig. (Oct. 2012)
- iPad All-in-One For Dummies. By Nancy C. Muir. (Dec. 2012)
- iPad 2 All-in-One For Dummies. By Nancy C. Muir. (Feb. 2012)
- iPad: The Missing Manual. By J D Biersdorfer. (Apr. 2012)
- iPad 2: The Missing Manual. By J D Biersdorfer. (Nov. 2011)
- Meet the iPad (Third Generation). By Jeff Carlson. (Oct. 2012)
- The iPad 2 Pocket Guide. By Jeff Carlson. (Apr. 2011)
iPhone Best Selling Books
- iPhone: The Missing Manual. By David Pogue. (Oct. 2012)
- iPhone 5 for Dummies. By Edward C. Baig and Bob LeVitus (Nov. 2012)
- iPhone 4S For Dummies. By Edward C. Baig and Bob LeVitus. (Dec. 2011)
- Teach Yourself VISUALLY iPhone 5. By Guy Hart-Davis. (Oct. 2012)
- Teach Yourself VISUALLY iPhone 4S. By Guy Hart-Davis. (Nov. 2011)
- iPhone 5 For Seniors For Dummies. By Nancy C. Muir. (Nov. 2012)
- iPhone for Seniors for Dummies. By Nancy C. Muir (Sept. 2013)
- My iPhone (Covers iPhone 4, 4S and 5 running iOS 6) (6th Edition). By Brad Miser. (Oct. 2012)
- iPhone 5 All-in-One For Dummies. By Joe Hutsko and Barbara Boyd. (Jan. 2013)
- iPhone 4S All-in-One For Dummies. By Joe Hutsko and Barbara Boyd. (Feb. 2012)
So, have I left anything out? Do let me know. I’ll make sure to pass it on to Dad on your behalf.