The iPad Settings

To read the text and to complete the video tutorials, this section should take around 45 minutes. If you are new to the iPad it may be a good idea to have your iPad with you whilst completing this to tutorial. If you can’t, don’t worry it’s not essential.

By understanding your settings fully you are able to take complete control of your iPad or iOS device. The key to most things iPad are contained within the settings, from simple things like how bright or dark the screen is, to more complex things like accessibility features. Once you have the hang of iOS settings you’re away!

In this module you will learn about

  • Aeroplane and Wi-Fi
  • Notifications
  • Control Centre locking rotation and accessing the lock screen
  • Do not disturb
  • Software update and Siri
  • Spotlight search, text size and accessibility overview
  • Multitasking gestures, lock rotation, new volume, background refresh and usage
  • Autolock, passcode lock, the restrictions and location services
  • Lock and unlock, date and time, keyboard & keyboard shortcuts, split keyboard, iTunes and Wi-Fi sync
  • Sound
  • Wallpaper and brightness
  • Privacy and location services
  • Privacy and iOS native services

The vast majority of this section is in video format, so it is easy to follow along. In some sections of the module you will notice that there are headings underlined, if you left click your mouse or from an iOS device or phone tap on word, it will take you to the ‘Apple Support’ page for that particular section. As you will see below notifications is one such link. We suggest you watch the movie first then use the link for more detail or clarification.

Aeroplane Mode, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

You may think this first section about the aeroplane mode would be unimportant for schools, but understanding aeroplane mode is very important if you are travelling. It is also extremely useful if you’re using it in a classroom and you don’t want some learners to be able to access all areas of the iPad. The Apple support document for aeroplane mode is here.

As you can see, Airplane mode is the easiest way to restrict the iDevice’s ability to communicate with the outside world. If you are in a setting where the iPad isn’t allowed on networks and people are worried about data getting out of the iPad, or the iPad getting data from a system, simply switch Airplane mode on, and the iPad or iPhone can’t connect to anything!

Similarly, the Wifi enables you to connect to Wifi networks that are in range of the iPad. However just like all other devices you will need the network’s passcode to be able to connect. It is also remembering that there is nothing magic about the iPad when it connects to a school network, it can’t get into anything that it isn’t supposed to or cause any more harm than the classroom PC. On a school network using servers and blocking technology (it may be that your school blocks certain sites) the iPad will behave in exactly the same way as any other device on the network.

Bluetooth is the most important feature to learn in these first settings. Bluetooth is what will enable you to connect a majority of speakers and accessible switches for the iPad. Bluetooth isn’t the most reliable at getting paired, but once it is, you should have a pretty decent and stable connection. Just remember that if it doesn’t pair the first time, try it again, some devices can take up to four attempts, so don’t panic, stay calm and just try again if it doesn’t work first time!


Notifications can be really helpful because you can receive alerts and other useful information. However sometimes it’s really good to know how to turn it off.

The Apple support document for Notifications is here.

General settings part 1 – Control Centre, Locking rotation & accessing the lock screen

The next set of videos concentrate on the general settings, here you will learn how to recognise amongst other things if you have the latest updates, how much space is left on your iPad, how big are your apps and lots of other useful information.

Depending on how you are using your iPad will very much influence the decision you make regarding the control centre. If you are using it personally, as a member of staff you may find it useful to be able to access both of the functions within apps and also on the lock screens. However if you are using it with people that need to be kept on task, or people who have involuntary actions and may accidentally swipe from the top or bottom of the screen, you might want to turn them off. There is nothing more distracting, or frustrating for a user than the control centre or notifications popping over an app they are trying to use.

The Apple support document for Control Centre click here.
The Apple support document for locking rotation click here.
The Apple support document for securing the lock screen click here.

General settings part 2 – Do Not Disturb

‘Do not disturb’ is useful if you do not want to receive notifications or calls at a given period of time. This can be very useful if you bring in your own iPad into your work setting.

The Apple support document for Do Not Disturb click here.

 General settings part 3 – About, Software Update and Siri

Within the general tab there are lots of options, many of which have a lot more sub options. The good thing though is that they are all easy to navigate and reasonably self explanatory.

The first option in General is About.

About literally tells you about your iPad, how much space it has, how many apps are installed, your serial number, your wifi network, everything you could possibly want to know, but most of it you don’t need to know!

Software update allows you to update the iOS, the main control software on your iPad. From iOS 7 onwards it can be done without connecting your ipad to the computer, if you have a wireless connection. One word of warning though, don’t try and update your iOS with less than 50% battery.

The Siri settings allow you to choose how your iPad’s virtual assistant, Siri, will interact with you. You can choose the language, whether it talks back to you and tell it what ‘your info’ is. Your Info is important if you are going to be asking Siri things like ‘what is my nearest…’ as it needs to know where you are to work out what is nearest!

The Apple support document for software update  here.
The Apple support document for Siri here.

General settings part 4 –  Spotlight search, text size, accessibility overview

The spotlight settings are very useful if you don’t want to be able to search absolutely everywhere on your iPad when you are looking for something.  If you need confidentiality you may wish to set spotlight to not search your mail, or messages, but this isn’t fool proof, it just means search result from those areas won’t show. It can be useful if you are using the iPad to teach with or demonstrate with, but don’t rely on it to keep everything private!

Text size allows you to choose the native text size within the iPad. It is what is known as a ‘global setting’ it affects the iPad across it’s apps and screens. If you need bigger text this is the place to go, especially useful if you are working with someone that has a visual impairment.

Accessibility has all of the settings you are going to need to make the iPad as accessible as possible. In here you can adjust settings to cater for the needs of users who have hearing, sight or motor impairments. You can also use settings in here to assist users who are on the autistic spectrum or who have behavioural challenges. Accessibility will be covered fully in another module.

The Apple support document for Spotlight Search here.
The Apple support document for about text size here.
The Apple support document for accessibility overview here.

General settings part 5 –  Multitasking gestures, lock rotation & mute volume, background app refresh & usage

Multitasking gestures allow you to use more than one finger to essentially shortcut some of the iPad functionality. For example you can place five fingers on screen, spread out and pinch them together, this gesture will close an app.

There are many multitasking gestures, but users with physical impairments, especially users with dexterity issues will find them tricky. A lot of apps also require you to turn off this particular functionality, so it may be more useful to have this off as a default, it will depend on your setting.

The ‘use side switch to’ setting allows you to choose whether the physical side switch next to the volume rocker affects the rotation or the volume on the iPad. Locking the rotation can be useful in apps where users have gross motor control issues, as bumps may trigger a rotate function but more often than not, it is the volume that we want to get under control and a quick flick of the slider mutes the iPad.

The only issue to look out for is where the slide has been used to mute, and turned on. Then it is later changed to rotation and switched on and off again to lock the rotation. On occasion when this happens the iPad still is muted, even though the switch appears to be in sound mode. If this occurs, go into the settings and choose the mute option, and switch the switch back and forth, then leave it in the ‘off’ position, and you should have your sound back!

The Apple support document for using the side switch is here

The usage settings tell you the usages within your ipad. You can see how much storage you have available and how much our apps are using. You can also close whether the batter amount is shown as a percentage in the status bar along the top of the screen.

Background App refresh allows you to chose what apps can update their data in the background. It is useful to leave on if you are using apps that sync over a number of devices, and also if you are receiving live feeds and update, from apps such as Facebook and Twitter. Do remember though that although small, these apps do draw power and use memory, so the general rule, to get the most from your device, is, if you don’t need it running in the background, turn it off.

General settings part 6 – Autolock, Passcode lock, Restrictions, Location services

Auto-Lock allows you to choose the amount of time you can leave your iPad inactive before it returns to the lock screen. It can be very useful if you want to put your iPad down and it save battery, but if you have users with slow usage due to physical impairments you may want to extend the time. If you are using the iPad for visual stimulation apps, or apps that require infrequent input, you may want to set the auto lock time to never, meaning it will be up to you to click the power button to lock the screen.

Passcode lock allows you to set a passcode that you will need to enter when you want to gain access to the iPad. You can turn it on and off, and once it is on you can adjust it’s settings. The first is that you can change the passcode.

By default the passcode is a 4 digit pin, but under the simple passcode on/off toggle, is the functionality to set a harder passcode. With the harder passcode you can use any length combination of letters, digits and punctuation characters to set much more secure passwords. This is sometimes require within institution’s data policies, but for most people a 4 digit pin will do!

The last two settings allow you to choose whether Siri is available in the lock screen and whether the iPad wipes after ten failed pin inputs.

The erase data after ten failed inputs can be a blessing and a curse. It is very useful if you have sensitive data on your iPad that should not be seen by anyone else. However, if you just have apps and the data on it isn’t sensitive, it can be a right pain reinstalling everything after some fiddly fingers guessed the number wrong ten times! Use this feature with caution!

iPad Restrictions are probably the the most important setting for schools. in this next video you will learn how to restrict access the App Store and stop people from deleting apps.

The restrictions setting allows you to choose what native apps are available on the iPad. They are hidden under a passcode that you will need to set up, but once it is set up, you can choose which native apps are there for the user. It may be that you want to stop them spending lots of money on iTunes, if that is the case switch it off. If you want to make sure they don’t accidentally delete and app, switch off Deleting Apps too!

Further down the screen you can choose the age of the content that you will let the user have access to. All content on the App store has an age rating, if you are working with young or vulnerable people you can choose the limits of what they can access.

Lastly you can choose what location services are available. These are services that allow the apps to identify the location of the user and the iPad. Again if you are working with vulnerable users you might want to switch off their ability to post their location. One useful one to leave on though is the ‘Find My iPad’ app. If you loose your iPad you can log in on Find My Ipad on your computer, and if your iPad is turned on, it’ll tell you where it is!

Apple support document about restrictions here.

General settings part 7 –  Lock and Unlock, Date and Time, Keyboard & Keyboard Shortcuts, Split keyboard, iTunes Wi-Fi sync

The lock/unlock setting is particularly useful if you have one of the iPad cases which have the magnets in the lining. The magnets work to turn your iPad on and off as you open and close the case. By choosing this setting to be on, you are telling the iPad to go to sleep when you close the cover, and to wake up when you open the cover!

Date and Time allows you to set the date and time of the iPad. Almost always you’d leave this set to automatic, and the iPad will keep itself updated with the right date and time. You can choose whether the time is displayed in twenty-four hour format or not, and which timezone you are in, particularly useful if you are going on holiday with your iPad!

The keyboard setting allows you to change the appearance of the onscreen keyboard within the iOS. You can also choose how the keyboard behaves, with on/off toggles for things like auto capitalisation or auto correcting. You can also set shortcuts in the keyboard, the shortcuts are letter combinations that the iPad will expand into full sentences, so for example if I had to write my name Russell Smith at the end of every document, I could put RS as a shortcut, and every time the iPad sees RS it will insert Russell Smith.

The split keyboard function allows you to split the keyboard by pulling it apart with your thumbs. If you are standing presenting with the iPad it can be difficult to hold and type, so with split keyboards on, half of the keyboard is under each thumb.

The keyboard number allows you to choose the language of the keyboard, 1 is the setting for a standard UK layout, but you may want to use a different layout if you are working with users of a foreign language.

iTunes wifi sync allows you to sync your iPad without physically (with a wire) connecting it to your computer. This is particularly useful if you are using your iPad in a small setting like at home, as it will keep itself synced and backed up if you choose to enable this setting. However most schools and public establishments won’t enable this feature for network reasons, so be aware that you will need to do periodic backups to ensure that all your data is saved.

General Settings Part 8 – Sounds

Within the sounds settings you can choose how the sounds are presented in the iPad. The first thing you’ll notice is the large slider across the top. This is the volume slider for the iPad’s ringers and alerts, you can adjust it by sliding the slider. However it is much easier to use the volume rocker on the side of the iPad. The switch below the slider allows you to choose whether those buttons will work. Almost all users would leave this set to on, but if you are working with somebody who would fiddle with the volume switch, you can deactivate it!

General Settings Part 9 – Wallpapers and Brightness

In this setting you can choose how the iPad will look. The brightness slider is how bright the iPad screen will be. This is a setting that is purely to personal preference, but as a general rule of thumb, the brighter the screen, the more power it is using and the shorter the battery life will be. Most users will have the slider more or less in the middle, but you can set it to wherever is most comfortable for the user.

Auto brightness is a feature that will generally remember where the brightness setting is, but it automatically moves within a tolerance range to keep the screen at optimal brightness. If you are outside it will automatically get a little bit brighter, or if you are in a darker environment it will get a little bit dimmer. This function can be selected with a simple on/off toggle.

The choose wallpaper setting allows you to chose the background, or desktop, for the iPad. You can choose from Apple’s own dynamic backgrounds which have a bit of animation in them so could be visually confusing, or Apple’s static backgrounds. You can also choose from your own pictures. You are able to choose whether the wallpaper appears in the lock screen, the home screen or both. You can set different wallpapers for the lock and home screen if you want to!

Apple support document about brightness settings here

General Settings Part 10 – Privacy and Location Services

Within the privacy settings you can alter what information your iPad is sharing. The first option is location services where can choose what location services are available. These are services that allow the apps to identify the location of the user and the iPad. Again if you are working with vulnerable users you might want to switch off their ability to post their location. One useful one to leave on though is the ‘Find My iPad’ app. If you loose your iPad you can log in on Find My Ipad on your computer, and if your iPad is turned on, it’ll tell you where it is!

The location services also have arrow indicators to show you when that particular service last used your location. If the arrow is purple the service used your location in the last few minutes, if it is grey, within the last twenty-four hours.

The system services allow you to choose which system services are using your location. You can switch them on and off as with app location services. There is also a nice feature at the bottom called ‘Status Bar Icon’ which you can switch on. When this is turned on, it will put a little arrow in your status bar when a service or app is using your location!

General Settings Part 11 – Privacy iOS Native services

After you have looked at the privacy settings, you will notice that all of the native services (things built into the iOS like your contacts, calendar and camera) can be accessed. If you go into these native services you can see what apps are accessing their data. You may be surprised what app is accessing which data! If you don’t want an app to have access to a particular part of your data, simply switch it off!

The last option to look at is Advertising. Advertisers can get information from your iPad to specifically target adverts at you within apps that have pop up adverts. In other words if you’ve been searching for beans online, it is very likely that at some point you’ll get a beans related advert pop up in an app! The best way to stop this is to press the button to Reset Advertising Identifier. This clears out any data that can be used to target you with specific adverts. Once you have done that turn on Limit Ad Tracking and it will stop most of the advertisers being able to collect information about you, so they can’t target you with specific adverts!

Understanding the settings on the iPad are very important if our learners are to be safe.  in this section you have gained more knowledge about…

  • Aeroplane and Wi-Fi
  • Notifications
  • Control Centre locking rotation and accessing the lock screen
  • Do not disturb
  • Software update and Siri
  • Spotlight search, text size and accessibility overview
  • Multitasking gestures, lock rotation, new volume, background refresh and usage
  • Autolock, passcode lock, the restrictions and location services
  • Lock and unlock, date and time, keyboard & keyboard shortcuts, split keyboard, iTunes and Wi-Fi sync
  • Sound
  • Wallpaper and brightness
  • Privacy and location services
  • Privacy and iOS native services

If you find any faults, or feel that we need additions to this module, please feel free to contact us

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