Although I have worked in IT for more than 20 years, I am a Microsoft guy and have always stayed away from Apple products. Recently, my wife purchased an iPad and asked me to help her configure it. I have to admit that I felt a bit like a fish out of water because I had never used an iPad before. So I decided to assemble a list of 10 pointers for brand new iPad users.

Note: The items on this list are based on the third-generation iPad.

1: Make sure that you have the latest version of iTunes

The first thing to do when setting up a new iPad is to make sure that you have the most recent version of iTunes. My wife’s computer was initially provisioned with an older version of iTunes, and it wouldn’t even recognize the iPad until the current version of iTunes was deployed.

2: Resize apps

Although the iPad is designed to run iPhone and iPod apps, they’re designed to run on a device with a much smaller screen than the iPad’s. Some apps will let you choose the display resolution, but most apps that were written for the iPod or iPhone will display in a small window in the center of the iPad’s screen. If you want to resize these apps to run full screen, just tap the 2X button in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

3: Take advantage of iCloud

Oftentimes, iPad users also own other iOS-based devices, such as an iPhone or an iPod. Apple offers the iCloud service for those who want to keep all their iOS devices in sync. Apple makes the iCloud service available for free, although if you need more than a few gigabytes of storage you’ll have to lease additional storage space.

Configuring iCloud synchronization is easy. On the iPad, tap Settings, tap iCloud, enter your Apple ID and password, and then tap Sign In. From that point, you can pick and choose the features you want to synchronize to the iCloud.

4: Turn on Airplane Mode when flying

If you travel with your iPad, you’ll need to place the device into Airplane Mode while flying. To do so, tap the Settings button (on the Home screen) and then move the Airplane Mode slide bar to the On position.

5: Perform searches

The iPad’s Home screen actually spans several screens. You can flick the screen to the left or right to access pages of icons. As you do, a series of dots near the bottom of the screen will show you which page you are on.

If you want to do a device search, just go to the main Home screen (the first page of icons) and then flick the screen to the left. This will take you to the iPad’s Search screen. From there, you can search for apps and other types of content.

6. Add a Web site to the Home screen

If you want to add a Web site to the iPad’s home screen, start by opening the Safari browser and navigating to the site. Next, tap on the Share icon (it’s located to the left of the address bar) and then tap on Add To Home Screen. You will see a dialog box that lets you rename the icon if you want (or you can use the default name). When you are done, tap the Add button.

7: Adjust the screen brightness

You can adjust the brightness of the iPad’s screen by pressing the Home button and then tapping the Settings icon. Next, tap Brightness And Wallpaper (which is located in the column on the left side of the screen). Upon doing so, you will be able to use a slide bar to make the screen brighter or darker.

8: Change the wallpaper

If you want to use a custom wallpaper on your iPad, press the Home button and then tap the Settings icon. Tap Brightness And Wallpaper and then tap the Wallpaper section. You are now free to browse various libraries and albums, where you can select an image to use as your wallpaper.

9: Enable Wi-Fi

To enable the iPad’s Wi-Fi connection, first press the Home button and tap the Settings icon. Tap the Wi-Fi option in the list of settings and then drag the Wi-Fi slide bar to the On position. Finally, tap on the network you want to join and enter the network’s security key, if prompted to do so.

10. Take a screen capture

Depending on what you’re using the iPad for, you might occasionally want to make a screen capture. This is easy to do. Just press the power button and the Home button at the same time and hold them for a second. When you do, you will hear a sound similar to that of a camera shutter. You can view the screen capture by going into the Photos app and looking in the Camera Roll album.

Other iPad basics?

Do you have any other tips to pass along to first-time iPad users? Share your pointers with fellow TechRepublic members.