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20 top tips and essential tricks for your new iPad

How to disable in-app purchases, get push Gmail, and find free games

20 top tips and essential tricks for your new iPad
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Just got a new iPad for Christmas (or other seasonally suitable holiday festival)?

Congrats, then, and welcome to the club.

To help you get started with your device, we've gathered together some handy tips. We'll show you how to quit apps (completely), take screenshots, reboot your iPad, and find free games.

We'll also show you how to save battery life, send photos between devices, avoid scams on the App Store, and even record game footage to your computer so you can become the next PewDiePie.

How to use multitasking gestures

There are a few ways to manipulate your iPad by making gestures with four or more fingers. Swipe left and right to switch between apps; swipe up to bring up the multitasking panel; and bring your fingers together to close the current app.

If they annoy you (or ruin a game that needs lots of inputs, like Crabitron), you can turn them off in the Settings app - it's a switch under 'General'.

How to force quit an app

Sometimes, an app will get its knickers in a knot and need to be completely shut down. Or you just want to kill a big memory-munching game before it saps all your battery life.

To do this, enter the multitasking panel (hit the Home button twice or swipe up with four fingers); find the game or app in question; and then swipe it up and off the top of the screen.

How to avoid scam apps

The App Store sometimes features apps that aren't what they seem. They're scams, designed to make you think that some epic console game has just gone live on iOS.

There are a few things to check for if you want to make sure you're not buying a dud. Look at the developer and its past apps to see if it's a reputable seller. Look at the user reviews from all versions.

Check the file size: big games with 3D graphics are typically 500MB to 2GB. And check Pocket Gamer to see if we have reported on or reviewed the game in question.

How to change notification settings and 'shut up' a nagging app Notification Center

We've all downloaded games that won't stop 'nagging' you with push notifications. The easiest way to silence a game is simply to delete it - but if you want to continue playing it, you can also turn off these annoying alerts.

Open 'Settings' and choose 'Notification Center'. Tap on the game in question and pick 'None' for alert style; turn off app icon badges and sounds; and say no to Notification Center and Lock screen alerts.

How to take screenshots

Press the Home button and Lock button at the same time to take a screenshot. The image will be saved into your camera roll so you can see it in the Photos app or share it on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

How to make keyboard shortcuts Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts make it easy to instantly belch out great long strings of text by just typing a few characters on the keyboard. I use it to quickly type out my phone number, 3DS friend code, and email address.

You can set them up by opening the 'Settings' app, choosing 'General', and then hit 'Keyboard'. Choose 'Add New Shortcut...' and then put the desired text (say, your email address) into 'Phrase', and a shortcut (maybe the first few characters) in 'Shortcut'.

How to keep apps updated automatically

Since iOS 7, you no longer have to keep manually updating apps. If they aren't updating automatically, though, go into 'Settings', choose 'iTunes & App Store', and make sure 'Updates' is checked.

You can also check Music, Books, and Apps to make it so media and games purchased on your Mac or other iOS devices automatically appear on your tablet. Like some kind of hideous dark magic.

How to share photos with other Apple fans Photo Stream

Via Shared Photo Streams, you can share snaps with other iOS owners. To get started, go into 'Photos', choose the 'Shared' tab, and tap 'New Shared Stream...' Give it a name and then choose some people from your contacts list.

Now when you look at a picture in Photos, hit the share button (an arrow poking out of a box) and click 'iCloud'. Choose the correct stream, give the image a caption, and it will then be sent to all the people in the stream.

If you can't find the shared page, make sure 'Photo Sharing' is switched on under 'Photos & Camera' in the Settings app.

Best of all, these streams don't eat into your iCloud storage space.

How to change what the side switch does

See that little toggle switch on the side of your iPad? In a rare example of Apple giving users some options, you can choose what that switch actually does.

Open 'Settings', go in 'General', and find 'Use side switch to'. You can pick mute; to immediately silence incoming FaceTime calls and push notifications; or the orientation lock (to stop the display turning when you tilt your iPad).

Whichever you choose, you can find the other option in the Control Center (the panel of options you find when you pull a finger up from the bottom of the screen).

How to make a foreign iTunes account Foreign iTunes

These days, many games appear on foreign App Stores - most often Canada and New Zealand - weeks or months before going global as part of a soft launch. You can quite easily make an account on those overseas shores to start playing those games early.

Make a new email address with Gmail. Then, load iTunes on your computer and click the flag in the bottom-right corner. Choose the country you want to make the account for.

Now, attempt to download a free app. You will have to make a new iTunes account, so use the email address you created earlier and - when asked - use a fake address (Google is your friend here) to finish the process.

Now, open the App Store on your iPad and scroll down to the bottom of the 'Features' page. Click 'log in' and use the email address and password from iTunes. You will be whisked away to the foreign App Store of your choosing.

How to record game footage

Want to become the next YouTube superstar? There are a few different ways to record video footage off your iPad, but these are the ones we use for recording our PG First Play videos.

Reflector is a Mac and PC app through which you can record footage wirelessly. Once the app is running, and providing that your iPad and computer are on the same wireless network, open AirPlay from the Control Center, pick your PC, and turn on 'mirroring'.

Your iPhone will appear on your monitor. Then, just choose record from the menu to get going. It's a handy tool, but best for short videos and only viable if you have a strong wi-fi signal.

The other option is to get some hardware. We use the Elgato Game Capture HD. This little box, combined with a cable that converts Lightning (or 30 pin depending on the age of your iPad) to HDMI, is a reliable way to record high-quality footage.

How to save space with iCloud iCloud space

Apple gives you 5GB of iCloud storage space for free. If you're starting to run out, though, there are some things you can check before coughing up for more space.

First, open 'Settings' and then choose 'iCloud'. There are some options here that you can turn off to save space. Already backing up photos to Dropbox? Turn off 'Photos'. Use Gmail? Let Google save your emails, not Apple.

Then, go in 'Storage & Backup', and 'Manage Backup'. Make sure that the only devices in the backup list are iOS devices you actually own and use. If an old phone or iPad is on there, delete the backup.

Below that is a list of apps with documents and data that are being saved to iCloud, regardless of whether or not the app has been deleted. These are probably small, but check to make sure there isn't a large unneeded one.

Under 'Backups', tap on the device you are currently using. Now, you can uncheck oversized apps that you don't want as part of your backup. Do this on your other devices to make space.

How to reboot your iPad

If your iPad is not working correctly - in the words of The IT Crowd - "have you tried turning it off and on again?"

The easiest way to do this is to hold down the top power button until a red bar comes up. Swipe it. Wait for the device to power down completely. Then, press the top power button again to boot your tablet back up.

How to disable in-app purchases In-app purchases

If you're worried that your kids might figure out your iTunes password and go hog wild buying donuts in The Simpsons: Tapped Out, here's an easy way to completely stop all in-app purchases.

Open 'Settings', 'General', and 'Restrictions'. Set (or enter) a four-digit passcode. You will now see a huge list of iPad apps and features that you can disable. Have a tinker, but don't forget to switch 'in-app purchases' to off.

How to save battery life

The iPad battery seems to go on and on and on, but there are a few things you can do to make it last even longer.

Drop the screen brightness. The iPad looks incredibly bright at around 50 to 60 percent brightness, and it will massively increase your battery life.

Turn off unnecessary processes. Go into 'Settings', 'General', and 'Background App Refresh'. Only have the apps you use a lot turned on, or turn the feature off altogether to save battery. Also, turn off Bluetooth and AirDrop.

How to find free games AppShopper

Developers often reduce the price of their games to free as part of a promotion. You can keep an eye on these price cuts, and pick up some top titles for nothing, through a site like AppShopper.

On the AppShopper site, set the filters to 'Games', 'Popular', 'Free', and 'Price Drops' to see the games that have been recently reduced in price.

How to stream videos to your iPad

If you've just downloaded a new video to your computer and want to watch it on your iPad in another room, don't go through the hassle of converting the video and transferring it to your iPad.

Instead, use a clever app called AirVideo. You need to get the AirVideo server running on your computer and the app on your iPad. Once both can 'see' each other, you can watch any file from your PC on your tablet.

Best of all, it works with pretty much any video format. The server program is converting the file to an iPad-friendly format while you watch. Now, that's clever.

How to transfer files between devices Instashare

If both of your devices are running iOS 7, open Control Center; tap 'AirPlay'; and choose 'Friends Only' or 'Everyone'. Now when you look at a photo, App Store listing, or web page, you can send it to nearby pals using AirPlay.

If you want to send stuff between two of your own devices, I recommend an app called Instashare. As long as your two devices are on the same wireless network, you can send any file between two devices with the app open.

How to get push Gmail notifications

Google recently turned off push email for iOS users. This means that if you set up a Gmail account on your new iPad, the tablet will check for new emails every 15 minutes rather than telling you as soon as a new message has arrived.

Yes, even if you set it up as a Microsoft Exchange account.

The easiest way to solve this is to download and use the Gmail app. Personally, I prefer to hide Gmail in a folder and just use it for notifications, then open the default Mail app when an important email arrives.

How to stop motion sickness Motion

In iOS 7, The Big A added a bunch of swishy new animations that made some users very happy, and some others puke all over their fancy new tablet. Turns out that watching some of these transitions is the motion sickness sufferer's equivalent of riding a roller coaster.

To turn these off and settle your stomach, open 'Settings', 'General', 'Accessibility', and set 'Reduce Motion' to off.