New to the Apple iPad? Start HereAcross the country and around the world, millions of people will be waking this holiday season to open their presents and to find a brand spanking new Apple iPad inside the wrapping paper. After the squeals and hoots subside, where does one start to take full advantage of their new iPad? For those of you who just received a new iPad, then this article is specifically for you. My hope is that these tips will enhance your enjoyment of the iPad for years to come.

So let’s get started. If you already have owned another Apple product like an Apple iPhone or iPod, you already have an Apple iTunes account. If this is the case, the iPad will handle most of the setup process for you once you log into your iTune account. If this is your first Apple product and you do not have an iTunes account, Apple will walk you through the process, which is relatively painless. This will be your official Apple ID and you will need it down the road to log into your account to purchase applications.

One of the decisions that you will need to make is whether or not you should use iCloud. iCloud is a service that keeps all of your Apple devices synchronized. Each user is allocated 5 GB of free storage to back up their data. You may think that this is not very much storage space, but in actuality it is. You see, Apple doesn’t count the items you purchase such as music, movies, apps, books, TV shows, or your photo stream as part of the 5 GB limit. In fact, most companies — Google and Amazon included — have a similar storage size limit of 5 GB and it is just data that is counted toward this limit.

For some of you who own more than one Apple device, your decision about whether or not to synchronize your devices could depend on how you use the devices. Yesterday I spent family time with our adopted daughter and her family. She has an Apple iPhone that she uses strictly for her work. This phone is used to receive emails, texts, and phone calls from clients. Her husband had bought her a brand new Apple iPad and we discussed syncing with her phone. She decided that synching was not going to happen since she wanted to keep her work phone and iPad to play on separate.

The next thing you will want to do is get your free stuff. You won’t have to pay for much if you pay attention and know what the companies to which you already belong are offering their customers. For example: as a DirecTV customer I subscribe to the service and also have the NFL Network as part of my package. There are apps to add to the Apple iPad that allow for viewing of your subscribed programs. You will usually just have to enter a username or email address, plus a password, in order to access your account. Though the subscriptions themselves are not free, these are no-cost add-ons of which you can take full advantage.

You will also want to find those free applications that are always being offered. By merely browsing Apple’s Top Free Apps list at the App Store, you will be able to locate all of the free stuff you will need. One of the online services I would recommend you try is TouchArcade. This company offers a wide variety of free stuff, mainly games, that will help you start your treasure trove of apps.

Of course, adding such social networking features like Twitter and Facebook are a given; setting up Safari and Gmail are also recommended to get started. If you have any tips and tricks you would like to add, please feel free to leave us a comment.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Tom Rafferty