The 12 iPad Settings Every Business User Should Know

By Galen Gruman

The Settings app on the iPad has a treasure trove of capabilities for work, enabling many key features on the iPad as well as determining how both iOS and individual apps function. It’s an app that every iPad user should take the time to know. You should consider going through every setting in the Settings app to see exactly what your Pad can do that it’s not doing, as well as what it is doing that you don’t want or need.

Apps can use the Settings app to set their preferences (app settings are at the bottom of the list if preferences in the left pane of the Settings app), or they can have their own preferences feature within the apps themselves. Some apps put some preferences in the Settings app and some in the app itself. Although that can be confusing, it’s just how things are. So, be sure to go through your apps’ internal settings, not just through those in the Settings app.

Wi-Fi

You can manage how your iPad connects to Wi-Fi networks in the Settings app’s Wi-Fi pane. Beyond turning Wi-Fi on and off, which you can also do in the Control Center, you can also select which network to connect to when several are in range, have your iPad automatically reconnect to networks you previously joined, and have your iPad alert you whenever it finds a new network.

The Wi-Fi pane shows the currently connected Wi-Fi network right below the Wi-Fi switch at the top. Other available networks are shown in the Choose a Network section below that; tap a network to connect to it. (You can connect to only one Wi-Fi network at a time.)

To manage a connection, tap the Info button (the i icon) to the right of a network name. This opens a pane that shows the connection details. The pane also shows one or more buttons, depending on the connection state:

  • Forget This Network: Available if you have ever connected to this network, this option prevents the iPad from automatically reconnecting to this network in the future. Of course, if you manually reconnect later, the iPad will begin automatically reconnecting to it again.

  • Join Network: Available if you are not connected to the network, this option connects you to the network.

  • Renew Lease: Available if you are currently connected to the network, this option lets you refresh a connection. That’s a rare need, but it might occur if your network lost power or was otherwise turned off and restarted, if server settings were updated by your IT group, or if you moved to a different location in the building where the network name is the same. (Sometimes the hand-off from one wireless router to the next doesn’t go as planned, and Renew Lease can fix that.)

The more Wi-Fi networks you use, the more unexpected connections you may get from your iPad. For example, if you connect to a Wi-Fi network that has a generic name like Linksys or Home, your iPad will try to connect to any network that has the same name when in range. Worse, it may connect to that network instead of the one you want to use that’s also in range. So, you may need to forget such networks and manually connect instead so that you don’t get connected to those other networks of the same name.

Also, if you have connected to several Wi-Fi networks in the same location — such as the one for employees and the one for guests — your iPad may switch which network it is connected to based on factors such as signal strength. Because guest networks usually prevent access to corporate resources, your iPad may no longer see your printers or access certain servers when switched to a guest network. Be sure to forget guest networks at your company so that you’re not accidentally switched to them later.

The iPad doesn’t let you control the order in which it connects to networks when it sees several available. Yes, your Windows PC or Mac has that capability, but not the iPad. So your iPsd is more likely to connect to the “wrong” network when several known networks are detected. Again, forget those you don’t want to have connect automatically.

At the very bottom of the Wi-Fi pane is the Ask to Join Networks switch. If set to On, the iPad will alert you when it comes in range of a new network so that you can join it. That can be handy when traveling, letting you figure out what coffee shop to work in or get notified that the airport lobby has Wi-Fi service. But it can also be very annoying when you move in areas that have lots of Wi-Fi networks, such as when walking in a downtown street or taking a bus in a downtown area — you’ll get notified constantly. Disable this feature except when you want the iPad to actively seek available Wi-Fi networks for you.

Managing cellular data

To control cellular data separately from the other radios, use the Cellular Data pane in the Settings app. (Tap Cellular Data in the list in the Settings app’s left pane to open the Cellular Data pane. Note: Only cellular iPad models have the Cellular Data pane.)

In the Cellular Data pane, you have these options:

  • Cellular Data: This switch turns the cellular radio on or off.

  • Enable LTE: This switch, available in the third- and fourth-generation iPad models, as well in all iPad Mini and iPad Air models, controls whether the iPad is using the faster fourth-generation (4G) radio technology called LTE (Long-Term Evolution). Typically, you want this on because you get faster performance. But if you’re using your iPad where the LTE signal is weak or overloaded, turning it off forces your iPad to switch to the third-generation (3G) technology instead, which may be stronger or more available in some locations. If your iPad’s cellular Internet connection is slow, try turning LTE off temporarily to get better performance in that location.

  • Data Roaming: This switch controls whether your iPad uses another cellular network when using the iPad outside your carrier’s service area. You may want to turn this feature off. Roaming on another carrier’s network can get very expensive — costing hundreds of dollars — especially when outside your home country. Within your home country, data roaming may or may not have a cost; check your carrier contract to understand whether you’re charged for roaming at home.

    When abroad, get a local SIM card from a local cellular carrier and activate service on that SIM card. (A SIM card is what tells a cellular network who you are in order to make sure that you have an active, valid account with that carrier.) You’ll pay local rates, which are usually quite affordable (usually between $10 and $20 for a month’s service). The carrier staff can remove your home network’s SIM and install it for you; watch what they do because it is quite easy. Be sure that you keep that home SIM! When you get back home, pop out the foreign SIM and put back your home SIM to be able to connect your iPad normally to your home carrier’s network.

  • View Account: Tap this option to open a form to sign in to your cellular account with your carrier. This is where you stop service until needed again, buy additional service, and check your remaining data allotment for the current period.

  • Personal Hotspot: Tap this option to make your iPad into a hotspot for other Wi-Fi devices, such as your computer and smartphone. Basically, this option lets other devices use your iPad’s cellular signal through a Wi-Fi connection. You need to provide a password for those other devices to use so that some stranger isn’t piggybacking on your signal and eating up your data plan. Your service plan may require an extra payment to use this feature, so check with your carrier before using it.

  • SIM PIN: This option, not available for all carrier networks, lets you set a PIN on your SIM card so that if someone takes your SIM card out of your iPad, that person can’t use it on another device without knowing that PIN. If you set a SIM PIN, you will have to enter that PIN periodically to prove that you are the rightful owner.

  • Use Cellular Data For: This section of the Cellular Data pane is where you tell the iPad which apps can use cellular data and which cannot. Be sure to go through the list and make sure that only apps you want to connect to the Internet when you are using a cellular connection can consume data. (All apps can use the Internet when you have a Wi-Fi connection, regardless of the settings here.) Turning off cellular access for apps that don’t need to stay connected all the time helps you avoid using up those precious data allotments.

Wrangling notifications

The iPad can provide alerts for all sorts of activities, from when a new email message arrives to when it’s time for a previously set appointment. The Notifications pane is where you control these alerts.

One section of the Notifications pane contains the Notifications View section, which controls how notifications display on your Lock screen and in the Notification Center. (The Notification Center is the list of alerts that appears when you drag down from the top of the screen in any app or from any Home screen.) Tap Sort Manually to have the order of notifications match that in the list of apps below this section; tap Sort By Time to have the notifications organized from most to least recent.

To edit that order, tap the Edit button, then drag the Reorder handle (the icons of three lines) of an app within the list to change its relative position and thus order of display. Do so for each app until all the apps are in the order you prefer. Tap Done when the order is to your liking.

In the Include section of the Notifications pane is a list of all apps that can display notifications on the iPad. Tap an app to set how it will notify you. You typically get these options for each app:

  • Allow Notifications: This switch turns notifications on or off for this app.

  • Show in Notification Center: This option lets you set how many recent notifications for this app will appear in the Notification Center.

    If you set the Allow Notifications switch to Off, or if you set Show in Notification Center to None, the app no longer appears in the Include section. Instead, it shows up in the Do Not Include section below.

  • Notification Sound: This option lets you choose which sound plays when this app notifies you of something. By using different sounds for different apps, you can tell without looking at your iPad screen whether a new notification is likely one you want to check immediately.

  • Badge App Icon: This switch displays a number on the app’s icon in the Home screen for how many notifications you haven’t seen yet from this app.

  • Show on Lock Screen: This switch determines whether this app’s notifications appear on the Lock screen, which is what you see when your iPad is asleep or you are trying to wake it up.

  • Alert Styles: There are three options for how your notifications can appear onscreen while you are in an app or when a Home screen is open:

    • None: Shows no alerts onscreen, so any notifications are visible only in the Lock screen, Notification Center, and/or app badge, depending on your settings for this app.

    • Banner: Shows a message in the upper-right corner of your screen for a few seconds when there is a new notification. You can tap that banner to open the app to see the full notification, but if you don’t respond after a few seconds, the banner disappears and leaves you alone.

    • Alert: Shows a form in the middle of the screen that won’t go away until you tap OK. Use this setting for truly urgent notifications, such as for FaceTime calls.

For the Mail app, you can set separate notifications preferences for each email account you have. You also get two additional settings:

  • VIP: Lets you set separate alert display and sounds for emails from people you’ve marked as VIPs in the Mail app, regardless of what account their emails come into.

  • Threaded Notifications: Lets you set separate alert displays and sounds for emails that are part of a conversation (a.k.a. a thread) in the Mail app.

For the Calendar app, you can set separate alert displays and sounds for upcoming events, invitations, invitee responses, and changes in shared calendars (such as a family calendar) to help you prioritize and distinguish these different kinds of calendar items.

For the Messages app, you get these additional preferences:

  • Show Previews: This switch controls whether the notification displays any content from the notification. You may want to set this switch to Off for apps that provide sensitive data that you wouldn’t want someone to see on your screen on an iPad used extensively in the office, such as emails from your spouse.

  • Show Alerts from Everyone and Show Alerts from My Contacts: Choose one of these options to determine which notifications from this app are presented to you. You might use Show Alerts from My Contacts for email notifications, for example, so that junk mail notices are less likely to interrupt you.

  • Repeat Alerts: This option lets you control how often a notification is repeated, in two-minute intervals, if you don’t immediately respond to it. Alerts that could be important but not critical, such as work emails, might be repeated five times, whereas alerts that are rarely important, such as friends’ Facebook posting, might not be repeated at all.

In the Do Not Include section of the Notifications pane is a list of apps that will not display in the Notification Center. They still provide alerts, and you have the same controls for them as you do for apps in the Include section. If you set the Allow Notifications switch to On or choose an option other than None for Show in Notification Center, the app is moved from the Do Not Include section to the Include section.

Configuring the Control Center

The Control Center is a very handy feature that provides quick access to a variety of common iOS features, such as music and video playback, Airplane Mode on/off, Wi-Fi on/off, Bluetooth on/off, Do Not Disturb on/off, Mute on/off, screen brightness control, volume control, AirPlay control (if a compatible device is available), and the Clock and Camera apps.

For a cellular iPad, Airplane Mode turns off the iPad’s radios so that they can be off, for example, during plane’s take-off and landing. In addition to controlling radios during take-off and landing, Airplane Mode is handy for conserving power, such as when you are low on battery juice but nowhere near a power port.

You can turn Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth back on when in Airplane Mode using the Control Center. That’s handy when in flight, where cellular radios are prohibited but Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are okay to use. Also, when you turn Airplane Mode back off to reactivate your radios, only the radios that had previously been on are turned back on. So if you turned off Bluetooth and then put your iPad in Airplane Mode, the Bluetooth remains off when you turn off Airplane Mode.

So what does all this have to do with the Settings app? You use its Control Center pane to specify when the Control Center is available. By default, the Control Center is available from the Lock screen, Home screen, and any app screen. But some people accidentally open the Control Center when they’re in an app and would prefer not to. Others don’t want the Control Center available when their iPad is locked, preferring to prevent others from accessing any of its capabilities.

In the Control Center pane of the Settings app, use the Access on Lock Screen switch to set whether the Control Center is available on the Lock screen, and use the Access within Apps switch to set whether the Control Center is available from the screens of your apps. The Control Center is always available from the Home screen, no matter how you set these two switches.

Getting a break with Do Not Disturb

The Do Not Disturb pane lets you manage your quiet time, at least on the iPad. You can use it to silence all sounds from the iPad, such as during a meeting or overnight. And you can allow alert sounds from some people but not others while in Do Not Disturb mode.

To manually enable Do Not Disturb mode, use the Do Not Disturb button in the Control Center (the moon icon) or set the Do Not Disturb switch in the Settings app’s Do Not Disturb pane to On. Just be sure to turn off Do Not Disturb; otherwise, your iPad will silence notifications indefinitely.

Well, maybe not indefinitely. You can schedule Do Not Disturb so turn off when you want so that the iPad will once again make noise for notifications. Most people set it to be off by the next morning.

Where do you schedule Do Not Disturb? In the Settings app’s Do Not Disturb pane. Set the Scheduled switch to On; then set the on and off times in the From and Two fields.

You can’t set separate schedules for the weekends or specific days, and you cannot set Do Not Disturb to silence alarms based on appointments in your calendar. The schedule set is for every day, regardless of what else might be going on.

In the Do Not Disturb pane, you can customize those silent periods in a few ways:

  • Allow Calls From: Use this option to permit FaceTime calls and Messages text messages to alert you even when Do Not Disturb is on. You can allow such alerts from everyone, people in specific Contacts groups, or no one. (You can’t create or modify groups in the iPad’s Contacts app. You must use the Contacts app on your Mac or from the account, such as Exchange or Google, that the contacts are managed by. You can also manage groups for iCloud at iCloud.com from a computer.)

  • Repeat Calls: Set this switch to On to allow a second FaceTime call within three minutes of the first call to ring through, even if the Allow Calls From settings would normally block that call from ringing. This option is meant to allow an urgent call to get through, such as for an emergency, while Do Not Disturb node is on.

  • Silence: The two options here determine when Do Not Disturb is on. The Always option silences alerts regardless if whether you’re actively using the iPad. The Only While iPad Is Locked silences alerts only when the iPad has gone to sleep or the Lock screen is visible. If you don’t want to be disturbed while in meetings in which you use your iPad, you should use the Always option.

Orchestrating sounds

The Sounds pane in the Settings app lets you assign any of a few dozen sounds to each of several kinds of alerts, from FaceTime calls to new emails, from reminder alerts to new texts. By using different sounds for these items, you can easily tell one from the other, which helps you prioritize which you respond to. If multiple people use an iPad where you work, you can also each set different tones for the same items so that you know that it’s your iPad that has that new message, not John’s or Sally’s.

The Sounds pane also lets you set whether a sound plays when your iPad locks itself and whether a sound plays when you tap a key on the onscreen keyboard. People new to the iPad often like the aural confirmation of a keyboard tap because it can help them get proficient with screen typing. But it can annoy others, such as during meetings.

Protecting your iPad with a passcode

Any iPad used in business should have a passcode required so that if someone gets your iPad, he or she can’t get into its contents. Many companies use the Microsoft Exchange server or a mobile device management (MDM) server to force the iPad to require a password. If your company doesn’t do that, you can enable a required passcode in the Settings app’s Passcode pane: Tap Turn Passcode On and then follow the prompts to set that passcode.

You can set a PIN or a password, as you prefer. Set Simple Passcode switch to On to use a PIN. If that option is grayed out, that means your company’s Exchange or MDM server requires you to use a password, not a more easily guessed PIN.

The Passcode pane also lets you manage when the passcode is required. Tap Require Password to set how long the iPad can be idle before it locks itself and requires a passcode for you to continue using it. The delay can be between zero (Immediately) and four hours, in predetermined increments. Your company’s Exchange or MDM server can change the delay options available to you.

The Passcode pane also lets you set which iPad features can be used from the Lock screen: The Today view (your calendar appointments and task reminders shown on the Lock screen), the Notifications view (your alerts), and Siri. The more sensitive your work, the more likely it is that these features should be disabled from the Lock screen, because a stranger could use them if you lose control of your iPad. The Settings app’s Passcode screen has a switch for each of these three features — Today, Notification View, and Siri — to enable or disable its Lock screen access. Your company can remotely disable any of these features via an MDM server.

Finally, you can use the Erase Data switch. If set to On, your iPad will erase its contents after 10 failed password attempts. If this option is grayed out, it means that your company’s Exchange or MDM server is controlling this feature (usually by forcing it to On and not letting you change that setting).

Managing your privacy

The Privacy pane in the Settings app is where you control the information-oriented features that apps can use on your iPad. Some apps want to use data about you that you might not be comfortable with, such as tracking your location, sending posts via your social media account, or accessing your microphone.

Apple has designed the iPad so that any app that wants to track your location, access your contacts, see your calendar, see your tasks, access your photos, use Bluetooth to share data, control your microphone, use your camera, or access connected devices (the HomeKit option) must get your permission to do so. You’ll get an alert from an app when it tries to use such a service, and you have to allow that access by clicking the Allow button that appears in the alert.

But you may have not realized what access you were providing to personal information, or you might later change your mind about that access. Use the Privacy pane to see what information is available to each app; then set the switch to On or Off for each app for each service to control exactly what each app can access, no matter what you have said yes to in the past. Here’s how:

  1. In the Privacy pane, tap the name of a service, such as Location Services or Calendars, to see which apps can access that service.

  2. Set the switch to On or Off as desired for each app to control which can access that specific service.

  3. Repeat the process for each service.

You also see a list of social media apps installed that allow other apps to access them, such as Twitter and Facebook. Tap each app in that list to set which apps may access that social service, including your posts, friends, and profiles.

The Diagnostics & Usage option lets you control whether information about your app usage is sent to developers for use in spotting flaws and getting a better understanding of user behavior to help design future versions. The Advertising option lets you tell apps not to send you targeted ads, though they can ignore this request if they choose.

Managing storage usage

In the General pane of the Settings app is the Usage option. Tap it to open the Usage pane. Here, you can see how much data is stored both on the iPad itself and in your iCloud account, letting you know whether either is getting filled up. You can also manage that storage by using the Manage Storage option for both Storage (for what’s on your iPad) and iCloud.

Cleaning up storage on the iPad

If you tap Manage Storage in the Storage section, after a few moments you see a list of apps and how much storage space each one is using. Tap an app to get further controls.

For most apps, your only option is to delete the app in order to free up space taken by it and whatever it is storing. That’s a drastic action. But by seeing how much data each app is storing on the iPad, you can then open that app and delete unneeded files or other such data.

In the Manage Storage pane, tapping the Videos or Music app shows you all the content it has: movies and TV shows for Videos; artists, albums, and songs for Music. (For Music, you navigate from artist to album to get a list of songs.) In both cases, you can tap the Edit button at the upper right of the pane to be able to delete individual videos and songs. Tap the – icon to the left of an item to delete it from your iPad. Tap the Done button when your cleanup is complete.

Cleaning up storage in iCloud

If you tap Manage Storage in the iCloud section and have an Internet connection, after a few moments you see a list of iOS devices and apps showing how much data each is storing on the iCloud service.

The iCloud Photo Library option shows how much space your photos on all your Apple devices are taking on iCloud. (If the iCloud Photo Library switch in the Photos & Cameras pane in the Settings app is turned on, the iPad uploads to iCloud all photos on your iPad’s Photos app so that all your other devices can access them. That’s handy but can eat up iCloud storage.)

The Backups section shows which iOS devices, such as iPhones and iPads, are backed up to iCloud, and how much storage space those backups take on iCloud. Tap a device name to see when the last backup occurred. Your only real option here is to delete the backup, which is not a smart idea — you’d not be able to restore the data for that device if you needed to do so.

The Documents & Data section shows the apps that are storing the most data on iCloud. Tap an app to see its file list, and tap Edit in the upper-right corner of the pane to be able to delete individual files. Tap Done when you’re done cleaning up your files.

Deleting files from iCloud deletes them from all devices that access those files from iCloud. So be careful as to what you delete. Instead of deleting them from here, consider going to your computer and moving old files to your computer’s hard drive instead so that they don’t take space on iCloud but are available later if needed. (You can always move them back from the computer to iCloud if you need to work on them again from more than just that computer.)

The Mail section shows how much storage your iCloud email account is using; you can’t do anything about it in the settings app, but instead would need to go to the Mail app and delete messages that you no longer want to keep. You probably want to move old messages out of iCloud to your computer’s hard drive in your computer’s email program so that you have it archived for any future needs. The steps to do so depend on that email client.

If your iCloud account is full or nearly full and you can’t really delete data from it, you can get more storage by tapping Change Storage Plan. Apple will sell you as much as 1TB of storage for a monthly fee charged to your iTunes account.

Imposing restrictions

Also in the Settings app’s General pane is the Restrictions option. Tap it to get the Restrictions pane. Here, you can have the iPad disable certain apps unless a password is entered. If others (such as your kids) use your iPad, you can use this feature to restrict certain functions:

  • Using the Safari browser, camera, FaceTime, and Siri.

  • Making purchases in the iTunes Store, iBookstore, and/or within apps; installing or deleting apps; or accessing podcasts.

  • Setting limits on the content that can be accessed, such as by movie ratings or with sexually explicit content. You can also restrict Siri searches and even limit the Safari browser to specific websites.

  • Changing privacy settings, accounts (such as email, calendar, and contacts), and cellular data settings.

  • Accessing multiplayer games and/or the Game Center app.

Even if you don’t have kids using your iPad, you might want to use restrictions to require a password for privacy, account, and cellular data changes so that a spy or thief can’t change such items if he or she gets hold of your iPad while it is unlocked. A smart thief could change your account settings to divert confirmation emails that might alert you to the fact that someone is messing with your accounts.