25 essential iPad mini tips

Use these tricks, tips and tools to get the most out of Apple's tiny tablet.

Part of the iPad mini's appeal is its simplicity -- just switch it on and go -- but there's plemty more to explore if you dig a little deeper.

Whether you've treated yourself to a new iPad mini or came across one underneath the Christmas tree, you should find these tricks and tools useful in helping you get more out of Apple's latest tablet. Many of these tips can also be applied to other devices running iOS, including the iPad mini's bigger brother.

1. Sync Facebook contacts and events

Sign into the world's biggest social network from the Facebook page in Settings and you have the option to import events and birthdays into the Calendar app, and your friends' details into Contacts. You'll also be able to post status updates from the Notification Centre.

Sign into Facebook and Twitter to post from the Notification Centre.

2. Accents and special characters

Tap and hold on any keyboard letter to bring up accents and other variations.

3. Turn off 'Sent from my iPad'

By default the iPad mini appends 'Sent from my iPad' to the end of your emails. Deactivate this via Mail, Contacts, Calendars in Settings, or tap the Signature option to clear or change the message.

4. Audio equalizer

The iPad mini includes a variety of audio equalizer settings for changing the sound of your music. You can find it on the Music screen in Settings.

5. Take a screenshot

Snap whatever's on your screen by pressing the Sleep/Wake button and Home button together.

6. Start the countdown

Hidden away in the Clock app is a Timer feature you might not know about -- you'll find it handy whenever you need an accurate countdown.

Use Apple's simple Timer app to boil eggs or measure a workout.

7. Switch search engines

Tap Safari in Settings to change the default search engine when you run queries within the browser or from the Spotlight Search screen.

All Googled out? You can change the search engine your iPad mini uses.

8. Turn your iPad mini into a Kindle

The iPad mini's smaller size makes it perfect for catching up on your reading. If your ebook collection is locked away on your Kindle, install Amazon's iPad Kindle app to get at all your literature.

9. Add a keyboard

Typing for extended periods of time can be a struggle on the iPad mini. If you're composing a lengthy email, or your next novel, invest in a compact Bluetooth keyboard -- you'll find a wide selection online.

10. Reset your iPad mini

A reset is like a PC reboot and can fix numerous errors and crashes without losing your apps and data. Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button and the Home button together for at least 10 seconds until you see the Apple logo appear.

11. Make your own wallpaper

You can load any image in your Photo Stream as a background via Brightness & Wallpaper in Settings. Set your source image as 1,024x768 pixels for a perfect fit.

If you don't like the supplied wallpaper, use an image of your own.

12. App folders

If you're new to iOS you might not know you can create folders of apps. Tap and hold on an app then drag it on top of another one to create a folder. Tap, hold and drag other apps to move them to the same location. Folders can be a useful alternative to having to swipe through multiple home screens.

13. Dock apps

The dock at the bottom of the home screen has four apps by default but you can have up to six -- tap and hold an app, then drag it down to the dock.

Use the dock to hold the apps you use most often.

14. Experiment with Siri

Siri is Apple's voice-operated assistant tool and you can call it into action by pressing and holding the Home button. Try asking Siri when your next meeting is or how to get home, or tell it to queue up all the blues music on your iPad mini.

You might be surprised at how intelligent Siri is.

15. Share via Twitter

Sign into Twitter via the Settings app and you can share all kinds of content from all kinds of apps straight to your profile, as well as tweet from the Notification Centre.

16. Read websites offline

Choose Add to Reading List from the share button in Safari (to the left of the URL bar) and you can cache websites for offline reading (in the garden or on a plane, perhaps).

Cache websites for offline reading or pin them to the home screen.

17. Attachment options

Tap and hold an attachment file in Mail and you'll be shown all the installed apps that can open it.

You'll usually have a choice of apps when it comes to opening attachments.

18. Mute or lock

The switch above the volume controls can mute your iPad mini or lock it to the current orientation (landscape or portrait). Head to the General page in Settings to change its function. Another way of muting your iPad mini is to hold the volume down button for a couple of seconds.

19. Bring back alerts

iOS now eschews pop-up windows in favour of a more discreet, Android-style notifications bar. To bring pop-up alerts back for a certain app -- Gmail, for example -- head to Notifications in Settings. Tap the app name and switch the alert style from 'Banners' to 'Alerts'.

Switch on pop-up alerts if you enjoy being interrupted.

20. Pin websites to the home screen

In Safari tap the share button, and from there you can pin any link to the home screen for easy access.

21. Zoom

If you're having difficulty picking something out on screen, head to the Accessibility page from the General tab of Settings. Turn Zoom on and you can double tap three fingers in any app to zoom in; then drag three fingers to pan around.

22. Multi-task

Double tap on the Home button to bring up recently used apps. Swipe right to see more apps, or left to see music/podcast controls and volume and brightness sliders.

23. Use your iPad mini as a picture frame

Turn your little iPad into a picture frame by tapping the flowerpot icon on the lock screen. To change the picture slideshow settings, visit Picture Frame in Settings.

24. Protect your data

You may have put a lock code on your iPad mini, but you can also tell the device to erase all of its data if the code is incorrectly entered 10 times in a row. The Erase Data option is on the Passcode Lock menu under General in Settings. Probably not recommended for those with children.

25. Find your iPad mini

Use Find My iPad to locate your tablet if it's stolen or simply lost under a sofa. You'll need to activate the feature via the iCloud screen in Settings, then head to to check the location of your device. You can make your iPad mini play a sound or even erase all of its data remotely. An active data or Wi-Fi connection will be required for the mini to be able to report its location.

When you've found where your iPad mini has gone you can play a sound or erase its data.