Apple makes taking photos on the iPad fairly obvious, but taking photos off the iPad is less clear.
One of the most painless ways to transfer your iPad photos back to your computer is to use Apple's iCloud Photo Stream feature. To get it started, you'll first want to enable it on your iPad. Make sure your iPad is connected to the Internet and then dive into the iPad's Settings app. From there, select iCloud in the left menu and then sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID (this is the same log-in and password used for iTunes purchases).
By default, the iPad's iCloud settings will have the Photo Stream feature disabled, so be sure to switch it on before returning to the Home screen.
In the next steps, we'll set up both a Mac and PC to download these images back from the cloud, where they can be archived.
To view a video version of this tutorial, visit CNET TV.
Once signed in to the iCloud Control Panel, you'll see options for syncing the various components of iCloud: Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Bookmarks, and Photo Stream. Check the box next to Photo Stream to turn this feature on and enable automatic downloads (and uploads) of your photos between your iPad and this computer.
By clicking the Options button next to the Photo Stream check box, you'll see the file path for where iCloud will download your iPad's photos, as well as an upload folder that can be used for sending photos from your computer to your iPad.
You can change these file paths or keep the default ones chosen by Apple. Either way, make a note of them so you can find your photos in the next step.
After following the file path shown in the previous step, you should see your iPad photos start to trickle over. If not, go back to the first step and make sure your iPad's iCloud settings are enabled.
To automatically transfer your iPad photos using Photo Stream on a Mac, you need to be running OS 10.7.2 (Lion) or later, and have the latest software version of iPhoto or Aperture for managing your downloaded photos.
From the desktop, go into your System Preferences from the Apple menu and select the icon for iCloud. If this is your first time using iCloud on your computer, you will be prompted to log in with your Apple ID.
Much like the iCloud Control Panel on a PC, the version built into OS X shows the various types of data that can be synchronized from iCloud to the computer, including an option for Photo Stream. Make sure that this Photo Stream feature is checked, then close the window.
Next open iPhoto (or Aperture, if you prefer) and find the icon for Photo Stream. In iPhoto, you'll find this in the left menu. Select it, and you'll be prompted to turn on the software's Photo Stream import feature. Do it.
Assuming that both your iPad and your computer are connected to the Internet, you should now see the photos from your iPad trickle over. And now that this connection has been made, any new photos you take with the iPad will automatically upload to the cloud over Wi-Fi and download back to your home computer for safe keeping.
If you find that Photo Stream wasn't able to transfer some of your photos, or if you want to transfer video, or if you just want another option available to you, you can always break out the iPad's included USB cable and sync the old-fashioned way.
When you plug the iPad into your computer, it should work just like plugging in a digital camera and automatically launch your photo management software. On a Mac that's probably iPhoto, for Windows it could be any number of things, but Windows users also have the option of opening up the connected iPad's photo folder like an external drive and copying images to any folder they choose.
For a video version of this tutorial, visit CNET How To.