How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

Need a second monitor? Try Sidecar, Air Display, or Duet Display

What to Know

This article explains how to use an iPad as a second monitor for your Mac. It focuses on Sidecar, a feature in macOS Catalina (10.15) and later and iPadOS 13 and later, but there are other options, like Air Display and Duet Display.

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor With Sidecar

Sidecar comes equipped with most modern Macs and iPads. Here’s how to use this feature to run your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac.

Open System Preferences on your Mac by either selecting it under the Apple menu or clicking its icon in the Dock.

The Sidecar options window opens. Decide where the Sidebar and Touch Bar will appear.

You can use the Touch Bar in Sidecar even if your Mac doesn’t have one.

Select the box next to Enable double tap on Apple Pencil to quickly switch between tools, show a color palette, and more.

Select the drop-down menu labeled Select Device to choose your iPad.

Select the Sidecar menu on your Mac to choose the iPad’s role. Select Use As Separate Display.

You can also use Sidecar to mirror your computer’s display.

Your iPad screen gets another desktop on it. You can drag windows between it and your Mac.

The Sidebar contains buttons to help you perform desktop tasks on your iPad.

Is an iPad a Good Monitor?

Is the iPad as good a display as an actual monitor? Not really. The 9.7-inch display of the full-sized iPad won’t give you as much real estate as a 22-inch monitor. But the best apps for converting your iPad into a second monitor also make use of the iPad’s touch interface, which can be a bonus.

Whitson Gordon is How-To Geek’s former Editor in Chief and was Lifehacker’s Editor in Chief before that. He has written for The New York Times, Popular Science, Wired, iFixit, The Daily Beast, PCMag, Macworld, IGN, Medium’s OneZero, The Inventory, and Engadget. Read more.

Multiple monitors are awesome. With two screens side by side, you can more easily see all your windows at once, keeping you productive. Got an iPad? You can use it as a second display for your Mac or PC.

An iPad can’t compete with a real monitor, of course, in terms of size or price. But if you already have an iPad, it can pull double duty as a second monitor at your desk, or even with your laptop when you’re out and about. All you need is a little stand like this one, or a case that has the ability to keep your iPad upright. The best apps that provide this ability cost $20 or less, which–coupled with the price of a stand–is pretty darn cheap for a second monitor with a touch screen.

Unfortunately, there are no good free options for this. Splashtop offers a free version of their app, but it only works for 5 minutes at a time–any more, and you’ll need to shell out some cash. There are a number of options, all with similar price tags, but we think Duet Display ($19) is the best option.

Step One: Download Duet Display on Your iPad and Computer

To accomplish this, you’ll need two apps: one on your iPad, and one on your Mac or Windows PC. You can grab Duet Display for your iPad here, and the free server app for your computer here. Install both as you would any other app.

You’ll also need a lightning-to-USB cable, so grab one of those now. Duet Display does not work over Wi-Fi, though to be frank, you wouldn’t want it to–wireless introduces a some lag, while a wired connection is pretty darn smooth. Your iPad’s going to be next to your computer anyway, so there’s no reason a cable would constrain you.

Step Two: Connect Your iPad

Next, start the Duet Display server app on your computer, then launch the Duet Display app on your iPad. You should see this screen when you do.

Plug your iPad into your computer with a lightning-to-USB cable, and your iPad should light up with an extension of your Windows or Mac desktop. Move your mouse to the right of your desktop, and it’ll travel over to the iPad. You can even touch the iPad to control Windows or OS X. It could not be any simpler.

Step Three: Adjust Your Display Settings

Now, while you may have a working desktop, you probably aren’t getting the optimal experience out of the box–so it’s time to adjust a few settings.

First, let’s adjust your computer’s display settings. By default, Duet Display assumes your iPad is to the right of your computer, but if you put it on the left (like I do), you can adjust your settings so your mouse works properly. Windows users can access these display by right-clicking on the desktop and choosing “Display”. Mac users should head to System Preferences > Displays.

You should see two squares–one representing your main computer monitor, and the other representing your iPad. Click and drag the iPad’s square up, down, or to the sides, to position it as it’s positioned in real life. I use my iPad to the left of my laptop, so that means I had to move the iPad’s square to the left side.

Next, open Duet Display’s settings by clicking its icon in your system tray (Windows) or menu bar (Mac).

From here, you can adjust a number of other display settings. We recommend keeping Framerate at 60 FPS and Performance at High Power, but you can lower both if your computer isn’t powerful enough to handle them, or if its losing too much battery power.

As for resolution, try a couple options and see what works best for you. The higher you go, the slower the experience will be, but the lower you go, the less you’ll be able to see on the screen. For my laptop, 1366×1024 was a happy medium, but your mileage may vary.

Once you’ve tweaked things to you’re liking, you’re ready to go–start using your computer and enjoy the increased productivity of two monitors!

Duet Display isn’t the only app of its kind. Air Display ($15), iDisplay ($20), and Splashtop ($5) are all popular alternatives, and have the advantage of being wireless–but tend to be laggier as a result (or may have other caveats–Air Display, for example, charges money for each new major version). In our experience, Duet Display is as good as it gets. There’s just no beating that fast, wired connection if you want to mimic the experience of a real second monitor.

With Sidecar, you can use your iPad as a display that extends or mirrors your Mac desktop.

Extend or mirror your Mac desktop with Sidecar

Follow these steps on a Mac and iPad that meet the Sidecar system requirements. You can use Sidecar wirelessly, but to keep your iPad charged during use, connect it directly to your Mac with the USB charge cable that came with your iPad.

Start a Sidecar session

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

Switch to screen mirroring

End the Sidecar session

Learn more about using external displays. For example, you can use Displays preferences to arrange displays so that your iPad extends the left, right, top, or bottom of your desktop.

Move a window to your iPad display

If you hover your pointer over the full-screen button of a window, you can choose to move that window to or from your iPad display. It’s faster than dragging the window, and the window is perfectly resized for your display.

Use the sidebar

The sidebar puts commonly used controls on the side of your iPad screen. It includes Command, Shift, and other modifier keys, so you can choose essential commands with your finger or Apple Pencil instead of a keyboard.

Use Sidecar preferences to turn off the sidebar or change its position.

Tap to show or hide the menu bar when viewing a window in full screen on iPad.

Command. Touch and hold to set the Command key. Double-tap to lock the key.

Option. Touch and hold to set the Option key. Double-tap to lock the key.

Control. Touch and hold to set the Control key. Double-tap to lock the key.

Shift. Touch and hold to set the Shift key. Double-tap to lock the key.

Use the Touch Bar

Many apps on Mac have Touch Bar controls that make common actions even easier. With Sidecar, you get a Touch Bar on your iPad screen even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar. Tap its controls with either your finger or Apple Pencil.

Use Sidecar preferences to turn off the Touch Bar or change its position.

If the Touch Bar doesn’t appear when using an app that offers Touch Bar controls, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, click Mission Control, then make sure that “Displays have separate Spaces” is selected.

Use gestures for scrolling and other actions

Multi-Touch gestures on iPad remain available when using Sidecar. These gestures are particularly useful with Sidecar:

Use Apple Pencil

To point, click, select, and perform tasks such as drawing, editing photos, and manipulating objects on your iPad while it’s extending or mirroring your Mac display, you can use your Apple Pencil instead of the mouse or trackpad connected to your Mac. You can also use it to write, sketch, and mark up documents while seeing the updates live on your Mac.

Sidecar also supports double-tap, which you can turn on in Sidecar preferences. Double-tap enables apps that support this feature to perform custom actions when you double-tap on the side of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation).

Use a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad

During your Sidecar session, you can type using a keyboard connected to either your Mac or iPad, such as the Smart Keyboard or Magic Keyboard for iPad.

To point, click, or select with a mouse or trackpad, use the mouse or trackpad connected to your Mac, or use an Apple Pencil on your iPad.

Use iPad apps

While using Sidecar, you can switch to an iPad app, then interact with that app on your iPad as you normally would. This suspends your Sidecar session until you switch back to the Sidecar app or disconnect Sidecar. The Sidecar app appears on your home screen only while using Sidecar.

Use Sidecar preferences

Choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Sidecar. These preferences are available only on computers that support Sidecar.

Sidecar system requirements

Sidecar requires a compatible Mac using macOS Catalina or later and a compatible iPad using iPadOS 13 or later.

I have another tip and trick video for you guys. This one is for anyone who owns an iPad and who might have thought about getting a second portable monitor for their computer to help them be more productive.

Instead of buying that second monitor, you can easily turn the iPad into one instead. And this will work on Mac but also Windows PCs, as well.

Use it on a Mac

So let’s start with what to do if you have a newer Mac.

1. Make sure you are logged in to the same iCloud account on the Mac and on the iPad.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

2. Make sure WiFi and Bluetooth are both turned on on both devices and they are both connected to the same WiFi network.

3. On the Mac, go to Settings > General > check on Allow Handoff.

4. On the iPad, go to Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff and turn on Handoff.

5. Click on the AirPlay icon on your Mac and select the iPad from the list to connect to it.

After that, you’ll be able to drag and drop to it as a separate monitor.

You can also click on the icon that was the AirPlay icon to change settings like whether you want to mirror the display or extend it, show or hide the Sidebar/Touch Bar on the iPad, etc.

Use it on a PC (or Older Mac/Older iPad)

Now, if you are using a PC or just happen to have an older Mac or an older iPad, then we’ll use a program called Duet Display to get it to work instead.

Firstly, Duet Display costs $10 but it’s a one-time payment for the iPad app and that’s that (you can add optional features for a subscription cost if you want but we’ll get to that in a bit).

There is however a free option called Splashtop Wired XDisplay and it will work the same way as I’m about to show with Duet (just download the Splashtop app for your computer and iPad instead of Duet one and follow the instructions to set it up).

Honestly, though, Duet just works so much smoother and in my mind is well worth the $10 so that’s what I’m going to show here.

2. Once opened, find Duet Display in the App Store on the iPad and install that and open it.

3. Next, plug the iPad in via a USB cable to the computer and it should automatically recognize it as a display and you’ll see your desktop on the iPad.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

You can adjust the resolution, frame rate, and energy efficiency from the Settings panel of the desktop Duet Display app (but I’d recommend leaving it on 60fps, High Power, and whatever resolution you want).

You can also click on the Start menu and go to Settings > System > Display to adjust where the iPad screen is in relation to your original one by dragging it around and clicking Apply. You can also change whether the iPad display is a duplicate of the original or, the more useful usually, extension of the original display.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

Use the iPad as a Second Monitor Wirelessly on Windows

1. Click on Profile in the desktop Duet Display app and sign up there for an account.

3. Go to Settings in the Duet desktop app and check the box to enable Duet Air.

4. Sign in to the same account you just created in the Duet Display iPad app.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

Now, so long as both are on the same network, open the apps on both the computer and the iPad and you should be able to click on iOS and then the Air tab and click the iPad there to connect without the cable.

And there you go, guys! Let me know how this went for you and how you felt about the tutorial (or if you have any extra things to add for others) below!

I have another tip and trick video for you guys. This one is for anyone who owns an iPad and who might have thought about getting a second portable monitor for their computer to help them be more productive.

Instead of buying that second monitor, you can easily turn the iPad into one instead. And this will work on Mac but also Windows PCs, as well.

Use it on a Mac

So let’s start with what to do if you have a newer Mac.

1. Make sure you are logged in to the same iCloud account on the Mac and on the iPad.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

2. Make sure WiFi and Bluetooth are both turned on on both devices and they are both connected to the same WiFi network.

3. On the Mac, go to Settings > General > check on Allow Handoff.

4. On the iPad, go to Settings > General > AirPlay & Handoff and turn on Handoff.

5. Click on the AirPlay icon on your Mac and select the iPad from the list to connect to it.

After that, you’ll be able to drag and drop to it as a separate monitor.

You can also click on the icon that was the AirPlay icon to change settings like whether you want to mirror the display or extend it, show or hide the Sidebar/Touch Bar on the iPad, etc.

Use it on a PC (or Older Mac/Older iPad)

Now, if you are using a PC or just happen to have an older Mac or an older iPad, then we’ll use a program called Duet Display to get it to work instead.

Firstly, Duet Display costs $10 but it’s a one-time payment for the iPad app and that’s that (you can add optional features for a subscription cost if you want but we’ll get to that in a bit).

There is however a free option called Splashtop Wired XDisplay and it will work the same way as I’m about to show with Duet (just download the Splashtop app for your computer and iPad instead of Duet one and follow the instructions to set it up).

Honestly, though, Duet just works so much smoother and in my mind is well worth the $10 so that’s what I’m going to show here.

2. Once opened, find Duet Display in the App Store on the iPad and install that and open it.

3. Next, plug the iPad in via a USB cable to the computer and it should automatically recognize it as a display and you’ll see your desktop on the iPad.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

You can adjust the resolution, frame rate, and energy efficiency from the Settings panel of the desktop Duet Display app (but I’d recommend leaving it on 60fps, High Power, and whatever resolution you want).

You can also click on the Start menu and go to Settings > System > Display to adjust where the iPad screen is in relation to your original one by dragging it around and clicking Apply. You can also change whether the iPad display is a duplicate of the original or, the more useful usually, extension of the original display.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

Use the iPad as a Second Monitor Wirelessly on Windows

1. Click on Profile in the desktop Duet Display app and sign up there for an account.

3. Go to Settings in the Duet desktop app and check the box to enable Duet Air.

4. Sign in to the same account you just created in the Duet Display iPad app.

  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac
  • How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or mac

Now, so long as both are on the same network, open the apps on both the computer and the iPad and you should be able to click on iOS and then the Air tab and click the iPad there to connect without the cable.

And there you go, guys! Let me know how this went for you and how you felt about the tutorial (or if you have any extra things to add for others) below!

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Tip / Trick

How to use your ipad as a second monitor for your pc or macWorking with multiple monitors is an awesome experience. It helps to increase your productivity and enables you to see everything. But, buying a monitor is expensive. If you have an iPad, you can use your iPad as a second monitor for your PC or Mac.

Buying an extra monitor can cost a lot of money. If you are not in a position to buy an extra monitor for your PC but still love to enjoy the experience of a dual monitor, then the best available option is to use your iPad as a another monitor. An iPad cannot give you the similar experience you get when using a regular monitor, but if you have an iPad, you can easily set it up as a second monitor for your PC. You can get a pouch to use as a stand and the software to use your iPad as a second monitor with less than $20. That means you can save some a lot of money if you already have the iPad. You don’t need to be an expert to set it up. You just need to follow the steps given below.

The experience of working on a dual monitor is something every software engineer likes. It makes a drastic improvement in your working style and you can enjoy more productivity using two monitors. With the help of an iPad, you can easily use it as a second monitor for your PC and enjoy working on a dual monitor.

Do you happen to have an extra iPad laying around the house that you no longer use? I kept my iPad 2 for years before finally upgrading to the iPad Air 2, which meant the iPad 2 just sat in a desk drawer. But why waste a perfectly good iPad, right?

I previously wrote about how you can setup dual monitors in Windows, but that requires a second monitor. Luckily, with some ingenious software, you can use your older iPads (2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation), iPad Airs (1 & 2), or iPad Pros as a second screen or second monitor to your Mac or Windows PC. This basically involves installing an app on your iPad and on your computer and then connecting the two directly using either a lightning cable or 30-pin cable (dock connector).

My favorite app and the only one I recommend is Duet Display. There are other options like Air Display and iDisplay, but both cost about the same and don’t work nearly as well. The direct connection between the computer and iPad make the experience virtually lag-free, which is very important when using a second screen. Trying to do this over WiFi (i.e. Air Display) was just painfully slow and not a good implementation.

Duet Display

It’s also worth noting that Duet Display was created by ex-Apple engineers and is probably one of the main reasons it works so well with iPads and Macs. The app costs $16, which is super-expensive when you look at the price of most apps in the App Store, but I would think of this more like a standard Windows or Mac program.

Getting everything setup is very straight-forward and doesn’t require any kind of account creation or anything like that. First, go ahead and download the app onto your iPad. Note that you can also use your iPhone as a second screen, but it was kind of useless in my tests. You definitely need a bigger screen in order to do any work properly.

When you open the app, you’ll get some really simple instructions that tell you to go ahead and download the software on to your computer first.

Tap Got It and you’ll see a screen asking you to connect your iPad to your computer. Before we do that, however, we need to install the software on the PC or Mac first.

Go ahead and download the PC or Mac program onto your computer and install it. On the Mac, you’ll get a sleek rectangular install screen on startup.

Click the Start link, check I Agree and then click Authorize and Install on the next screen.

After the installation is complete, you’ll be asked to restart your computer. Go ahead and do that. Once you log back on, you should see a final screen telling you to find the Duet icon in the menu bar in OS X or the system tray in Windows.

If you click on the icon, it will ask you to connect your device to the computer.

At this point, open the Duet Display app on your iPad and then connect it to your computer. It should automatically detect your computer and mirror the screen. Here is what my setup looked like by default.

Here I am using an older MacBook Pro Mid-2009 with an iPad 2 and everything looked pretty good. Everything was a little small on the iPad, but that’s because it’s an older iPad 2 and because I had it setup to mirror the display. If you click on the icon in the menu bar, you can change the settings.

You’ll see Extend Display at the top, followed by Mirror Display, Framerate and Pixel Quality. If you want to extend the display to the iPad rather than just mirror it, go ahead and select one of the four options: Regular Resolution, iPad Pro Resolution, Retina Resolution, or High Resolution.

Note that you will not be able to select anything other than Regular Resolution if you are using an older iPad like the iPad 2. You can use Retina or High if you have a retina iPad. The iPad Pro option is obviously for only iPad Pros.

What I really liked about Duet Display is that the second screen really acts like a separate second monitor. What I mean is that you can drag windows from your main screen onto your iPad and have different apps open on each screen. Here’s a screenshot of Chrome open on my MacBook Pro and Maps open on the iPad.

You’ll notice that on the iPad there is a menu bar and also the dock. What’s really cool is that you can have multiple desktops on the iPad and on the main Mac. While my mouse is on the iPad screen, I can also use all the normal trackpad gestures to swipe between desktops without changing anything on the main Mac.

Definitely using a higher resolution iPad like the Air or Pro makes everything look a lot nicer.

I didn’t run into any trouble on my Mac, but I did run into some issues on my Windows laptop. Luckily, their customer support is excellent and I had the issue resolved in a matter of hours. Apparently, I needed a different video driver, which they emailed me, and that fixed the problem.

If you’re planning on using this with a desktop computer, you’ll probably need to buy yourself a 6-foot lightning cable and also some sort of stand so that your iPad can be placed right next to your monitor.

Overall, if you find yourself not using your iPad all that often, converting it into a second monitor is a great option that costs way less than the traditional method of using two monitors. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

Founder of Online Tech Tips and managing editor. He began blogging in 2007 and quit his job in 2010 to blog full-time. He has over 15 years of industry experience in IT and holds several technical certifications. Read Aseem’s Full Bio

Need a second monitor? Try Sidecar, Air Display, or Duet Display

What to Know

This article explains how to use an iPad as a second monitor for your Mac. It focuses on Sidecar, a feature in macOS Catalina (10.15) and later and iPadOS 13 and later, but there are other options, like Air Display and Duet Display.

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor With Sidecar

Sidecar comes equipped with most modern Macs and iPads. Here’s how to use this feature to run your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac.

Open System Preferences on your Mac by either selecting it under the Apple menu or clicking its icon in the Dock.

The Sidecar options window opens. Decide where the Sidebar and Touch Bar will appear.

You can use the Touch Bar in Sidecar even if your Mac doesn’t have one.

Select the box next to Enable double tap on Apple Pencil to quickly switch between tools, show a color palette, and more.

Select the drop-down menu labeled Select Device to choose your iPad.

Select the Sidecar menu on your Mac to choose the iPad’s role. Select Use As Separate Display.

You can also use Sidecar to mirror your computer’s display.

Your iPad screen gets another desktop on it. You can drag windows between it and your Mac.

The Sidebar contains buttons to help you perform desktop tasks on your iPad.

Is an iPad a Good Monitor?

Is the iPad as good a display as an actual monitor? Not really. The 9.7-inch display of the full-sized iPad won’t give you as much real estate as a 22-inch monitor. But the best apps for converting your iPad into a second monitor also make use of the iPad’s touch interface, which can be a bonus.

Installing a second monitor is a popular way to expand your screen real estate.

If you only need a second display occasionally — like if you work from home once in a while — but don’t want to buy an entire second monitor, you can use your iPad as an inexpensive alternative.

There’s no built-in way to connect your iPad to Windows as a second screen, but there are several apps you can install which do it instead.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Windows 10 (From $139.99 at Best Buy)

Acer Chromebook 15 (From $179.99 at Walmart)

iPad (From $329.99 at Apple)

How to use your iPad as second screen in Windows 10

To use your iPad as a second display, you’ll need to install the SplashTop app on your iPad and on your desktop.

SplashTop is primarily a remote-access tool — it lets you use your Windows desktop from your iPad remotely for a subscription. But it also offers a screen mirroring mode for free.

Also make sure that iTunes is installed on your computer. SplashDisplay requires iTunes to make a connection.

2. Once all the components are installed, connect your iPad to your computer using a charging cable.

3. Start the SplashDisplay app on both your computer and iPad. After a moment, you should see your desktop appear on the iPad screen. It may be a little sluggish, but you should be able to use it like an ordinary second screen.

To customize the display, open the XDisplay Agent in the Windows taskbar. You can change the framerate and screen quality, as well as change the resolution.

Other ways to use your iPad as a second screen in Windows 10

SplashTop has the advantage of being free, but there are other apps you can use as well. If you encounter performance issues with SplashTop, you might want to try another app.

Here are two other popular apps for using the iPad as a second screen: