MacMost Now 825: Using Your iPad As a Second Display For Your Mac

By using the app Air Display, you can use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac. This can come in handy if you only occasionally need a second screen, or you want to have a second screen while traveling. You can also mirror your Mac's display on the iPad to make it easier for others to see what you ate doing. You can get Air Display at
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 825: Using Your iPad As a Second Display For Your Mac.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today's episode let me show you how to turn your iPad into a second screen for your Mac.

So there are several apps that do this but I use the one called Air Display. What you do is you install the app Air Display on you iPad and then you install some software on your Mac that will allow it to see the iPad on the same wi fi network as another display. Then you can use your iPad as a second display with your Mac.

Now this is going to be slower and it is not going to be as convenient as actually having a second display, and displays are pretty cheap. So it is not something you would want to use at your desk in your office or at home. But it is very handy if you just want to occasionally have a second monitor and you don't want to buy another piece of equipment or if you travel a lot and you have your MacBook and you want to have the luxury of having a second screen. You're already carrying your iPad with you so why not use it as a second display.

The first thing you need is to search for Air Display in the iTunes App Store for your device. So you can do that right on your iPad if you want. You can see right now it is ten dollars and of course prices always vary in a store and you buy that and download it.

Then you want to go on your Mac to the website which is You get linked to it when you get the app. Then you go to Air Display and in there you can download the software you need for your Mac. There is also software for Windows as well so you can do the same thing. So this is a free download. You download and install these drivers.

So here I have my MacBook Air and my iPad 4th gen and they are both working on the same wi fi network. I've got the Air Display I've installed on the iPad and I'm going to run that to get ready. I've got it switched to Mac instructions. I don't think it really matters that is just the instructions there. Basically the app just sits there and waits for a connection and in the meantime you can read all sorts of instructions to help you get going.

On the Mac I've got the air play system installed and I'm going to go to System Preferences. Down at the bottom of System Preferences I now have under Other, Air Display. So I click on that and see I've got it turned off now. Before I turn it on I'm going to review my settings and see that I have retina display turned off and I have everything else set the way I want so I can go back to Connect and I can turn on Air Display and now I can select the device.

Now it could be a lot easier if you do this a lot to turn on the Menu Bar option and you would get a lot of this right up here. You wouldn't have to go to System Preferences to do it. You can see that both up here and over here I've got iPad 4th generation it notices it there. It's my name for my iPad and that's why it comes up like that. Now I can select it. When you do the screens kind of refresh just like when hooking up an external monitor and now I've got this screen over here and you can see I can drag and drop windows.

It works just like an external monitor. As a matter of fact you can go to Show All in System Preferences in Displays it sees it just as a regular monitor. So System Preferences is none the wiser. It sees there is the iPad right there. I can even do something like mirror the displays and then it will refresh and now I've got mirror displays there and if I don't have them mirrored I can rearrange them so say right now I move the cursor or drag window to the right and you will see that it appears there like that. But if I want to say move it over to the left I could and now of course it will work like this. But that would be how I want it if I had my iPad on the opposite side of the MacBook.

Now let's look at using the retina display with it. So let's go down to Air Display here and in Settings let's change it to use Retina Resolutions. Now it is going to reset here and we will see what happens. Of course the graphic extends across the entire iPad so you don't notice any difference at the beginning but if I were to drag this over here you would see twice the resolution over here. It is hard to work with since the pixels are so small but it could be ideal if say you wanted to view a photograph or something on this side you have all that resolution.

So now here I am running TextEdit and I can move this over here to this screen and you can see I can first of all tap on it to move the cursor. So you can see the cursor moves to wherever it is that I am tapping and I can also bring up the keyboard and use the keyboard to type. The cool thing of course it doesn't have to be on the screen here. Let's see I can tap to drag, it is a little difficult to tap to drag but it can be done, and I can pick up where I left off with the mouse. I can still type here on the right so I can basically use my iPad kind of as an external keyboard even if the stuff is on this screen.

So it does give you lots of options for doing things any way you want to do them. Here you see I have the displays mirrored so I can actually still type with the keyboard here on the iPad when I want and it doesn't interrupt the screen on the MacBook.

There are some really interesting possibilities in this. For instance, if you were to mirror your display on your iPad you could hand your iPad to somebody, say a client you are talking to. Then you can basically drive a presentation on your MacBook and they could watch it on the iPad instead of having to look over your shoulder. Of course don't expect fantastic performance because you are piping the entire video stream over wi fi. That is many times slower than a direct connection using a dedicated video cable. So you are not going to get the things updating. You are not going to be able to play games or anything close to the speed of that. But it is great for say putting a browser window over there, putting some pallets over there if you are working say in a program like PhotoShop, things like that. Maybe even putting Twitter and Facebook over on that so you can keep your eye on them while you get your work done on the main screen.

I hope you found this useful. Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.

Comments: 20 Responses to “MacMost Now 825: Using Your iPad As a Second Display For Your Mac”

    Joel Anderson
    6 years ago

    Isn’t this for newer Macs only? Your write-up didn’t mention.

      6 years ago

      You can see the system requirements on their web site. Only “Mac OS X 10.6, on an Intel CPU” so not just newer Macs. That would be Snow Leopard or after.

    John Russell
    6 years ago

    Might there be a way to use the iPad as the *single* display and keyboard for a Mac Mini? I need to be traveling where there will seldom be wifi, so would want to connect them physically.

      6 years ago

      I don’t know of an app that uses a physical connection. But you probably could set up an adhoc wifi network on your Mac and try it that way. But I can’t tell you whether it would work as the only display. Not sure how you would set it up. Try it and let us know if it works.

    Scott Pesetsky
    6 years ago

    Very interesting! Thanks for covering this functionality. As an attorney, helping clients with wills and trusts, this might allow me to offer paperless review of documents during meetings. hmmm.

    6 years ago

    Is there a cheaper alternative?

      6 years ago

      No sure. But if you already own a Mac and an iPad, I don’t know if $10 is very expensive.

    6 years ago

    I do presentations from my MacBook Pro connected to a projector. I have wifi available. Could I use my iPad to advance the slide show on the computer, using this App?
    It would be great if I could take my iPad to the podium and still be able to control my computer!
    Thank you for all your suggestions!

      6 years ago

      You don’t need this app to do that. Apple provides an app called Keynote Remote that does exactly what you want.

    6 years ago

    It can also work via Bluetooth, but it will be much slower than WIFI. This forum discussion has details:,15090

      6 years ago

      Are you saying I wouldn’t need to buy an app? Just turn off the wifi and connect my iPad and computer via Bluetooth? How do I do that?

        6 years ago

        No. He is just saying that you can use this app with Bluetooth instead of wifi. It supports both.

    Wayne Garriepy
    6 years ago

    Hi Gary
    First of all, thanks for all you do.
    Have AirDisplay app and was told at the Apple store that I could make an ad-hoc Wacom drawing tablet out of my iPad with AD and project the drawing onto my iMac. I’ve done mirroring, but as yet, not the Wacom setup. My goal was to use the iPad as a surface where I would apply lines which would show up on the iMac screen as I drew. Using an app such as Sketchbook on the iMac directed through the iPad would be fabulous. Your input? Can do?

      6 years ago

      Sure, you can do it. But I don’t see the point. Things will always be a little slow because you are feeding all that data across wifi. And the app you are using will be made for mouse/trackpad and keyboard, not touch. It would make much more sense to simply use an iPad drawing app.

    Kevin Grishkot
    6 years ago

    Is this limited to only 1 iPad? Or can you use more than one?

      6 years ago

      Never tried it with more than one. Seems to be a bit extreme to need more than one. Try it if you have two iPads and report back.

    Jill Wilke
    6 years ago

    My flat panel Mac at school is wearing out. I only have a four inch wide bit of screen from top to bottom that I can view. I want to get important documents off, so I don’t have to redo all of them. Also, my district may not fix or replace this Mac. Is my computer too old to use with the iPad to let me access my docs? I don’ know how old it is, but I’m guessing at least eight years old.

      6 years ago

      If you want to get the documents off, probably another technique will be better. I’d seek out the assistance of an IT pro to get the files — there are many ways.

    6 years ago

    I have 2 MacBook Pros. Is it possible to use one as a second monitor for the other.

      6 years ago

      You could use screen sharing to mirror the screen. But it will be slow as it is over wifi. That’s the only way I can think of.

Comments Closed.