Have an extra iPad at home that you no longer use? I held my iPad 2 for years before finally switching to the iPad Air 2, which meant the iPad 2 was just sitting in my desk drawer. But why waste a great iPad?
I previously wrote about how you can set up two monitors in Windows, but this requires a second monitor. Fortunately, with the original software, you can use your older iPads (2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation), iPad Air (1 & 2), or iPad Pro as a second screen or second monitor for your Mac, or Windows PC. This basically involves installing the app on the iPad and computer, and then connecting both directly using 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 as well. The direct connection between the computer and iPad makes it work with virtually no lag, which is very important when using a second screen. Trying to do this over Wi-Fi (like Air Display) was excruciatingly slow and wasn’t a good implementation.
It’s also worth noting that Duet Display was created by former Apple engineers and is probably one of the main reasons it works so well with iPad and Mac. The app costs $ 16, which is very expensive when you look at the price of most apps in the App Store, but I would think it looks more like a standard Windows or Mac app.
Setting up everything is very simple and doesn’t require creating an account or anything like that. First, download the app to your iPad. Note that you can also use your iPhone as a second screen, but this was useless in my tests. You definitely need a bigger screen to work properly.
Duet Display – iTunes
When you open the application, you will receive some really simple instructions that ask you to download the software to your computer first.
Click Got it and you will see a screen asking you to connect your iPad to your computer. However, before we do that, we need to first install the software on a PC or Mac.
Download the software for PC or Mac to your computer and install it. On Mac, you will see an elegant rectangular setup screen on startup.
Click the “Start” link, check the “I agree” box, and then click “Authorize and Install” on the next screen.
After the installation is complete, you will be prompted to restart your computer. Let’s do it. After you log in again, you should see a final screen with a message that you need to find the Duet icon in the menu bar in OS X or the taskbar in Windows.
If you click on the icon, it will ask you to connect your device to your 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. This is what my default setup looked like.
Here I am using an older mid 2009 MacBook Pro with an iPad 2 and it looked pretty good. Everything was a little small on the iPad, but that’s because it’s an older iPad 2, and because I set it up to show the display. If you click the icon in the menu bar, you can change the settings.
At the top you will see an item called “Expanded Display”, then “Mirroring”, “Frame Rate” and “Pixel Quality”. If you want to extend the display on iPad, rather than just mirroring it, choose one of four options: Normal, iPad Pro, Retina, or High.
Note that you will not be able to select anything other than normal resolution if you are using an older iPad, such as iPad 2. You can use Retina or High if you have a Retina iPad. Obviously, the iPad Pro variant is only for the iPad Pro.
What I really liked about Duet Display is that the second screen actually acts as a separate second monitor. I mean, you can drag windows from the home screen to the iPad and open different apps on each screen. Here’s a screenshot of Chrome open on my MacBook Pro and Maps open on iPad.
You will notice that iPad has a menu bar and a dock. What’s really cool is that you can have multiple desktops on your iPad and your primary Mac. As long as my mouse is on the iPad screen, I can also use all of the normal trackpad gestures to switch between desktops without changing anything on the host Mac.
Definitely using a higher-resolution iPad like Air or Pro makes things a lot better.
I didn’t have any problems with my Mac, but I ran into some problems on my Windows laptop. Luckily, they have great support and I solved the problem in a matter of hours. Obviously I needed a different video driver which they emailed me and that fixed the problem.
If you plan on using it with a desktop computer, you’ll probably have to buy yourself a 6-foot Lightning cable as well as some kind of stand so the iPad can be placed right next to the monitor.
Overall, if you find that you don’t use your iPad as often, converting it to a second monitor is a great option, and it costs a lot less than the traditional dual-monitor method. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. Enjoy!