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IPad monitor Windows. How to turn an old tablet into a second PC monitor for free

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

Daniel Nations has been a tech journalist since 1994. His work has appeared in Computer Currents, The Examiner, and other publications. He is a developer who has published apps in the Apple App Store, Google Play marketplace and Amazon Appstore; he also has worked as a data analyst and DB administrator.

Christine Baker is a marketing consultant with experience working for a variety of clients. Her expertise includes social media, web development, and graphic design.

What to Know

  • Open System Preferences and choose Sidecar. In the window, press Select Device, and select your iPad.
  • Select Sidecar menu on your Mac to choose the iPad’s role. Select Use As Separate Display. You can now drag Windows between displays.
  • Duet Display, Air Display, and iDisplay are other great options to set up your iPad as a second display.

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.

Choose Sidecar.

  • The Sidebar contains buttons that let you open a keyboard, press the Command key, and other items that help you perform tasks on your second screen. You can put it on the left or the right.
  • The Touch Bar mirrors the functionality of the context-sensitive menu on some Mac models. It can appear at the top or bottom of the iPad display.

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

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

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

  • Tap the top icon to toggle showing the menu bar.
  • The next icon opens the Mac’s dock on your iPad.
  • The next four buttons mirror the Command, Option, Control, and Shift keys on a keyboard.
  • The arrow icon lets you undo the last action you performed.
  • Tap the keyboard icon to open a full keyboard on your iPad. You can use it along with the modifier keys to navigate apps.
  • Tap the Sidecar icon to disconnect from your Mac.

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.

Options to Connect iPad to Windows

If Sidecar isn’t for you or you’re looking for something that works with Windows, there are other great options that you can try.

Duet Display

While many apps can use your iPad as a second monitor via Wi-Fi, Duet Display uses the same Lightning or 30-pin cable you use to charge your iPad. This makes the connection fast, allowing you to do everything from watch video, which would be laggy over Wi-Fi, to play games.

Duet Display works well with the iPad Pro, too. The iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch display makes it perfect for adding a second monitor to your MacBook, iMac, or PC.

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Air Display

Until Duet Display came along, Air Display was the reigning champ of converting your iPad into a monitor. And while Duet Display hasn’t registered a TKO, the champ has definitely been backed into a corner.

Avatron Software’s Air Display 3 also uses the iPad’s cable rather than Wi-Fi to set up the iPad as a second monitor. Still, Air Display 3 only works with Macs. If you use Windows, install Air Display 2.

Do not download Air Display 2 from the Avatron website. Avatron has an Air Display 3 Upgrade Bundle available in the app store. However, their website doesn’t link to it. While the upgrade bundle is 5 more than Air Display 2, it matches the price of Air Display 3 and gives you access to both apps, so when the Windows version is ready, you’ll be ready.

iDisplay Is Another, Pricier Option

Duet Display and Air Display aren’t alone in providing the ability to use your iPad as a monitor for your PC. But they are the best solution. If you are willing to pay iDisplay’s price tag, choose the better options.

ipad, monitor, windows, turn, tablet

To connect an iPad to a TV, connect a Chromecast device to your TV and cast the iPad screen to the TV via a compatible app. Or, use an Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter to connect an iPad to an HDTV directly (you can also use composite or component cables or an Apple Lightning-to-VGA adapter).

To print from an iPad, use Apple’s AirPrint wireless protocol and an AirPrint-compatible printer. In the document, select Share Print Select Printer choose printer Print. Or, use a third-party printing app to print to Wi-Fi-enabled printers and USB printers.

ipad, monitor, windows, turn, tablet

To connect an Apple Pencil to your iPad, attach the Apple Pencil to the side of your iPad and tap Connect on the screen. For older iPads, plug the Apple Pencil into the iPad’s Lightning port and tap Pair.

How to turn an old tablet into a second PC monitor for free

If you’re used to working with multiple computer monitors at your desk, traveling with a laptop can be tough. Suddenly, you’re back to the single-screen lifestyle, and on a cramped laptop display to boot. Fortunately, though, there’s a free way to use old iPads, Android tablets, or even other laptops as extra monitors for your Windows PC.

The solution is a utility called Spacedesk. It may not be the only multi-monitor software out there, but it’s the most versatile free option I’ve found so far.

Installing Spacedesk for Windows

Spacedesk consists of two parts:

  • Spacedesk’s Driver software runs in the background on your PC and connects to your other screens. You can install it from the Spacedesk website. Note that you’ll need to make a firewall exception for Spacedesk to work. An option to do so is included in the installation process.
  • Spacedesk’s Viewer apps can be launched on other devices, at which point your PC will recognize them as additional monitors. Apps are available for Windows, iOS, Android, Amazon devices, and any other device via the web viewer.

The server connection works over Wi-Fi. Once you’ve installed the Driver software, open the Viewer app. Spacedesk should recognize your computer automatically if it’s on the same Wi-Fi network, so you can select it and launch second-screen mode.

Configuring Spacedesk

By default, Spacedesk doesn’t scale up any display elements, which can make things look too small on your extra screen.

To fix this, head to Windows Settings System Display, select your new display from the list of monitors, then try adjusting both the display resolution and scaling to a more comfortable level.

Also, note that by default, the Spacedesk Driver will always launch when your computer boots up. To change this, right-click on Spacedesk’s taskbar icon, select “Spacedesk driver console,” then uncheck the box that says “Automatic Start at System Boot Time.”

Make sure to configure your monitors in Windows as well. Head to Settings System Display, and you’ll see a layout of all your screens, which you can drag and drop to reflect their actual positioning at your desk. Now you can move your mouse in the direction of your additional screens, and they’ll be right where you expect them.

In the Viewer app, you can also click the Gear icon and select Settings for additional options, including screen resolution and quality.

Unfortunately, Spacedesk only supports wired USB connections on Android devices, and the company has indicated that this may become a premium feature in the future. But even over a wireless connection, Spacedesk is good enough for referencing emails, documents, or team chats alongside your main Windows. It also has no issues playing video in sync with system audio.

multi-monitor software options

If you’re interested in exploring more multi-monitor apps, here are a few to consider:

  • Luna Display is a 130 dongle (available in USB-C, HDMI, or DisplayPort for Mac) that turns either an iPad or a spare Mac into a secondary computer screen. It eliminates the cursor lag typically found on other solutions, so it’s a compelling alternative for graphic design or any other application where fine-grained input is important.
  • Duet Display supports both wired and wireless connections, but requires a subscription starting at 25 per year.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab owners can take advantage of Samsung’s Second Screen app, turning the tablet into a secondary computer monitor at no charge.
  • For Mac users, the built-in Sidecar feature lets you use an iPad as a space screen. You can activate it through Control Center by hitting the “Display” button, then selecting your iPad. Alternatively, hover your cursor over the green full screen button on any window, than choose the option to move it to your iPad.

For most people, though, Spacedesk is a great free option for those times when a single screen won’t suffice.

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How To Use An iPad As An Extra Monitor

The iPad is slim, lightweight, and easy to carry around alongside a laptop, making it a great way to expand your screen real estate while away from the office. Typically speaking, users will pull up certain content on their computer and other content on the tablet, but it’s also possible to utilize the iPad as an extra monitor. Apple officially added support for this functionality with a feature called Sidecar, though that’s only available for use with Mac computers.

Windows users, however, still have the option of using an iPad as a second screen via third-party software. While these apps aren’t free, the cost may be worth it for many PC owners who often have the tablet with them, as the software makes it possible to quickly connect the iPad and use its display for increased productivity. Regardless of whether you have a Mac or Windows PC, using the iPad as an extra monitor is very simple.

How to use an iPad as an extra monitor with a Mac

If you want to use the iPad as an extra monitor with a MacBook or a different computer running macOS, the process is as simple as connecting the two devices. As Apple explains on its website, Sidecar supports mirroring and extending the screen from a Mac, the latter of which enables the iPad to function as an extra monitor. Likewise, Sidecar can be used wirelessly, though you’ll want to connect it to the Mac with a USB cable if you don’t want the battery to run low.

Most newer iPads and Macs support Sidecar, though you’ll want to check the list to make sure your devices are compatible. In addition, both the computer and tablet must be signed into the same iCloud account, with Apple noting the account must have two-factor authentication enabled. The tablet must be running iPadOS 13 or newer to use the feature, while the Mac must be running at least macOS Catalina for compatibility.

Mac users who are still running macOS Catalina will need to click the AirPlay icon and then select the iPad in the menu that opens. Mac users who are running Big Sur or later, however, can click the Display menu within the Control Center, then click on the iPad in the resulting menu. The Mac’s desktop will be extended by Sidecar as the default setting, though users can choose to mirror the screen instead from within the AirPlay or Display menu.

How to use an iPad as an extra monitor with a PC

Apple’s Sidecar feature doesn’t work with Windows, but you can still use the iPad as an extra screen with Luna Display. Astropad, the company behind the product, announced the feature in late 2021 with Luna Display 5.0, making it possible to combine these two devices despite their very different operating systems. The downside of using a third-party system like this is the cost — Luna Display, for example, requires its customers to buy a small dongle available with HDMI and USB-C connector options. The device is priced at 134.99 and is necessary to make the iPad function as an extra monitor for a PC.

than one option is available, and the best solution is the system that meets your specific needs. Duet Display is an alternative to Luna that likewise supports PC-to-iPad second-screen functionality, promising 60 fps and no lag. Duet’s biggest feature is that it can be used without dongles, though you do have to purchase the software. The cheapest version of Duet is 14.99, though it only covers personal use, wired connections, and basic touch controls. Users who want more features, including better controls, will need to pay 24.99 per year for the Duet Air option.

Some cheaper alternatives are available that may include key features certain users need, including Splashtop Wired XDisplay, which supports both the iPad and Android tablets, as well as older versions of both Windows and macOS. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that not every product is guaranteed to run as smoothly as Apple’s Sidecar and while some options may be inexpensive, it’s also possible the low price tag comes with similarly low performance.

The exact method for extending your PC’s screen to an iPad will depend on which product you choose. However, they all tend to work in a similar fashion, requiring the customer to download and install the main application on their computer, as well as a companion app on their iPad. Some systems like Luna also require a dongle to be connected, while others may simply work with a USB cable that connects the iPad to the PC.

When to use an iPad as an extra monitor

Having the option to use an iPad as a second screen is great, but the capability does have one big limitation: the iPad’s display size. Even with the sizable 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the tablet is still quite small compared to monitors and most laptop screens. The small size limits the iPad’s usefulness as an extra monitor, making it appealing primarily when traveling or otherwise trying to get work down while away from a proper desk.

In situations where you are working at home or in the office, it may be better to invest in a second monitor. A study from Wichita State University, for example, found that while using a second monitor is a productivity boost regardless of its size, most people who participated in the study preferred dual monitor setups that featured 22-inch displays. For that reason, it’s probably best to only use the iPad as an extra monitor when a larger alternative isn’t an option, such as spending time at the library or a coffee shop.

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor for Mac or Windows

Since productivity and efficiency are the two leitmotifs of our day and age, you just can’t restrict yourself to a single monitor. The good news is that you don’t need to invest more money in order to purchase an external display. Instead, you can actually use your iPad as a second monitor.

Follow along as I will show you how to use your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac or even Windows PC, to enhance your multitasking and organizing abilities.

Can an iPad Be Used as a Second Monitor?

Yes, it definitely can! When it comes to transforming your iPad into a second display, Sidecar is often considered to be your finest option. Hence, you will want to give this approach a shot first if you have a Mac and an iPad that was manufactured within the last five or six years.

Otherwise, you should opt for a third-party app that will also allow you to connect your iPad to a Windows PC.

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor for Mac

  • First, you need to make sure your Mac and iPad are both compatible with Sidecar. This will ensure that you will have no trouble connecting the two Apple devices and will be able to use the iPad as an additional display for your Mac.
  • Pay attention to the Additional Requirements from the same document. Additional requirements:– The same Apple ID must be used on both devices.– Both devices must be within 10 meters (30 feet) of one another, have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Handoff switched on in order to utilize Sidecar wirelessly. – Neither your Mac and your iPad can share each other’s Internet connection or their respective cellular connection.– Your iPad must be configured to trust your Mac in order to utilize Sidecar via USB.
  • To move a window from your Mac to your iPad, hover your cursor over the full-screen button of a window, then select the Move to iPad option.
  • You may either repeat this process for other Mac Windows or just drag them to and from your iPad. You can also place your pointer over the full-screen button and select Move Window Back to Macto return a window to your Mac.

over, you may notice on the side of your iPad’s screen some of the frequently used Mac controls. Thanks to the Command, Shift, and other modifier keys that are included, you can navigate without using a keyboard.

How Do I Mirror My Mac Screen to My iPad?

  • For macOS Monterey or later, go to the menu bar, select Screen Mirroring then choose your iPad from the list of options.
  • For macOS Big Sur, go to the menu bar or Control Center, select Display menu then select your iPad from the list of mirroring options.
  • For macOS Catalina, go to the menu bar or the AirPlay menu, and select your iPad as the mirroring option.

Here are some of the most useful gestures to use on your iPad when you set it as a second monitor, or mirror your Mac:

  • To Scroll: Swipe with two fingers.
  • To Copy: Pinch in with three fingers.
  • To Undo: Swipe left with three fingers.
  • To Redo: Swipe right with three fingers.
  • To Paste: Pinch out with three fingers.
  • To Cut: Pinch in with three fingers twice.

Can You Turn Your iPad Into a Second Monitor for Windows?

Yes, this is also possible. You can use a third-party tool, such as Splashtop Wired XDisplay, to transform your iPad into a second monitor for your Windows PC. You can also use it in case either your Mac or iPad isn’t compatible with Sidecar. This option has a reasonable price, although it’s not the smoothest choice on the market.

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor on Windows

Note that this method also works for those who wonder how to use your iPad as a second monitor without Sidecar:

  • Install the Splashtop XDisplay agentfor your Windows PC or Mac on the respective device. You also need to install the iPad version of the app on your tablet.
  • Open the app on your Windows/Mac, connect your iPad with a USB cable, then open the app on your iPad.
  • Your iPad will display a blank desktop showing that it has connected to your Windows PC/Mac. You may rearrange your monitors from the Display settings on your Windows/Mac.

If you haven’t found out yet, there are many iPad stands that can help enhance your iPad. One of the best ones is Satechi’s Foldable Stand.

Splashtop’s app is on the more affordable side, but you may find that it isn’t the smoothest out there. Instead, Duet Display is a pricier but better app that will connect your iPad to your Windows PC or Mac.

If you plan to use your iPad as a second monitor on a daily basis, you might want to invest in the better app. Alternatively, you can learn how to connect multiple displays to a MacBook Pro and use your iPad in different ways.

This concludes our post on using your iPad as a second monitor for PC or Mac.

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Use your iPad as external display with Windows computers

In this article you will find recommendations for apps that let’s you use your iPad as an external display for your Windows computer. This article is a follow-up to the earlier article I’ve written for iPad, Android, Mac and Windows external display solutions. Most solutions mentioned below will require your tablet and computer to be on the same Wi-Fi network. And choosing higher resolution for your external display (tablet) usually will lead to more latency although usability is still quite good. I’ve arranged the solutions below according to pricing (free to paid) and whether there’s a need to purchase hardware. Personally, I’m currently using Spacedesk. I actually have the Luna Display adapter but I could not get it to work on my Surface Pro 8 and Huawei MateBook D 16. There’s also Duet Display which is available as on subscription or a US 149 one-time purchase.

Spacedesk (free)

Spacedesk is an external display app developed by German company datronicsoft Technology. This app is free. This app lets you use your iPad and Android tablets as external displays for your Windows computer (Mac is not supported). This solution is wireless. This app doesn’t have many features. Just make sure you tablet and computer are on the same Wi-Fi network, then connect. Windows Settings is used to adjust resolution, scaling and orientation.

ipad, monitor, windows, turn, tablet

WiredXDisplay (free)

WiredXDisplay is an external display app from Splashtop, a company that develops remote-desktop software and remote support software. This app is free. This app lets you use your iPad and Android tablets as external displays for your Windows computer and Mac. This solution requires cable connection and you’ll need a USB-C video cable. Charging cables do not seem to work. There options for Normal mode and High Quality mode (high-res). Normal mode has the usual latency with such external displays. HQ mode has noticeable latency.

Twomon SE (US 9 to 15)

Twomon is an external display app developed by South Korean company DEVGURU. Price of this app is US 9 and 15 respectively for the Android and iPad versions. This app lets you use your iPad and Android tablets as external displays for your Windows computer. This app uses cable connection. I wasn’t able to test this one as their website was down at the time I wrote this review. As such, I could not download the Windows driver. I’m just putting this up to give you another option to research.

Deskreen (free)

Deskreen is an external display and remote desktop app developed by Pavlo (Paul) Buidenkov from Ukraine. It’s an open source app but donations are recommended. This app lets you use your iPad or Android tablet with Mac, Windows or Linux computers. With wireless mode, you can only mirror displays. With a virtual display adapter, you can get extended desktop. The virtual display adapter is to make your computer think it’s connected to an external display. If you want to buy a virtual display adapter, use the Amazon affiliate links on Deskreen’s website to support them. Since Deskreen requires a virtual display adapter (hardware), I recommend you try Spacedesk and WiredXDisplay first since those two do not require hardware.

Luna Display (US 59 to 119)

Luna Display is a hardware solution. You connect this wireless adapter to your Windows computer and connect. This app lets you use your iPad or Mac (iMac, MacBook) as an external display for another Mac or Windows computer. This solution is wireless. The adapter is available with three connections: USB-C (US 119), Mini-DisplayPort (59) and HDMI (59). This is more expensive compare to other options recommended in this article. As such, I recommend you check out the lower priced options first. With the app, you can choose Retina resolution to make everything look sharp with the downside of having more latency. Or choose lower resolution for better response time. Luna Display works quite well when it works. The main downside Luna Display only works if your Windows computer meets the following specifications:

  • OS: Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit, Build 1809 or later
  • Processor: Intel or AMD processor with 64-bit support; 2 GHz or faster
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 520, AMD Radeon RX Vega 3, NVIDIA GeForce 820M or later; or equivalent DirectX 11 compatible GPU.
  • Hard drive space: 1 GB
  • Wi-Fi/Network: 802.11n or wired ethernet

During my tests, I’ve discovered it does not work with Surface Pro and Surface Studio devices, Huawei MateBook D 16. I’ve laptops with Intel Iris Xe that work (e.g. Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (UX3402)) and those that don’t Huawei MateBook D 16.

Before you take the risk to buy this, try my other recommendations below first. At least if they don’t work, you get get your refund back quickly from Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

EasyCanvas

EasyCanvas allows you to use your iPad as an external display for your Windows computer, which is what Luna Display does but at a much lower price of US 15 and without the need of a physical wireless adapter.

Pros and cons of EasyCanvas: Can turn iPad into external display for Mac and Windows computers Has touch and pen support Decent responsiveness for drawing One time purchase of USD 15

Conclusion

Just test the free ones first to see if they work for you.

Most of these external display solutions have slight latency with normal mode, and more latency with high quality or high-res mode.

Author

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