How to Use a Tablet or iPad as a Second Monitor

Second monitors are an excellent solution for those looking to expand their computer’s viewing surface. Tablets and iPads can serve as an affordable alternative to full-scale monitor setups, especially when meant for occasional use.

How to Use a Tablet or iPad as a Second Monitor

If you’re wondering how to use a tablet or iPad as a second monitor, you’ve come to the right spot. This article shares helpful tips and apps you can use to connect the two seamlessly. Let’s dive right in.

How to Use a Tablet or iPad as a Second Monitor for a Windows PC

Connecting a tablet or an iPad to a Windows PC can be done through third-party apps. There are plenty of apps out there, but we have selected three of the best ones.

Our winner for connecting any device to your Windows PC is the Splashtop app. This remote-access tool allows you to use your Windows PC from the iPad or tablet with a subscription or for free. The great thing is that the screen mirroring feature comes with the free version.

There are two components of this app. Splashtop, an app you install on your tablet or iPad, and Splash Display, a Windows PC agent.

Follow the steps below for detailed instructions on how to connect your iPad or tablet to a Windows PC:

  1. Download the Splashtop app on your iPad or Android tablet.
  2. Install the Splashtop XDisplay agent on your Windows desktop.
  3. Use a charging cable to connect your iPad or tablet to the computer once the software gets installed.
  4. Launch the app on both of the devices.

Your desktop should now appear on your iPad or tablet screen, and your tablet is now available as a regular screen.

You can customize the display to get the most out of it. Just launch the XDisplay app on your Windows desktop and tweak the frame rate, screen quality, and resolution.

Overall, Splashtop is an inexpensive, cross-platform option, but it’s not the smoothest one. However, it will do the job just fine without breaking the bank.

Alternative Methods to Use iPad as a Second Monitor for Windows PC

Splashtop is a free app many people use for mirror screening their Windows PC. However, you can use other apps too. Two other options include:

iDisplay

If you prefer connecting your two devices wirelessly, you may want to try iDisplay. You can connect your iPad or tablet to your computer using Wi-Fi. Install the iDisplay app on your Windows desktop, and get the iDisplay app on your iPad or tablet. Note that the iPad version is $15.

Duet Display

Much like Splashtop, Duet Display works by connecting your iPad and Windows with a charging cable. A free Duet app for Windows is available, but you need to pay $10 for the iPad version. It’s among the smoothest app experiences if you want to turn your iPad or tablet into a second monitor.

The standard version supports iPad keyboards and will add touch controls to your computer apps on the screen. You can use the “Duet Air” feature that comes with a paid subscription to add wireless connectivity, remote desktop, and enhanced graphics. However, these advanced features require a yearly subscription. If you plan on using the tablet for drawing features, you may want to pay the extra fee for a “Duet Pro” subscription.

After installing the app on your desktop and tablet, make sure it’s running on your desktop. Then, plug the PC into the tablet using a USB. The connection should be instantaneous, and the desktop will be ready for use.

To tweak the screen settings, select the “Duet Display” icon on the PC. Default settings typically work well but may appear sluggish if you use an older laptop. That’s when you could lower the resolution or frame rate.

How to Use a Tablet or iPad as a Second Monitor for a Mac

If you use an iPad, continue reading this section. If you want to connect an Android tablet to a Mac, skip to the “Alternative methods” section.

The Sidecar is a great native tool that lets you use your iPad in landscape orientation as a second monitor for your Mac. You can use the tool to show different apps on your iPad or the same ones as your Mac.

Make sure your devices have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on for the connection to work.

Tweak Sidecar Options

To set up Sidecar, first, make sure you’re logged in with the same Apple ID on your iPad and Mac.

Then, follow the steps below:

  1. Open your Mac and navigate to the Apple menu.
  2. Go to “System Preferences,” then “Sidecar.”
  3. Set options for showing the sidebar and touch bar on your iPad.
  4. Select the “Connect to” pop-up menu if you’re not already connected to your iPad.
  5. Select your iPad from the list.

Another way to connect the devices is to use the “Display” in the “Control Centre” and the “Display Menu” from the menu bar. You can also navigate to display preferences and use the AirPlay Display pop menu.

There’s no need to use a cable to connect your Mac and iPad with Sidecar.

Using Sidecar

If you haven’t connected your Mac to the iPad, navigate to the Control Centre, then click “Display.” You’ll see the Sidecar menu appear. This menu is where you can switch how you work with your iPad. For example, you can switch between screen mirroring or using an iPad as a separate display. You can also choose whether to hide or show the Touch Bar on your iPad.

Here are some basic commands to get you started:

  • Move a window from your computer to iPad: Drag a window to the screen edge and have the pointer appear on the iPad. Alternately, select “Window,” then “Move Window to iPad.”
  • Move a window from iPad to Mac: Drag a window from your iPad to the edge until you see the pointer on the Mac.
  • Use Touch Bar on your iPad: Tap any button from the Touch Bar using your finger or Apple Pencil.
  • Disconnect the iPad: When you finish working, tap on the “Disconnect” button at the bottom of the iPad sidebar.

Alternative Methods to Use iPad as a Second Monitor for Mac

Maybe you have an older Mac version that doesn’t support Sidecar, or you’re using an Android tablet. If so, you can still mirror your iPad or tablet screen. You just have to use a third-party app instead.

The most inexpensive option is Splashtop Wired XDisplay. To use this app, you should connect your Mac and iPad or tablet with a USB. Even though this app doesn’t provide the smoothest experience, it gets the job done.

Here is how to connect your iPad to your Mac using this app:

  1. Download and install the XDisplay agent on your Mac.
  2. Download and install the XDisplay app on your iPad or tablet.
  3. Run the desktop app.
  4. Connect the iPad or tablet to your Mac using a cable.
  5. You’ll see a blank desktop appear on the tablet. Navigate to the “Display” settings to tweak the monitor settings.


XDisplay offers a pretty decent screen mirroring experience, and it’s a great alternative if your Mac doesn’t have the Sidecar function. If, however, you need a more professional approach than XDisplay, you may want to consider investing in Duet Display. It’s a pricier but a better alternative.

Much like Splashtop, there is a separate app for your iPad or tablet and your Mac to install. Note that the standard iOS app is $10. The standard version also uses a cable to connect the two devices. You can pay extra to get a wireless connectivity version and other features like remote desktop or enhanced graphics. Finally, for drawing features, you’ll also pay a yearly fee.

Dual Monitor Setup at the Palm of Your Hand

Investing in dual monitor setups is a rather expensive venture. Unless you really need the full-scale system, you can simply transform your iPad or tablet into a second monitor. Thankfully, there are enough excellent apps that help connect the devices, and Mac even has a built-in feature that allows you to do so.

This article explained the best methods for using your tablet or iPad as a second monitor. Hopefully, they’ll help boost your productivity without breaking the bank.

Have you used any of the apps mentioned as a second monitor? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.

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