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How to use an iPad as a second screen
As desktop computers become less common in favor of small laptops, tablets, and smartphones, the idea of a second or third monitor also becomes rather antiquated. We now all place so much emphasis on portability and convenience that things like multiple monitors have more or less fallen by the wayside. But did you know that you can use an iPad as a second monitor for your MacBook, Windows PC, and even Linux? Here’s everything you need to know about how to use an iPad as a second screen.
To use an iPad as a second screen for your Mac, you can turn to the official Apple method, Sidecar. On Windows and Linux, you will need to turn to third-party apps. Linux will require a remote desktop client to connect, while Windows has many more options in the form of third-party software apps.
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How to use an iPad as a second monitor for your Mac
If you want to use your iPad as an extension of your Mac screen, simply go to the browser window or app window on the Mac. Hover your cursor over the green circle button at the top-left corner. Select Move to iPad. The exact wording will have the iPad’s name and model included.
A few seconds later, the browser window or app will appear on your iPad, along with an options bar on the left-hand side. You can either use your finger or an Apple Pencil to interact with the iPad screen. You can also use Handoff to move your Mac cursor over to the iPad.
When you want to move the browser window or app back to your Mac, move the cursor over to the green circle again and select Move Window Back to Mac. You can get there with the Mac cursor or the Apple Pencil.
Apple Sidecar supported devices
Unless you’re running a really old iPad and Mac, then you will most likely not have compatibility problems with Sidecar. On the iPad, you need iOS 13 or later, along with one of the following iPad models.
- iPad Pro (all models)
- iPad (6th generation or later)
- iPad Mini (5th generation or later)
- iPad Air (3rd generation) or later
With the Mac, you need one of the following Mac devices, running macOS Catalina or later.
- MacBook Pro introduced in 2016 or later
- MacBook introduced in 2016 or later
- MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
- iMac introduced in 2017 or later, or iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, late 2015)
- iMac Pro
- Mac mini introduced in 2018 or later
- Mac Pro introduced in 2019
- Mac Studio
What to do if Apple Sidecar is not working
There may be times when Apple Sidecar isn’t working the way it should. Being tech, that just happens sometimes. If you find yourself in that situation, here are some troubleshooting tips to help you fix the problem.
Make sure you are signed into the same Apple ID account
For the two devices to connect to one another, they need to be signed into the same Apple ID. Otherwise, anyone could come along with their Apple device and connect to you. Most people will likely only have one Apple ID for all their devices. However, if you have more than one, there’s an easy and quick way to find out what Apple ID you’re logged into.
On a Mac, go to the Apple menu > System Settings and check the account at the top.
On the iPad, go into the Settings and check the account at the top.
Is your device supported?
The previous section of this article lists all the devices supported to use Sidecar. Please also note that Managed Apple IDs are not supported.
Make sure your iPad and Mac are up to date
If your devices are running outdated operating systems, then you need to update them. At the very least, they should be updated from a security point of view.
To update your Mac, go to the Apple menu > System Settings > Software Update.
To update your iPad, go to Settings > General > Software Update.
Check to make sure your iPad is unlocked
Sidecar is only possible if your iPad is unlocked. If your iPad is attached to your MacBook with a cable, then you shouldn’t have any problems with the tablet screen staying awake. On the other hand, if your iPad is relying on a wireless connection, then the screen may keep going to sleep.
To fix this, go to Settings > Display & Brightness. Under Auto-Lock, select Never. However, this should not be a permanent setting for your iPad. Once you have finished using Sidecar, you should put Auto-Lock back on 10 or 15 minutes instead. Your battery will thank you.
Check Handoff is enabled
If you want to use Handoff to use your Mac trackpad or mouse on your iPad, then you need to make sure it is enabled. It’s enabled by default, but you may have disabled it in the past and forgotten about it. So it’s best to double-check.
On your Mac, go to the Apple Menu > System Settings > General > AirDrop & Handoff. At the top, you’ll see Allow Handoff between this Mac and your iCloud devices. Make sure it’s toggled on.
On the iPad, go to Settings > General > Airplay & Handoff. Make sure Handoff is toggled on.
Keep your devices close together
While using Sidecar, you need to keep both your devices next to one another to ensure that Bluetooth doesn’t time out. Apple says they should be no more than 10 meters (30 feet) from one another.
Try plugging your iPad into the Mac
You can usually use Sidecar wirelessly, but if you have any connection issues, a USB cable is your best friend.
Plug your iPad into your Mac then unlock the screen. Click Trust on the Trust This Computer? message when it appears on your iPad screen. It may also appear on your Mac screen. If you don’t click the Trust button, the iPad and Mac will not connect.
Can you use an iPad as a second monitor on Windows 11?
It may surprise you to learn that an iPad can be used as a second monitor on non-Apple devices. Usually, iOS is a closed-off walled garden. But with the help of third-party apps, you can get your iPad fix with Windows and even Ubuntu.
Duet Display is the best third-party app for using your iPad as a second screen. Designed by former Apple engineers, it can be used for both macOS and Windows. It is also very affordable at between $4-$5 per month, depending on your needs. The speed is excellent, with absolutely no lag.
Luna Display takes a much different approach in connecting your iPad to a computer. Instead of an app, it is a USB widget which plugs into your computer and talks to your iPad.
Luna Display is also the priciest option. However, if you detest recurring monthly subscriptions, you may feel that the one-off fee of $120 is financially worth it in the long-run.
Splashtop Wired XDisplay
Then there’s Splashtop Wired XDisplay. Like Duet, you need to install an app on each device, which enables them to call home to each other. However, the pricing on this one is not entirely clear and the website doesn’t make it absolutely clear whether or not it’s free or paid.
No. Sidecar does not work with iPhone. The only compatible iOS device with Sidecar is iPad.
No, Sidecar does not work with Android devices.
For reasons only known to them, Netflix discontinued support some years back for screen mirroring and Apple Sidecar.