How to Make Use of an IPad as an Extra Monitor

How to Make Use of 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

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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.

When to use an iPad as an extra monitor

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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.


Use an iPad as a second display for a Mac.

Get ready

  • Before you begin, make sure that your Mac and iPad meet the Sidecar system requirements, including each are signed with the same Apple ID.
  • You can use Sidecar wirelessly, but to keep your iPad charged during use, connect it directly to your Mac with the USB charge cable that came with your iPad.

If you want your keyboard, mouse, or trackpad to control your Mac and iPad, with the iPad showing its own Home Screen and apps rather than the desktop and apps of your Mac, use Universal Control instead.


Move a Mac window to your iPad

Move your pointer over the full-screen button  of a window on your Mac, then choose the option to move that window to your iPad.

You can repeat this step for other Mac windows, or simply drag other Mac windows to and from your iPad. To move a window back to your Mac, you can also move your pointer over the full-screen button  and choose Move Window Back to Mac.

If you want your iPad to mirror your Mac screen instead of extending its desktop:

  • In macOS Monterey, choose a mirroring option from the Screen Mirroring menu  in the menu bar.1
  • In macOS Big Sur, choose a mirroring option from the Display menu in Control Center or the menu bar.
  • In macOS Catalina, choose a mirroring option from the AirPlay menu ( or ) in the menu bar.2

The sidebar puts commonly used Mac controls on the side of your iPad screen. It includes Command, Shift, and other modifier keys, so you can choose essential commands with your finger or Apple Pencil instead of a keyboard.


Use gestures for scrolling and other actions

These Multi-Touch gestures are particularly useful when using your iPad as a display.

  • Scroll: Swipe with two fingers.
  • Copy: Pinch in with three fingers.
  • Cut: Pinch in with three fingers twice.
  • Paste: Pinch out with three fingers.
  • Undo: Swipe left with three fingers, or double-tap with three fingers.
  • Redo: Swipe right with three fingers.

Use Apple Pencil

To point, click, select, and perform tasks such as drawing, editing photos, and manipulating objects on your iPad while it’s extending or mirroring your Mac display, you can use your Apple Pencil instead of the mouse or trackpad connected to your Mac. You can also use it to write, sketch, and mark up documents while seeing the updates live on your Mac.

Sidecar also supports double-tap, which you can turn on in System Preferences. Double-tap enables apps that support this feature to perform custom actions when you double-tap the side of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation).

Use the Touch Bar

Many apps on Mac have Touch Bar controls that make common actions even easier. With Sidecar, you get a Touch Bar on your iPad screen even if your Mac doesn’t have a Touch Bar. Tap its controls with either your finger or Apple Pencil. If the Touch Bar doesn’t appear when using an app that offers Touch Bar controls, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, click Mission Control, then make sure that “Displays have separate Spaces” is selected.

Use a keyboard, mouse, or trackpad

During your session, you can type using the keyboard connected to your Mac, or you can use a keyboard connected to your iPad, such as the Smart Keyboard or Magic Keyboard for iPad. To point, click, or select with a mouse or trackpad, use the mouse or trackpad connected to your Mac, or use an Apple Pencil on your iPad.

Use iPad apps

While using your iPad as a display, you can switch to an iPad app, then interact with that app on your iPad as you normally would. This suspends your session until you switch back to the Sidecar app, which appears on your iPad home screen only while using Sidecar.

Change settings

If using macOS Monterey, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Displays. Click Display Settings, then select your iPad in the sidebar.

If using macOS Big Sur or macOS Catalina, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Sidecar.

These settings are available only on computers that support Sidecar.

  • Show Sidebar: Show the sidebar on the left or right side of your iPad screen, or turn it off.
  • Show Touch Bar: Show the Touch Bar on the bottom or top of your iPad screen, or turn it off.
  • Enable double tap on Apple Pencil: Allow apps that support this feature to perform custom actions when you double-tap on the side of your Apple Pencil (2nd generation).

Sidecar system requirements

Sidecar requires a compatible Mac using macOS Catalina or later and a compatible iPad using iPadOS 13 or later.

Additional requirements

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