How to use an iPad as a second screen for any computer

Two monitors are better than one(Opens in a new tab), and with a Mac running macOS Catalina or later, you can turn your iPad(Opens in a new tab) into a sidecar-equipped second display that your computer can talk to your tablet and extend the same desktop environment.

However, this feature is only limited to certain Mac and iPad models (Opens in a new tab), which is a shame if you have an older device or a Windows PC. Luckily, some third-party apps can help fill the gap on any devices Sidecar can’t run on.

To read the original PC Mag article, click here (Opens in a new tab).

The ideal option: Sidecar on macOS

Photo credit: PCMag

Sidecar is arguably the best option for turning your iPad into a second display. So if you have a Mac and an iPad from the last five or six years, you should try this method first(Opens in a new tab). (If your devices are older, skip to the next section.)

To connect your iPad as a display, either connect your iPad to your Mac via USB or ensure Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Handoff(Opens in a new tab) are enabled to do so wirelessly. You must also be signed in with the same Apple ID on both devices.

Click the AirPlay button in your Mac’s menu bar and select your iPad from the list. The icon will change and clicking the menu again will give you a range of options. You can extend or mirror your Mac’s display, show or hide the Sidebar and Touch Bar that appear on iPad, or disconnect your tablet.

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If you want to switch between a wired and wireless connection, you’ll need to disconnect and reconnect from the AirPlay menu. Apple says it should work wirelessly as long as the iPad is within 10 meters (30 feet) of the Mac, and you can even use your Apple Pencil (Opens in a new tab) to sign documents and in supported apps to draw.

The cheap, cross-platform option: Splashtop Wired XDisplay

Photo credit: PCMag

If your Mac or iPad isn’t supported by Sidecar — or you’re a Windows and Android user — Splashtop Wired XDisplay (Opens in a new tab) is a third-party app that can turn your tablet into a second monitor. It only works when connected via USB and isn’t the smoothest option I’ve used, but it will get the job done reasonably for not a lot of money.

Splashtop Wired XDisplay consists of two components: a desktop agent running in the background on your PC or Mac, and an iPadOS (opens in a new tab) or Android (opens in a new tab) app running on your Tablet is running. (The iPad app appears to be free, while the Android app costs $7 — although there’s a free trial (opens in a new tab) that works for 10 minutes each.)

Install the desktop app and mobile app on the devices you want to use together. With the desktop app running, connect your tablet to your computer using a USB cable, then launch the XDisplay app on your tablet. It connects to your computer and a blank desktop appears on your tablet.

You can rearrange your monitors through your computer’s display settings, drag windows onto your tablet and otherwise use it as a second monitor for increased productivity. I recommend having a stand to keep it upright – something like this (Opens in a new tab) works great if you’re using your tablet with a laptop, while a more adjustable stand (Opens in a new tab) is great for desktop is use.

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Splashtop Wired XDisplay works decently well, at least in my experience with an iPad and a Windows PC. There’s noticeable latency, and I’ve had some issues getting stuck in mirrored mode on one of my computers, but for the price of free, it’s worth a try. (The $7 Android app has more mixed reviews, and if you’re paying money I think it’s worth shelling out a few more and using our paid recommendation, Duet Display, below.)

A better, more expensive alternative: Duet Display

Photo credit: PCMag

If you want the smoothest possible experience, Duet Display (Opens in a new tab) is the best app I’ve tested for turning an iPad into a second monitor. Like Splashtop, it has an app for your tablet that connects to a companion app on your computer. You can try the service for 10 minutes at a time, but for longer usage (or additional features like wireless connections) you need to subscribe to a tiered pricing plan(Opens in new window)(Opens in new tab).

Sign up for an account, then install the desktop and tablet apps. With the desktop app running in the background on your PC. Connect your tablet via USB and launch the Duet Display Mobile App. If you’re paying for the $24.99 per year Duet Air plan, make sure you sign up to connect your devices wirelessly. You then need to enable screen sharing in Duet settings. Select the computer on the Air tab in the app to connect.

Photo credit: PCMag

Finally, click on the Duet Display icon on your PC to get access to some other settings like B. the frame rate and resolution your tablet is using. For me, the default settings worked great, but if you find it’s a little sluggish on an older laptop, lowering the resolution, frame rate, or power consumption in this window might help.

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While Duet Display is more expensive than its competitors, in my experience it was by far the smoothest experience. If you regularly use your iPad as a second monitor, it’s worth the price.

This article originally appeared on in a new tab), Mashable’s sister site. in new tab) is a leading technology authority providing labs-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services.