How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

Need a second monitor? Try out your iPad and Apple Sidecar (and other options)

What To Know

  • Open System Preferences and choose Sidecar. In the window, press Select Device, and pick your iPad.
  • Duet Display, Air Display, and iDisplay are all other great options.

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, but there are other options, like Air Display and Duet Display.

How to Use iPad as a Second Monitor Using Sidecar

  1. Open System Preferences on your Mac by either selecting it under the Apple menu or clicking its icon in the Dock.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. Click Sidecar.

    The Sidecar icon in System Preferences
  3. The Sidecar options window will open. Here, you can decide where the Sidebar and Touch Bar will appear.

    • The Sidebar contains buttons that let you open a keyboard, press the Command key, and other items that will 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 your iPad display.

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

    The Sidebar and Touch Bar sections of Sidecar settings
  4. Click the box next to Enable double tap on Apple Pencil to quickly switch between tools, show a color palette, and more.

    Double-tap is available on the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil.

    The "Enable double tap" option in Sidecar settings
  5. Click the pulldown menu labeled Select Device to choose your iPad.

    The Connect To menu in Sidecar settings
  6. Your Mac will automatically connect to the iPad.

  7. Select the Sidecar menu on your Mac to choose the iPad's role. Select Use As Separate Display.

    You can also use Sidecar to mirror your computer's display.

    The Sidecar menu and "Use as Separate Display" option
  8. Your iPad screen will get another desktop on it. You can drag windows between it and your Mac.

    Second display on an iPad
  9. The Sidebar contains buttons to help you perform desktop tasks on your iPad.

    • Tap the top icon to toggle showing the menu bar.
    • The next icon will open your 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 above to navigate apps.
    • Finally, 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? No. The 9.7-inch display of the full-sized iPad certainly 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 real bonus.


How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

More Options to Connect iPad to Windows

If Sidecar just 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 have provided the ability to 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 or even play games.

And Duet Display works great with the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro's 12.9-inch display makes it perfect for adding a second monitor to your MacBook, iMac or even your PC if you have one. 

You can watch a demo video of Duet Display in action on Youtube.

Air Display

Apple Inc.

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 recently came out with Air Display 3, which also uses the iPad's cable rather than Wi-Fi to set the iPad up as a second monitor. Unfortunately, Air Display 3 only works with Macs. If you are using Windows, you will need to install Air Display 2.

Do not download Air Display 2 from Avatron's website. Avatron has an Air Display 3 Upgrade Bundle available in the app store. Unfortunately, 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.

Have a Mac? Download Air Display 3 instead. 

iDisplay Is Another, Pricier Option

An illustration of a computer with an iPad as a second monitor.

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 by far and away the best solution. If you are willing to pay iDisplay's price tag, you might as well go with the better options.

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