How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor

Need a second monitor? Try Sidecar, Air Display, or Duet Display

What to Know

  • Open System Preferences and choose Sidecar. In the window, press Select Device, and select your iPad.
  • Select Sidecar menu on your Mac to choose the iPad's role. Select Use As Separate Display. You can now drag windows between displays.
  • Duet Display, Air Display, and iDisplay are other great options to set up your iPad as a second display.

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 and iPadOS 13 and later, but there are other options, like Air Display and Duet Display.

How to Use Your iPad as a Second Monitor With Sidecar

Sidecar comes equipped with most modern Macs and iPads. Here's how to use this feature to run your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac.

  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. Choose Sidecar.

    The Sidecar icon in System Preferences
  3. The Sidecar options window opens. 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 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 the 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. Select 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. Select the drop-down menu labeled Select Device to choose your iPad.

    The Connect To menu in Sidecar settings
  6. Your Mac automatically connects 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 gets 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 opens the 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 to navigate apps.
    • 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? Not really. The 9.7-inch display of the full-sized iPad 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 bonus.

More Options to Connect iPad to Windows

If Sidecar 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 can 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, to play games.

Duet Display

Duet Display works well with the iPad Pro, too. The iPad Pro's 12.9-inch display makes it perfect for adding a second monitor to your MacBook, iMac, or PC. 

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

Air Display

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.

Air Display 2
Apple Inc.

Avatron Software's Air Display 3 also uses the iPad's cable rather than Wi-Fi to set up the iPad as a second monitor. Still, Air Display 3 only works with Macs. If you use Windows, install Air Display 2.

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

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 the best solution. If you are willing to pay iDisplay's price tag, choose the better options.

  • How do I connect an iPad to a TV?

    To connect an iPad to a TV, connect a Chromecast device to your TV and cast the iPad screen to the TV via a compatible app. Or, use an Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter to connect an iPad to an HDTV directly (you can also use composite or component cables or an Apple Lightning-to-VGA adapter).

  • How do I connect an iPad to a printer?

    To print from an iPad, use Apple's AirPrint wireless protocol and an AirPrint-compatible printer. In the document, select Share > Print > Select Printer > choose printer > Print. Or, use a third-party printing app to print to Wi-Fi-enabled printers and USB printers.

  • How do I connect an iPad to an Apple Pencil?

    To connect an Apple Pencil to your iPad, attach the Apple Pencil to the side of your iPad and tap Connect on the screen. For older iPads, plug the Apple Pencil into the iPad's Lightning port and tap Pair.

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