use an iPad as a second screen on a Mac
use an iPad as a second screen on a Mac

If you want to use your iPad screen as an extra screen for your Mac, read on. We will explain how to turn your iPad into a second screen so you can see content from your Mac on the iPad and even use macOS apps on iPad (more or less).

If there’s something better than the Retina display on your MacBook or iMac, it’s connecting a second display. That’s great if you have a spare display, or cash for an additional display, but what if you don’t have one? Can you use your iPad as a second monitor? The answer is, yes you can.

In fact, it has been something that could be done through third-party software for some time, but Apple is finally making it possible to do it through macOS thanks to its new Catalina operating system.

Read on to learn how to use your iPad as a screen for your Mac!

Sidecar on macOS Catalina

With macOS Catalina, which will arrive at the end of 2019, you can use your iPad as a second screen for your Mac, either by mirroring it or expanding your screen to fit even more windows.

This will be possible thanks to a new tool called Sidecar. Thanks to it, you can connect the iPad directly to the Mac, or also connect it wirelessly using Bluetooth and Continuity (within a range of 10 meters).

use an iPad as a second screen on a Mac
use an iPad as a second screen on a Mac

What you will need: 

  • A Mac running macOS Catalina. (Most Macs after 2012 can run Catalina.) 
  • An iPad running iPadOS 13 (below we show you the full list)
  • You need to be signed in to the same iCloud account on Mac and iPad.
  • You will have to be less than 10 meters from your Mac if you connect wirelessly.

The iPads that work with Sidecar are:

  • 12.9 inch iPad Pro
  • 11-inch iPad Pro
  • 10.5 inch iPad Pro
  • 9.7 inch iPad Pro
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2

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Step by step: use your second screen iPad on your Mac

Once Catalina and iPadOS 13 have been released -or if you are running beta versions- you can connect your iPad and your Mac by following these steps:

Step 1. You can connect your iPad using the charging cable (if you have the necessary ports on your Mac), or you can connect via Bluetooth as long as you are within 10 meters of the Mac. (Until we can test this feature at We can’t really be sure, but we figured being directly connected could mean less lag.)

Step 2. To connect, simply click on the AirPlay icon in the menu at the top right of the screen. (It is a square with a triangle).

Step 3. You should see your iPad in the list. Select it and an extension of your Mac’s screen will appear on the iPad screen.

Step 4. If you prefer to mirror your Mac’s screen to the iPad, instead of using the iPad as the second screen, click on the new screen icon that will appear in the menu (which will have replaced the AirPlay icon).

Step 5. Change usage as a separate display to a built-in retina mirror display. There will also be a new Sidecar section in the ‘System Preferences’ next to ‘Screens’.

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More Sidecar Features

When Sidecar arrives at Catalina, those who can use the new function will have the opportunity to enjoy some of its fantastic functions. These include: 

  • A touch bar that can appear on the iPad, bringing many of the touch bar functions that are currently only available on the MacBook Pro for other Macs.
  • You can also use the touch screen function of the iPad screen in other ways, this will be the first time that you can control macOS through a touch screen.
  • This feature essentially means that you will be able to use Mac applications on your iPad, although they will not run on the iPad itself.
  • You can use your iPad as a graphics tablet with your Mac. (Below we specify which iPads will work with this function).

The following iPads can be used as graphics tablets in Catalina:

  • 12.9in iPad Pro
  • 11in iPad Pro
  • 10.5in iPad Pro
  • 9.7in iPad Pro

Can I use an iPad as a second screen without Catalina?

However, you don’t have to wait for Catalina to launch. There are tools that allow you to use your iPad as a monitor for your Mac right now. We explain more below: 

What will you need? 

  • A Lightning to USB cable
  • An IPAD
  • Software as Duet Display, iDisplay and AirDisplay.
  • A Mac with macoS 10.13.3 or earlier – Unfortunately 10.13.4 broke some of the DisplayLink functionality that these applications are based on.

Possible problems using an iPad as a second screen

These applications use DisplayLink USB graphics technology, which can be used to connect computers and displays via USB, Ethernet, and Wifi. 

Unfortunately, macOS 10.13.4 broke DisplayLink – and therefore apps like Duet Display and the ones mentioned above may not work if you have installed the update to High Sierra.

It may still be possible to use iPad as a display, but only in clone mode. To do this, we recommend downloading the DisplayLink 4.3 drivers.

How to use Duet Display

In this example, we are using Duet Display, which was developed by a team of former Apple engineers. Duet Display allows you to use the tablet as a second screen not only on your Mac, but also on your PC.

Duet Display also offers limited touchscreen compatibility, allowing you to tap and slide through macOS. This means that you don’t have to spend time moving the mouse between the two screens, which is especially laborious when using a trackpad and again allows users to be more productive.

We will show you how to configure the Duet screen to use your iPad Pro (or any other iPad or iPhone) as a second screen for your Mac or PC.

Here’s an overview of how to use your iPad Pro as a second screen using the Duet screen, with more detailed instructions below:

  1. On your iPad Pro, open the App Store and install Duet Display (currently costs € 10.99). It is a universal application, so it will also be available to use on iPhone.
  2. On your Mac or PC, visit the Duet Display website and download the Duet application for Mac / Windows.
  3. Install the Duet companion app for Mac or PC. This is an important step, since the companion application allows your iPad and Mac to “connect”. Follow the installation instructions and restart your Mac to complete the installation.
  4. On your iPad Pro, open the Duet Display app and connect it to your Mac or PC using a Lightning cable (or a 30-pin cable if you’re using an older iPad).
  5. IPad Pro should be recognized by Duet’s companion app, and your desktop should now span across both screens. Quality settings can be controlled through the Duet companion app on your Mac or PC to deliver higher graphics, smoother refresh rates, etc. And to disconnect the screen, simply close the application on your iPad.

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