With the rise of working from home, many people are looking for ways to improve their productivity. One way to do this is to have a dual monitor set up at your workstation. Apple computers and laptops are not affordable for everyone, but you might want to consider connecting an iPad to your monitor.
You can’t connect an iPad to multiple monitors. iPads do not have the same functionality that laptops have, so they are only designed to connect to one monitor. It is true that the iPad Pro is becoming a more affordable alternative to a MacBook, but it has some major limitations.
You can connect your iPad to an external monitor, but it will not have the same functionality as a MacBook or other laptop. This guide will show how you can connect an iPad to a monitor and will also discuss some of the drawbacks of using an iPad as a second screen. Finally, I will cover the benefits of using an iPad connected to a monitor.
Connecting Your iPad to A Monitor
While your iPad can’t connect to two monitors, you can easily connect your iPad to a single monitor with an adapter. You will need an adapter that connects the lightning cable or USB-C, whichever your iPad uses, to your monitors display port. You will plug this adapter into your iPad and the HDMI cable (or other type) from the monitor into the adapter.
The following is a chart comparing the different iPad models based on their overall functionality:
|Feature||iPad Pro (4th gen)||iPad (8th gen)||iPad Air (4th gen)||iPad Mini (5th gen)|
|Trackpad or mouse compatible||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Keyboard compatible||Yes||Smart keyboards only||Yes||Bluetooth keyboards only|
|Display||Varies depending on the apps you are using. However, most conditions only allow for a mirrored screen set-up.||Mirrored screen only||Varies depending on the apps you are using. However, most conditions only allow for a mirrored screen set-up.||Mirrored screen only|
|Available Ports||USB-C port||Lightning Connector and Smart Connector||USB-C port||Lightning Connector|
Newer iPads, as mentioned above, have adopted the USB-C port, which is more universal than the lightning connector. This means that more adapters on the market will be compatible with newer iPads, and you will have more options to find an affordable adapter with the ports you need.
What To Do If You Have an Older iPad
Older iPads, like the traditional iPad or iPad Mini, while they can’t use a mouse, can still be connected to a monitor. Using a wireless Bluetooth keyboard, you can still type and use the internet and other apps with an iPad.
Additionally, you can use the same adapter to plug your iPad into a television or projector and use it to watch videos or lectures. Without the ability to use a mouse, you can’t use a separate monitor as an extension of the screen, but more as a larger version of what you see on the iPad screen. This allows you to use a larger screen than what you have on the iPad alone to watch:
While you have less functionality when using an older iPad, you can still connect it to an external monitor with a simple adapter.
The Limitations of an iPad as a Laptop Replacement
When deciding whether this set-up is right for you, remember that there are some drawbacks to using an iPad as your main computer.
While iPads have many benefits, they are not computers and therefore do not work in the same way as computers.
If you are used to working with an iPad, then using this set-up will only be an upgrade. However, if you are thinking of switching from a traditional laptop or computer to the iPad, you should consider the following:
- Some apps do not work with an external monitor
- Only a handful of apps are capable of being open only on one screen or the other
- Reduced functionality of an app compared to a computer program
Not All Apps Work the Same With External Monitors
Older iPads, as we have discussed, simply mirror the iPad screen on an external monitor. As newer iPads have been developed, their functionality with external monitors has improved, but they still do not function just like a regular computer or laptop.
Many apps will display something different from the iPad screen on external monitors, but it will not be an extension of the screen. For example, in a drawing app, you might see the overall art piece that you are developing on the external monitor, while on the iPad screen, you are zoomed in and working on one layer.
Before committing to this set-up, research the apps that you plan to use to see how they work with external monitors.
Differences Between Apps and Computer Programs
Many programs that you might use on a laptop or computer have app versions as well that can be used on the iPad. These apps often work in the same way as the full version that you would use on the computer. However, they might not have all of the same features, and some may be completely different or unavailable on an iPad.
If you are considering this set-up, research the programs you use the most to see if they have apps compatible with iPads and whether all of the features are available on the iPad.
Benefits of Connecting Your iPad to a Monitor
There are several reasons that you might want to connect your iPad to a monitor. Some of the benefits of this set-up include:
- Giving your workspace a sense of permanence
- Having the simple interface of the iPad
- Having most of the functionality of a computer with the iPad Pro or Air
Sense of Permanence
One of the benefits of working from an iPad is that they are extremely small and portable, even more so than a laptop. This is great for anyone who travels a lot or likes to make changes to their workspace. However, there is something to be said about having a designated workspace at home or the office.
Connecting portable devices like iPads and laptops to monitors can give you a sense of permanence that can make you feel more productive. Using an iPad in this set-up allows you to use your monitors in a designated workspace while also giving you the flexibility to work away from your desk with just your iPad.
By connecting your iPad to an external monitor, you will be setting up a permanent workspace, thereby increasing your productivity while also giving you the option for flexibility.
Another aspect of the set-up that some people prefer to a traditional computer or laptop is the iPad’s simple interface. iPads are not as powerful and don’t typically have as much storage as a laptop or computer, but the use of apps and cloud storage works well for many people.
iPads are simple in that you can download the apps you need from the app store without worrying about complicated installations or where to save your files. Working within apps and the iPad interface can help you streamline your work and make things simpler.
The Functionality of a Computer
If you have a newer iPad with more features, like the iPad Pro or iPad Air, then your iPad can be used similarly to a laptop. One of the most exciting features of these iPads in terms of functionality is that they give users the option to use a trackpad or mouse.
This feature will allow you to use an iPad just like a regular laptop at a fraction of the price. You will be able to connect the iPad to an external monitor and use a mouse and keyboard to operate the machine for maximum efficiency.
Wrapping Things Up
Ultimately, an adapter is all that is needed to connect an iPad to a monitor. Even if you have an older iPad model, you can still use an external monitor to mirror your screen. With newer iPad models, you can use the iPad and monitor like laptops or desktop computers for a fraction of the cost.
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More