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Multiple Monitors Part 2: Using your Android or iOS tablet as a second monitor

by Retired Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 11:09 AM - last edited on ‎05-10-2012 01:07 PM by Administrator



As we've seen previously (The more screens, the better - Our guide to multiple monitors ), having more screens to distribute your desktop across can be a huge benefit to your computing experience.


And as you'll have noticed in the title, if you've got a tablet, you can even bring it into the mix, as long as you've got access to a WiFi network and have installed a few pieces of software. Lets take a look.


There are quite a few apps out there for Android and iOS, on both Windows and OSX. This post isn't really about all the variations available, so to keep it simple, I'm using Air Display by Avatron, which is available for all four configurations (Android (OSX/Win), iOS (OSX/Win)).


It's a simple matter to set up, just install a server application on your desktop, and a client application on your tablet. Configuration took a minute or two and then I was sharing my screen.


MacAndroid.jpgIt's about the network
The way these desktop-extending apps work is they basically fool your operating system into thinking you've just connected another monitor to the system. To your operating system, the tablet looks just like a monitor, and is treated as such.


You can drag windows on to it, launch your computer's applications from it -- it's just another screen.


Screen with benefits
Ok, it's not really just another screen. This new mini-monitor also becomes a touch screen. Yep, you can tap on your screen, and the computer's cursor immediately snaps to the location you tapped. Which means all your mouse functions are also now available on the touchscreen tablet.


For me, one of the best uses of a tablet as an extended desktop is when I pair my iPad up with my MacBook Pro when I'm on the go.


Imagine pulling up to your favourite table at your local coffee shop, setup up your laptop, and next to it, your tablet. Extend the screen onto your tablet and poof! You are now uber productive while being extremely portable.


Since you're actually getting an extended desktop sent through the network to your tablet, don't expect blisteringly fast screen updates. Depending on the app and desktop, you can make Flash animations appear on your device. In my case, I managed to get just under 60 frames per second in my highly un-scientific HTML5 Fishtank framerate test :smileyhappy: 




No system is perfect. Using the tablet as a second screen requires a WiFi network connection. This can be a bit tricky in some locations where you're only allowed one WiFi connection per person.


Also, if there are multiple WiFi networks in the same building, say at a university, you must make sure that your devices are all on the same WiFi network.


Well, I like using the extra monitor provided by my tablet as a news desk, tweet monitor and reference desk. Yep, just a passive display that I can occasionally glance at that means I don't have to Alt-Tab to check on stuff. Much less distracting that way, I find. And it's a portable solution to my multiple monitor addiction.


Got a favourite computer and tablet configuration you want to share? Tell us about it and we'll all learn something!

by Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 11:18 AM

I've been meaning to set this up w/ my ipad. Even if just to hold my toolbars, it'll be handy. 

by Retired Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 11:22 AM

That's exactly one application that I've seen used before -- it's a great place to keep your Photoshop / Illustrator toolbars.


Others have used it as a controler for their composing software. 


And as long as you have the tablet sitting around, may as well put it to use, 'eh?

by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 11:25 AM - last edited on ‎05-10-2012 11:27 AM by Retired Moderator

you need to get your self the twelve south hoverbar.


since i dont really use my sony tablet s i was thinking about dedicating it to an additonal display


air display is also working on the ability to use multiple tablets


so you can have ur ipad and android tablet as extended monitors ;p

by Retired Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 11:31 AM

Heh, that twelve shouth hoverbar looks cool! Though, before I stole my wife's Comapss stand (she wasn't using it,honest!) I did use my Gorrilla Pod tripod stand as a makeshift flexible iPad holder. Worked, and looked pretty cool too!

by Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 11:50 AM

That reminds me...I haven't set up my iPad with my home MacBook yet...Retina graphics and super HD screen. Yeah, that's great for Twitter ;-)

by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 11:53 AM

if you have the new ipad you can use HiDPi with Mac OS X Lion ;p

by Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 12:33 PM

x0pa you can if your machine has the grphics oomph to support it. My 2008 MacBook Pro does not. However the resolution on my iPad is higher than both my other screens!

by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 12:39 PM

this is latest pic i took however right now i have the early 2011 MBP in front now ordered a stand from futureshop to raise the center monitor up then i can adjust the portrait monitors up and i should be content .... for now, i do want to add an additional center monitor above however and angle it down a bit towards me ;p



by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 12:39 PM

and yes thats a PS3 webcam mounted on the top right monitor, but it faces outside i usually pull up a window to see the outside cause monitor blocks view ;p

by Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 12:46 PM

What, you couldnt set your ipad wallpaper to match? :smileywink:

by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 12:48 PM

yes i could


by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 12:59 PM

that blue thing at the right of the MBP is griffin powermate an awesome usb device

behind it is a keyboard that emulates the small wireless apple keybaord but its wired, but has a button for bluetooth so you can say type on ur iphone or ipad very nice when in use ;p

there is 3 mouse devices old school dell very round, a newer dell one which ive actually come to love, an apple magic mouse i think its dying ;( i love that form factor, oh and also a magic trackpad :smileywink: cuz why not ;p behind the left portrait monitor is a PS3 which is connected to center monitor which allows for multiple inputs :smileywink:

bose speakers a twelvesouth jump bass for more bass ;p ps3 controlers ipod ipod watch iphone apple tv, canon all in one, neat reciepts scanner, cordless phone, portable usb drives barely use those anymore, wacom bamboo pad for photoshop ;p


to the right of the desk sits airport extream,1tb firewire drive/hub,iomega 8tb NAS,2009 MAC MINI,


my latest edition to my room is a ESXi server :smileywink: running lots of virtual machines :smileywink:


and a nice tower fan in here cuz im roasting!!!!!!!

by Retired Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 01:01 PM

x0pa: nice setup!


tris: good point re: graphics oomph. In my case, my desktop box is showing its age and struggles with graphics intensive things. Won't show a Minecraft moving map in a chrome browser, for example.

by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 01:02 PM

oh btw for anyone with mac using multi monitor setup and would love to have a menubar on the other monitor there is an app called Second Bar, sadly it only does one extra monitor, you can rename the app launch again and move it to another monitor but its not very stable that way, you would need to edit all the files to make it look unique etc.

by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 01:03 PM

bgrier thanks ;p

by Retired Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 01:03 PM

x0pa: Just saw your new shot and description... very *nice* setup :smileyvery-happy: Well done!


by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 01:09 PM

thanks, yeah there is more that needs to be done though i want to put led's behind the monitor like in the first multi monitor setup post, move the monitors back abit cuz you can feel the heat on your face ;p

i need to buy some UPS's esp for the ESXi vm server and NAS

by Blogger on ‎05-10-2012 11:02 PM

Yeah, I found a strange bug in the latest version of AirDisplay Mac ... It messed with the Dock for some reason. I couldn't move things around on it or drop files onto it... Pity, because I was really enjoying the third screen.

by x0pa on ‎05-10-2012 11:13 PM

@trishussey one thing i noticed is that sometimes when i connect ipad to use as an additional display my main monitor and the ipad mirror even though i never want it to lol


do you have multiple displays how do you connect your extra displays or are you using like a mac pro?

by Retired Blogger on ‎05-11-2012 08:26 AM

@trishussey - yeah, that's the age-old problem with updated, usually they break something when fixing others :smileyhappy:



by Blogger on ‎05-11-2012 09:13 AM

@x0pa just display port to DVI to monitor for my second screen. I'm going to check the forums to see what's up. I couldn't even have it installed, much less active.

by x0pa on ‎05-16-2012 11:35 AM

magic geek ball added to the desk as well as iSkin for MBP Keyboard ;p o0o red keys ;p


stand from futureshop arrives friday i should post updated pic ;p

by vivekananth on ‎05-25-2012 12:42 AM

Can i use blue tooth by any chance to use my android pad as a second screen syncing with my bluetooth enabled laptop.  What happens to the controls. Is it that i can only operate on the touch pad or the laptop at a time ?

by x0pa on ‎05-25-2012 07:07 AM

as far as i know its wifi do you not use wifi? if you dont perhaps you can use your laptop internal wifi as an access point and just have your android tablet connect to it in order to get wifi to do this

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