Apple offers three methods to connect iPad and computer monitor: You can display iPad content on your Mac via Airplay, plug a USB-C iPad into your Mac, and use it as an external mini-monitor for Mac content. With the current beta of macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4 Apple expands this possibility and merges Mac and iPad via Universal Control . Until it is so far, you can use our alternative method. This guidebook is about the third variant: connecting a Desktop monitor to an iPad – Without Mac.
Connecting iPad to monitor: The right cable
If you have the right cable or an adapter, you can easily connect your iPad to an external monitor. This only takes a few seconds, and the iPad image is displayed on the monitor or TV set. This is particularly easy with the newer iPad Pro models with USB-C and a USB-C or Displayport monitor. If you connect a USB-C iPad via cable to a USB-C monitor (at Amazon), the content of the iPad display is immediately shown on the external screen.
Tip An iPad with USB-C can also be connected excellently with one of the widespread Displayport monitors (at Amazon). All you need is a cheap Displayport to USB-C cable . The iPad then only runs on battery power.
An iPad with a Lightning interface requires an additional adapter, Apple has a Lightning model with HDMI and Lightning interface as output for about 55 Euros (the second Lightning interface is necessary for charging). The resolution is limited to 1080p.
There are almost no configuration options: You can only adjust the display via a simple system setting and activate an HDR-10 option, for example. By the way, this system setting is only visible when a computer monitor is connected to the iPad. The sound is transmitted in all cases.
Does this turn the iPad into a desktop??
If you have an additional Bluetooth mouse and Bluetooth keyboard available, you can almost work like on a desktop PC/Mac – after all, any cheap 24 or 27 inch display is far more ergonomic than an 11 inch screen. For example, if you have to spend several hours revising a Word or Excel document, such a setup can be quite useful. But it remains a stopgap solution. In our opinion, such a workstation cannot completely replace a Mac, iOS has too many limitations for that – for example, when working comfortably with several apps at the same time. Also, the use of an external mouse is quite cumbersome and unfamiliar.
The hair in the soup: Black edges
In most cases, the iPad screen is only mirrored – on the external display with a resolution of 1080p – and you see black borders. This is especially noticeable on a large high-end display, less so on old HD monitors. Most of the current desktop monitors have a aspect ratio of 16:9, often even 21:9. However, the internal display of an iPad has the page format 4.3 to 3 and therefore shows the iPad screen with wide and/or. very wide black borders on the left and right. This is unsightly, only the video output uses the entire screen.
Hardware and resolutions
Supported are almost all desktop monitors, but also TVs and projectors. The fact that there can always be problems with adapters, primarily with old projectors, is a problem that is probably also familiar from many Macbooks. That’s why some educational institutions prefer to use an Apple TV with iPads for presentations, which can be reliably controlled wirelessly.
What’s surprising: If you own an iPad Pro with Thunderbolt, i.e. the iPad Pro 12.9" (5. Generation) or iPad Pro 11" 3. In the 2nd generation, you can even connect it to the 6K monitor Apple Pro Display XDR via Thunderbolt (but you won’t get a 6K image). Via Thunderbolt, the iPad is also charged. The older 2018 iPads Pro can also drive a 5K display, after all. One difference: When playing videos in full-screen mode, 4K resolution is offered via Display Port and USB-C, but only 1080p when mirroring the screen – at least with 60 hertz. With Lightning, the refresh rate remains limited to a lame 30 hertz. Apple’s own adapter USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter only supports a maximum of 30 hertz with a 4K monitor. Only adapters with HDMI 2 support.0 support more comfortable 60 hertz at 4K.
Video output does not only include video player and iMovie, the presentation apps Keynote and PowerPoint are also supported. If one starts a presentation in Keynote and PowerPoint, the external display is used as output sources. On the iPad, you can see the moderator view and control a slideshow specifically. How to get your notes or a timer displayed during the presentation.
iMovie also supports external monitors. Here you can use the external monitor as a preview monitor and take over the editing on the iPad. You can immediately see the results of your edits and how the finished movie will look on a 4K display. The internal iPad display isn’t always the best reference.
Connecting external monitors can be very handy in some cases, as external monitors are cheap and available everywhere. Apple, however, treats the topic a bit stepmotherly. This is probably because Apple is not interested in monitors and is more interested in selling additional Macbooks and iMacs.