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Turn your iPad into a second screen with Mac touchbar

Office users often want a second screen, especially when using a laptop.  We’ve discovered Duet, an efficient and elegant way to use an iPad as an extension screen for a Windows or Mac machine.  Mac users get the bonus of the new ‘TouchBar’ for older Macs.

Duet impressed with the useful resolution and power saving options plus the simple, considered setup.

It’s a wired solution, needing a standard USB cable between your computer and the iPad.

Wireless ‘second screen’ apps don’t work very well -we’ve tried many of them.  The display is too unstable and can’t respond quickly enough – ‘too much latency’ in geek speak.

With a cable, the iPad display keeps up with the main computer even when playing video (though it’s better to play video direct on the iPad).

You can move any program to the iPad screen as a secondary display, for example Outlook email or calendar view.

MacOS Catalina  has a similar screen extending feature but it’s limited to some Mac computers with the right graphics support.  Duet supports a much wider range of Mac computers as well as Windows.


The Mac Touchbar is a strip of touch-sensitive icons above the keyboard on new Macbook Pro’s.  Office 2016 for Mac supports the Touchbar, for example here’s the Excel 2016 touchbar with some formula buttons.

Source: Microsoft

Other Mac’s can’t emulate the Touchbar because their screens aren’t touch sensitive.

Duet puts the touchbar on the iPad touch display. The Mac needs Sierra 10.12 or higher for this trick.

TouchBar at the bottom of an iPad screen  Source: Duet


The setup is easy and well thought through.  You need the iPad app plus connection software on your Windows or Mac machine.

Buy the app from the ITunes store, as usual.  Start the new app and it will offer to send you an email with links to the computer downloads.

The links directly download the software you need and installation is simple.  Because it’s adding new screen drivers, a restart of Windows or macOS is required.

After computer restart, start the iPad Duet app and connect your iPad to the computer.  Any standard iPad USB cable should work except, of course, ‘charge only’ cables.

On the computer, there are Framerate, power and resolution options.

The resolution on the iPad screen is independent of the main screen. The high quality iPad Retina display means you can get very detailed images on the extra screen, perhaps far higher than the main display.

Other controls for the second screen are in Windows or macOS.  In Windows 10 go to Settings | Display to change the positioning of the screens relative to each other.

In the above example, the main screen is a ‘mere’ 1366 x 768 compared to the whopping 2048 x 1536 on the iPad screen ‘2’ via Duet.

The standard Windows settings for multiple screens apply.  Window 10 for Microsoft Office users has a whole chapter on the new and improved multi-display features in Windows.

Duet is US$14.99 from the iTunes Store.  The complementing Windows/Mac software is free.

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