How to Turn Your iPad into an Extra Computer Screen

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Congratulations! You’re the owner of one of those new iPad things. You may have even heard of them here on Techland.

Now if you happen to work in an ultra productive, never-not-working office like we do at TIME Magazine, it’d probably be in your career’s best interest to get a leg up on your coworkers wherever you can.

“But how?” you ask, iPad listlessly in hand. One way is to turn your new tablet into a handy extra screen. Now more than ever—in an era where a 60 open-tabbed window is nothing to write home about— desktop retail is a valuable commodity. The benefits of having an extra monitor almost go without saying: Maybe you need to camp an extra window for reference, or maybe you like having your email client open for easy access—the possibilities are all there!

Anyway, here are two options, one for Mac users and another for PC users.

For Mac Users: Air Display ($9.99)

If you’re primarily a Mac OS user, Air Display is your best bet. After downloading the app on your iPad and installing the Air Support software on your Mac (which you can download at the bottom of the page here), follow the onscreen instructions and you’re ready to go.

Air Display requires that both your iPad and Mac be on the same Wi-Fi network, which can pose problems if you’re trying to sync them at a work computer using an Ethernet connection. There’s an easy way to circumvent this, though, and that’s to create an ad hoc wireless network just for your iPad (learn how to do that here).

After activating the app and restarting your Mac, activate Air Display from the upper-right toolbar. Your screen should go blue and take a few seconds to sync up. What’s nice about Air Display is that it reorients your screens whenever you need to move your iPad. Dragging windows between the two monitors is a little laggy (videos are a no-no), but if you want to keep an extra email or Twitter client open it’s surprisingly fluent. Plus, Air Display lets you take advantage of the iPad’s native touch screen, meaning you can use your finger to move your mouse around. Pretty cool, especially if you drag a window with a Flash site onto it (this one, for example).

The only other problem I had with it was that my Icon Dock would shrink down from my Mac onto my iPad screen, but that’s only because I prefer having it run along my left-hand side (the only spot on my desk there’s space for the iPad). But it’s a minor gripe, unless you’re militant about having everything (your iPad, Icon Dock) all on one side.

Air Display will run you $9.99 in the App Store.

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