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Best Free Ways to Use iPad as Second Monitor for PC

by Mehvish
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Did you know your iPad can double as a second monitor for Windows PC? All you need is the right app. Here are the best ways to do it, all options are free and useful in different scenarios.

Note: Mac users can use the Sidecar feature to use the iPad as a secondary display for macOS.

Splashtop Wired XDisplay: Best for USB Cable

Splashtop is a free app that requires a USB cable.

It just acts as an external display, if you play a video on your iPad, the audio will come out of your PC speaker only. The iPad touch works fine, you can even use the Apple pencil however the lag is quite there. We experience the frame drop but watchable. See the GIF below. 

usb cable to use ipad as second monitor on windows


  1. Get the Splashtop Wired XDisplay app for both your PC and your iPad.
  2. Connect your iPad to your PC using a USB/Type-C cable.
  3. Open the Splashtop app on both devices. They should connect automatically.

By default, it’s set to mirror the display, if you need other resolutions scroll down to the end of the article to know how to set it up as an extended display.


While the installation is easy, sometimes, the setup doesn’t work. I tested this on 3 different computers. It worked flawlessly on one PC but not on the other two. The official guide recommends installing iTunes drivers. However, even that didn’t solve the problem for us. 

To fix this issue you have to create a dummy monitor. We followed this guide and it solved our problem. You simply have to download the drivers and install them via CMD.

Spacedesk: Best for Wired and Wireless

I personally use Spacedesk. Just like Splashtop, Spacedesk also supports an external display, touch input with Apple pencil, and is of course free. You also get both wired and wireless options, which were not present in the previous option. Thus make it our no #1 recommendation. 

In wireless mode, the quality depends on the strength of Wi-Fi. Ensure your iPad and Windows PC are close to the router or use 2.4 GHz if you need a bigger range. 

Surprisingly, I’ve found it to have less lag than Splashtop in my tests. See the GIF below:


  1. Download and install the Spacedesk app on your PC and iPad  
  2. Make sure your PC and iPad are on the same Wi-Fi network.
  3. Open the Spacedesk app on both devices.
  4. On your iPad, tap your PC’s name to connect. They should auto-connect.


Just like the previous one, we tested this on 3 different Windows PCs. The wifi connection worked on all 3 PCs. However, to connect it via USB cable, it worked right out of the box on 1 PC, and on the other two I had to install iTunes, after that it worked fine on both devices. 

Genki Studio: Best When You Can’t Install App on PC

If you want to use an iPad as a second monitor for a PC without installing software on the PC, then something like this will work. All you need is an iPad with USB-C and HDMI capture card ​​and install the Genki Studio app on the iPad. Useful in school or office that doesn’t allow installing apps on PC.

We tried it on different PCs and it worked flawlessly on all PCs. We don’t have to install any apps on the PC. However, make sure your iPad has type C and is compatible with the app (list here).

  • Steps:
    1. Download & install Genki Studio on your iPad.
    2. Connect your iPad to an HDMI capture card using a USB dongle.
    3. Open the Genki Studio on your iPad and give it all permissions.
    4. Connect your iPad to the PC via the HDMI capture card.
    5. It’ll automatically detect and start mirroring.

Duet Display: Paid Option

Just like the previous options Duet display has good performance, wired & wireless options, Apple Pencil support, extra features, etc. The only two differentiating features are:

  • It adjusts the display resolution automatically
  • Allows you to use your Windows PC as an external display for Mac and vice versa. However, it costs money ($10) after the initial trial period. If interested, check out their site: https://www.duetdisplay.com.

Tips to Use iPad as a Second Monitor

Some tips for the best results whether you are using your iPad as a second monitor with cable or wirelessly:

  • When using an iPad or any other external monitor as a secondary display, you can extend the original display, duplicate it, or show it on one of the displays.
  • To choose what you want to do with the iPad, go to Windows Settings > Display after connecting the iPad. Look for Multiple displays drop-down box. Choose Extend from the list. Use this tip if your PC’s display is mirroring on your iPad instead of extending it.
  • In Windows Settings > Display, drag the monitor icons to match your physical setup. This helps you move your cursor between screens naturally.

Which option should you use 

FeatureSplashtop Wired XDisplaySpacedeskGenki Studio 
PlatformRequires PC and iPad Windows, macOS, Android, LinuxRequires PC and iPad
ConnectivityWired (HDMI Capture Card + USB-C) Wired & Wireless (Wi-Fi)Wired (HDMI Capture Card + USB-C)
SetupPC software NOT required. May involve capture card purchasepen_sparkRequires software install on both devicesPC software NOT required.  
PerformanceTypically smooth with some lagRequires software installed on both devicesTypically smooth 
Apple Pencil SupportYesYesYes
CostFreeFreeFree (Hardware cost if you need a capture card)

Occasional Use, wireless or Wired: Spacedesk.

Must be Wired, OK with Troubleshooting: Splashtop Wired XDisplay

When you can’t install any app on PC: Consider Genki Studio

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