iMac as display for iPad


I know this is a random question and I probably won’t do it often…

I am still trying to do the iPad only thing and I am starting to work predominantly on it but sometimes want a bigger screen to run a couple of the apps (very aware I am in the minority here).

I know you can connect the new iPad to a monitor but can it be connected to an iMac as a monitor?

The iMac is a late 2013 and the iPad is the USB C model.

I googled but couldn’t find up with anything that way, was all iMac as the machine and iPad as a second display (which I do use here and there).


This could be a job for Reflector.


If the iMac in question supports Target Display Mode then you can just plug it in - and this supports the second screen feature many apps offer (for example iMovie has a feature where you can preview on one screen and edit on the iPad screen).


According to this article Thunderbolt equipped iMacs can only be used as target displays for other Macs with Thunderbolt, so I don’t think @Ethan9482’s iMac will work as a target display for an iPad.


Thanks, will take a look at reflector, not heard of it.

Chris’s opinion is what I had taken from what I had read but don’t have a cable kicking about to test it.


How do you keep your iPad charged?


To test it he would need an adapter that could convert USB-C to Thunderbolt 2.


Ah, I missed that it was a USB-C model.

Carry on!


So I’m not the only one that wants a 17" or even 23" iPad!

Seriously, the problem is that iOS operating system does not support the capability to have multiple monitors as macOS does.

This isn’t just a driver or hardware cable/adapter issue. There would be very deep changes needed throughout iOS to make this work.

Every iOS app would have to support dynamically changing screen sizes which it does not have. Having dabbled in iOS development, I can tell you that every time a new iOS device comes out with a different resolution or screen size, there is serious work app developers have to do to be aware of the new screen dimensions and adjust their apps to fit.

That’s why so many apps still run on an iPad as a zoomed-up iPhone app instead of a true iPad app that takes advantage of the screen area (the developers never updated their app to be iPad-aware.)

I think you would have better luck seeing a Mac notebook/laptop that is touch enabled (like typical windows 2-in-1 laptops) long before iOS would support multiple monitors/screens with dynamic resolutions.


Which isn’t a thing, I don’t think, despite the connectors being the same.


Would this do the trick, assuming the computer could be used in target display mode?


Hunted through the box of random cables I’ve collected over the last couple years with connecting various displays and laptops but don’t have the right one to test the theory unfortunately.


Nope. According to the kbase article, “This adapter is not compatible with USB-C ports that don’t support Thunderbolt 3, such as USB-C hubs or the USB-C port on MacBook models from 2015 or later.” The iPad Pro’s port is only USB-C, not Thunderbolt.

As @ismh said, I don’t even know if anyone makes an adapter that will go from USB-C to Thunderbolt 2, and even if they did, I don’t know if it would work, or if there’s some special code in Mac OS that enables Target Display Mode” over Thunderbolt that’s not in iOS.


Hoo, boy. These connector issues have sure gotten convoluted. Thanks for the info.


Part of this is the ambiguity of the USB-C connector and what something with that physical connector actually supports. The other part is that when the iMac went to Thunderbolt in 2012 Apple chose to have Target Display Mode use the Thunderbolt connection and some sort of special sauce rather than just vanilla Mini DisplayPort.


Agreed it’s not overly clear.

I plugged a usb cable for my electric guitar in, it’s a Pc / OSX cable, fully expecting it not to work but played fine, detected by the software etc - I was delighted but surprised it worked. Expected the port to be limited to certain things.


It requires a complete change in thought process,but the way to use IOS with multiple monitors is to use multiple IOS devices. Not quite as fluid as multi monitors on the Mac, but if you have the right thought process, judicious use of shortcuts, a cloud solution and cut and paste allows some really special things.