4 Great Ways Air Display Can Improve Your Workflow

Earlier this week we reviewed Air Display, a fantastic app that turns your iPad into a second monitor for your Mac or PC. The simple fact is that there’s not a great deal to the app itself, once you connect it with your computer (with a downloadable client that sits in your menubar), it doesn’t really function like an app at all.

What Air Display does do, though, is turn your workspace into a rather unique one. With Air Display you have a second screen that, while not really big enough for you to call your set up a “dual monitor” workspace, gives you extra space that’s not only versatile but touch sensitive as well.

I’ve been playing around with Air Display, developed by Avatron Software, and I’ve discovered that it helps create a workspace that, particularly if you’re a creative, can improve your workflow in ways a standard second monitor can’t. Read on to find out how.

Graphics Editing

This use for AirDisplay is probably the most obvious, as anyone who reviews the app makes a note of it.

Palettes don’t take up the entire screen like the other examples, but it does help your main monitor become an edge-to-edge workspace.

Letting your iPad look after your palettes.

Palettes don’t take up the entire screen like the other examples, but it does help your main monitor become an edge-to-edge workspace.

If you do a lot of graphics work, in Photoshop or Illustrator for example, the iPad makes a great screen for your toolbox and palettes. The touch interface is useful for selecting your tools without having to move your mouse to the screen at all, allowing you to keep your focus on your main monitor.

Additionally, you can open the preference pane and elect to have the displays mirror each other. This is bizarre at first because, due to the nature of the iPad screen, your computer monitor will adopt a 1024×768 pixel display. Once you get used to it, however, this can be very helpful in editing graphics and digital sketching – think of it as a makeshift Wacom tablet.

Audio/Video Editing

As an audio engineer, I spend a lot of time working in Logic Pro and ProTools. One of the biggest inconveniences when working with software like this is that the two most important windows (Edit and Mixer) can’t coexist on my laptop screen. This might be remedied with a larger screen, but I don’t have a larger screen, I have an iPad.

It’s like using an actual mixing board. Made of glass.

It’s like using an actual mixing board, but made of glass.

Air Display comes to the rescue yet again, allowing me to keep my focus on the Edit window on my main monitor and place my Mixer window on my iPad. Much like with graphics editing, the touch interface is useful here for making a quick level adjustment while editing.

One minor problem to note, which affects the ways in which AirDisplay can be used: the Wi-Fi connectivity of Air Display is cause for a fair bit of visual lag, meaning that while the extra screen real-estate is useful, it’s not terribly practical for certain time-sensitive stuff (i.e. video playback).

Using the Mix window on the iPad may not be very effective when it comes to live recording, or doing a stereo mix down.


This is a hybrid use for Air Display that is perfect for those times when having a little bit of extra screen space would be useful, but not so useful that it would warrant a full sized second monitor.

I’ve found this method to be the most useful.

I’ve found this method to be the most useful.

The iPad with Air Display makes a great space to stick all those windows that you might want to keep open and monitor throughout the day, but don’t necessarily want crowding your main monitor. As you can see, I use it to stash my Twitter feed, iChat, email, my to-do list timer (yep, that’s The Hit List), and iTunes. This is probably the method for using Air Display that I use most often.

Of course, depending on what you use throughout the day, you can also drop your RSS reader, your calendar app of choice, or just about anything else you use onto the iPad. This way, the things you need throughout the day are always present, but out of the way.


As a writer, I often work on pieces that require some research. I’ve found Air Display to be very useful in this capacity, as a space to put my word processor, while my main monitor contains a myriad of Safari windows.

I'm So Meta, Even This Acronym.

I'm So Meta, Even This Acronym.

I considered using this the other way around, but since Air Display connects via Wi-Fi, its responsiveness can be a bit finicky. I’ve grown accustomed to browsing the web very rapidly, so this method didn’t work out so well. Best to leave the document on the iPad and surf the net on your computer monitor.


I know the screenshots just look like shots from my desktop, but that’s because Air Display gets rid of the menubar from the iPad screen, turning it into a legitimate second monitor (but with touch functionality). I assure you that each of these are iPad screenshots.

If you’re in the business of creating, be it visual art, music, or literature, the iPad can be more than a great tool on its own, but also as a companion to your computer. Since my iPad is most often used in my time off as a recreational media-consumption device, the use of Air Display during my workday doesn’t typically conflict with any other business that needs to be taken care of. Air Display has landed my iPad a permanent spot next to my MacBook Pro as part of my everyday workspace.

If you have discovered a unique and creative way to use Air Display, do let us know in the comments!