Apple users are looking for a way to turn iPad into a Laptop and use it like you would a MacBook Air or Pro. Many aren’t aware this was possible until a few key accessories and different methods were combined.
Ipad’s OS is advancing significantly towards the power of a laptop or desktop and there are plenty of hidden features that allow you to do this.
In fact, the University of Kentucky for example, chose to give iPads instead of laptops to the freshman students, as the university’s officials believe that the latest iPad Pro is enough for the students’ needs.
To turn your iPad into a laptop, there are a few different solutions. The easiest way is to connect an advanced trackpad and keyboard extension combo that allow iPad users to get the same feel as a MacBook and turn their iPad into a laptop.
- Related: iPad vs Laptop Pros and Cons: Replacing a Laptop with iPad
- Skip to: connect your iPad to a computer screen as a second monitor.
On top of this, you will want to use an app or two that will make the transition easier. This will allow you the power of a laptop by only using your iPad or tablet.
We have created an instructional guide that will transform your iPad to a computer with super-simple steps. In this post, I’ll cover how you can turn your iPad into a laptop or Macbook and exactly how it can be done.
- Local Storage
- Video editing and Workspace apps
- External display
- Importing photos from SD Card
- Flash Drive to transfer files
- Other essential connections
- Drag and drop through different apps
- Multitask with Picture to Picture
- IPadOS gestures
- Turn multi-tasking features on or off
- How to pick the best keyboard trackpad
- How to connect iPad to computer screen (Wirelessly)
- Can i use an iPad as a laptop?
- How do you turn an iPad into desktop mode
- How can I turn my iPad into a computer for free
- Can the iPad pro replace my Macbook Pro?
- Does iPad have desktop mode
Alternatively, you can also choose an Adjustable iPad Stand (or an iPad holder) and use a blue tooth keyboard with it.
1. Choose an iPad Trackpad & keyboard combo extension
By adding a useful keyboard and trackpad extension, combining it with the right apps and learning the iPad’s features for multitasking you will have a powerful computer in no time.
Since the release of iPadOS 13 in September 2019 and especially with iPadOS 14, Apple has allowed for iPads to be connected with trackpads.
There are a number of keyboard and trackpad extensions that are turning ipads into computers.
By adding the trackpad option via accessibility, Apple created a 2 in 1 iPad, making it a multi-touch device and a computer at the same time. So, how is the iPad’s environment different when a trackpad is used, and what are the feature’s main benefits?
Did you know: You can turn your iPad into a monitor with a Duet display alternative?
Utilizing a trackpad is very useful as it allows you to control a cursor which converts your iPad to a full-functioning laptop. Given the fact that most of us are very familiar with the usage of mouses, common workplace apps, like Microsoft Office or Google online apps like Drive’s Docs and Sheets, will be easier to cope with and your workflow will be smoother.
Apple also developed new features that will make your life easier when using a Trackpad & Keyboard combo. Concerning multitasking, for example, Apple introduced the Dock and Split View which will make you feel like using a MacBook.
See our post: 17 Best Budget Tablets for Watching Netflix
Brydge Pro – Best for turning an iPad into a MacBook
Brydge has developed an all-in-one Wireless Keyboard with Trackpad for the latest iPad Pro and iPad Air 4, which promises to transform your device into a high-end, pocket-size MacBook.
First things first, the Brydge Pro+ catches your eye from the very first moment, with a beautiful but also robust Aluminum Body that offers an elegant look to the device when connected.
Related: How to use the Flashlight on iPad
One other important feature is that although the unit transforms your iPad into a laptop, this doesn’t affect its portable nature and when we needed to use the iPad Pro as a tablet, disconnecting the keyboard was a matter of seconds.
Brydge has recently included an oversized trackpad that has a great feeling and makes multitasking easier. App Expose is accessed with a two-finger tap and the Dock with a three-finger tap while the company promises to keep upgrading the capabilities of both the Trackpad and Keyboard and take advantage of all upcoming updates of the Apple’s OS.
Having the backlit keys in three different levels and infinite viewing angles has also proved to be both pleasant and useful and the typing experience is more than satisfying.
Consequently, from the moment you set the Brydge Pro+ up, your iPad will look and feel more like a laptop than anything else in this list, making other less expensive options feel like cheap toys.
Logitech – Hybrid solution to turn an Ipad into a laptop
Logitech is one of the most reliable brands when it comes to computer peripherals and the Combo Touch Keyboard case with trackpad confirms that.
The case is quite similar to Apple’s Slim Folio Pro but also has the advantage of a detachable keyboard while it promises to keep your iPad safe by protecting both the front and the back of your iPad from scratches and scuffs.
Although it doesn’t provide a 100% laptop-look like the Brydge’s keyboard, the Logitech Combo Touch can also offer a great typing experience, backlit keys with five adjustable levels of brightness, and finger gestures to make your life easier while multitasking. The Smart Connector is very useful and well designed making the keyboard feel like a natural extension of your iPad.
See our post: Best Budget Laptops for Computer Science Students
By offering four different use modes (type, viewing, sketching, and Reading) the unit could be characterized as the most flexible hybrid solution and is recommended for users that want to quickly alternate between an iPad and a laptop and employ the Apple Pencil (or Logitech Crayon).
Phixnozar Keyboard Case- best budget keyboard case to turn your iPad into a desktop computer (with trackpad)
As mentioned earlier, there are many budget alternatives that promise to transform your iPad into a laptop, but unfortunately, although they looked good, most of them didn’t last long in our hands.
Phixnozar’s case, on the other hand, was the only budget case that felt up to par with what we needed and handled the tasks we threw at it.
Phixnozar’s hard case protects all sides and corners of the iPad and its keyboard is backlit with stable or circular rainbow light and three brightness modes. The trackpad has a good feeling for the price range and allows for finger gestures when multitasking and the typing experience is pleasant.
If you’re looking to use an ipad as phone replacement, we’ve covered this in detail as well.
In general, the keyboards over the price point of the Phixnozar have proven to be good choices. Thus, although it doesn’t offer the premium quality of Brydge or Logitech, Phixnozar is a solid option for you, if you don’t want to spend a lot to buy the most classy and high-quality solutions.
2. Download Apps that turn your ipad into a macbook
The keyboard and trackpad combo itself will make a great difference when it comes to common workplace apps like Drive’s Docs and Sheets, but when combined with specific apps, it will create a completely new environment on your iPad. We have created a list of apps that proves to be very useful for the transformation of your iPad Pro or iPad Air into a laptop.
Related: How to use a SD Card on an iPhone
Yoink is an essential clipboard tool that will make your life easier by simplifying and upgrading the iPad’s drag and drop feature, while it allows you to share photos between your iPad and super-compatible iPhone.
This app is essential for most iPad users and is often overlooked. Adding this to your iPad app toolkit will enable the closest match of turning your iPad into a MacBook or laptop.
The Opener app is very important for the transition of the iPad into a laptop as it lets you choose to open a link in a specific app if the iPad doesn’t recognize the app link. For those looking to use iPad like a laptop, the opener app is a must.
This app makes a simple but essential task as it puts a folder called “Local Storage” in your Files app, where you’re able to save files the same way you would on a MacBook.
An easy way to unzip the .zip and .rar files you have downloaded from Safari or the internet using iPad. This will enable you to access documents that are typically opened on an iPad or laptop.
Termius is an app that will allow you to connect remote servers to your iPad. Although being a programmer means that you will probably not use your iPad as your main device, having the app to do this on your iPad Pro is a great tool.
Bear is a flexible notes app that will help you to quickly organize and edit your everyday tasks, put reminders, or share your notes with others as you would do on an iMac or a MacBook. Evernote, TeamViewer, and Ulysses are also very useful apps when it comes to word processing.
Bear is also one of our 28 Best Mac Note-Taking Apps for Advanced Workflows
Video editing and Workspace apps
Zoom and Slack offer great environments for iPad users and we highly recommend them as they will also be fluidly used with the addition of a keyboard and LumaFusion is a great option for video editing, which will make you feel like working on a desktop.
3. Enable external connections on iPad just like a laptop
Another easy step that will help to completely transform your iPad into a laptop is to connect external devices. To be more specific, iPads use USB-C connection with external devices but you can buy a multi-port hub. By purchasing a USB-C hub, you can then connect a vast number of devices with your iPad via USB 3.0, HDMI, but also connect an SD card for file transfers.
For example, you may want to connect to an external monitor via HDMI to host a presentation with your iPad or a microphone like the Blueyeti for recording podcasts. Having the option to connect a Flash Drive or SSD via USB 3.0 for fast transfers is essential. Apple has developed the official Apple Dongle for this job, but there are also third-party hubs that will do the job efficiently.
If you’re using Autocad: For the most suitable laptops recommended by experts visit the 9 Best Laptops for AutoCAD (Designers Guide).
Whether you have an old monitor or just purchased the new 4k LG ultrafine display, you will likely want to consider a second monitor for your iPad and the new iPadOS for iPad Pro thankfully supports HDR10 output.
Special outputs just for iPad:
If you want for example to make a live presentation on an external monitor, you could use a combination of Keynote that will show the presentation on that monitor, while speaking notes are displayed on your iPad.
Importing photos from SD Card
SD and Micro SD cards (with adapter) can be imported into the external hub to transfer photos or files from or into your iPad.
Flash Drive to transfer files
Flash Drives or other USB devices can simultaneously be connected to your iPad while using an external display for example, and create an environment that until yesterday you would find only by purchasing a laptop or desktop.
Other essential connections
Most of the hubs out there, also include an Earphone Jack for your headphones and a port to charge other Apple devices or the iPad itself.
4. Learning how to Multi-task on an iPad
Especially since the announcement of the new iPadOS 14, Apple has shown its intention to introduce more features that will help you multitask easier. By the establishment of the deck on iPads, you are now able to use more apps at the same time as it offers shortcuts to your apps and folders. You just have to swipe up from the bottom of your screen to reveal the Dock and work through it.
The addition of Dock also helped when using the Split-Screen option, as all you have to do now is just open an application, open the Dock to find the other app you need and just drag it to either side of the screen. IPadOS also introduced the usage of finger gestures for quick multitasking alongside the option to turn all multitasking features off and use your iPad strictly as a tablet.
By learning how to multitask on an iPad nowadays, you take full advantage of the new OS but also of the keyboard and trackpad equipment you purchased. Thus, obtaining the knowledge of the Dock and the rest multitasking features will bring you one step closer to converting your iPad into a computer.
Drag and drop through different apps
You can now exchange items between apps, by opening two apps in Split View or Slide Over. Once you do that, touch and hold an item, drag it to the other app, and drop it.
Multitask with Picture to Picture
When using FaceTime or watching a video, tap or press the Home button (on an iPad with a Home button). The video window scales down to a corner of your screen so you can see the Home Screen and open other apps.
There are many new, super-useful finger gestures you can learn and then leave your laptop behind forever. Three-finger pinch to Copy text selection, Three-finger drop to Paste text selection and Three-finger swipe left to undo the last action are only a few of the developed finger gestures.
Turn multi-tasking features on or off
To turn Multitasking features on or off, go to Settings > Home Screen & Dock > Multitasking, then you can do the following: Allow Multiple Apps: Turn off if you don’t want to use Slide Over or Split View. You also have the option to disable finger gestures and Picture in Picture support.
How to pick the best keyboard trackpad
Now that you have decided you want to convert your latest iPad into a powerful laptop, which keyboard case do you choose? That’s entirely up to you and your needs, as there are many options and every one of them has its advantages and disadvantages.
If you want a case that is flexible and ultimately portable, especially if you’re using the iPad Pro 12.9 inch. For example, you should go with a lighter keyboard and trackpad case that will do the job but won’t alternate your iPad’s looks.
On the other hand, if you want the transition to a laptop to be more fundamental, you should purchase a case that will completely transform your iPad, making it look exactly like a MacBook.
There are also some cases that provide useful features, like zooming or switching apps with the trackpad or having backlit keys and adjustable spindle, that should be considered.
Also, when it comes to the product’s reliability and typing experience, you should avoid choosing low-quality keyboards just to decrease the cost. Don’t forget that the typing experience is the most important feature and as you will be using the keyboard all the time, typing should be satisfying and comfortable.
To sum up, the choice of Keyboard will prove to be the most important step in achieving the MacBook-like experience you want and this is the reason why we have researched and created the following list with some of the best options you have.
How to connect your iPad to a Computer Screen
There are a few different ways to connect your iPad to a computer screen or additional monitor so you can gain benefits such has using it as a second display. You can connect the iPad to another screen of any type with a cable or wirelessly.
For example, you can connect it to a computer monitor, your smart TV (wireless & wired), and and even to be used as a second monitor or display itself. The reason you may want to do this is because it will allow for a larger display. In order to do this you’ll need to take your Lightning to USb-C cable and plug it in to the desired monitor or second display.
For those looking to do more, see how to Write on a Computer Screen with a Pen.
If the second display does not accept a USB-C connect/port, then you’ll need HDMI or VGA Cable that allows a USB-C to HDMI or USB-C to Via adapter. The reason for this is because the iPad does not have this type of adapter due to its new and improving technology from Apple. Once you’ve connected this cable, you’ll be able to use your iPad connection on the iPad to watch and mirror the iPad’s display.
How to connect iPad to computer screen (Wirelessly)
You can connect your iPads display to your computer, laptop, or SmartTV screen by using Airplay. AirPlay works similar to bluetooth and is embedded into the ecosystem of apple devices.
Many modern SmartTv’s actually have this AirPlay/mirroring feature already installed and fully capable. If you do not, then you may want to utilize a Firestick or Roku to do so, which can be connected to a computer monitor or a Tv.
See our post: Is the Apple Pencil 2 Worth it? (The Truth)
Follow these steps to wirelessly connect your iPad to a computer or TV screen (second display):
- The first thing you’ll need to do is to make sure the iPad and the second monitor is connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Next, you want to find the video you want to stream or use an application that will mirror your entire iPads display whether you’re streaming a video or not.
- Finally, tap the airplay icon that looks like a square and a triangle combined.
Your iPad will now be connected to your computer screen or Your iPad will now be connected to your computer screen or TV Your iPad will now be connected to your computer screen or TV screen.
Begin using your iPad as a laptop
Using an iPad as a laptop is possible, but not exactly practical. Using an iPad like you would a Laptop (as a replacement) can be done by utilizing a bluetooth keyboard, bluetooth mouse, and (optionally) a second monitor connected via the Astropad software. This way, you have a desktop-like setup on your iPad and you can use it just like you would a laptop.
MacBooks can now also be connected to iPads wirelessly and you can use your mouse on an iPad. However, you will need to have a laptop or Mac computer present to take advantage of this specific feature.
There are a few caveats with using an iPad as a Laptop:
- The iOS softwares are not identical to Mac OS or Windows
- Bluetooth keyboards can be clunky and inconvenient to lug around.
- The iPad is not as powerful as most laptops and can not handle CPU-intensive tasks as well as a Laptop. Examples, include 3d modeling and video editing; where MacBook or laptop is far better at handling.
- The second monitor is not nearly as portable as a laptop when used with an iPad.
You can use an iPad like you would a laptop in order to write in google docs, browse the web, and even playing games.
How to convert your iPad to Windows 10
In order to convert iPad into a windows 10 you’ll need to be able to have a second Windows-based laptop or computer to mirror or cast the windows 10 device to.
If you were looking to use windows itself on the actual iPad and not mirror the device to do so, then you may have to wait a while until someone figures out a way as this route is currently not possible.
However if you’re using a MacBook and macOS, then you’ll be able to turn it into windows 10 using Boot Camp or similar application called parallels which is a paid app.
Can i use an iPad as a laptop?
Yes you can, there will be a view features that are limited such as desktop only apps. You’ll be restricted to Mobile only type of apps (iOS). Those who make the switch find all the apps on the google suite work very easily.
However, it is best to test out the iPad if you are coming from a laptop and have never used it. You’ll likely need to buy a bluetooth keyboard, mouse, and headphones since tablet speakers are not as loud as a laptop in most cases.
How do you turn an iPad into desktop mode
Some users are able to do this by requesting the desktop mode when you tap on the menu navigation bar of your iPad browser.
However, it’s not always present. If you aren’t able to turn your iPad and desktop mode you can turn the iPad horizontal and use the page similarly that way.
A related common question answered… How Often Should I Shut Down my MacBook?
How can I turn my iPad into a computer for free
You can turn your iPad to a computer for free by simply using a stand and another external wireless Bluetooth keyboard that is compatible with the iPad.
In most cases you’ll still need an extra wireless mouse or trackpad if you’re looking to use it like you would a desktop or laptop.
So, if you have these items laying around you’ll be able to turn your iPad into a laptop or MacBook for free.
If you’re looking to draw and are considering different options you can choose between iPad vs Wacom and see which is better for yourself.
Can the iPad pro replace my Macbook Pro?
The iPad Pro will only be able to replace your MacBook if you add a keyboard and a mouse as well as a stand. Even so, the iPad won’t have the same power and advanced capabilities that a MacBook does, but it will be quite similar (more comparable to an iPhone).
This means that you won’t be able to run a Vance applications that engineers, graphic designers, professionals in advance CPU intensive software and apps.
Related: 7 Best Gaming Laptops for Graphic Design
Does iPad have desktop mode
Yes, google chrome has a desktop mode by request that you can use on your iPad to make it operate and feel like a desktop. You’ll need to add “request as a desktop” mode on iPad.
In this post, I covered how to transform & turn your iPad into a laptop or desktop computer by utilizing a few key tablet accessories that are often overlooked. Not only is it very possible, but now that Apple’s iPadOS has introduced its own chip (M1) and the many other added features that make it nearly as powerful as a laptop, making your ipad work similar to a computer is easily accomplished.
Although there are Apple fanatics who believe that iPads don’t have what it takes to replace laptops, there are examples by experts that I’ve provided in this post that prove that turning an iPad into a Macbook is more than doable.