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iPad Bonus Screen

This was originally written in April 2022 for the Hemispheric Newsletter as part of One Prime Plus for the Hemispheric Views podcast.

I have been using a 24” iMac (M1) for a bit now and I think many people are somewhat surprised that I find a single 24” screen to be “enough space” for day-to-day computing. Having used much larger monitors historically, I suppose I am a bit in the surprised camp as well. Since my move to the iMac, there has only been one activity that left me wanting a more optimal setup for app windows. This is all related to video communications and working remotely 100% of the time.

When you work remotely, you have two general options for communication.

  1. Text-based. Slack, Teams, etc.
  2. Video-based. Zoom, WebEx, etc.

The video-based portion is where I felt things were lacking. When I have a Zoom window open with all the participant squares showing, I like it to be at the top of the screen as close to center as possible. This makes it so I am generally always looking at the person I am speaking with since that is the location of the camera on the iMac. Given you can only shrink Zoom so much in the vertical direction you are left with only around 2/3 of your screen left for content that you may need to reference while talking to people.

Enter, iPad bonus screen!

I have a 2018 13” iPad Pro that is not being used so why not put it to use!? We have already established that I want the camera to be as close to the participants as possible so placing a monitor to the right or left side is not optimal. Below the iMac is too far from the camera, so what is left? Bingo! On top!

Now you ask, how the heck do you put an iPad on top of your iMac? Balance it, magic, hopes and dreams? Those are all options, but I went with a slightly different approach; hardware!

Here is the shopping list to get this all going:

The Elgato mount is super sturdy and holds the iPad with no problem. There is no wobble at all. If the iPad is wobbling, the whole desk is wobbling, including the iMac, so no issues there. I definitely wanted this setup to look as sleek as possible, so the 180° USB-C cable is a great option so you don’t have a cable sticking way out the side.

I will say right now, using the stand I used is not the easiest way to go. You can get screen mounts with clamps that wrap around the device and then attach to the standard tripod mount (1/4-20) of the Elgato mount, but I really wanted the visual of it floating above the iMac. For this, I removed the foot of the iPad stand. Then I drilled and tapped a 1/4-20 thread into the upper portion of the magnetic mount, and attached that to the Elgato mount. It’s not super difficult, but definitely not tools that most people would just happen to have around. So really the mount part has some wiggle room based on what you are ok with from a construction standpoint.

iPad Bonus Screen Parts

Finally, the last, and easiest step, connecting it to your Mac via Sidecar. This is so easy now with the latest version of macOS. You can do it all from the menu bar. I am using the following settings to maximize screen availability.

macOS Display Options

Photo of iPad above my iMac