Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (2023)

To start using Raspberry Pi, you will need many accessories to make it work properly. The screen is probably the most expensive accessory if you’re starting from scratch.
If you have an iPad at home, you may wonder if there is a way to connect both and use the iPad as your Raspberry Pi monitor.
You’re at the right spot, there are several solutions, and I’ll show you the easiest one today!

The Raspberry Pi can be connected to an iPad to use it as an external monitor. A wireless solution is to use an app like VNC to remotely control the Pi. No computer is required, everything can be set up from the iPad.

I will introduce other solutions at the end of this tutorial. But first, I’ll show you how to use this method. You can do almost everything from the iPad, so if you only have a Raspberry Pi and an iPad, you can set this up easily.
If you have an Android smartphone or tablet, I recommend checking this article instead.

By the way, if you don’t have a budget to afford a course for now (if you just got your Raspberry Pi stuff, I completely understand), you can join Skillshare for a free 14-day trial. It includes courses from the best teachers in many categories, including IT (Linux, programming, …) and Raspberry Pi. I highly recommend getting this offer now so that you can already learn a bunch of things in the next fortnight. I’m a fan of their services personally 🙂

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Raspberry Pi Installation

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I’ll start with the Raspberry Pi installation, including a few tips to do most of the steps from the iPad.
Obviously, if your Raspberry Pi is already installed, you can skip this part and go directly to the iPad connection.

Prerequisites

We’ll use the Wi-Fi to connect the iPad and the Raspberry Pi, so you don’t need anything special for this installation, but as a reminder here is what I’m using:

  • A Raspberry Pi 4 4GB: Any Raspberry Pi model should be ok, this is just the one I’m using, and it’s perfect for desktop usage.
  • A decent SD card: I’m using the SanDisk Extreme Pro for better performance, but you don’t need anything fancy here. Just avoid something too small (32 GB is fine).
    If you are interested in performance comparison, you can check my benchmark of seven popular SD cards here.
  • The Flirc case: Not mandatory at all, but it’s what I’m currently using (you can read my review of the Flirc Case here)
  • An iPad: I’m not really an Apple fanboy, but for a tablet, I still prefer the iPad over Android alternatives. And obviously, you need one because that the goal of this tutorial 🙂
    Any model will be fine, I’m using this one currently, it’s the classic model.

A computer is not mandatory but will be useful, especially if you need to prepare a new SD card.
I’ll use the iPad directly for all the steps, but if you have a computer, feel free to use it, it should be more comfortable.

Install Raspberry Pi OS

The first step is to install an operating system on your Raspberry Pi.
Almost any distribution should be ok, as we’ll use a popular app you can install it on any system. But for this tutorial, I’ll show you how to do this with Raspberry Pi OS.

(Video) Raspberry Pi: Use an iPad as your monitor - Step-by-step tutorial on the iPad

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If you don’t have a computer this is the most complicated step. As you probably know, we generally download the Raspberry Pi image and flash it on a SD card to install the system. This is not possible if you don’t have a computer.

The first solution will be to borrow a computer from a friend at work/school and flash your SD card by following the standard procedure from here.
But I have another alternative for you if that’s not possible. You can also use an Android phone and create your SD card on it.

This video shows you how to do this:

With a computer

If you have a computer you can follow these steps:

  • Download the Raspberry Pi OS image from the official website
  • Download and install Balena Etcher
    You can also use Raspberry Pi Imager, it’s the same thing.
  • Flash the SD card by using Etcher
  • That’s it 🙂

If you need detailed instructions to do this, you can check out my full guide here on how to install Raspberry Pi OS Desktop.

Enable SSH

Before going further, we’ll configure the system to start SSH directly on the first boot. This way we can access the Raspberry Pi remotely and continue this tutorial.

  • Insert the SD card in your computer again (Etcher will eject it automatically)
  • Go to the SD card files with your file explorer app
    On Windows, you should have a new disk, maybe something like E:
    If you are using an Android phone, you can also browse the files on the SD card
  • Create a new file named “ssh” in the root folder
    Be careful if you are on Windows, your system is not showing the file extension by default, and we don’t want any extension.
    You have to check the box “File name extensions” in the “View” tab to see it
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (1)
  • That’s it, you can safely eject the SD card and insert into in your Raspberry Pi to boot your system.
    This file will tell Raspberry Pi OS to automatically start SSH on boot so that we can directly connect to it.

If you want more details about this, or if you need to use a Wi-Fi connection on the Raspberry Pi, you can check this tutorial on the topic.

Find your Raspberry Pi IP address

After a few minutes, your Raspberry Pi should have completed its first boot. Before accessing it remotely, we need to find its IP address.

Most networks are using a DHCP server to allocate IP addresses, so you might get a different one each time.
There are many ways to find the Raspberry Pi IP Address, but today we’ll try to do it on the iPad.

(Video) Mobile Raspberry Pi with ANY iPad. No USB-C needed.

  • Open the App Store on your iPad
  • Look for “iNet” in the search engine and install the free “iNet – Network scanner” app
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (2)
    I have tested a few of these apps, and even if this one is not optimized for iPad, it was the best for me.
  • Once installed, open the app and start a network scan
    The app doesn’t need your location, so you can decline the permission request.
  • You’ll get something like this:
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (3)
    I have several Raspberry Pi on my network, but the one I’m interested in right now is 192.168.222.31.
    Find your Raspberry Pi in the list and note the IP address, you’ll need it later.

Raspberry Pi OS configuration

We are almost done with the Raspberry Pi OS part.
We’ll use VNC to connect the iPad to the Raspberry Pi desktop.
This will allow you to see the entire Raspberry Pi screen from the iPad and control it.

VNC is not enabled by default, and we need to set the access password before using it.
We’ll configure this with SSH:

  • If you want to use your iPad for this, you can install either install an SSH app like Termius or WebSSH. I’m using PiHelper, which is an app dedicated to the Raspberry Pi.
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (4)
  • Once installed, open it and add a new connection:
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (5)
    The default password for “pi” is “raspberry”.
  • You should see your Raspberry Pi in the list, with nice graphs showing the CPU, memory and disk usage:
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (6)
  • Click on it to see more details, and then click on the “Term” button at the top of the screen to access SSH.
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (7)
  • From there, install TightVNC with:
    sudo apt install tightvncserver
    It will remove the default VNC server and install this one.
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (8)
  • Once you are done, do this to set the password:
    tightvncserver
    Choose a password and enter it twice

Now, the Raspberry Pi is ready to use, we just need to install VNC on the iPad.
Obviously, you can do the same thing on your computer by using “Putty” or any other SSH client.

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You may also like:

  • 25 awesome Raspberry Pi project ideas at home
  • 15 best operating systems for Raspberry Pi (with pictures)
  • My book: Master your Raspberry Pi in 30 days

Use your iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor

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Now that everything is ready on the Raspberry Pi, the last step is to install a VNC Viewer app on the iPad:

  • Back in the App Store, look for VNC in the search engine
  • Install “VNC Viewer – Remote desktop”
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (9)
  • Open it and add a new connection by click the “+” symbol in the top right of the screen:
    Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (10)
    Don’t forget to add the port after the IP address. It should be :1 by default, or you can check what the “tightvncserver” command displayed.
    You don’t need to sign in to use VNC.
  • Click on the icon to start the connection
  • Accept the unencrypted connection warning by clicking on “Connect”
  • Enter your password
    You can save it if you want.
  • You should see the Raspberry Pi desktop screen on your iPad
Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (11)

You might need to adjust the zoom (with two fingers) if the display doesn’t fit perfectly (mine was too zoomed in at the first connection).
If it is working pretty well, and the display quality is good, you can do almost anything with it. Mouse control may not come naturally, you might need a few minutes to handle it correctly.

(Video) Turn your iPad into a raspberry pi...great for RigPi users!

You can move the VNC menu wherever you want. By default, it’s in the top-left corner, exactly on the Raspberry Pi main menu, so not the best location. Touch it and keep it pressed to move it to another spot.

Onscreen virtual keyboard

If you really want to use your iPad as a monitor, you will need a keyboard. There are two ways to do this.

The first way is to use the VNC keyboard, which you can access in the “…” menu we moved previously.
It’s the most natural way to do this, as it’ll use your iPad keyboard and add a few other features (like the keys shortcuts you can see on top).

Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (12)

It works pretty well, but it takes up too much space on the screen, and the Raspberry Pi display will not auto-resize to fit the first half of the iPad screen, so it’s helpful, but not perfect.

You can also use a virtual keyboard, directly on the Raspberry Pi OS (you can check this post to know how to install it).
This interface will be slightly better, but the VNC mouse make it difficult to use.

Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (13)

My thoughts about this solution

As you might already understand by reading the previous steps, using an iPad is a good temporary solution if you are traveling and only have your iPad and Raspberry Pi.
You can use this solution to do something quickly on your Pi (maybe save your photos and upload them somewhere in the cloud), but it doesn’t seem to be a good solution for a daily usage.

The PiHelper app is excellent if you need something to control the Raspberry Pi and type a few commands.
The VNC app can be used to set up the Raspberry Pi at the beginning of a project if you don’t need the screen anymore after that, but not for desktop usage.

Other solutions

If you are looking for something better, here are a few other solutions you can try to improve your Raspberry Pi monitor without spending too much money (most of them are almost free).

iPad Pro

If you have an iPad Pro, you can try the same solution, but there is a better way. The iPad Pro comes with a USB-C port that you can plug into your Raspberry Pi to power it AND control it without a network connection.

So, it’s a little easier, as you don’t need a Wi-Fi network to use VNC and control your Raspberry Pi, but it’s not revolutionary.
I don’t have an iPad Pro to test this, but I don’t think the USB-C connection will help fix our issues.

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A pretty good solution will be to use the Magic Keyboard with it. The keyboard issue will be fixed (but not the mouse). For office use or for coding, the Magic Keyboard should be enough.

Raspberry Pi Screen

The best way to control a Raspberry Pi is to use a touch screen made for it, rather than using an iPad.
As you may already know, I’ve been using the SunFounder 7″ touch screen for a few months, and I’m loving it (you can read my review here).
It’s a bit small for desktop usage, but it’s much better than using an iPad .

Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (14)
(Video) Mobile Raspberry Pi 4 Setup with ANY iPad or iPhone

Android tablet

It’s not really an alternative, but if you don’t have an iPad, you can use your Android tablet (or phone) and do the same thing.

VNC is available on the Play Store.
I tested it and I had the same issue with the mouse. So, no better, no worse.

VNC alternatives

Another strategy can be to replace the VNC app with something else.
On Windows, RDP, NoMachine, and TeamViewer are good alternatives to VNC, and they are available on iPad/Android.

I tried with RDP, but I had the same issues as with VNC.
The only one that is working as I expected is NoMachine. It really clicks on the Raspberry Pi and not where the cursor is. So, the mouse is fixed with NoMachine, and you can really use the virtual keyboard, so it’s pretty good.

Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips (15)

I would say, VNC is the quickest solution to make it work almost immediately after the installation, if you don’t need a monitor all the time. But NoMachine is probably the best solution overall if you want decent comfort and regular desktop usage.

If you want to try this, you can check out my tutorial here, to know how to install it on your Raspberry Pi. Everything can be done in SSH, so you can continue with your iPad.
I also made a video about this option, you can find it on my YouTube channel here:

Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions to improve this!


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FAQs

Can you Use an iPad as a Raspberry Pi Monitor? | Raspberry tips? ›

The Raspberry Pi can be connected to an iPad to use it as an external monitor. A wireless solution is to use an app like VNC to remotely control the Pi. No computer is required, everything can be set up from the iPad.

Can you use an iPad like a monitor? ›

With the appropriate cable or adapter, you can connect your iPad to a secondary display, like a computer display, TV, or projector, where you can view the iPad screen. To extend the workspace of your Mac by connecting it to your iPad, see Use iPad as a second display for your Mac.

Can I use my Iphone as a monitor for Raspberry Pi? ›

You can do so by ssh over usb. You need to plug the iphone into the raspberry pi via the lightning cable and turn USB Tethering on. For the first time, you need a monitor to be connected to the raspberry pi or use VNC/SSH in your home network to get the ip details for the interface between raspberry pi and the iphone.

How do I connect my Raspberry Pi 400 to my iPad? ›

Raspberry Pi 400 and an iPad - fantastic learning solution - YouTube

What can you use as a monitor for Raspberry Pi? ›

A TV or computer screen

The screen can be a TV or a computer monitor. If the screen has built-in speakers, Raspberry Pi is able to use these to play sound.

How do I turn my iPad into a monitor? ›

Turn Your Old iPad Into A Second Monitor - YouTube

Does iPad have HDMI input? ›

No, iPads does not support input via HDMI. This would have to be software based via USB or wifi. There are third party apps that offer this already.

Can you run a Raspberry Pi without a monitor? ›

So here's a guide which will help you to set up Raspberry Pi so that you can directly access the terminal or the Desktop via VNC over the network (WiFi or Ethernet) without the need for a monitor, keyboard or a mouse. This mode is called Headless mode for connecting to the Raspberry Pi.

Can I use my phone as a display for Raspberry Pi? ›

After installing the application on your phone, you have to connect the Raspberry Pi to Android via the video capture card and open the USB camera app. Then select a suitable resolution, and you can even make the display into full screen. While running this setup, the touch on the phone works perfectly fine.

How can I use my phone as a screen for my Raspberry Pi 4? ›

Use Your Android Phone Or Tablet As A Raspberry Pi 400 Screen!

How do I connect my Raspberry Pi to my iPad? ›

Raspberry Pi iPad Pro Setup Guide (2022) - YouTube

Will there be a Raspberry Pi 5? ›

0 and USB3. 0 ports, the Raspberry Pi 5 is likely to receive an upgrade for Bluetooth to v5. 2 for faster speeds and increased communication range. For added range, SMA connector options for attaching external antennas for WiFi and Bluetooth may also come in handy for production device integration.

How do you program a Raspberry Pi to an iPad? ›

Mobile Raspberry Pi Setup with iPad Pro - Coding, Productivity & More

Can I use my laptop as a Raspberry Pi monitor? ›

First off, to use a Windows laptop as a monitor for Raspberry Pi, you need an ethernet cable. You can then connect the Raspberry Pi to your Windows 10 laptop directly or to your router. I would recommend connecting to the laptop directly for a faster connection.

How do you make a Raspberry Pi monitor? ›

ModBros - DIY Raspberry Pi PC Monitoring Screen - YouTube

Can I run Raspberry Pi on my laptop? ›

You will find out how to install Raspberry Pi Desktop on a PC or Apple Mac to get the Raspberry Pi experience on your laptop or desktop computer. Running Raspberry Pi Desktop is a great way to make use of an old computer that's not capable of running the latest version of Windows or macOS.

Can I use an iPad as a monitor for windows? ›

After installing both the desktop and tablet apps, ensure the desktop app is running on your computer, connect your tablet to your computer with a USB cable, then launch the XDisplay app on your tablet. It will establish a connection to your computer, and a blank desktop will appear on your tablet.

Can I use iPad Pro as a monitor? ›

The iPad Pro's 12.9-inch display makes it perfect for adding a second monitor to your MacBook, iMac, or PC. You can watch a demo video of Duet Display in action on Youtube.

How do I use my tablet as a monitor? ›

Open the Android app launcher and tap Spacedesk in the list of apps. The Spacedesk app will show a list of computers on your local network. Tap the computer you want to use with your Android tablet. Wait for your Android tablet will connect to your Windows computer as a display.

How can I use my old iPad as a second monitor for free? ›

2 Free Ways to Use iPad as Second Monitor for PC
  1. Use Cable to connect iPad as Second Monitor with PC. Splashtop Wired XDisplay is one of the best free apps to use iPad as a second monitor for a Windows PC or Mac. ...
  2. Use Wi-Fi to connect iPad as Second Monitor with PC.
Jan 2, 2022

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