Astro HQ

Astropad as only monitor with Mac Mini

I am wondering if anyone has tried hooking up their iPad to their desktop Mac without having any other monitor connected. Will the iPad act as a sole monitor in this way, or does the Mac absolutely have to have monitor hooked up in order for Astropad to mirror the desktop onto the iPad? I am thinking about getting a 2012 Mac mini to leave at my work place, that way when I am at work, I can connect to it via Astropad if I need more horsepower than my iPad Pro can provide for my work.


I would be interested in that too, but I would have second thoughts about a 2012 Mac Mini. If you want to get the best from the latest software then it might be best I would think to buy a machine currently available new at that time. Astropad likes to keep up to date too and you might find using an older one a bit clunky. I think Apple is about to update the Mac Mini in September and so new Mac Minis available now will be cheaper soon.

I have 2 x Mac Mini boxes but only the 2012 one works with Astropad. One gliche I find is that I need the monitor when using Sketchbook Pro because I have to use menu doesn’t work with Astropad on the ipad mini I’m also using. I doubt the idea is feasible but then I’m not up to speed on the tech side.

The reason I am looking at a 2012 instead of a newer model, is that you could get a quad core processor in the 2012 models, but now the most you can get is a dual core.

I am unsure if you can use an iPad with Astropad as an only display, since it just mirrors an existing display instead of the Mac recognizing it as its own monitor. And the only Mac I currently own is a 2012 non retina MacBook Pro, so it isn’t something I can test.

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I don’t know if this will help, my mac mini is passe, and doesnt update anymore, but on my desktop using Switchrez, I don’t mirror. I suspect with a newer mini mac, the options would be the same.
I have a Cintiq, which I disable in the SR prefs. It’s better for me if I don’t mirror.
The Switchrez reccomendation came from another poster, but I’m going to rec it for anyone with an iPad Pro, you can really make the most of the tablet space. It allows more control than simply changing the rez screen.

Since the desktop has it’s own monitor. I don’t know if this is helping you.
Now you’ve made me curuois to try. Looking aroubd on the net, it seems others have done this, and it’s possible.

Love this idea! Try checking out the app DuetDisplay for your ipad. If I remember correctly, I was able to change the settings to have my ipad as the only monitor with my old apple tower. it was pretty cool!
Let me know if it works with astropad as well.

According to Astropad support, it is not currently possible to use an iPad as the only monitor with a desktop Mac, as it needs a monitor plugged in for it to mirror.

MacBooks that don’t have a monitor connected via a Thunderbolt/HDMI connector will just go to sleep if you close the lid.

Will a Mac Mini run without a monitor attached?

Regardless, the Astropad devs have talked before about how Astropad works, and it doesn’t pretend to be a monitor for various technical reasons. So I doubt it would work unless you have 2 iPads, set up one with Duet Display, and then use the other for Astropad to mirror that display.

Even so, that would be really slow. Plus monitors are cheap as chips these days. You can get a 17" monitor with 1280 x 1024 resolution for $45 on NewEgg if you just need a cheap screen to mirror.

Yeah, the price of a monitor isn’t the issue. The general idea was to have just the little Mac mini that I could keep at work, and be able to connect to it using the iPad Pro as needed. And the Mac mini with no monitor would take up next to no space. However, as of now it seems unable to do what I am looking for. So a Macbook Pro is probably the next best thing.

If you’re handy with electronics (don’t blame me if you fry something expensive) you might be able to make a VGA “Dummy Plug”. Look it up on Google. Basically you add some resistors to a VGA adapter to make the computer think there’s a monitor plugged in.

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You could also consider one of these:

Oh now that looks interesting. Thanks!

Hi @Yuurei ,

I do this exact thing now, the Mac mini sits away in a cabinet and I grab a keyboard and mouse and my iPad Pro and work completely wirelessly on my dining table when I need to.

I feel it works very well except for pixelation issues which I am willing to live with for now (until they work on the performance). I prefer wireless over using duet display, but bear in mind you’ll need to charge sometimes!

The mac minis graphics card is not active until something is plugged into it, you can either connect to your tv or use a display emulator in the hdmi socket.

I’m using switchresx to get the resolution exactly half that of the iPad pros display for extra sharpness.

See: Perfect 1:1 Ratio FullScreen Res on iPad Pro

Also astropad have confirmed they are working on enabling the iPad Pro keyboard in the app so you can switch between iOS and macOS apps and still type with the same.

Thanks for all the replies everyone! I ended up getting a 15 inch Macbook Pro Retina. I am still able to use it in the way I described, by just using a program that disables lid sleep, so I can close the Macbook and put it off to the side, and be able to move freely while using the iPad as the only monitor. This set up is amazing. :smiley:


Cool. Does the macbook get too hot, or is it manageable? The fans are in the slit between the monitor and the body right? That’s why I’m asking.

And which apps do you use? To get an idea how much this setup can handle before it gets too hot.