iPad - External Monitor Support Quirks
Published January 23, 2023
I'm so thrilled to have the iPad external monitor support that came with iOS 16.2. I had been waiting for this update for quite some time. Every time there was a release my biggest hope was to have external monitor support. I'm not talking about mirroring the iPad but actually being able to use the iPad and external monitor simultaneously, each having different apps open. It takes multitasking to a new level.
Well, it's finally here and I've got good things to say about it and confusing things to say about it. The more I use it, I’m sure I’ll discover more good and quirky things about the external monitor support, but in the meanwhile, I’m doing a brain dump. This post is all about my initial experiences with this long-awaited feature.
Invoking the External Monitor Display
One of the biggest issues I had was actually invoking the external display. I’m not talking about mirroring my iPad, but actually working on several apps at a time on the external display. Every time I connected the iPad to my external monitor, it seemed to mirror the iPad screen. Ugh! What a disappointment! I looked through settings trying to figure out how to get it to do what I wanted but was stumped as to how to get it done.
Finally, I came across a video where the person was just as frustrated as I was. Unfortunately, I didn’t save the link to the video and can’t seem to find it now (bummer).
In essence, you go into Settings then Display & Brightness, and tap on Arrangement.
That will open the Arrangement screen and all you need to do is disable the Mirroring option. That will turn Stage Manager on.
BTW, once you’re in the Stage Manager mode, the Display & Brightness screen menu options change as shown below:
A Few Stage Manager Quirks
Screen Shots: If you enable Stage Manager on the iPad, the ability to take a screenshot by swiping up from the lower left corner is disabled. You can, however, take a screenshot by using Shift+Alt+3.
Taking a screenshot from the external monitor will give you a screen capture of both screens. One from the external monitor and another from the iPad. However, taking a screenshot from the iPad will only capture what’s on the iPads screen.
The Mouse: You must use a mouse with an external display (I'm using the Magic Trackpad - affiliate link). The funny thing about that is if you scroll too far down on the external screen display, the mouse leaves the external monitor and appears at the top of the iPad screen. To get it back, you must scroll to the top of the iPad screen and navigate left or right to bring it back to the external display. The mouse always enters the external display from the bottom and leaves the iPad from the top. It took me a minute to get used to that.
Sound: The audio comes from the external display. That's unfortunate because the iPad has pretty good speakers. Fortunately, I have a selection of headsets from my days of using voice recognition software. I chose a headset that has a 3.5mm input and plugged it into the external monitor for sound.
Apple and Google - Strange Bedfellows
I use Google Docs as my word processor. I tried using Apple's Pages word processing app, but the red squiggly underlines got to be too much for me.
My screen preference, when writing, is to use the dark theme, black background with white text. This color combo works perfectly on the iPad. Whenever I needed to print, the document printed black text on white paper. Not so from the external monitor.
Using a Google Docs document created on the iPad with the dark theme looks very different on the external monitor. On the external monitor, I get a black background with black text. The first time I saw that I thought my document got corrupted and lost everything I had written. Not the case, thankfully.
I had to select the text and change the font color to white. That made the document visible for me to edit. However, when I attempted to print…yep, you guessed it. I had to change the font color back to black or else I’d print white text on a white sheet of paper.
Fortunately, the print preview window gives me a heads-up that I need to change the font color. It’s not a big problem...just quirky.
External Monitor - Google Docs Freeze
And then there’s the freezing. Many times when writing or editing a Google Docs document on the external monitor it sits there like a deer in headlights. To resolve the issue, I send the document to the iPad to continue editing. Depending on the document and where I am in the editing process, I sometimes send the document back to the larger external monitor and things work just fine...for a while.
All in all, I’m happy to have the external monitor feature. I think it’s in its infancy and has a lot of growing up to do. However, until it grows up, I’ll work with the hiccups, deer in the headlights, and tantrums. I’m sure things will improve with the next iOS update.
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Last Modified: 3 February 2023
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