How To Use Your iPhone/iPad As A Second Monitor

Do you have an old or unused iPhone/iPad? If so, supercharge your mixing workflow by using it as a second monitor!

I incorporated this hack into my mixing rig a few months back, and found the additional screen real estate to be exceptionally handy. Here are a few ways I’ve benefited:

  • I can now leave my mix bus compressor open at all times. This helps me avoid over-compressing a mix, as I can keep a closer eye on the gain reduction meters.
  • I keep a VU meter (PSP’s TripleMeter) open constantly. This makes it easier to establish proper gain staging into my mix bus chain.
  • I can keep a spectrum analyzer visible at all times (I use Voxengo’s SPAN, an excellent free plugin). This helps me identify problem frequencies faster.
My second screen, featuring PSP's TripleMeter and the Sonnox Oxford Dynamics plugins.

A shot of my second screen, featuring PSP’s TripleMeter and the Sonnox Oxford Dynamics plugin.

Setting up your iPhone/iPad as a second monitor is a breeze, and it will work with both Mac and Windows computers.

What You’ll Need

  1. An iPhone or iPad
  2. A spare Lightning to USB cable (you’ll need to keep your iPhone/iPad plugged into your computer)
  3. The Duet Display app ($15.99 at the time of writing)

How To Set It Up

Step 1: Download Duet Display on your iPhone/iPad (available in the App Store).

Step 2: Download and install the Duet Display companion app on your Mac or PC. You’ll have to restart your computer after the installation.

Step 3: Launch Duet Display on your iPhone/iPad and plug it into your computer.

Step 4: Launch Duet Display on your computer.

You should now see an extension of your desktop on your iPhone/iPad’s screen. It’s that easy!

My studio, complete with a spare iPad as my second monitor

My mixing rig, featuring an iPad as a second monitor

Duet Display even supports touch-screen functionality, so you can adjust plugin parameters on the screen without using your mouse!

Using Your Second Monitor With Pro Tools

I find my second monitor to be the most helpful when I use it to keep a few plugins visible at all times during a mix. Here’s how to set this up:

First, drag a plugin onto your second monitor. Then turn off Target Mode by clicking the red button at the top right corner of the plugin window (see screenshot below). The plugin will now stay open until you close it manually.

Make sure Target Mode is turned off

Turn Target Mode off to make sure the plugin stays open

If you use a mix template, you can save this information for easy recall by taking advantage of a Pro Tools feature called Window Configurations. To do so, first open your mix template. Then, drag the plugins you’d like to keep visible over to your second monitor. Turn off Target Mode (see screenshot above). Then, save a new Window Configuration (Window >> Configurations >> New Configuration…).

Creating a new Window Configuration

Creating a new Window Configuration

Now, whenever you import your mix template into a new session, just make sure “Window Configurations” is checked at the bottom of the Import Session Data window (see screenshot below).

Make sure "Window Configurations" is selected when importing your mix template into a new session

Make sure “Window Configurations” is selected when importing your mix template

After importing your mix template, go to Window >> Configurations, and select the configuration you saved. The appropriate plugins should now appear on your second monitor!

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hope you find your extra screen real estate useful!