I’m a big fan of maximizing my available workspace and here on Windows.AppStorm, I’ve looked at various tools that can be used to enhance virtual desktops and multiple monitor setups. Now I’d like to share another tool I’ve found that makes use of existing hardware you may own.
If you have an Android or iOS phone or tablet, you can use iDisplay to transform it into an extra monitor. The desktop software is free of charge and while the mobile apps do have price tag attached to them, they are a great deal cheaper than buying a new monitor of any size.
iDisplay is made up of two separate components – the desktop software and the mobile app. The program you need to install on your computer is available free of charge, while the Android app will cost you $4.99 and the iOS version is available for the same price.
Installing the Software
You can grab a free copy of the desktop version of iDisplay by paying a visit to the program web site and click the Windows link in the Get Start section. Save the file to your desktop and then double click the executable to start the installation.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary about the installation of the program so you can race through it in a couple of moments. The only thing you might want to double check is that the option to have the program start automatically with Windows is checked so that you do not need to remember to manually launch it.
When you are prompted to do so, restart Windows and you will be presented with a firewall warning – in order to use the app you will need to permit the requested firewall rule changes, and you can think about getting the app installed on your Android or iOS device.
iDisplay can be used when your phone or tablet is connect to your computer with a USB cable, or when it is connected to the same network as your PC. Launch the app on your device – I am working with the Android version of the app here, but the iOS version is very much the same – and iDisplay will perform a scan for available computer. Select your PC from the list, or click the ‘Connect via USB’ option if you prefer.
Depending on how you choose connect, you may need to permit the connection – just click the Always Allow button so you are not pestered by the same message time and time again. You may find that your screen flashes momentarily while a connection is established, but you will then see a portion of your desktop background on your phone or tablet screen.
Arranging Your Displays
If you have worked with multiple monitors you will know that Windows enables you to change the configuration of your display to match their position on your desktop. This means that if your main monitor is on the left and your secondary is to the right, you can tell Windows about their location so when you move your mouse off the right of your main monitor, it will reappear on the left of your second screen.
This can also be done with iDisplay although your phone or tablet will not appear in the Control Panel. Instead you need to right click the app’s icon in the notification areas of the taskbar and select Settings followed by ‘Display arrangement’.
You’ll now see a graphical representation of your monitor and phone or tablet – I’m working with two monitors and a phone which is why there are three displays shown. Drag and drop the pictures of the displays so they are in the correct positions relative to each other and then click Apply followed by OK.
That’s about all there is to it. You can now drag window onto your phone or tablet screen to free up space on your main monitor, and you can even interact with your computer taking advantage of the touchscreen capabilities of your device, and details of the options available to you can be seen by tapping your device’s screen with two fingers simultaneously – you can even pull up a keyboard if you want.
All you need to do now is to decide how you want to use iDisplay. If you are working with a tablet, you can use it to display full applications or web pages, but if you are working with the smaller screen of a phone, you might want to limit it to display a chat window. The ability to free up space on your main display is incredibly useful, and working with iDisplay is an excellent use for your Android or iOS device when you’re at your desk – this is especially true if you have an old phone that you are no longer using for anything else.
Let us know what you think in the comments below. Are there any other apps you use to interact with your phone or tablet from Windows?