How to turn your iPad into an iMac | Cult of Mac

How to turn your iPad into an iMac


Make your iPad into an iMac with Elago's beautiful magnetic stand
Your iPad can also be a stylish iMac mini with this stand.
Photo: Elago

If you love your iPad, there’s no reason to buy a second computer. Add a few accessories and the tablet transforms into an iMac mini — a small desktop computer easily up to personal use.

I use an iPad as my primary computer, so I have some recommendations for items to take your tablet to the next level.

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Start with a solid iPad stand

Add a good stand to your iPad and you’re 90% of the way to it becoming a desktop.

Let me recommend the Elago Magnetic Stand for iPads ($110.99). Simply attach the included magnetic ring to your tablet, and the iPad will cling tightly to the stand. Or you can put the tablet into Elago’s Magnetic Folio Case ($26.99). Either way, once you’re done using the iPad as a mini iMac, it becomes a tablet again with nothing more than a twist and tug.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Elago is sincerely flattering the design of the 24-inch iMac’s built-in stand. The look is nearly identical, and there’s the same hinge allowing the iPad to swivel to point toward the user.

The stand comes in a range of colors: blue, dark gray, light gray and sand pink. Not surprisingly, Elago offers the Magnetic Folio Case in these same colors.

Time for a quality keyboard

No desktop computer is really complete without a keyboard. Sure, you can type on the tablet’s touchscreen, but you’ll be much more productive pounding away on physical keys.

I use the Logitech MX Mechanical Mini. There are no wires to deal with, and the keys are backlit. I gave this keyboard a very positive review. It’s a high-quality product, and at $149.49, is priced to match.

Alternatively, you could use the same Apple Magic Keyboard ($99) you’d use with an iMac. It works with your iPad, too. If you want something more affordable, consider the Logitech K380 at just $29.99.

But you’re not limited to these options. iPadOS supports virtually any Bluetooth keyboard, with no additional software required. Just pair one of them to your iPad and start typing.

Add a mouse, too

If you really want to make your iPad into an iMac mini, you’ll probably want a mouse to go with the keyboard. This isn’t a requirement — I used my iPad as a desktop without a mouse for many years. But a mouse is part of the full iMac experience.

I use the Zagg Pro Mouse because it works on a wide variety of surfaces, and lets me pair it with multiple computers. But this is a top-of-the-line model and costs $79.99. I reviewed it if you’d like to check that out.

Apple’s own Magic Mouse is another option, as is the Logitech MX Master 3S.

Of course, there are many cheaper possibilities. You can pair just about any Bluetooth mouse with an iPad.

Use a stylus instead?

A mouse is not your only input option. How about a stylus? The SwitchEasy EasyPencil Pro 4 ($69.99) can be used to tap precisely on your iPad screen, and comes with a range of different tips for general use, writing or drawing.

If you already own an Apple Pencil, your iMac-like setup can include Elago’s stand for this accessory. Put this beside your computer and the stylus will always be ready to grab.

An advantage of using an iPad as a desktop is that you can quickly turn it back into a tablet, where a stylus will prove even more useful.

Your iMac mini needs power, too

SwitchEasy PowerBuddy 30W Wall Charger With Cable Storage
This charger is better for iPad than Apple’s.
Photo: SwitchEasy

When using your iPad in a desktop setup, there’s no reason to not keep it plugged into a power socket all the time. That way, it’s always juiced up and ready for you to grab the tablet and go.

This sounds harsh, but the charger Apple ships with iPad is lame. There are so many better options.

That includes the SwitchEasy PowerBuddy 30W Wall Charger With Cable Storage ($29.99). As that mouthful of a name indicates, it can put out 30W through its USB-C port, which is near the maximum an iPad can take. And, unlike the Apple version, it includes both USB-C and USB-A charging ports. But what makes it stand out is the built-in cable organizer.

iPad to iMac: Think about it

In most situations, the best computer is the one you already own. An iPad takes care of your email, web browsing and social networking needs. There’s no reason to buy an iMac if all you want to do is those same things except on a desktop computer.

Just add the right accessories and you’re ready to go.

And with a quick tug, the iPad turns back into a tablet. Don’t try that with an iMac.


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