Ask LH: How Can I Use My iPad When I’m At My Computer?

Ask LH: How Can I Use My iPad When I’m At My Computer?

Dear Lifehacker, I use an iPad constantly while I am out of the office, but because everything I do with it syncs with my desktop computer, when I am at my desk, it just sits there. I have been searching for an app that will just give me information while it is in ‘desktop’ mode (connected to power).

What I would like is Twitter feed, Facebook updates, breaking news, email alerts, that type of thing. I have tried a couple of weather and ‘nightstand’ type apps, but none of them suit my needs. Can you help? Thanks, Deskbound

Dear Deskbound,

The lack of ‘widget’ options for iOS means you’ll probably have to choose a single function rather than having a combination (although the Notification Center could be one possibility). It’s easy to set up single-screen apps such as Twitter, but harder to have them auto-launch when connected without jailbreaking your iPad.

If you simply want to get some use out of your iPad while using your desktop, one alternate solution would be to set it up as a second monitor. There are several apps that make this easy to set up, including Air Display , Splashtop and iDisplay. You can then adjust your work space so that only Twitter/Facebook/etcetera appear on the iPad screen.

Do any readers have a multi-tasking idea of their own? Let Deskbound know in the comments section below.


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  • Status Board (from Panic) might be worth a look. It has piqued my interest but not enough to fork out the $10 required until they’ve ironed out a few more bugs.

  • Is there a good android app that detects when you’re plugged in and can do that? I didn’t think it was an option to do twitter feed, Facebook updates, breaking news, email alerts on the lock screen to any usable extent.

    • Try Tasker. It’ll do more than just detect a USB plugin. You can program it to do almost anything with a trigger. Best $5 I have ever spent.

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