Did you know that your iOS device can become the perfect complement for your Mac desktop or notebook? Here we'll show you how.

For starters, your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, can be used as an additional screen. You won't get the same performance as you would with a physically connected monitor, but why not park your iTunes window on the iPad screen so that you've always got it accessible?

Or if you're researching online and making notes, use your main display for Safari and pop your word processor on the iPad to jot things down.

You can also use the iPad or iPhone as a controller for your Mac. First though, why not take advantage of all that storage?

Out of the box, you can't use your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch as plug-andplay external storage in the way you could with older iPods. But with a Mac app called Phone Disk, your iOS device will mount on your desktop when you connect it with a USB lead. Go to the Phone Disk website and click the Download link to try it out. Note that the full, single-user version costs £13.

Work through the installer and restart when it's done, and double-click the Phone Disk app in your Applications folder (for ease of use, go to System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items and add it to the list so that it loads automatically).

Now, every time you connect your iOS device to your Mac, it'll appear on your desktop, where you can drag files to it, like you would with a USB flash drive.

A word of warning: keep off the stuff that's already there, and drag your device to the Trash before unplugging it.

How to use your iPhone or iPad as a second screen

01. Get the Air Display app

step 1

There are various iPad apps for using the device as a second screen, but our favourite is Air Display (£5.99). Buy yourself a copy. While it's downloading, move back to your Mac and open up a web browser window - you'll need an accompanying bit of software on your Mac.

02. Download Mac software

step 2

Visit Avatron. Choose the edition of the software for your version of OS X and click it. Once it's downloaded, the installer file should appear on your screen. Double-click it and work through the steps to load the drivers. You'll need to restart when it's finished.

03. Connect the two

Step 3

With your Mac restarted, make sure it's on the same Wi-Fi network as your iPad. On the iPad, open Air Display. Back on the Mac, you'll see a new icon in the menu bar. Click it and select Open Air Display Preferences… Check it's set to On and click the Device drop-down.

04. Et voila

step 4

Click your iPad in the menu and you'll see both screens briefly go blue, before your desktop background appears on your iPad screen. Now think about where you're going to put your iPad in relation to your Mac. Put it in position and click Show All on your Mac screen.

05. Arrange the screens

step 5

In the System Preferences window that appears, click Displays. You'll see a window open on each screen - note that you can colour-calibrate your iPad's screen here, should you wish. On the Mac, click Arrangement. The iPad is the one without a white bar - drag to position.

06. Enjoy the space

step 6

Now drag your windows onto the iPad to use it as a second screen. Why not pop your iTunes or Mail windows there? Using Air Display, you can play Flash video on your iPad! Tap to move the mouse, or use two fingers to scroll. Note: sound will play through your Mac.

How to control your Mac from your device

control

As well as providing you with extra Mac storage and an additional display, your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch can be used as a controller for your Mac. On the iOS App Store, grab yourself a copy of Mobile Mouse Pro. There are separate versions for iPhone (£1.19) and iPad (£1.79).

You'll need the server software on your Mac too. Install it and make sure all your kit is connected to the same wireless network. Ensure the Mac app is running by looking for its icon in the menu bar - it should load automatically when you start up.

The Mobile Mouse system should work without you needing to go near any settings, but if you do need to fiddle with any, or want to password-protect your setup to stop pranksters messing with your Mac, select Server Settings in the Mobile Mouse menu.

On your portable device, open the app, tap the Settings cogs in the top corner and it'll look for nearby Macs - you should see yours listed (you can also alter the way the controller behaves in the Options tab).

Once connected, your device becomes a multi-touch trackpad and keyboard with which you can control your Mac. The iPad version even incorporates your Mac's Dock.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First published in MacFormat Issue 234

Liked this? Then check out The complete guide to AirPlay

Sign up for TechRadar's free Week in Tech newsletter
Get the best tech stories of the week, plus the most popular news and reviews delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up at http://www.techradar.com/register

Follow TechRadar on Twitter * Find us on Facebook