How to Use an iPad as a TrackPad


The iPad's large screen can make it an ideal computer trackpad for anyone who likes some freedom of movement while working, or for anyone with motor difficulties. There are several trackpad apps in the Apple App Store to choose from, ranging from free to several dollars in price. All of these apps have one thing in common: you need to install server software on your Windows computer that can communicate to the client app on the iPad.

  • Determine whether want to use Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to connect the iPad to your computer. To use Wi-Fi, both devices need to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. The iPad has Bluetooth built-in, as do most laptops today. Bluetooth has a range of about 30 feet. Wi-Fi has a range of a couple hundred feet, but the trackpad won't be useful if you can't see the computer screen.

  • Launch the "App Store" on the iPad and type "trackpad" in the search field. At the time of publication there are about three dozen apps to choose from. Tap the "iPhone Apps" button to see a few more options. Apps designed for the iPhone will work on the iPad as well, but they may not be as elegant since they were designed for a smaller screen.

  • Read the description carefully to see if the app supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or both. The description also tells you where to find the server software, which needs to be installed on your computer. Ensure the server software is supported by your operating system before purchasing an app. Many apps require their own server software to be installed. Other apps, like TouchPad by Edovia, can be used with a free third-party server software like TightVNC.

  • Download and install the server software on your computer. Detailed instructions should be available on the link provided in the app's description in the App Store. As an example, with Mobile Mouse, download the "Setup.exe" file and run it. This installs the software and places it in the Windows system tray. You can then test the software using Safari on the iPad through the manufacturer's website to make sure it works before purchasing the app.

  • Download and install the app from the App Store on the iPad. Connecting the app to the server software varies. In some cases, setup is automatic. In other apps, you need to manually connect with Bluetooth or manually enter the IP address and port number specified on the server software. Apps like Mobile Mouse also give you an option to create a password to prevent anyone else from accessing your computer through the app on the iPad.

  • Open the Settings option on the iPad app, often visible as a "Gear" icon near the top or bottom of the screen. Here, you can usually specify the app's sensitivity or specify unique gestures for performing specific functions like launching programs on the computer. Drag your finger across the iPad screen to start using the iPad as a computer trackpad.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some apps, like TouchPad by Edovia, don't require additional software to be installed on your computer if it uses Mac or Linux.

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  • Photo Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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