6 Best Apps for MacBook Collaboration With iPhone, iPad

By | December 12, 2021

One of the best accessories for your Mac is something you probably never thought of: an iPhone or iPad. iOS offers many apps that can enhance your macOS experience.

Here are six great apps that combine the power of your iPhone or iPad and Mac for a better experience during work and play.

Duet Show

Using a dual-screen monitor setup can help you be more productive at work. But there’s no need to go out and buy an expensive monitor. With Duet Display, you can quickly and easily turn your iPhone or iPad into a second touchscreen display for Mac.

Once you’ve downloaded the companion app on your Mac, start the iOS app on your device and you’re good to go. Unlike similar apps, you’ll need to connect your iPhone or iPad to your Mac with a Lightning cable. That will help provide the fastest and most stable connection.

You can interact with your Mac using gestures every iPhone user is familiar with, including two-finger scrolling and pan/zoom. For more control, you can add an interface like the Touch Bar to any iPad.

Duet offers two optional subscriptions to take advantage of. Artists should see Duet Pro. Using Apple Pencil and iPad Pro, this app offers pressure and sensitivity of tilt, hover, and palm rejection for a true tablet drawing experience.

Another option, Duet Air, allows using the app without being plugged into a Mac or even when you’re on a different wireless network.

Download: Duet Display for macOS (Free) | iOS ($10, subscription available)

Screen

If you’re looking for a full-featured way to control and interact with your Mac from your iPhone or iPad, Screen should be at the top of your list.

This app allows you to securely connect to your Mac anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Just download the free Mac app from the Screens site. Once connected, you can choose from touch or trackpad modes to control your computer remotely.

As another great option, the shortcuts toolbar allows quick access to important keys. Thanks to support for multi-display settings, you can choose one screen to work on or see all of them at once.

You can even play tech support for friends and family. They can download a special app for their Mac, and you can connect to their computer using Screen on your iPhone or iPad to troubleshoot problems or even install software updates.

An optional in-app purchase can provide a dark mode for the app, plus a mobile trackpad mode. That will allow you to use your iPhone or iPad as a trackpad to control other iOS devices using Screen.

Download: Screens for macOS (Free) | iOS ($20, in-app purchases available)

Chrome Remote Desktop

For a simple alternative to Screen, check out Chrome Remote Desktop. While it doesn’t offer many features, it’s free and allows you to remotely connect to your Mac.

As you can probably tell by the name, you’ll need to have Google Chrome installed on your Mac for the app to work. Once you’ve installed the Chrome extension, you’re good to go. Every computer you set up requires a PIN to connect. On your iOS device, you can log into the remote computer using that PIN.

For quick and easy access to your Mac, this app is hard to beat. But if you need to interact with your Mac for longer remote sessions, or want to use the keyboard, definitely consider upgrading to Screen.

Download: Chrome Remote Desktop for Chrome | iOS (Free)
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Keynote

Using Keynote on your iPhone or iPad is a great way to build a presentation. But the iOS app also has another important feature for Mac users. Instead of needing an external remote to control the slides, you can use your iPhone or iPad.

You need to do a bit of work first for things to work. Start the iOS app first. Then open the Mac version and go to Preferences > Remotes to enable the feature and info with your iOS device.

This remote function offers a number of features. It’s easy to pull up presenter notes and see the current or next slide combination. You can even annotate your presentation using a number of colored pens. To complete the package, there is even a virtual laser pointer to highlight important information.

Download: Keynote for macOS | iOS (Free)

BTT Remote Control

BTT Remote Control allows you to control your Mac and its apps from your iPhone or iPad, as long as they’re both on the same Wi-Fi network. Make sure BetterTouchTool is installed and running on your Mac first.

One of the best features of this tool is the ability to trigger keyboard shortcuts or predefined actions on the Mac. For example, a single touch on the app allows you to capture a screenshot or video of what’s happening on the Mac screen and start the editing process.

You can also assign icons to each customized action for easy access on your iPhone or iPad. The built-in trackpad in the app (which also supports multi-touch gestures) allows you to easily interact with your Mac.

The integrated file browser and launcher make it easy to browse and select files. In-app purchases unlock all the features of the iOS app, while the Mac app offers a 45-day free trial before needing to purchase a license.

Download: BetterTouchTool for macOS (Free trial, subscription required)
Download: BTT Remote Control for iOS (Free, premium version available)

iTunes Remote

The iTunes Remote app is useful for more than just controlling your Apple TV when you lose your Siri Remote under the couch cushion. As long as iTunes is open on your Mac, and Home Sharing is on, you can use the app to interact with your music library and even control the volume.

You can view music by artist and album and even search for specific tracks. It’s also easy to edit and create new playlists from your iPhone or iPad. Apple Music subscribers can also access the songs they have stored locally.

In addition to music, the More tab lets you access other iTunes content such as movies, TV shows, music videos, and podcasts.

Download: iTunes Remote for iOS (Free)

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