This guy found a way to use Apple's Mac software on an iPad — and it works surprisingly well

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison
  • The YouTuber Jonathan Morrison has pulled off something iPad and Mac fans have been dying to see: a full version of macOS, Apple’s operating system for Mac computers, running on an iPad.
  • For this setup, Morrison used the 2018 Mac Mini to put macOS on a 2018 iPad Pro.
  • The Mac Mini powers the whole experience, and basically uses the iPad Pro as an external display – but all of the iPad-specific features still work, including the touchscreen, and even accessories like the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard.
  • It’s the best of both worlds; you have to see it to believe it.

For years, one of the biggest desires among iPad owners is that they wish it could run Mac software.

The iPad is an excellent device for doing things like watching movies or reading books, but a handful of limitations keep it from being a real work computer, mainly that it runs iOS instead of a more robust desktop operating system like Apple’s macOS.

Apple insists that iPads and Mac computers will always be separate devices and that we will never see desktop software on an iPad. Apple’s Craig Federighi, who leads software efforts for both Mac and iOS devices, told Wired earlier this year that he was “not into touchscreens” on PCs and doubts he will change his mind.

But thankfully there’s a way to experience macOS on an iPad, even without Apple’s blessing. The YouTuber Jonathan Morrison said he saw this unique setup “hit the internet this week” and, after trying it himself, filmed how well it works, for everyone to see. The iPad isn’t technically running MacOS in this setup, but with a near-instantaneous connection between the tablet and the Mac Mini, and the fact all of the iPad features still work, this may be the closest we ever get to seeing MacOS actually running on an iPad.

Here’s how Morrison made macOS run on an iPad Pro – and how you can do it too:


Morrison rigged up a 2018 iPad Pro to a 2018 Mac Mini to make this work.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

All of macOS — from the Finder to apps like Safari and Final Cut Pro — still works on the iPad Pro with this setup. And iPad-specific functions still work too, including the touchscreen and the Apple Pencil.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

It seems like magic, actually seeing a functioning version of macOS running on an iPad.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

It’s all made possible by the Luna Display, a tiny compact adaptor that turns your iPad into a secondary display. It was designed for MacBook Pros or iMacs, but it <a href=”https://lunadisplay.com/blogs/news/support-for-new-fall-2018-ipad-pros”target=”_blank”>works with the 2018 Mac Mini</a> too.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

The Luna Display, which costs $US80, has two variants: one that works with USB-C, and one that works with DisplayPort. It’s important to buy the right version. You need to use your computer’s native port, as this will not work with a dongle or adaptor. Also, this will work only on Macs, not PCs.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison


You can buy the Luna Display here »


Here’s what’s nice about this setup: If iOS on the iPad Pro isn’t cutting it for you, you can rig up your iPad Pro to your Mac Mini to use as your main external display, or as your left or right screen on a main external display.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

This also means you can finally use your iPad with a traditional keyboard, trackpad, or mouse.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

You can even use Apple’s own Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro, which gets its charge from the iPad itself and connects to the tablet magnetically. It’s incredible how both iPad and Mac functions all still work with this setup.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

What’s most surprising is the lack of noticeable lag. “It’s almost instantaneous,” Morrison said.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

Still, Morrison warned against buying an iPad Pro just to use it as a monitor for your Mac Mini. “If you happen to have both, then it makes sense, because the adaptor itself is relatively inexpensive,” he said.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

The main limitation of this setup is your WiFi connection. If you don’t have speedy WiFi, you may experience a poor and laggy connection between your Mac Mini and your iPad Pro, which sounds like a bad time. The Mac Mini and the iPad Pro must be connected to the same network for this to work.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

There are a few other drawbacks. Audio doesn’t come through the iPad Pro; it will still come through the Mac Mini. So you’ll probably want to connect your Mac Mini to external speakers, or headphones, or maybe even your HomePod, which Morrison said worked surprisingly well here.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

The other issue is that you need an external display to connect the two in the first place, because you’ll need a monitor to set everything up.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

In order for this to work, you’ll also need to use your Mac without a password, or be good at typing your password without seeing what you’re doing, because you won’t have an opportunity to see what you’re typing until your iPad is actually on. (This is because the iPad is acting as a display in this setup, not as your main computer.)

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

Still, Morrison said this setup “works way better than I ever could have imagined.” To prove his point, he showed Final Cut Pro, Apple’s high-end video software for Macs, running smoothly on his iPad Pro.

YouTube/Jonathan Morrison

While this setup has some obvious limitations, it gives you an idea of how well Mac software might work on an iPad, since this particular iPad Pro was running Mac software like Safari and Final Cut Pro using a traditional mouse and keyboard, though the touchscreen (and Apple Pencil) could still work too.

It’s incredible to see it all actually perform the way you’d want it to, with no apparent lag, even though this type of iPad ability isn’t officially sanctioned by Apple.

I’ve owned an iPad since the third-generation model, the first with a Retina display. I upgraded to the iPad Air when that was available, and I tried upgrading to the most recent iPad Pro, but I sadly returned it less than 24 hours later because I felt it wasn’t a good work computer for me.

I love the iPad and would love to see it succeed as a work computer – this setup gives me hope. With any luck, Apple will encourage more of these types of creative uses for the iPad in the future.


Check out Morrison’s full video to see this setup in action.

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