Quick Look: iDisplay for iPad

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*** Warning: This post is being written while deeply frustrated and outright pissed off at how much time I’ve wasted this morning with this app – so take it with as many grains of salt as needed.

iDisplay for iPad sounded like a nice idea – a neat way to display apps running on my MacBook over on the iPad’s screen.  A great place to put Twitter, an IM client, or whatever else seemed handy at different times.

Unfortunately, my experience with the app has been somewhere south of horrendous and it has been removed from my iPad and my MacBook Pro.

iDisplay requires that you use a (free) desktop companion app on your Mac (no Windows version as yet – count yourselves lucky) in order to work.  That’s pretty standard stuff – so I downloaded and installed the desktop app.  Its setup instructions offered a warning about making sure you uncheck the ‘Mirror Displays’ checkbox under System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement before doing the (required) restart of the Mac when the app’s install was complete.  This was the first bad omen for me – as that checkbox did not appear anywhere for me – in fact the ‘Arrangement’ tab didn’t even appear for me.  Both of those only showed up *after* the restart.

What also showed up after the restart was this:

— My screen resolution had been changed – to a much lower setting that had all my app windows looking huge and dopey.

— My Dock was no longer able to be positioned on the right of my screen, where I have long preferred to have it.  Presumably this is because iDisplay by default wants you to shunt things over to the right edge of the screen to move them to be displayed on the iPad.

I have to say I hate when apps make changes like these without ever warning you beforehand – and hate it even more when they are changes that throw off your entire setup of your machine.  Changing the screen resolution buggered up the sizing and positioning of every single one of my apps I use daily.  And just resetting the resolution did not fix that – after several restarts, I am still dicking around with window sizes that are not back to being all the way right.

Oh, and even after uninstalling iDisplay (with AppDelete), I still have not managed to get my Dock to position on the right – no doubt thanks to some little ‘legacy’ bit of junk the app left within Display settings.

I did try out using iDisplay a little – in between bouts of trying to get my MacBook looking anywhere close to how I’ve had it looking for months.  This was also an utter Fail.  The app’s guidance on how to use it is minimal and not helpful.  To say that using it is awkward and clumsy would be an understatement.  My understanding was that dragging an app on my Mac towards the right edge of the screen would make it display on the iPad – instead this took my app to never-never land.  It basically disappeared from the Mac screen and did not appear on the iPad.  In trying to correct that and get the app back, I ended up dragging a desktop alias off the right edge as well, so it no longer showed up on the desktop.

Honestly, I only spent about 5 minutes with the app.  Your mileage with it may vary of course, and my problems may be down to user error and my own clumsiness with it.  But I’d still say it’s a very poor UI that makes it even possible to have such a frustrating, non-productive time with it.  The app basically did nothing I wanted it to, and also hid away a desktop icon that I ended up having to re-add via Finder.

After 5 minutes of frustration with the app itself, and an hour of restarts and re-jigging of system display due to iDisplay’s screw-up of settings, it was time to remove the app, with prejudice. Here’s another charming thing about it: when you go to run the uninstall app for it, per its Readme document, you get a prompt that in order to uninstall it you are required to install a new app.  WTF??? I almost thought that was a joke when I first saw it.  Went back and re-read the Readme doc, tried again – and seriously, to uninstall this app it wants me to install another app.  Unbelievable.  Given that iDisplay itself has already sabotaged my morning, there was no way I was going to install anything further related to it – so I just used AppDelete to remove it.

Here’s my quick summary of this app:

— Setup instructions are inaccurate.  Setup also makes changes that you are NOT asked or warned about and that can cause huge headaches.

— If you like having your Mac Dock positioned on the right, this app is not for you.

— Uninstall routine for this is ridiculous.

— This is easily the worst $5 I have spent in the iPhone or iPad App Store.

If you’d like to try your luck with this one, you can find it in the iPad App Store now, priced at $4.99.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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6 thoughts on “Quick Look: iDisplay for iPad”

  1. I agree the setup instructions are very misleading. The otion they want you to set before installation only appears if you already have an external monitor hooked up to your MacBook.

    The biggest issue I have – aside from the fact that the secondary srcreen is unusably slow once you do get it installed and configured is that the the system configuration always thinks there is a smaller iPad/iPhone monitor connected to the system even if the application is not running. That explains your whole not able to dock to the right side of the screen problem.

    I'm not sure if this is due to a driver they have to install in order for the setup to function and I have no idea if there is some way they could fix this, but ultimately it becomes really annoying because you can quite easily drop a window off into "the void" and have gone forever.

    I haven't yet tried to uninstall the application and after reading your assessment of the process I don't know if I will anytime soon. I guess for now I'll just have to live with the "screen that shall not exist" dead space on the side of my screen until the devs figure out a bteer way to make this work.

    In all right now I understand this is a 1.0 release and things will improve over time, but I find it unacceptable that they don't disclose the fact that you'll end up with an always on – but not really there – iPad sized screen when the app isn't running. I wish they would have also disclosed that the speed is very lacking (5 or less frames per second).

    Recommendation – not yet ready for primetime.

  2. I tried this out over the weekend. The instructions are misleading as Brandon said but not totally wrong. The changing of the screen resolutions typical when messing with multiple screens. I also agree that having the phantom screen is less than ideal and e speed is totally unusable right now. I did uninstall the driver and that got rid of the phAntom screen. Looks like something that might be great. I would actually like to use the iPad and its processor and just seamlessly move things between the Mac and the iPad. The killer app would be like Synergy allowing use of keyboard and mouse but adding a way to pull content between the two devices.

  3. John Finnan – I would appreciate it you could explain the process of uninstalling the driver. It's really ticking me off.

  4. After I install this on my Mac the native resolution is no longer in my list of choices. Is the anyway of getting it back? I have a MacBook pro with a optimal resolution size of 1280 x 800. The highest I can go now is 1000 something. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. I tried to use idisplay with windows 7. Bad choice. Idisplay messed up my computer.
    After choosing the wrong setting for multiple screens, my computer won’t start up again. I was able to start in save mode and remove idisplay, but still it won’t start. Maybe it’s the driver I had to install, which is causing the problem?
    Anyone else with experience in running this with windows7?

  6. Same thing happened here (on my Macbook Pro). The screen resolution was automatically changed. I got rid of the app with appdelete, but now the screen resolution is changed everytime I start my computer.

    Worse app ever bought and downloaded, I completely agree!!!! Completely unacceptable.

    Does anybody has a solution to make sure that the mac starts again with the correct resolution?

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