How to use iPad as a drawing tablet for Mac

In recent years, digital drawing has advanced significantly. High-quality drawing tablets and apps have made it possible to produce incredibly realistic and detailed drawings with few resources. However, there is still some disagreement regarding the ideal choice for digital drawing (an iPad or a drawing tablet), as well as whether you can use your iPad instead of a drawing tablet.

Not sure if you can use iPad as a drawing tablet on Mac? Let’s dig in and see how to do it.

Can I use an iPad as a drawing tablet for Mac?

The short answer is yes. With little effort, you can turn your iPad into a professional graphics station. Before we explain how to use an iPad as a drawing tablet, let’s briefly cover the difference between a traditional drawing tablet and an iPad.

The iPad is a versatile device that can be used to browse the Internet, send text messages, and play games. A graphics tablet, on the other hand, can only be used for drawing. As a result, a good graphics tablet provides a better drawing experience than an iPad.

The lack of a screen on the graphics tablet is another key distinction that requires linking it to a personal computer. If you have an iPad, you have the option to do the same or use it independently.

Also, you probably know that a graphics tablet, especially one from a more expensive brand, costs more than an iPad. Some cheap drawing tablets can be found in the same price range as an iPad, though they typically lack the performance of the iPad. If that’s the case, it seems more reasonable to use iPad as a drawing tablet for Mac.

However, keep in mind that the most realistic drawing experience is offered by drawing tablets, which is why they remain so highly regarded.

How to use the iPad as a drawing tablet

Set up your iPad so it can be used for drawing before letting your inner artist out. Connect Apple Pencil, install drawing apps, and connect your iPad to your Mac (optionally).

Connect Apple Pencil to an iPad

Getting the Apple Pencil to work with the iPad is pretty easy. If you have a first generation Apple Pencil, you need to connect it to your iPad and then pair it with Bluetooth. With a second-generation Apple Pencil, you put it in the magnetic connector instead of plugging it in. The rest of the steps are the same.

Install drawing apps

There are numerous excellent drawing apps for the iPad to maximize the quality of your artistic endeavors on the tablet, each providing a unique set of brushes and other tools to broaden your artistic horizons. Some of the most used iPad drawing apps are Procreate, Photoshop, Illustrator, Inspire Pro and many more. You have to try all of them to find the one that suits you best (or several). By the way, Adobe has recently updated the iPad versions of Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you want something different, try Tayasui Sketches. It is a beautiful and simple drawing app that works on both iOS and Mac. The best thing about the app is how easy it is to use. If you usually draw with an app like Photoshop or Procreate, the Tayasui Sketches interface will be a big change. It does not have brush panels or tool selectors. Instead, it has a list of traditional tools on the side of the screen. Each tool looks and feels like its real world counterpart. One of the best things about Tayasui Sketches is that while you draw and paint, you can listen to feedback. As you work on the canvas, each tool makes a different sound. The scratch of a pencil or the soft swish of a brush match the strokes you make on the screen.

If you are looking for more apps, not just for drawing, try PhotosRevive. The app colors your old black and white photos on its own. It uses a new type of artificial intelligence to add colors in a way that seems very real. Just scan or import your image and you’re done. The app will color it for you without you having to do anything. The best: you can use PhotosRevive on your iPad, iPhone and Mac.

Connect iPad to MacBook

Although not an essential step, you may want to draw on an iPad with Apple Pencil and mirror your content on a Mac. Apple provides several ways to do this.

For example, Continuity Sketch, which lets you use iPad separately to draw with an Apple Pencil or your finger, might be the fastest and most convenient option for inserting brief designs into a document. Selecting Add Sketch from the context menu of a Mac document will open a blank canvas on the user’s iPad, complete with standard markup tools.

With an Apple Pencil, you can draw with a variety of tools, including a pen, marker, pencil, eraser, and ruler, and the device will respond to your pressure and tilt. The drawing can be closed by tapping Done, and the image can be incorporated into the Mac document without having to save or send it separately.

Another Continuity feature known as Sidecar can be used in conjunction with a Mac painting software or graphics design app to allow for more complex iPad drawings.

This feature works with any iPad that supports Apple Pencil, from the cheaper 10.2-inch iPad to the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro with an XDR display. Full tilt and pressure sensitivity information is sent to the Mac, and screen updates appear on the iPad without delay. Best part: iPad can be placed wherever it’s easiest to draw, as long as it’s within Bluetooth range. This means that an artist can take their iPad to a sofa on the other side of the room and continue painting or drawing. This gives them the kind of freedom that allows their creativity to flow.

Just keep in mind that you need to have a 2016 or later MacBook Pro model, a 2018 or later MacBook Air model, or a late 2015 or later iMac model to be able to use the Sidecar feature. You also need an iPad Pro, a 3rd-generation iPad Air, a 5th-generation iPad Mini, or a regular iPad 6th-generation or later. You can find a list. See a complete list of hardware that is compatible with Sidecar.

This is how you enable the sidecar feature:

Using the AirPlay interface on a Mac is the easiest way to get to Sidecar. If you have an iPad that works with Sidecar, it will appear in the AirPlay list when you click the AirPlay icon at the top of the menu bar. This icon looks like a screen with an arrow.

From there, simply choose the iPad you want to connect to, and it will turn on and work as a second screen for your Mac.


In case your MacBook or iPad doesn’t support Sidecar feature, you can use Replica, the app that makes it easy to mirror your iPad screen to a bigger screen. Open Tech on your Mac and type ‘Replica’ in the search bar. From there, you can get the iOS app.

Final thoughts: should you get an iPad for drawing?

Whether you should get an iPad or a drawing tablet depends on your own tastes and the tasks you need to perform. In general, working on an iPad is great if you like to be mobile and draw directly on your screen. On the other hand, if you often work on your computer, a professional drawing tablet would be a great option.

Keep in mind that on the Apple iPad, you can do a lot more than just draw. With the many apps available, you can also use them to watch movies, play games, or just keep up with your email and social media.

Speaking of the apps we have mentioned in this article: Photos Revive, Tayasui Sketches, and Replica, they are all available on Tech. It is a platform that houses the best applications for your Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Let’s take a closer look at a couple of applications. For example, Dropshare is a perfect tool that helps you share password-protected download links to your creatives from iPad or Mac.