I survived using my iPad Pro as my primary desktop for a day (most)

a day with my ipad

Apps installed on my iPad for my productive workday.

How you use technology is a very personal thing. That’s especially true for whatever device you use as your primary computing environment. The tools, resources, and capabilities I need to do my job will be different from what you need, because we are different people with different jobs and workloads.

I want you to keep this fact in mind when I tell you about the day last week when I used it iPad Pro 2021 as my main desktop. What works (and especially what doesn’t) for me will be different from what you may experience. But this story can be instructive, because you’ll be able to better understand what it’s like and what you may (or may not) like.

Also: iPad Pro M1 (2021) vs iPad Pro M2 (2022): Is it worth the upgrade?

It all started because the person who was going to be my daily driver, My new Mac Studio, has just come from Apple. Although I have a very busy day ahead of me to write, I have decided to move the content of MacBook Air M1 to Mac Studio, because I want new durability as soon as possible.

I made the mistake of thinking that I could continue using my MacBook Air while the data was transferred to the new machine. The last migration I made was 15 months ago and I guess I don’t have a perfect memory of how it worked. Now that I think about it, of course both machines won’t be available for any other work as both machines are sharing low level snapshots and any usage of either machine is potentially corrupting the integrity of the snapshot.

Also: I bought a Mac Studio: Here are the specs I chose and why

At this point, I can stop the transfer and come back later. If I don’t write enough pages that day, I’ll fall too far behind the next day and possibly miss the deadline. I’m not when miss the deadline.

Connect iPad

But I’m also curious and a bit stubborn. Sitting right next to my MacBook Air on my desk is my iPad Pro. It’s always there in case I need it sketch notes or diagrams with Apple Pencil. I do that a lot as part of the planning and resource processes for projects.

Also: How to take notes on your iPad with Apple Pencil

But I write using a Westinghouse 32 inch monitoran older version of Logitech K380 keyboardand Logitech MX Master 3″ Mouse. For a moment, I thought of digging one of the Old 2012 Mac mini out of the closet, but they’re outdated and using them won’t be as enjoyable as trying to use my iPad.

Setup was proven almost instantly. My monitor’s HDMI output is connected to my monitor’s HDMI input CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt Dock. That’s how I put USB 3 and HDMI functionality into my MacBook Air. I just pulled my MacBook Air out of the dock and plugged in the same Thunderbolt 3 cable from the dock into my iPad Pro and — by miracle — the iPad Pro’s home screen UI was displayed on the big screen.

Link one of the three Bluetooth channels available on both keyboard and mouse to iPad by simply pressing the buttons at the bottom of the input device and selecting them from the Bluetooth interface in the Settings app.

All told, the connection took less than five minutes and I had a full-size monitor, keyboard, and even mouse pointer. So far, it’s cake.

Complete the work

My day job involves a lot of writing and some spreadsheet work. I don’t have any plans to code or maintain websites, so I’m not worried about setting up local sites by debugging. That said, the iPad has some nice text editing and FTP apps, so basic website maintenance shouldn’t be too difficult.

I also didn’t have any video editing work that day. The iPad actually has some pretty excellent video editing tools in it LumaFusion. There is also a solid DaVinci Resolve Deployment to iPad. I make all my edits in Final Cut Pro and confusingly, especially since the iPad has the same M1 processor as the MacBook Air I’m using, there’s no Final Cut Pro for iPad. Go picture.

For my scheduled work of the day, I need the following apps:

Concept: This is where I write most of my ZDNET articles. I don’t notice any changes in it compared to the Mac app.

Review: The Notion App: Why (and How) I Rely On This Powerful Productivity Tool

Google Docs: Writing to my clients to the deadline was fine — until I created a board. Creating a table is easy, but I can’t find an option to convert it back to text. I tried cutting and pasting the cells, it works. However, in the end, since I had a very large table that I wanted to convert back to text, I did it on my Mac after I encountered it again.

Gmail: Gmail works fine. I don’t like how it always presents the body of the message in the left pane, but I got my job done without much problem.

Google Calendar: Likewise, Google Calendar works fine. The UI is a bit different, but nothing stands in the way of me getting things done.

slow: I was able to stay in touch with work. Slack works the way Slack has always worked.

Also: How to add a to-do list to Slack

YouTube: I love watching how-to videos when I need a break from writing. Woodworking good 10-15 minutes or 3D printing video Can serve as a great palate cleanser between writing sessions. YouTube on the big screen powered by iPad is still YouTube. Also, my iPad Pro has great speakers, so it’s a pleasant experience.

Chrome browser: The experience is not as enjoyable as Chrome. I have the same complaints about Chrome on iPad as I complain about Safari on Mac: most of the extensions I use are not available. You don’t realize how much you depend on some simple productivity tools until you spend a day without them. Definitely not a deal killer, but the added friction to my workflow is noticeable. I also find that Chrome doesn’t seem to let me set the page zoom on a page-by-page or page-by-page basis, which is a bit annoying.

Mine password manager: It doesn’t work well on iPad at all. Worse, while Handoff works like a dream between my phone and my Mac, Handoff between iPhone and iPad is inconsistent. So when I try to copy something on my phone and paste it into my iPad, it’s a gamble whether it works or not. Those very long passwords take quite a while to type letter by letter.

Excel: Big thanks to Microsoft for Excel on iPad. The experience is virtually identical to that of the Mac, and my business meetings with Excel went completely smoothly.

Railway file: DS File is a file management interface for Synology servers. I was frustrated because I couldn’t get it to work. I’m sure with some investigation I will find the answer. But that day I didn’t have time.

Finally two iPadOS notes. I found the mouse interface surprisingly intuitive and easy. The only complication is that I can’t seem to use the iPad Task Manager to close the app. I tried the upward drag and swipe motion suggested by Apple and it didn’t work.

Also: How to use iPadOS Stage Manager 16: 5 tips to transform your iPad experience

Second, I chose not to use the Stage Manager. I needed all the screen real estate I could get, and the toolbar at the bottom of the screen did a great job for me. Honestly, I didn’t expect to use Stage Manager much, if at all, on an iPad or Mac.

Key point

Obviously the iPad can act as a viable desktop, if somewhat limited — but only if your workload is moderate. For my text-oriented day, I switched to an iPad and was able to get my work done in no more than 10-15 minutes to set up.

In the title of this article, I said that I most of Survive the day with my iPad. That’s because if I need to edit a Final Cut video, I’m out of luck, unless I want to switch to a new video editor. Likewise, if I need to code with symbolic debugging and virtual machines, the iPad won’t get me very far, at least with the tools I use every day.

Also: How to use iPad Pro to power your home office

I’m disappointed that Chrome is still an underpowered app, as is the mobile implementation of Google Docs. However, despite those limitations, I had a productive day in the iPad environment and completed it on time.

That’s what really matters, and because of that, the iPad was born.

Do you use your iPad for productivity instead of a more traditional desktop? What is your favorite iPad app? Have you ever tried to replace your desktop or laptop with another iPad or tablet? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my daily project updates on social media. Remember to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtzon Facebook at Instagram at on YouTube at


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