Frequently Asked Questions
Air Display 3


Air Display allows an assortment of devices (iOS devices, Android tablets, Macs, and Windows PCs) to be used as an additional display for a Mac computer. In the past, we supported Windows PCs as hosts for Air Display, but now only Mac hosts are supported.

Air Display 3 allows you to use up to four client devices as interactive screens for your Mac, either over USB cables or wirelessly.

Like a normal computer monitor, by default Air Display is set to function in Extended Desktop mode, which will have the device display behave just like an any other external screen once connected.

There is also the option to enable Mirror Mode, which will have the display device show the same content that is on the primary display.

Air Display works by using two different pieces of software, a Host and a Client, which allow your computer to communicate with your chosen display device.

The Host software runs in the background on your main computer, and the Client software runs on the device you wish to use as an extra screen.

The Host listens for Client connections over Wi-Fi or USB, and when you launch the Client app and tell the Host to make a connection, your computer treats that new screen the same as if you’d plugged in an extra monitor.

With Air Display 3, you run the Host on your Mac (the icon will launch into your menubar, near the clock in the top right of your screen) and the Client on the iDevice. Then plug the iDevice into the Mac to connect. It’s that simple. The iDevice will connect to your Mac automatically when both the Host and Client app are running and connected through the USB cable.

USB Connections

Air Display 3 allows up to four client devices to connect to your Mac host simultaneously.

Air Stylus Features Included

Air Display 3 allows your iOS device to be transformed into a seamless, pressure-sensitive drawing surface for your favorite Mac graphics programs.


In the past we supported Windows PCs as hosts for Air Display, but now, only Mac hosts are supported. We are not actively working on PC host support at this time.

Air Display 3 is compatible with Mac OS X 10.8 or later (excluding 10.13.4–10.13.6).

Note: In High Sierra versions 10.13.4 through 10.13.6, Apple broke support for virtual video drivers, including Air Display’s drivers. They fixed that in Mojave (macOS 10.14).

Air Display 3 will run on any iPhone or iPad running iOS 11 or later.

Air Display does not natively support connections with Apple TV.

You can, however, use Apple’s AirPlay to transmit the screen of an iOS device that is connected with Air Display to an AppleTV.

For more information about using AppleTV and AirPlay click here.

No. Air Display cannot broadcast an iOS or Android screen to a computer display.

Yes. Air Display can connect wirelessly as long as your computer and the display device are on the same network. It does not matter if the computer is using a wired connection versus a wireless connection. Air Display 3 can also communicate over your charging cable, if you connect your Mac to your iOS device with that.

Note: If a complex network topology causes the devices to be on different local IP subnets you will need to use the ‘Connect to Other’ option to connect using the IP address of the display device.

We have no plans at this time to develop a Linux version of the Air Display Host.


When Air Display is connected, go to System Preferences Displays Arrangement.

Click on your Air Display screen (usually the smaller one) and drag it to the position you would like it to be.

Bluetooth does not provide the high-speed bandwidth needed to support Air Display.

If touch input isn’t working, one of two things is going on.

  1. You may have Presentation Mode enabled. Click the Air Display icon on your computer and then click the gear icon to bring up Preferences. Make sure Presentation Mode is disabled. If it is already, try toggling it ON and back OFF.
  2. You may need to enable Accessibility. Just go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy, select the Privacy tab, and click Accessibility. You may need to unlock the little padlock icon with your Mac password. Then make sure AirDisplayHelper is enabled.

Your first option would be to use Air Display 3’s USB connection. Simply run the Host on your Mac and the Client app on your iDevice while it’s tethered to the Mac through the USB cable. The connection should be automatic.

Should you wish to have more freedom of movement and connect Air Display without the cable, Air Display can still be used in environments without a network established as long as both devices are Wi-Fi capable.

To do this, you’ll need to set up an ad-hoc network connection. An ad-hoc network is a direct peer-to-peer connection between your computer and the display device. This can be set up without any existing network or when network settings prevent you from connecting normally.

  1. Click the WiFi icon in your menubar
  2. Choose Create Network…
  3. Name the network and click Create
  4. Now on your iOS device, go to the main settings, and connect to the network you just set up as your Wi-Fi connection.

If you can’t get connected to your iOS device, try disabling the Ethernet port on your computer, so only your Wi-Fi connection is active.

With the release of Air Display 2 we added support for connecting multiple devices.

To do this you’ll need to install the Client app on to each device you wish to use as a display.

To connect additional displays simply click on the ‘Connect’ button to add up to four devices shown in the Host software’s device list. It’s that simple!

Air Display 3 supports connecting up to 4 clients. One caveat: only one of those clients can be connected via USB. The others must be wireless.

No. You will need to rely on the primary computer for sound.

Quick Tip: command+F1 will toggle mirror mode

When Air Display is connected, go to System Preferences Displays Arrangement.

Check the Mirror Displays box.

PRO TIP: If you have three or more monitors, you can option-drag one monitor onto another in the Arrangement pane. That will mirror just a subset of your monitors.


As of High Sierra, Apple began requiring that all kernel extensions be explicitly user-authorized.

The UI for authorizing drivers is a little tweaky. You need to authorize within a few minutes of installing new drivers, or Apple will hide the authorization UI. If this is hidden for you, you can bring it back by reinstalling the Air Display Host. Just be sure to go straight to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > General as soon as the system reboots. (Make sure you look at the General tab, not the Privacy tab.)

The OS X may trigger mirroring mode when first connecting, or when changes occur.

Command+F1 will toggle mirroring on a Mac.

The reason that the resolution changes is because the smallest resolution available in a set will be a limit for all displays when mirroring.

If you are having difficulties downloading or installing the client app on to your iOS device, try doing a hard restart on the device and trying again.

If you still have issues with this you may need to contact the support team for the iOS App Store and verify your App Store settings are correct.

Create a new admin account on your Mac. Log into that account and then try reinstalling Air Display again. After installing it on the test account you should be able to install it on your normal account as well.

If you do not see the new icon in the menubar, try opening up your Applications folder and running the Air Display Host app located there.

Installing a license file is only needed when you are upgrading the Mac trial version from our website to a full version.

Download the Mac Trial Client here, under ‘Installation.’

Unzip the and place this in your Applications folder. Take the license file that is emailed to you after your purchase and drag and drop it on to the blue Air icon in the Applications directory.

Note: You will not apply the license file on the primary computer to the free Host software. The license must be added to the Client software on the display machine.

If you need a new copy of the license file emailed to you please contact us at with your request.

You can uninstall Air Display Host by running Uninstall Air Display app in your Applications > Utilities directory.

If you are seeing a black screen on your client device, you may still have Air Display Host version 3.0.3, running on High Sierra or Mojave. If you update your Host to 3.2, this problem should be resolved. Just click the Air Display menubar icon on your Mac, then click the little gear, and select “Check for Updates.”

If you are seeing a desktop image on your secondary device, you have successfully connected. This is a default OS X background that is shown because Air Display is running in extended desktop mode. Air Display’s ultimate function is to give you a second monitor that also can be utilized as a touch interface.

When Air Display is connected you can open up System Preferences>Displays>Arrangement in order to position where you’d like the secondary screen in relation to your primary screen.

Once you have your device connected to your computer and properly positioned, you can drag windows over to your extended monitor and interact with the the contents of those windows either with the keyboard and mouse of your computer, or with the touch interface and keyboard (iOS and Mac Client only) incorporated into Air Display.

When Air Display is connected, go to System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement. There you can position the secondary screen in relation to your main screen.

You can do this by enabling display mirroring in System Preferences. Open up System Preferences>Displays>Arrangement and there will be a checkbox at the bottom that says ‘Mirror Displays’ which will enable you to activate OS X’s mirror mode.

This will happen if the Air Display settings has Retina turned ON but HiDPI turned OFF. Because that setting has a high resolution on a small screen, it will make your windows and text appear small.

You can fix this in one of two ways. First, click the Air Display menubar icon on your Mac, click the little gear, and select Preferences. Then either:

  1. Turn Retina ON and HiDPI ON. This will make everything normal sized, with beautiful 2x resolution. It will be a little slower though, because HiDPI uses 4x as many pixels.
  2. Turn Retina OFF and HiDPI OFF. This will make everything normal sized, with normal resolution. So not as crisp as HiDPI mode, but nice and fast.

Keynote uses hardware rendering when it is in presentation mode. Air Display is a completely virtualized display adapter so it cannot access any of the hardware features in the computer.

Whenever a program tries to use the graphics card to render something this causes problems on the Air Display screen. Keynote does this and there isn’t any way to disable it and activate software rendering.

As an alternative solution, recent versions of PowerPoint do not have this problem.

This is likely because the video player uses GPU graphic acceleration for rendering or encoding. Air Display is a completely virtualized display adapter, meaning it cannot access any of the computer’s hardware. When a video player uses the graphics card to render video Air Display can not process it. There are several free video players available that are capable of using software rendering.

This can be fixed using the System Preferences > Displays > Arrangement menu. Open this menu and you’ll see the two blue screens representing the placement of your displays. In that diagram you can click on the white bar that represents the menubar and drag it to the desired desktop. To adjust the dock you can use the System Preferences > Dock menu.

Please Note: Due to the way that OS X handles positioning the dock with multiple displays, if you have the dock set to the left and the iPad screen to the left of the primary screen it will automatically position the dock on the iPad screen. This is a limitation of macOS and not something we can adjust with our software.

This can happen if you are on an old version of macOS. This is a bug caused by Apple’s display drivers on certain models and not something we were able to fix on our end. But if you can upgrade to macOS 10.9 or later, this problem will go away.

This is a bug caused by Apple’s display drivers affecting certain models and not something we are able to permanently fix. We have found if you open up System Preferences > Displays menu and press the ‘Detect Displays’ button that the other displays will be detected.

Air Display cannot use GPU/OpenGL hardware accelerated rendering. Air Display is a virtualized display adapter which prevents it from interacting with any hardware at all.

Many Mac apps have a preferences option for enabling GPU-accelerated rendering. Look for such an option in the app you are having the issue with, and try turning it off. All should be well.

There are a few tricks to getting Air Display 3 to work correctly with Photoshop CS 5.x, 6.x, and CC.

Thing 1 – Check your Preferences:

In the Photoshop “Performance” preferences, set the Advanced “Use Graphics Processor” settings to Basic.

  1. First click to open the Photoshop menu, hover over Preferences and choose PerformancePS-prefs-performance
  2. Toward the bottom right, look for the “Use Graphics Processor” checkbox. If it isn’t checked, your computer might not have a dedicated graphics processor so you’re done. Air Stylus works fine in this scenario.
  3. Press the “Advanced Settings” button and choose either Basic or Normal (text descriptions of each setting pop up to offer the benefits and tradeoffs of each as you hover over them)PS-prefs-performance-advanced

Thing 2 – Applying Pressure:

Photoshop has four brush options for how it handles pressure – opacity, flow, “airbrush style, and brush size. Brush size must be enabled to see effects of using a pressure sensitive stylus, but the other ones are worth experimenting with to find your ideal setting.


Thing 3 – Getting a “Preview” screen like in our Air Stylus video:

This is a somewhat hidden but very cool Photoshop feature called Navigator that’s somehow been in there since about 2001.

  1. In Photoshop, click on the “Window” menu and then select Navigator to open its thumbnail preview tabPS-window-navigator
  2. Drag the Navigator palette free of the main Photoshop window and resize it by clicking and dragging out the lower right corner of its windowPS-window-navigator-resize

Connection Troubleshooting

Air Display requires certain ports open on the network in order to connect. Often times large public networks have these ports blocked for security reasons. Because these networks are usually not networks you can get settings changed on it is unlikely you’ll be able to connect in these spots.

In any siutation where you are unable to connect, your first option is to connect through the USB cable from the Mac to the iDevice.

However, you can use an ad-hoc network connection instead. Note, unless you have two Wi-Fi interfaces, or an Ethernet connection to the network you will not be able to access the Internet whilst using an ad-hoc network connection.

Instructions for creating an ad-hoc network can be found above, in the ‘Features’ section of the Air Display FAQ.

In order to connect wirelessly, Air Display requires certain ports open on the network in order to connect. Often times corporate or office networks have these ports blocked for security reasons. In these environments it is often possible to get the network settings adjusted so that you can connect. We suggest contacting the IT department and requesting their assistance to adjust the network accordingly:

Air Display requires multi-cast routing enabled. Air Display requires no restriction on UDP traffic over the network. Air Display requires ports 5353, 6000, 6001, and 6002 open in order to connect. (5353, 6000, and 6002 are UDP. 6001 is TCP.) Unfortunately, these ports are not configurable.

Connecting Air Display on your home network should be as easy as having both of the client and the server software running.

However, in the event that you are unable to connect on your home network we suggest temporarily disabling any firewalls that are running. This includes network security software and anti-virus software. These are the most likely culprits for preventing Air Display from connecting. Once you are able to find out which program is causing the problem you can edit that application’s settings to allow Air Display to connect.

If you have disabled all of your firewalls and are still unable to connect it could be a router settings issue. Consult your router’s manual for instruction on how to access the router’s web preferences page and verify the following settings:

Air Display requires multi-cast routing enabled. Air Display requires no restriction on UDP traffic over the network. Air Display requires ports 5353, 6000, 6001, and 6002 open in order to connect. (5353, 6000, and 6002 are UDP. 6001 is TCP. ) Unfortunately, these ports are not configurable.

My Display Device does not show up in the menubar/system tray list If you are unable to see the device in the list of devices to connect to it most likely means that there is a firewall or network settings in place that are blocking port 5353, which is the port Bonjour uses to advertise the Air Display device.

On a Windows computer this can also be indicative of Bonjour not being properly installed. We recommend trying to reinstall the newest version of Bonjour.

Your first option would be to use Air Display 3’s USB connection. Simply run the host on the Mac and the Client (app) on the iDevice. When the iDevice is plugged into the Mac’s USB port, Air Display will connect automatically.

Another option would be to set up awireless ad-hoc connection. This will create a peer to peer network between your devices so you can isolate if it’s the network causing the issue or something else.

If you have completely disabled any firewalls or software that may be preventing Air Display from connecting the next thing to check is the router. Consult your router’s manual for instruction on how to access the router’s web preferences page and verify the following settings:

Air Display requires multi-cast routing enabled. Air Display requires no restriction on UDP traffic over the network. Air Display requires ports 5353, 6000, 6001, and 6002 open in order to connect. (5353, 6000, and 6002 are UDP. 6001 is TCP.)

Please double tap the home button, on the iDevice, swipe to the right until you find Air Display and then swipe Air Display up. This will close Air Display, allowing you to relaunch it, should a problem arise.

Another option is to power cycle the iDevice by simply powering it down and back up again.

Using Air Display as a Drawing Surface

‘Synthetic pressure’, in other words using your finger’s surface area to replicate pressure sensitivity, requires iOS 8 and up.

In order for pressure-sensitive pens to pair with your iDevice, the device must have Bluetooth 4 (LE) technology.

We recommend ensuring compatibility between your pen and iDevice with the pen manufacturer.

(if you see that we’re missing an app that should be here, please send us email and tell us!) 

Compatible with Air Display 3 now:

  • Acorn
  • Aperture
  • Art Rage
  • Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Express
  • Flame Painter
  • Intensify Pro
  • Manga Studio 5
  • Mischief
  • Motion
  • Pixelmator (there seems to be a rendering issue in 10.10 with Pixelmator at this time. We are investigating)


  • Illustrator CC 2014
  • Illustrator CC
  • Illustrator CS 6
  • Lightroom 5
  • Photoshop CC 2014
  • Photoshop CC
  • Photoshop Elements 12
  • Photoshop CS 6
  • Photoshop CS 5.x (this is as far back as we will go with Photoshop)

We’re still working on these:

  • Artboard


  • Maya
  • Mudbox
  • Sketchbook Express
  • Corel Painter X3
  • Studio Artist 4

Toon Boom:

  • Animate
  • Pencil Check
  • Toon Boom Studio
  • Harmony
  • Apple
    • Apple Pencil (this is our favorite by far)
  • Wacom
    • Intuos Creative Stylus
    • Intuos Creative Stylus 2
    • Bamboo Stylus Fineline
  • Adonit
    • Jot 4
    • Jot with Pixelpoint
  • Adobe
    • Ink
  • Fifty-three
    • Pencil (no palm rejection or eraser support yet)

Your finger and most ‘unsupported’ pens would have pressure sensitive events with Air Display 3 on iOS 8 or later, but with less pressure precision than a Bluetooth stylus. Please note that Fifty-three’s Pencil is not actually pressure-sensitive, but its shape allows you to simulate pressure by changing the angle.

One note: Most of the third-party Bluetooth styluses support palm rejection to some degree, but none of them comes close to the quality of Apple’s palm rejection. This feature is pretty essential to drawing fluently on an iOS screen.

Once you have paired a third-party pen with Air Display 3, a fourth icon will appear on the iOS screen, resembling a hand extending a finger.

This will toggle touch interface on/off, allowing you to rest a wrist on the screen without that registering as a cursor event.

It’s worth noting that the quality or palm rejection by Apple Pencil is far better than that provided by the third-party styluses.

When Air Display 3 is not in presentation mode, three icons will appear on the iOS screen. The icon on the right, resembling a pen on a surface, is the pairing menu.

From the pairing menu, select the type of pen you have (Wacom, Adonit, or TenOne), activate the pen and then select that pen from the list of devices.

Note: Apple Pencil does not require pairing. It just works.