How to record or present your iPad screen without wifi

It is now possible to display your iPad to a projector screen using the white charge & sync cable that came with your iPad.

There are many ways to display (or record) your iPad to your class over wifi – but in my experience they’re all pretty flaky.

X-Mirage, AirServer, Reflector, AirParrot, Doceri, AppleTV… etc —They all rely on both your iPad and your computer (or AppleTV) being connected to the same WiFi network.  That’s probably fine in your own classroom but it won’t work if you go to a conference or a colleague’s school.  Even when it works I find it kludgy. If one or other of your devices drops it’s wifi connection for a second (not uncommon), your display will freeze.  Also if the WiFi network is being taxed heavily there is often quite a bit of lag – especially for video or graphics intensive apps. Also some apps don’t mirror faithfully over Wifi – nor even if the iPad is directly connected to the projector with a $60 lightning-VGA cable.  For Example, NoteShelf or Penultimate, when connected to a projector directly or via wifi, don’t show the tools palette.


My Preferred Solution

It’s now possible to display your iPad to your class by connecting it directly to your Mac using the lightning-USB cable (the same one you use to charge your iPad).  Once your iPad is connected to your Mac, launch QuickTime Player (in your Applications folder). From the File menu Choose “New Movie Recording”.  This will open a movie window and show your web cam.  If you hover your mouse over the window you will see a floating recording palette.  Next to the record button, there is a small white V icon.  Clicking that will let you select your iPad as the camera source!  Of course you can record it if you want to – but you don’t have to – you can just use it to show your screen to the class.

The Advantages

  1. Unlike using a wifi connection, the display won’t drop out if the wifi connection drops for a moment.
  2. Unlike using a wifi connection, there is no lag – It’s super-responsive.
  3. You can use it anywhere – you don’t need an internet or even wifi connection.
  4. When using QuickTime Player, your class sees exactly what you see on your screen even in apps like NoteShelf and Penultimate. That is not possible using any other method.
  5. It costs nothing – unlike using a lightning-VGA adaptor ($59)
  6. Unlike using an adaptor to connect your iPad directly to a VGA cable, the lightning cable is light and flexible – so you feel less tethered to the desk and the cable is less likely to fall out (though compared to wifi you still can’t walk around the room), obviously.  That’s the one disadvantage.
  7. Unlike using an AppleTV or lightning-VGA adaptor, you can easily switch back and forth between your iPad and Mac – or display them both at the same time.

The Limitations

  1. This only works if you are using OS X.10.10 Yosemite.  It didn’t work on older versions of OS X.  Nor does it work with the Windows version of QuickTime.
  2. This only works with iPads that have a lightning connector (not the older 30-pin dock connector).  Ie. It works with iPad Air, iPad 4, and all iPad minis. It also works with iPhone 5 or later.

12 thoughts on “How to record or present your iPad screen without wifi

  1. This is absolutely brilliant! Thank you so much. I teach seniors on technology and have been struggling with a simple solution for displaying the whole ipad screen and this is it. Now I just need a similar workaround for android… any ideas on that? Thanks again!

    • You’re welcome Virginia. I was really delighted also when I found this out! It really solves a problem that I had been struggling with, too. I’m glad the post helped you. I have not heard of anything similar for Android – sorry about that.

  2. i have been using this method for a few months now and really like it, BUT… I LOVE it since buying stem foot long cable! It makes me almost as mobile as wireless with greater stability and is perfect for AR or VR where tilting and moving are so important.

  3. Pingback: How to Record or Present Your iPad Screen WITHOUT WiFi | educatrip

  4. Hi there,

    I’m working off a Macbook Retina with Yosemite and iPad Air and the option for iPad as camera is not coming up. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Is that the new MacBook (with the USB-C port)? or do you mean a MacBook Pro with retina display. I don’t know if this feature is supported via USB-C on the New MacBook but on a MacBook Pro with Retina display it works great. That’s the set up that I have: MacBook Pro Retina running Yosemite 10.10.3 and an iPad Air … connected via the USB-lightning charge and sync cable that came with the iPad. Then open QuickTime Player and choose File > New Movie Recording. The window will open and the FaceTime camera on your MacBook Pro will kick in – so you will see yourself on the screen… then next to the record button, there is a small white V icon. If you press that you should see your iPad there as an alternative input in the contextual drop-down menu. If that’s not working for you, I’d recommend trying with an iPhone or someone else’s iPad, try using a different charge/sync cable too… to try to isolate the issue.

  5. I also had no luck getting my iPad to mirror on my MacBook Pro. After reading the comments I tried with my iPhone. That worked, and then my iPad worked immediately on connection. I sometimes have to use this same “kick start” with Apple TV. Always works for me.

    • Thanks for sharing that mrswroom14 – I can’t imagine why that should work … but it’s a handy trouble-shooting tip to keep in one’s bag of tricks!

  6. I know this is an old thread … but are you guys using the camera app that also shows the record button and timestamp and all? (I’m using a phone and it takes a lot of screen area. What? I need to buy an iPad? Hey, boss…)

    • I’ve read that several times … but I’m not sure what you are asking. This is done using QuickTime on the Mac. QuickTime sees the iPad as an input source instead of the webcam on your Mac. Then in the QuickTime window you just see your iPad screen in a floating window on your Mac. It works just as well with an iPhone as with an iPad.

      • Hmmm. When I tried it mirrors the iPhone (which is kinda nice for other purposes); so it mirrors the camera screen. I’ll re-read and try again. Thx – I had this bookmarked forever and just got around to it today! Cool feature.

Comments are closed.